So you wanna be a Rock Star. You’re ready to enroll in IDP AND start taking the Architect Registration Exam simultaneously. Bravo! But wait…

Most candidates assume they must complete their IDP (Intern Development Program administered by NCARB) before they can sit for the Architect Registration Exam (ARE). But wouldn’t it be great if you could take the exam right out of school, while the lessons from structures and construction methods class are still fresh in your mind? Well, good news. You can, if you live in one of the States that allow it.

Being able to take your ARE exams while still completing your IDP is not a new idea. Since 2007, a whopping 40 states have allowed concurrent testing with IDP (another 2, Kentucky and Mississippi, will allow you to take the ARE after finishing a portion of your IDP.) The AIA even supports the idea, as shown in their August 2007 bulletin which you can review here.

So I know what you’re thinking: Which states allow it? Since 42 states allow you to take the ARE while still working on IDP, it’s easier to tell you the states that do not allow it.

The 8 states and 2 jurisdictions that require you complete IDP before taking the exams are:

Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, South Dakota

plus: Guam, Virgin Islands 

There are many advantages to taking the exams while still completing your IDP, including:

  1. The material is still fresh: if you recently graduated, it will be easier to stay in the mindset of studying, especially while the material is still fresh in your mind.
  2. Crossing the finish line sooner: rather than completing your IDP (which will take at least 3 years) and then starting the ARE process (average time to complete is around 2 years), you could shave off some time and finish everything within 3 years.
  3. Taking advantage of being entry level: the first few years of your architectural career are spent doing entry level stuff, such as CAD work, drafting, and research. What better time to focus on your career goals than now when you don’t have (much) responsibility at work?

Although this sounds great, there are some things to consider if you want to tackle finishing both the ARE and IDP at the same time:

  • Stress: Completing your IDP involves tracking your time, meeting with mentors and making sure you’re getting experience in all of the categories. That can be stressful enough without having to study and pass the exams too.
  • The dreaded rolling clock: NCARB’s 5-year rolling clock starts when you start taking the exams. While it’s nice to have that deadline to help “encourage” you to finish, you want to make sure you will be able to complete all seven ARE divisions before starting. As we like to tell people: Plan. Practice. Pass.

Be sure to visit NCARB’s website for more info on concurrent testing.