10 Things You May Not Know About the NCIDQ

NCIDQ blog 10 Things you May not know

1. No license? No problem!

Let’s face it – figuring out if you’re qualified to take the NCIDQ is overwhelming! The NCIDQ website is hard to navigate, and it feels like you can never find the information you’re looking for. Not to mention, there’s a ton of different routes you can take, so it can be a lot of information to absorb. If you’re worried that you won’t qualify to take the exam because you haven’t logged hours under a licensed designer, have no fear! If your boss doesn’t have a license or professional affiliation, you can still log 75% of your hours, and if you’re self-employed, you can count 25%. AAANNND, because the website is confusing to navigate, here’s a direct link from NCIDQ.org to the different routes you can take to become qualified for the exam.

2. No need to log as you go…

We all know the story… “when I was a kid, we had to walk to school uphill both ways!”… Well – in the ‘olden’ days, you had to log your hours as you went. What a pain! But, the NCIDQ has made it much easier! Once you know you have the appropriate number of hours completed, create an account on MyNCIDQ. Here you’ll find the form needed to log your hours. You simply write your place of work, the average number of hours worked each week, and how many weeks you completed. Then, your employer has to sign it and sign the seal of the envelope.

3. Learn from someone else’s mistakes…and triumphs

For me, having copies of ‘pass/fail’ exercises for the practicum was huge! How are you suppose to know you’re doing it “right” if you can’t see an example of a passing solution? While the NCIDQ no longer offers pass/fail solutions to their practicum exercises sold on the QShop, there’s still a way to get your hands on a set of these! IIDA offers bi-annual 6 week long study groups all across the country. In Michigan, it was $75, and I left with nearly $150 worth of study materials including an entire practice practicum with pass/fail examples for each exercise! I have no doubt that these are the reason I passed the practicum with flying colors.

4. There’s an app for that…

Sitting in the doctor’s office waiting room? Riding the bus into town? Mindlessly watching TV while you could be quizzing yourself with NCIDQ flashcards? There’s an app for that! It’s called NCIDQ Flashcards. There’s games, flashcards, and lists of vocab words. It’s great for killing time and brushing up on facts, but beware! There is some out of date content, so don’t rely just on the app to study. If you come across something that’s inconsistent with your Ballast book, always go with Ballast.

5. There’s a website for that…

When I was studying for the NCIDQ, Quizlet was my saving grace. Somewhere out there, there are angels selflessly typing up chapter summaries of the Ballast book and posting them on Quizlet.com. All you have to do is visit the website and type in the exact name of your chapter. There are different summaries based on which volume of the book you have, but I recommend using the most current posts. You can also search for NCIDQ and come across lists of vocab words. For me, every time I read a chapter in the Ballast book, I would go to Quizlet and quiz myself using flashcards or the ‘scatter’ feature which times you while you match up definitions with terms. You can even compare your time to other users. It makes the information more enjoyable to learn and introduces the words to your brain in multiple ways to help it stick better. For a visual learner, this is your new bible!

6. It’s taking over my life!

Okay, I’ll admit it – during the last few weeks before the exam, studying is going to take over your life. It’s just the cold hard truth. You will sleep, breath, and dream in numbers like 60”, 36”, 42”, .6, .8, and if you don’t know what any of those numbers are – then you need to get readin’ sister!

However, leading up to the exam, it doesn’t have to take over your life. I started a brand new business, worked, and studied for the exam all at the same time. My advice? Plan ahead. I started studying 8 months before the exam, and while that may seem like forever, it helped keep me less stressed. I set up a study schedule assigning 1 chapter in the Ballast book 4 days out of the week. Friday was a catch up day in case I didn’t get to it one night, and weekends were time to relax. Plan ahead, and you’ll be okay!

7. Code Alert:

Memorizing building codes can be daunting. My advice would be to memorize what the standard acronyms mean like NFPA {national fire protection association} and then memorize the basic numbers associated with codes.

For example: 701= draperies 8=crocking D4157= Wyzenbeek = double rubs

This is way easier than having to remember that NFPA701 tests the flammability of draperies . If a question on the exam asks which code would cover testing flammability of fabric that has air on both sides, you already know NFPA has to deal with fire protection, and if you know 701 is for draperies, it will probably help you eliminate the other answers. Treat code questions as a process of elimination and just memorize the basics!

8. But what will I write with!?

On the practicum, there are no rules on writing utensils. As long as it’s legible, it doesn’t matter if you use pencil, black ink, red ink, or permanent marker. I happen to be a pen gal, and I went through a lot of pens to find one I liked that wouldn’t smear on the vellum. The very best pen I found was the Pilot G-2 Ultra Fine .38. The ultra fine tip made it so easy to draw little details and I liked using the different colors to color code certain features. For example, I would draw all my plumbing features in blue and turning radiuses in green. All notes were written in red and all walls and furniture in black. This helped each item stand out on the page and easily showed me if I missed something somewhere. I tried drawing everything in black, but in the end I just felt cross-eyed checking my work. NOTE: Be careful not to purchase the G2 .7 pens – the heavier tip will make it harder to draw finer details.

9. Listen to what your momma says…

Practice makes perfect! Corny, right? But oh so true. 5 weeks before the exam, I set up a schedule where I would practice practicum exercises each night. I practiced the same set of exercises over and over which helped increase my speed. Honestly? Very little of the practicum is skill based. It’s based on time management, knowing the codes, and being able to follow a long list of directions. I practiced the ADA bathroom exercise probably 10 times because it’s a quick exercise, and I knew it was an easy one to pass if I could get my speed down.

2 weeks before the practicum, I bought a brand new practice exam from the QShop on the NCIDQ website and did a full 10-hour run through. I highly recommend doing this if you have time! I even took an hour lunch in the middle just like on ‘game day’. After the run through, I had 2 more weeks to review my results and refine my technique. Each time I practiced an exercise, I learned something new and made new mistakes, and this helped me do better the next time.

10. You’re not alone!

I remember how overwhelming it was to take this exam and how valuable I considered the people I knew who had already passed it. I recognize that you may not be as lucky to know someone, and I’m here to help! I’ll be adding NCIDQ coaching to my website this summer. In the meantime, if you have a quick question, feel free to shoot me an email. I’m happy to share my 2 cents!