If you’ve been following our blogs and podcasts recently, we’ve been talking about ARE 5.0 quite a bit.  This change will be the first major overhaul of the ARE since 2008 so it’s important to be aware of the changes and find out the best way to make this change work to your advantage.

So the first question you may have is, do I stick with 4.0 or switch to 5.0?  What if I’ve already passed some exams?  What if my exams expired?  What if I’m just getting started?  While the final answer can only truly be determined by you and what will work for your goals and schedule, it’s wise to be equipped with information so you can make sure you make the best choice for you.

If you’ve already started…

Since 5.0 won’t officially launch until later this year, if you’ve already started in 4.0 you might as well continue on and use the next several months to try to get in a few more exams.  Remember, 4.0 will be offered for the next two years before it is retired for good, so you likely have plenty of time to finish in this series if you don’t want to transfer.  Much like when a new iPhone is released, there will be several variables in the new 5.0 format that are unknown at this point, and it may be best to give the exam some time to flush out the bugs.

Also important to keep in mind is the rolling clock.  If you have exams that are at risk of dropping off, it’s in your best interest to keep pushing forward to finish as soon as possible.  As far as we know, the rolling clock is not going away once 5.0 is launched so this will be a factor to deal with no matter which version you stick to.

Another thing to keep in mind is which exams you have already taken.  NCARB has published a transition plan on their website that shows how 4.0 will be credited in 5.0.  Take a look at this chart and see how your current exams stack up.  If you have recently started your exam journey, you can strategize your approach if you think you may want to transition to 5.0.  In fact, we outline how to get done in 5 exams instead of the current 7 in 4.0 or the new 6 in 5.0 if you play your cards right.  You can read that blog post here.

If you started but your exams expired…

First let me say, I’m sorry you’re up against having to retake passed exams.  It’s frustrating and stressful, but finding the motivation to get up and tackle them again will be completely worth it in the end.  If you feel like you’re ready now, go for it!  Capitalize on the fire to get through these exams and get your license.  Even if you have to retake exams there is no reason you would have to wait for 5.0.  If you have taken some exams in the 4.0 format you may prefer to stick with it since you are already familiar with the structure and know what to expect.  And transitioning to 5.0 will always be an option should you choose (just keep in mind once you transfer you can’t go back to 4.0).

If you have not yet begun…

There is still plenty of time to start fresh in 4.0 and finish without transitioning to 5.0 over the next 2 years if you plan accordingly.  If you think it will take you longer than that and you really don’t want to have to deal with the switch, then it may make sense to start when 5.0 is launched later this year.  However, if you’re not afraid to try something new and don’t mind the idea of transitioning, you could start in 4.0 now and take the three core exams (CDS, SPD & PPP) that will give you credit for four exams in 5.0.  Then after you transition, you would only have two exams remaining to be completely done.

Just the other day I was having this very conversation with a colleague and while I could offer some insight into the perks of starting now and taking advantage of the transition, ultimately I realized it comes down to a personal choice.  This is your career and you will have to determine what path is the best choice for you.  Now that you’ve been equipped with a little more knowledge on what your choices are, put together a plan, set your goals and just keep swimming.  As they say, there is no time like the present.