The ARB Prescribed Exams are now held virtually on Zoom. Demand is high and dates are booked up quickly; we are currently running a waiting list of approximately three months on a first-come, first-served basis. Failure to submit the required documentation will delay your application or in some instances, applications will not be accepted if incomplete. Read our step-by-step guide below to ensure you have all your documents in order and ready for submission:
Step 1: Read all the application documents and determine your eligibility
Please note that once you have submitted your documents, they cannot be amended. This includes your Comparative Matrix and your Supporting Documents (Portfolio) which must be ready for submission at the time of application.
Please also note although your supporting material needs to be ready as you are submitting your comparative matrix together with your application documents, you are not required to submit your supporting material with your application, you will be invited to submit this once the eligibility checks have been concluded and the fee is paid.
If you have studied a qualification that is not strictly in architecture, you must ensure that you comply with the requirements set out in Section 2.2 of the Prescribed Examination Procedures which ask you to provide an eligibility statement from the awarding institution together with a statement from registration body or professional body in the country (for those outside the UK only) of award. Please do use the templates provided by ARB for this purpose. If you do not comply with these requirements, or you have been found to be ineligible for the examination, you will be advised accordingly and your fee will be refunded minus a 25% scrutiny fee.
You can only apply for one exam (Part 1 or Part 2) at a time. You must pass Part 1 (or hold a prescribed Part 1 qualification) before you can apply for the Part 2 exam.
If you are applying at Part 1, and for example you have completed a BA(Hons) in Architecture, an eligibility statement is not required. Similarly, if you are applying for Part 2 and you have completed a Master of Architecture an eligibility statement will not generally be required. We reserve the right to request further information where it is not clear that our eligibility requirements have been met.
The difference in level between Part 1 and Part 2 is clarified in the graduate attributes within the ARB Criteria booklet.
Please note: ARB is not an academic institution but is a registration body which bases registration on qualifications obtained from academic institutions. It therefore cannot use work experience in lieu of any academic study not obtained.
Step 2: Language Requirements
If English is not your first or dual language, you will need to submit a valid International English Language Testing System (IELTS) certificate of 6.5 or above in each of the band scores with your application for examination. You are required to undertake the academic level test.
The IELTS process is run by the British Council. It is accessible around the globe and is offered up to four times a month in more than 140 countries.
We may consider alternative evidence to the IELTS. If you would like us to consider this, you must complete the Board’s English Language Exemption form and provide the evidence listed on the form. It is important for you to note that we are not looking at an equivalent test and we will only consider the evidence listed on the Board’s Exemption form together with the required supporting evidence and references.
If there is any doubt about your language proficiency during your examination appointment, this will be reported back to our team for further investigation, and may delay progress. Please ensure you select the most accurate option.
Step 3: Completing the application form
The application form sets out all the documents you need to send us digitally:
· Digital copies of your degree/diploma certificates*
· Digital copies of your transcript/academic record*
· Exam Fee*
· Passport sized photo*
· Comparative Matrix*
· Cover Sheet for Comparative Matrix*
· Eligibility Statement (if applicable)
· Syllabus (if applicable)
· References from past/present employers (if applicable)
· Language exemption form/IELTS (if applicable)
· Proof of name change by Deed Poll or Marriage Certificate (if applicable)
*These documents are compulsory for all applications
Once your application form is complete, please submit it and your documents to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prior to the issue of your exam result, (but not necessarily before), we will need to receive verification of your transcript documents from the relevant school or University. These can be emailed directly to email@example.com. We will remind you of this requirement at the appropriate time.
Do not exceed the word count specified in the Comparative Matrix
Exceeding the word count may result in your application being rejected and you will be asked to reapply
Step 4. The Examination Fee
The examination fee applies to each of the two levels of application (Part 1 and Part 2) for ARB’s examination. The cost of the examination is £1950 and ways to pay are listed in the application form. We ask you to note that:
• Any changes by you, to your preferred examination may incur a 25% charge.
• Once you have accepted the date offered to you, you are expected to attend. Should you need to cancel your examination, you may lose the entire examination fee unless there is good reason for you to cancel your examination. Your application will be closed and you will be required to apply and pay the full fee again.
• We will return incomplete applications or applications which do meet the eligibility criteria and charge you 25% of the examination fee to cover our initial inspection costs.
Step 5: Preparing your Supporting Material
Your Supporting Material should be ready for submission at the point of application. You will be invited to submit your Supporting Material once your application has been checked and the fee paid.
Once you have submitted your Comparative Matrix at the point of application, it cannot be amended in content or in format. Once the eligibility checks have been concluded and the fee is paid, you will be asked to upload your supporting material, therefore, this must be ready when you submit your application. Failure to submit your Supporting Material at this time will result in the cancellation of your examination and you will be asked to reapply when you are ready to do so. This may incur additional costs.
You will be examined on:
- A Comparative Matrix stating where and how you believe your Supporting Material complies with each of the Criteria (we have drawn up a Comparative Matrix template for candidates to use);
- Supporting Material (a portfolio of work) created by you, which may include design projects, technical essays and dissertations, or any other material that you deem relevant. Any Supporting Material that has been created in a language other than English, must include a translation and any thesis/written work requires an executive summary in English to be submitted as part of the document.
It is important to note that in demonstrating your compliance with the Criteria, the Examination Panel will normally expect to see within your portfolio at least one holistic design for a new building which is entirely of your own authorship. In presenting this coherent architectural design, you should include information relating to each stage of the project from analysis and brief preparation through to detailed technical design.
You should also include evidence of your working process along with the completed design. At Part 1 level, the project may be relatively limited in scale or scope (equivalent to 3rd year work). However, at Part 2, the project should be sufficiently complex (equivalent to 5th year work) to meet the Graduate attributes as set out in the Criteria booklet.
Step 6: Supporting Material: Deciding which work to submit
The total volume of files submitted must not exceed 100MB.
Note – You will only have an opportunity to explain your submitted material at interview if the Examiners conclude you have met half or more of the Criteria during the first part of the examination that takes place without you present.
- Each Examiner has 90 minutes to review your Comparative Matrix and assess your Supporting Material independently prior to the examination day. On the examination day, the Examiners meet as a panel and then have a further one hour 15 minutes to examine the material. Please bear this in mind when you are uploading your material. It is crucial that the Examiners can assess your entire submission in this timeframe
- 60-80 pages of project work should not be exceeded
- When submitting thesis and/or written work you must create a summary outlining the relevance of the work to the Criteria it has been cited for
- Submitting material that exceeds the limits advised, may affect the outcome of the examination.
You must decide, and explain clearly in your Comparative Matrix, what Supporting Material is to be examined against which Criteria.
Supporting Material cannot be examined unless it is clearly identified in the Comparative Matrix and will only be examined against the specific Criteria identified. Please remember that the Comparative Matrix cannot be amended after it has been submitted.
Whilst it is likely that a small number of integrated design projects will satisfy many of the Criteria, you should still in each Criteria section refer to the project against the Criteria it meets. This may seem repetitive, but the Examiners are not permitted to consider evidence unless it has been properly cited. Work that is not cited as Supporting Material will not be examined and unclear citation will make it difficult for the Examiners to find evidence that you have satisfied the required Criteria.
It is advisable to submit a few well considered design projects and supporting written work and it is recommended you do not submit a different project for each of the Criteria.
It is extremely important that your Comparative Matrix act as both a schedule of material and a discursive key. It must enable the Examiners to reference and gain an understanding about your Supporting Material unaided when they assess it in private session prior to the exam.
If a candidate has not demonstrably met half or more of the Criteria at the Examiners’ review of the Supporting Material, they are not given the option to offer oral explanations at interview
Specifying and submitting evidence
The Comparative Matrix allows the Examiners to gain an understanding of the range of skills and achievements that you have developed during your architectural education and training to date.
The Examiners will expect you, clearly and concisely, to draw their attention to where and how your Supporting Material demonstrates that you have met each of the Criteria. It is not sufficient simply to make generic reference to ‘a project’ and/or ‘a portfolio’ when setting out the details of your Supporting Material: you must cite aspects of the work against the Criteria you think it meets. You should also ensure that your submission is clearly organised and labelled to allow the Examiners to make the most efficient use of the time available to them.
You are advised where possible to:
- Use PDF format
- Provide a Title / Contents page for each project (including information of the relevant cited General Criteria) with hyperlinks to aid navigation as appropriate
- Use hyperlinks within the document to aid navigation
- Name your files by project title (preferable with a prefix number from 01 – etc., e.g. 01 – Project 1 Title, 02 – Project 2 Title) which correlates to the Comparative Matrix and allows files to be kept in order. This also makes referencing easier for the Examiners prior and during the examination Clearly mark which General Criteria number your work is cited against in each page of your documents, e.g. GC2.2 etc. (Note – If possible, avoid using a ‘strip’ on each page with all Criteria Numbers and highlighting the applicable Criteria – this makes searching for relevant criteria within the document difficult for Examiners)
- Include page numbers in all documents
- Present in A3 landscape (or in A4 format for written work and other appropriate documents)
- Be mindful of the resolution of text so that it is legible
- We recommend that you submit no more than 8 to 10 projects
- Make sure your Supporting Material is formatted to view one page at a time
- The upload may be split into multiple files if you wish, and a text file explaining how to navigate the material or how it has been grouped may be added.
- Please arrange your projects into individual pdf files (e.g. Project 1 should be one pdf, Project 2 should be another pdf). This will allow the Examiners to navigate the material easily.
- Any additional files should be combined and labelled to advise it is additional.
- Flatten images when the PDF is created and ensure that this includes all the material you have cited in your Matrix, including all written work such as essays, dissertations etc. and all design drawings.
- Please do not include anything previously included in your initial application (eg, CV, Comparative Matrix, professional references, etc).
No weightings are given to the areas within the General Criteria, however Examiners will expect to see that architectural design constitutes at least half the work examined.
It is crucial that you submit the appropriate amount of material. Too much material or material not clearly described in the right place in the Comparative Matrix can often result in examiners being unable to identify where the evidence can be found, which can lead to an unsuccessful outcome. The Board recommends that candidates limit their portfolio submission to 60-80 pages of A3 (or equivalent), excluding any digital materials such as dissertations, case studies etc.
Please do not email any Supporting Material with your application form. You will receive an official invitation via email to upload by the ARB Exams Team once you have passed the initial application checks and we have confirmed your eligibility and exam date.
When putting together your work, please ensure that you keep your individual projects together and that you do not split and reorganise them to meet Criteria.
When presenting office-based work, you must provide employer references that clearly identify the work done by you. When working as part of a team, it is imperative the Examiners are aware of how much involvement you have had in the design process.
The references must be on an official company letterhead, from your employer(s) to verify this. References should be written as outlined in the examination process document, “Reference Templates”, and emailed to ARB with your application form. Please ensure that the reference letter clearly reflects the title of that project that you are using in your Comparative Matrix.
Scope of Supporting Material
You are not limited to academic projects, and it is entirely appropriate to include office-based and other material. You should not rule out anything which you think is relevant.
Candidates who can provide little or no academic work will need to assemble a composite of Supporting Material drawn from office work, personal work and if appropriate, surviving academic material.
It is recommended for candidates to comment on deficiencies in early work and suggest solutions.
Supporting Material is not limited to integrated design projects but may include, by means of example, (though not exclusively):
- school projects
- office projects
- personal projects (including plans, sections, elevations, – axonometric projections, etc.)
- competition entries, etc.
- references – client, employer, contractor, etc.
- CPD/IDP certificates
- log books and critical self-appraisals
- dissertations, reports, theses
- project briefs and feasibility studies
Examiners will expect to see not just the finished project, but also the development sketches and background work together with a summary of the brief for each project.
Step 7. What happens once we have received your application
We will send you an acknowledgement to confirm safe receipt of your application. Your application will be checked and, if accepted, we will let you know the date of your examination, normally within three weeks of receipt. If your application is incomplete or ineligible, we will return it to you and charge you the 25% scrutiny fee.
Step 8: Circulation of your application and supporting material
Your application and documents are copied and sent securely to the Examination Panel normally two weekends before the date of your examination. This gives the members of the Panel time to study all the material relating to your application and prepare for the examination.
The Examination day
The exam will be held virtually on Zoom. You will receive your exam date after application and will be given links to your Zoom examination.
On the day, the examiners will spend an hour and a half assessing your Supporting Material. Your work must meet at least 17 Criteria in this session to progress to the interview stage. If you do not meet the criteria, you will be met by the Lead Examiner and an ARB team member who will provide some feedback to you and explain the process going forward.
At the start of your exam you will be asked to:
• Log into the Zoom link 5 minutes before your interview and no earlier.
• Verify your identity, so have your passport ready for inspection.
• Verify that there is no other person present in the room with you and that there is no one who is communicating with you by electronic means or any other means during your interview.
• Switch off your mobile phone, or mute calls if you are using your mobile as the device for Zoom.
Your interview will last up to 45 minutes. You will be met by an ARB facilitator who will conduct identity and security checks before inviting you into a Zoom room to meet the examiners. The examiners will ask you questions about your Supporting Material and how it meets the criteria. Please ensure that you have a copy of the ARB Criteria document to hand for reference purposes.
You will receive your results within 15 working days of your exam. Prior to the issue of your exam result, we will need to receive verification of your transcript documents from the relevant school or University. These can be emailed directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will remind you of this requirement at the appropriate time.
You will receive your result letter normally within three weeks of the examination and this will be emailed to you. The letter will tell you whether you have passed or failed the examination. If you fail the examination you will also receive a copy of the Examination Record which will identify the criteria you have met and the criteria that you have not met on this occasion.
Additionally the examiners may offer brief comments on the nature of the deficiencies.
If you fail the examination following interview, the examiners will provide feedback on why your responses were insufficient and did not give the examiners the assurance that you had met an appropriate level of understanding.
What happens if you fail the Examination?
You will be allowed to take the examination again. You are advised to take your time and consider the feedback. You should bear in mind that you will need to put together new supporting material that shows you have addressed the criteria that were considered deficient.
There is help available, so please call the Registration team who will be able to advise you on the next steps going forward.
Please note that after your first attempt, you will be allowed two further attempts only. The Registrar may consider a request to sit the examination for the fourth time only when you can demonstrate that you have materially improved since your last attempt.
Applying for Re-examination
If your letter and record sheet shows that you failed the examination and are to be re-examined, you are required to address all the criteria at re-examination and the full examination fee will apply.
However, at re-examination the examiners will have a copy of your previous report and they are unlikely to reach a different decision where criterion was judged to be satisfactory unless there is very good reason to disagree.
Please note that when completing the Comparative Matrix you complete the checklist for second or later application.
Your letter and examination record states that you qualify for referral to lead examiner
Although your letter and exam record shows that you have failed the examination, because you have satisfied all the criteria in GC1 and a further 32 criteria you are not required to re-sit the entire examination again. You have therefore been offered a referral to the lead examiner whereby you have the opportunity to address the outstanding criteria through a postal or electronic submission. There is a reduced cost for this submission.
Can you appeal?
There is an appeals process which is set out in Appendix 2 of the Examination Procedures. You can only appeal on the grounds cited in these procedures.
Can you apply for Part 2 as soon as you have passed your Part?
If you are eligible to sit the Part 2 examination, it is open to you to apply for this once you have gained your Part 1 equivalence. Please do bear in mind the level differences for Part 2. Read the Part 2 Graduate Attributes carefully and make sure you are confident that the material you are submitting for Part 2 examination is of the requisite standard. You may find you have some additional work to do after satisfying the Part 1 criteria.
What happens when you have obtained Parts 1 & 2 equivalence?
Once you have satisfied both Part 1 and Part 2 equivalence you will need to complete a UK Part 3 qualification if you haven’t already done so, through a UK School of Architecture.
Part 3 schools
Before sitting your Part 3 examination, you will be required to demonstrate a two year period of practical experience. You can find more information on the ARB requirements by accessing the Boards General Rules