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Prescribed Examination Review


The Architects Registration Board (ARB) was established by an Act of Parliament – the Architects Act 1997 (the Act) – and is the statutory regulator of architects in the UK. Further information about ARB can be found here.

Our duties under the Act include maintaining the UK Register of Architects (the Register) and prescribing (or ‘recognising’) the qualifications and practical training experience required for entry to the Register. We also have a duty to ensure individuals without prescribed qualifications wishing to apply for registration have an equivalent standard of competence to those with prescribed qualifications. To achieve this we prescribe examinations under section 4(2) of the Act.

In the UK an individual must achieve qualifications at three key stages known as Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 in order to apply for entry to the Register. We publish Criteria which set out the minimum levels of knowledge, understanding and ability that students of architecture must acquire at each stage. These Criteria form the basis of our decision as to whether qualifications from Schools of Architecture can be prescribed.

Prescribed Examinations

The same Criteria must be met by those who pass the Prescribed Examinations. The Prescribed Examination is not a stand-alone test of competence – it is additional to and not a substitute for having a qualification which the ARB considers to be broadly equivalent to a prescribed qualification. Having satisfied Part 1 and Part 2 requirements, either by obtaining qualifications or by passing the Prescribed Examination, Part 3 will then need to be obtained from a UK school of architecture. These requirements are not presently open to review.

The Review and Consultation

We embarked on a review of the Prescribed Examination in May 2018 and undertook a pre-consultation exercise, gathering the views of a range of stakeholders. The review was linked to the reviews of the Procedures and Criteria for the Prescription of Qualifications.  Following the cessation of the Procedures and Criteria for Prescription of Qualification reviews, and the decision to undertake a wider piece of research in 2020 around what makes a competent architect, a decision was made to refocus the review of the Prescribed Examination to narrower, business as usual changes.

On 9 December 2019, the Board of the Architects Registration Board agreed to hold a consultation exercise following its proposals to amend the Exam Procedures. The consultation period is for four weeks as opposed to three months, which will allow for the Board to make a decision as to whether to update the procedures at its meeting on 27 January 2020, and ensure that the Prescribed Examination can operate effectively from the first exam sessions in 2020 (scheduled to take place in February 2020). We are open to feedback on the process at any time and have collated the outcomes of the pre-consultation exercise to form part of our research into what makes a competent architect, due to commence in 2020.

Following changes to the Architects Act 1997 and the Board’s General Rules, it has been necessary to amend the Exam Procedures to ensure they remain operable. In summary, the proposed changes include:

  • A switch from the process being overseen by the Prescription Committee to the Board. Independent Examiner reports will now be considered by the Registrar who will report to the Board at least annually and by exception if any issues arise that need immediate attention;
  • Appeals being addressed to the Chair of the Board rather than the Chair of the Prescription Committee, with an appeals panel consisting of two Board members rather than three;
  • Reference to appointed and elected Board members removed;
  • Removal of the area of guidance which states that the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) can nominate persons to the Board for appointment. In reality, this has not happened for many years and we have operated on the basis of an open recruitment exercise for all recent campaigns. As such, we propose removing this requirement from the procedures though will still ensure RIBA are informed of recruitment exercises and encouraged to share with members; and
  • An advisory limit of 60-80 pages of A3 (or equivalent) to portfolio submissions (excluding any bound written materials). This will form part of ARB’s guidelines around submissions rather than forming part of the new procedures.

The consultation can be accessed here.


Review Objectives

In relation to the review of the Procedures, our Board have agreed that any revised or updated procedures for the Prescribed Examination should enable ARB to:

  • Continue to discharge its functions under Section 4(1)b of the Architects Act 1997
  • Ensure that its processes for considering non-prescribed qualifications continues to be fair, evidence-based, proportionate, and robust
  • Ensure that the process supports the admission of competent individuals to the Register on completion of their examination, studies and practical experience
  • Ensure that all those passing the Prescribed Examination meet all of the ARB Criteria at the relevant level (Part 1 and/or Part 2)

As the review is a ‘business as usual’ review, it will be undertaken on the basis that to enter the Register, an individual must hold Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 qualifications.

Next steps

We are now considering the views of everyone who responded to the pre-consultation event and will be redrafting the Examination Procedures accordingly. After the Board has made a preliminary decision on the new Examination Procedures document, a further consultation exercise will be carried out, which will give all stakeholders, including those who missed the pre-consultation event, a further opportunity to comment.

If you have any questions or comments about the Prescribed Examination review, please contact us on

Comms Plan: Activities and Timescales

1 June 2018 – 30 June 2018

Pre-consultation exercise

Undertake a pre-consultation exercise with our stakeholders, including examiners, users and potential users of the prescribed examination.

12 June 2018
Round Table event – Nottingham
Jurys Inn
Waterfront Plaza, Station Street, Nottingham, NG2 3BJ

08 August 2018
Round Table event – London
8 Weymouth Street

10 August - 30 October 2018

Process Review

Collate outcomes of pre-consultation and present principles agreed to board for approval before drafting stage.

9 December 2019

ARB Board Meeting

The Board to review the pre-consultation feedback and proposed revisions to the Procedures

16 December 2019 to 13 January 2020


Consultation period

13 January 2020 to 27 January 2020

Consultation feedback

Collate consultation responses

27 January 2020

Consideration and approval

Consideration of consultation feedback and recommendations by the Board. Planned approval of revised Procedures by the Board.

27 January 2020

Procedures become effective

Procedures become effective