Have you ever failed the NCIDQ Exam? Sometimes, a little failure can be a good thing.
Scientists who study why some people rebound from setbacks can help us learn how to bounce back quicker. And anyone can develop resilience with a little practice.
The best way to get a handle on that fear is to face the stress head on, crash and burn, and walk away shaken but prepared to do it again.
This helps people manage their fear and emotions in times of stress and bounce back. This is the secret, according to psychiatrists Dr. Steven Southwick and Dr. Dennis Charney, who’ve studied resilience for more than twenty years.
Their research found that factors like having a tight-knit community and a strong network of social support can be critical.
“Very few highly resilient individuals are strong in and by themselves,” Southwick says. “You need support.” When people are exposed to a stressor in a lab, their heart rate and blood pressure don’t go up quite as much if a friend is in the room as they do if they’re alone.
For the NCIDQ Exam, we’ve built both community and failure into Qpractice. We do this for both the Practicum and Multiple Choice exams, IDFX and IDPX.
For example, we schedule full-day mock practicum exams into the study plan towards the beginning. And we do this before we go through all the practicum training, step-by-step, drawing by drawing. Once you’ve failed miserably at space planning in practice, you’re ready to start learning.
Qpractice member Emily finally passed the Practicum by using Qpractice after trying other methods that did not work for her.
How She Finally Passed the NCIDQ Exam
In this video, she shares some of the practicum exam tips she learned that worked best for her.
Lisa League: All right. Hi, I'm Lisa with Qpractice. I'm one of the founders. I'm here with Emily Morley, who I am proud to say passed the Practicum on the NCIDQ. She went with us in the Spring Session of Qpractice. She is very proud to be here. I'm very proud to have her as one of our first members to go through our program. So we're just here to talk about her experience with Qpractice and, when she joined us, the problems she was facing when she started out.
Emily Morley: The two practices within the practicum exam I had passed, section one and two, upon meeting Lisa, but I kept failing the space claiming and also the millwork sections. I desperately needed help. I was not going to take the exam again until I found a different solution to rework my studying habit. I didn't know what I was doing wrong.
Lisa League: Okay, so you'd already taken the exam, and you looked at it and didn't know what to make of it. What other study programs had you done before? What did you do before you tried Qpractice?
Emily Morley: I had done the STEP class, which I thought was great because it gave me a really good overview of what to expect with the exam, what practices were there, and really got me into knowing what to expect. I'm diligent and a self-starter, so I also studied on my own and would spend time writing notes down and studying on my own. The biggest thing before studying with Lisa is that I didn't know what I was doing wrong at all.
Lisa League: Okay, so what do you think was missing? Getting feedback or…?
Emily Morley: Yeah, getting the feedback on the exercises. Not just me utilizing an answer book and comparing that to what I was doing, but really getting first hand feedback on what I was doing wrong with my drawing.
Lisa League: That's one of the things I've found. When you go through the problems and solutions in the answer book and they walk through those, sometimes those are hard to understand. When you walk through them and walk through them with somebody else, you can get them, but when you do your own, trying to figure it out can be a little bit tricky.
One of the things we want to do going forward is to teach people how to grade their own. Really make their own solutions. It'll always be tricky because you never know who will be grading your exam, but if we can get you to think like a grader, it will always help.
Emily Morley: Absolutely. I even had the answer book that NCIDQ prints, where they'll break down an exercise and say what they're doing wrong. Even looking over that, I could still not apply that to myself, to what I was doing wrong.
Lisa League: Okay, so going through the program with Qpractice, how did that really change things for you?
Emily Morley: It was so comforting to know that I had a community center 24/7 that was behind me. Whether it was for an obscure answer I couldn't figure out, or also keeping me in check to make sure I had short-term goals every week, to make sure I was up on the exercises I did know, to really prepare exercises for Lisa's review in time for her personal review, making sure there was time to do the exam, urging me to practice, get it scanned, and let her have enough time to review it before our sessions.
Lisa League: That's one of the things we keep on a tight calendar schedule. You have to have your drawings done, scan and upload them, and be ready, because if you're not, we just keep going. We record it and keep going. If people show up for office hours, they show up. If they don't show up, we record it.
Everyone can benefit and you can come along and watch it later, but I still feel that the people who participate, do the drawings, do the work (and screw up:), and that are there are who really benefit the most. I'm glad you mentioned that.
We had a lot more people that were in the group than did participate and do the drawings. We have people from all over the country, from east coast to pacific standard time. We have people in Hawaii. We have people in all time zones. We really work to accommodate everybody. I know it's not always possible that we can get everybody in, so that's why we record it. I think it is important to keep everybody on track, keep people moving, give you a deadline, and make you get it done. That's the only way to keep it going.
Emily Morley: Yes. Lisa's in Florida and I'm in California, and we made it work with our schedules to touch base. Before, maybe I would have a friend that passed it a few years ago that I could ask a question to, but the test is always changing. Lisa's on top of what's new and what's current, as well as the community, so it was really nice to know the answers I was receiving were the best ones and the most accurate going into it.
Lisa League: I have to mention Donna, my partner, who teaches interior design full-time. She's also constantly researching everything and going back and forth getting feedback. If we don't know something, and there's a chance we don't, someone will ask us something we don't know or a situation will come across that we didn't think about, we'll research it. We'll always work to find the answer and get back to you.
Emily Morley: Donna was great as well. She's great and book smart as well.
Lisa League: What was really different, tools or techniques, that you use that you learned and that we helped you with?
Emily Morley: One of the biggest things I learned time-saver wise was the post-it note method. That is for the space planning exercise. I had heard of it before, but they really refined it to make sure it was super fast. Before I had cut out a single size piece of post-it to lay out on my drawings so I could quickly move around spaces and get a layout really fast.
With Qpractice, I learned how to have different sized post-it notes. I raided Staples. I had memorized a lot of the space, the square footage, of the post-it note and converted it to quarter-inch scale. I knew this yellow post-it was 100 square feet, so when I put that on the page, it really improved my time for space planning.
I'm trying to think of another one. I think just mainly they have worked out all the step-by-step methods of each section of the practicum for you already. You get into a good little rhythm to know what to do with each exercise, which you work toward and get down so you don't even have to think about it.
Finally, something so simple, that memorizing those codes and making sure they're second nature, so when you're in the exam, you're not constantly looking up each one. That was huge.
Lisa League: You waste a lot of time looking those building codes up if you don't know them already. We've actually added multiple choice quizzes to help people memorize those. I'm glad you mentioned that. Those do change. We keep on top of watching those so, if we see a difference, we'll let people know. They have changed slightly from exam to exam, so we do try to stay on top of that for people. They may be different than codes people would use in practice or in their job.
So that's important to be aware of so you know them before you get them on the exam. You can quickly spot a change if you've used it in practice. If you get something on the exam and you know them really well, you can look and go, “Ooh, that's different!” and you know exactly what to do.
Emily Morley: Absolutely.
Lisa League: What's the most important thing that you would want to let other designers know about Qpractice and how it could help them prepare for the NCIDQ exam?
Emily Morley: I would say one of the biggest things is that you are not alone in this. They will work out your kinks and what you need to work on. If you are retaking it, or if you're taking it for the first time, they will give you a really good concrete lesson in what to expect and how to be successful in it. My mom overheard our first office hours. She was in the other room and she said, “Emily, stick to this. These people know what they're doing.”
Lisa League: Well, that's good! That's great! That's good to hear. I'm so glad you passed it and now you know you can go on, you've got your LEED AP, and you've got your NCIDQ certificate. You can get a license and really step up and move ahead in your career. This is a really great opportunity for you to take advantage of now. Thank you very much for sharing your experience with everyone.
Emily Morley: You're welcome. No worries. Thank you!
You can see more member testimonials from all kinds of designers who are using Qpractice to help them pass the NCIDQ Exam.