The National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) offers an examination of the same name to interior designers in order to demonstrate a minimum level of skill and knowledge needed to practice interior design.
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The exam is composed of three sections. The first is the Interior Design Fundamentals Exam (IDFX), which consists of 100 multiple choice questions that allow individuals to display a working knowledge of building systems, construction standards, and design application. Three hours are given to complete the IDFX. The second section is the Interior Design Professional Exam (IDPX) which consists of 150 multiple choice questions in which individuals display their knowledge of building codes, professional practice, and project coordination. Four hours are given to complete the IDPX. The third part of the exam is different from the first two. The Interior Design Practicum (PRAC) lasts an entire day and consists of various exercises concentrating on a variety of skills including space planning, restroom design, and a variety of others (there are seven exercises total).
The first two sections are scored via a computer program and will result in scaled scores ranging from 200 to 800. A score of 500 or greater is considered a passing score. All versions of the exam are considered equally difficult. The third section is scored twice a year by a group of interior design volunteers. The graders are instructed to look at the entire solution provided by the individual in the exam to determine whether he or she displayed competence in that particular area. No single mistake or error will automatically disqualify an individual from passing the Practicum. Each part of the Practicum is scored separately by at least two independent graders. If the two graders disagree on whether a solution displayed a passing or failing knowledge, a third scorer will be asked to make the final determination.
Exam results are issued within 14 weeks of the exam date, though scores are often reported earlier. Results for all sections taken are released at the same time. The first section has the highest passing percentage with approximately 80 percent of all first-time takers passing. The second section has approximately 77 percent of all first-time takers passing. The Practicum portion has the lowest pass rate with 48 percent of all first-time takers passing. No rescoring of exams or appeals are allowed for any portion of the NCIDQ.
Those interested in taking the NCIDQ can register for the entire test at once, and applying for the IDFX can be done before all work experience has been completed. However, the IDFX can only be taken after formal interior design education has been completed. Applying for the IDPX and PRAC can only be done after all work experience has been completed.
Applying for the exam can only be done online at the MyNCIDQ website. The online application review fee is $180 or $90 for only the IDFX. For those only taking the IDFX, supporting documents that will also need to be sent include the candidate authorization and consent form and also official transcripts from all schools attended. A variety of additional supporting documents will need to be provided when applying to take the entire exam (see the NCIDQ website for details). All individuals are reminded that their particular jurisdiction may have additional requirements for licensure and are responsible for ensuring compliance where they plan to practice.
There are two exam application deadlines over the course of the year that are not be confused with the registration deadline. In addition, there are separate deadlines for applying to take only the IDFX versus taking the entire exam. Registration for the exam cannot be completed until the application has been reviewed and approved. Individuals will be notified within six weeks of the NCIDQ receiving the application whether they have been approved. Taking the first two (multiple choice) sections of the exam can be done at any of the Prometric Test Centers across the United States. The Practicum portion of the NCIDQ is only offered in certain metropolitan locations. Not all states have locations where the Practicum can be taken and some states offer more than one city.
In addition to the application fee, there are registration fees for those who want to take the exam once their application has been approved. The charges for the exam are $255 for the IDFX, $300 for the IDPX, and $405 for the Practicum. There are also late registration charges and cancellation charges listed on the NCIDQ website. Registration costs are slightly higher for those who need to take the multiple choice exams in a paper-and-pencil format. The NCIDQ is not considered a test in which respondents are required to recall facts about interior design, but rather that they are able to apply the interior design facts they have learned during their training. A variety of outside organizations offer study tools for the NCIDQ, though the official NCIDQ website has a variety of preparation materials including online quizzes, sample questions, practice design problems (for the Practicum portion of the test), and tips on study groups, flash cards, and time management.
NCIDQ Self-Assessment Module
NCIDQ Study Guide
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by Enoch Morrison | Last Updated: January 9, 2019