Our class discussion on professional licensing and registration led me to look for more sources on ways to prepare for the National Council of Interior Designers Qualification exam. The NCIDQ Certificate validates that we have been well educated and trained to protect public health, safety and welfare of our clients. Many potential employers are seeking designers who have proven knowledge, experience and proficiency in interior design principles and practices, problem solving and decision making, as well as contract documents and administration.
So, with that being said, how does one get started to prepare to pass the NCIDQ Exam?
Know the 7 Content Areas of the NCIDQ Exam
The NCIDQ determined that seven content areas characterize the work of interior design: Codes, Building systems, Construction Standards, Contract Administration, Design Application, Project Coordination and Professional Practice. The exam is broken down into three sections seen below:
Section 1: includes multiple choice questions about Codes, Building Systems, Construction Standards and Contract Administration
Section 2: includes multiple choice questions about Design Application, Project Coordination and Professional Practice
Section 3: is a practicum where candidates produce several hand-drafted design solutions addressing codes and the principles of universal design covering Space Planning, Lighting Design, Egress, Life Safety, Restroom Design, Systems Integration and Millwork Design
The NCIDQ Exam includes content relevant to the practice of interior design. Experience working in the field is the most beneficial preparation for the exam. Review of interior design resources such as:
1. Industry-standard forms and documents issued by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and the International Interior Design Association (IIDA)
2. Trade journals, magazines and product manuals for interior designers; technical information from these sources may be applicable to exam questions and practicum scenarios.
3. Building codes is a requirement of interior designers and tested on the exam; review International Building Code and Life Safety Code of the National Fire Protection Association
4. Government-regulated interior design standards related to the health, welfare and safety of individuals such as the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines and Architectural Barriers Guidelines, American National Standards Institute and Environmental Protection Agency Standards and Practices
5. A categorical listing of books is listed on the NCIDQ website for reference; a majority of the multiple choice questions written for the exam are developed from these industry-known books.
1. Practice, Practice, Practice; Schedule your studying; be consistent – never cram
2. Form a study group; discussing exam content with others helps solidify understanding
3. Develop positive studying strategies; flash cards, read to understand NOT memorize
4. Practice free-hand drawing; CAD is not an option on the NCIDQ Exam
5. Utilize the sample practice exams; available from NCIDQ and other online resources
6. Understand your own strength areas and weak areas; study accordingly
7. Develop a steady pace for answering questions and problem solving; time yourself when you complete practice exams to budget your time for test-taking accordingly
The NCDIQ Exam is based on what interior designers do every day in the field and evaluates competency. The best preparation to pass the NCDIQ Exam is professional experience and review of the seven content areas using supplemental materials. Utilize a cross-section of resources from professional membership organizations, trade resources and, of course, NCIDQ to assist you with all the information you may need to pass the exam.