Every year around this time, after people have taken the exam and received their preliminary scores — and one day soon when people get their final scores — the whining starts.
At the same time we're having a party and celebrating, some of you will fail. It's sad, but it's a fact of life. Not everyone will pass the NCIDQ Exam this time.
If you’re one of the people who didn’t pass: I understand your frustration. You are not alone. All of us fail sometimes.
It's what you do now that will determine whether or not you pass the exam next time. Your negativity is really a reflection of your attitude and shortcomings, not the exam process. Just like one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch, your negativity could pollute everyone and everything around you.
It's okay to feel sad, even angry, if you didn’t pass – but the difference between amateurs and professionals (you are a professional, right?) is what you do with your disappointment and anger.
Here’s what I recommend you do, instead of moping or pouting:
Learn from your mistakes.
Accept failure for what it really is – a learning opportunity. But to make the most of it, you'll have to act on what you learned.
There are many reasons that people fail the NCIDQ Exam.
- They underestimate the exam
- They believe they are poor test takers
- They don't make time to prepare
- They don't read and follow directions
- They have poor reading comprehension
- They don't understand the rules of the game
- They don't have the experience
- They're just not that into it
or the big one —
They just don't understand what the exam is really all about.
Sometimes I'll hear from someone that the exam is nothing like what they expected. The material wasn't like the stuff they studied, or the case studies weren’t like what they do at work every day, or the questions were nothing like the book — you name it, and I’ve heard it from Qpractice students.
And they're right.
At least about one thing.
But to pass the exam, you won’t get everything you need from a book. Or a course, or from taking a practice test.
While all these things help (and can certainly make the difference between passing and failing), if you're missing this one thing, nothing else matters —
The NCIDQ Exam is not a test of any book or study material.
The exam is designed to test knowledge, tasks, and skills deemed important to a competent interior designer. It's a test of all this knowledge and experience, organized by what stage of a designer's career that this knowledge is obtained. In school, within two years of professional practice, or after.
Your own personal exposure, comprehension, ability to apply what you've learned, and mastery of all of this is most affected by your work experience. It's not simply a matter of how many years of experience you have, but exposure and mastery in these areas.
When I spoke with all the designers who became part of our team or Qpractice Experts Panel, that one thing was perfectly clear. Every single designer who scored 100% in a content area actually performed tasks directly related to that content area in their job.
Every. Single. One.
This is why you're not even eligible to apply for the exam until you have at least several years under your belt. But no matter how many years of experience you have, if you don't have experience with a certain area, you're going to have to pick up the slack.
You may not get experience in all of the topics on the exam, but you can still pass. A good plan of study can help fill in some of the gaps. By joining our study group, you’ll get to discuss some of your weaker areas with other professional in the group who DO have experience in that area.
This is also one of the reasons why different designers who follow the same course of study and take the same exam will perform completely differently.
Just remember, it's not personal.
Celebrate your successes.
Make progress, not excuses.
Many times members will provide feedback on the exam in terms of a situation at the testing center where something did not work correctly, or an example of a specific question or topic that they felt was incorrect or not appropriate.
Sometimes these may be experimental questions that do not count towards your score. There can be up to 25 of these types of questions on some exams, which can feel like a lot – as much as any of the regular knowledge areas.
But instead of saying, “The test wasn’t fair” or “The system is rigged against me” you can use your wrong answers to grow as a student, and to cement your knowledge. If you research something you feel was incorrect, and provide supporting evidence for your reasoning, that research will actually help you in more exam topics. This will increase your chances of passing next time.
Here at Qpractice, we’re always looking to grow, too. If you have questions about how our prep courses aligned with the material on the test, let us know.
Perhaps there was content you didn’t have experience with, or weren't aware of, and we're happy to look into it for you. Much of our content has been built upon our members contributions and feedback over the years.
Take the opportunity now, and use your temporary setbacks as opportunities to grow and learn. When you do this, you’ll be able to change the outcome next time you take the exam.