Thursday, September 11, 2014

How to Pass the NCIDQ, Part 1

I've been thinking about this series for a while. When I began studying for the NCIDQ I was so frustrated with how little there was out there about the NCIDQ. And what is out there will cost you. If you're anything like me, the test itself is expensive enough, let alone the book, the study supplies, the practice quizzes..etc I was not up for paying more just to get some advice. So hopefully these posts help some of yall out.

If you're not an interior designer, this is pretty irrelevant to you but you may find it interesting. The NCIDQ is a national exam created by the CIDQ, Council for Interior Design Qualification. This exam allows designers to be certified, and in some states registered. It is the best qualification we, as designers, can achieve as we cannot become licensed, an issue many are fighting for. The exam is split into three sections:

  • 1) IDFX,  a 100 question multiple choice test taken on the computer at a testing sight. This exam tests your knowledge of the basic information you covered in school: codes, building types, construction details, occupancy, color theories, etc. Do not underestimate this test! It is hard. It covers a wide variety of information and wants you to know details. 
  • 2) IDPX, a 150 question multiple choice test taken on the computer at a testing sight. This exam tests your knowledge of information you will have learned in your professional work at a firm, and more of the same information from the IDFX. This test is longer which makes the time in the testing center hard, it is diffcult to focus after sitting there for so long. BUT this test is easier to study for. Know the contract information correctly, it's pretty straightforward, and all from IDFX and you'll be fine.
  • 3) Practicum, a full day exam testing your ability to recall drafting and creating solutions quickly that follow codes and drafting requirements. This one takes a long time to prep for but if you prep correctly it is do-able!

If you would like to learn more and get a full definition you can check out the website here.

We'll start this series with a little intro into getting started to study for the Q.

First, breathe and pray! You will make it through this! You will pass. It may take more than once but you can do this. The Lord was my greatest strength. When I was frustrated, I prayed. When I was feeling like a failure, I prayed. When I didn't think I had what it took, I prayed. And I asked others to pray for me. This is a big deal. This will take much of your free time. Ask others to pray along side you. Having people on your side, cheering you on is HUGE.

Second, gather the supplies. You do want that darn book with the hefty price tag. I split the cost of the book amongst four girls and together we shared it. It made it far more affordable. So what all do you want? Here's a list:

  • Books you had in school
  • The official NCIDQ Reference Manual
  • The official NCIDQ Practice Exam books: IDFX, IDPX, Practicum
  • Pens/pencils/markers/Highlighters...all your favorites in all your favorite colors, your study notes are for you so make them yours! See my favorites here.
  • Notebook & notecards(and plastic bags to organize the cards into sections or chapters)
  • Binder
  • A bag to keep it all together (I liked the Patcraft bag from last year, they're bags are always sturdy, call up your Patcraft rep and ask for it!)
  • Bookmark this blog and this other lady's blog
  • Anything else you like to have on hand to study with
Third, do your research. By this time if you're taking this year's fall exam you've already applied. If you haven't applied then this is for you. Pay attention to every word on every form. If you are in a state that has registration then you most likely apply through the Board of Architects in your state. Look it up, make calls, and annoy people to no end with any question you might have. Read everything three times, and check your application three times. You leave out one thing and you're out of the running. Check, double check, triple check.  {special note: you can use your intern time towards your total hours (as long as those hours as an intern weren't used for a class) and recent grads, listen up! you can now take the IDFX immediately upon graduation, DO THIS!.}

Fourth, find a study group. Find your previous classmates or email around town to find other designers taking the exam. Studying with others is always helpful. Quiz each other, talk about things you don't understand or can't remember, and study together. This past spring I saw there was a facebook group for those studying in Dallas. I don't live there but I joined the group because it was helpful to have yet another place to ask questions. I studied with previous classmates. We met over lunch every week at least once. This was huge!

Fifth, determine your action plan. Are you taking all three tests in one period? Will you take them in one weekend or split it out? This is important because you will need to organize and plan out how much you will study every week. For example, we split the chapters out across the weeks we were studying to determine how much we needed to read every week. Plan your study times out and plan study breaks out. You need both.

That was A LOT, I know. Don't freak out, just take each day as it comes. Pray, breathe, prep, do.

What are some questions you have about taking the Q? Or anything related to the exam? Send them to me and I'll do my best to answer them. 

note: I do NOT know everything. I do NOT pretend to know everything. All I can do is share what worked for me and hope it helps you. Any information I share is my personal experience and understanding. Please contact CIDQ directly for specific exam information.


  1. I'm so happy I found your blog. I've been out of school for 6 years and I'm finally eligible to take the test. It's been a long road getting all my intern hours but I'm ready to take the test. I read that you were apart of a study group, how did you find a study group in your area?

    1. Hey Angela! Well I am happy to help! I hope these posts help you! Lucky me, I knew a couple gals from school that were studying too. But you may see if there's a class that is being put on by IIDA or ASID and you may meet some people studying that way. I've also noticed some facebook groups from time to time so you may search there too!
      Good luck! You can do it!

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