NCIDQ Exam: National Council for Interior Design


NCIDQ is a professional examination for interior designers. It tests the competence in various areas of interior design. Get real NCIDQ questions.

Taking The NCIDQ

The National Council for Interior Design Qualification, or NCIDQ, is essential in accreditation for an individual's career plan should he or she desire to practice design. Because the area of study is so popular and the exam less than easy, NCIDQ STEP materials are made available to help prepare candidates prior to taking the assessment. STEP, or Self-Testing Exercises for Pre-Professionals, is a nationwide workshop that is conducted periodically throughout the year. It includes 20 hours of instruction over a period of 2 ½ days to better prepare the professional for the qualification exams required for certification and licensure in their desired area of work.

Prior to taking the NCIDQ exam, most recommendations state that a candidate should complete the STEP course, usually at least four months prior to the registered administration of the test. It is also recommended that the prep course not be attended more than twelve months before the planned examination attendance. This window of time should cover multiple workshop periods that fit the time frame of any individual's planned test date.

Using a STEP workbook, NCIDQ candidates can evaluate what the test will cover, how well prepared they are for the topics to be assessed, and further use the workbook as a study guide to increase knowledge of the ideas to be tested through the examination process. To obtain guidance from such materials and enroll in a STEP program, there are applicable fees. For members of the ASID (who developed the program) a registration fee of $275 is required. All other participants must pay $350 to attend these courses. However, for members of both the ASID and IDEC, with proof of IDEC membership, attendance to the seminar is free of charge.

The workbook is included in the workshop price and offers candidates for the NCIDQ several practical exercises and multiple choice question information that closely resembles the actual test configuration. During the workshop, each sectioned test will be administered and reviewed in detail, allowing participants to better understand concepts that were missed and corrected during the course of the seminar.

If a candidate can for some reason not afford to attend a STEP program or cannot find one in a nearby location at a convenient time, it is recommended that the individual search for NCIDQ exam used study materials, in which notes from former seminars and correct answers with some brief explanations have been marked. This will further enhance knowledge and help to create a basis for the examination.

The NCIDQ is a practical analysis that assesses knowledge in six performance domains that are considered to characterize interior design and concept:

  • Contract Administration
  • Contract Documents
  • Design Development
  • Professional Practice
  • Programming
  • Schematic Design

The test itself is divided into two sections of multiple choice and a single practicum section. The two multiple choice sections of the test are made up of 150 and 125 questions respectively, 25 of which are unscored experimental questions in each section. The first is entitled Principles and Practices of Interior Design and the second Contract Documents and Administration. The practicum portion is called Schematics and Design Development requires a tester to complete a design solution for a given application. The candidate must take a program based on a multifunctional facility including at least three of the following specialized areas:

  1. Corporate/office
  2. Retail
  3. Institutional
  4. Residential
  5. Educational
  6. Healthcare
  7. Hospitality

Candidates must create a solution that first interprets the program into schematics, followed by a production of plan drawings, and finally a development of specifications, all addressing the principles of universal design.

The first section of the test, covering design principles, is divided in value by programming (41 questions, 33.23%), schematic (40 questions, 31.78%), and design development (44 questions, 34.99%). Section II, regarding contracting principles is scored based on contract documents (35 questions, 35.03%), contract administration (32 questions, 31.5%), and professional practices (33 questions, 33.47%). In each of these two multiple choice sections, the unscored questions are not identified, and testers are encouraged to answer all questions to the best of their ability.

The practicum section of the exam is divided into four scoring categories: programming, schematic, design development, and contract documents (24.61%, 23.54%, 25.91%, and 2594%, respectively). The scores are received in a range of 200 to 500 points, with 500 being a passing score for all three areas of the exam.

The NCIDQ examination is typically held over a two-day period, usually a Friday and Saturday. A thirty minute time period is scheduled for instruction of each part of the exam. On the first day, candidates receive 3 ½ hours to complete the first section of the exam, receive a break for lunch, and are given 3 hours to complete the second section. The practicum section of the exam is held the next day, divided into two separate portions with an instructional period for each. The morning session allows 4 hours for completion, with 3 additional hours to complete the afternoon portion of this part of the exam.

Preparation for the NCIDQ should be diligent, since the exam is rigorous, difficult, and time consuming. While test scores that do not pass may be challenged, it is usually in vain and is not recommended. Therefore, the receipt of a passing score in all areas of the test the first time depends upon using proper study materials and procedures. Being prepared for the NCIDQ is the most important part of testing, and the best way to be prepared is to enroll in a STEP program, using the materials that received and the knowledge taught to further one's own understanding of design concepts and contracting applications. To find times and locations of both STEP seminars and testing, check the internet for updated information frequently.


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