NCIDQ Exam Content

Content by Section

The NCIDQ Exam consists of two multiple-choice sections and a drawing practicum, and all three sections focus entirely on public health, safety and welfare. While interior designers must have knowledge in many other areas like accounting, human resources and aesthetics, the exam only tests your knowledge of health, safety and welfare.

The content of the exam is based on a major assessment conducted every several years called a practice analysis. CIDQ completed such an analysis in 2014 (the last one was in 2008) and will be implementing changes over the next year and a half. The 2014 analysis used input gathered from interior design experts, an online survey sent to a large number of interior designers, and an expert analysis of those results. As a result, a few areas of the exam will be slightly modified for upcoming exam cycles, but will cause no disruption in the exam process. The updated analysis ensures that only the most important topics -- the profession’s core competencies -- are covered on the three sections of the NCIDQ Exam.

Through the practice analysis, CIDQ determined that seven content areas characterize the work of interior design:

  • Building Systems
  • Codes
  • Construction Standards
  • Contract Administration
  • Design Application
  • Professional Practice
  • Project Coordination

Multiple-Choice Sections

Many questions on the exam incorporate drawings, pictures, symbols and textual formats typical in the interior design profession, requiring candidates to recall, apply and analyze information.

Each multiple-choice exam includes both scored and unscored items. The unscored questions are "experimental." Analyzing the results of these unscored questions allows us to identify which questions are ready to be used on future exams and which need additional writing and editing. Unscored questions are not identified on the exam; you should make your best effort on all test questions.

CIDQ prepares new versions of the exam regularly and uses statistical equating procedures to ensure that all versions are equal in difficulty.

Multiple-Choice Sections (IDFX and IDPX)

These exams are completed in a computer-based testing center and scored electronically on a standardized scale of 200 to 800. The passing point is anchored at 500.

The Interior Design Fundamentals Exam (IDFX) is available to approved candidates who have completed their education but who may or may not have completed their work experience. The exam includes 100 scored questions and 25 questions that are unscored and experimental. IDFX addresses the content areas of Building Systems, Construction Standards and Design Application. Candidates have three hours to complete the IDFX.

The Interior Design Professional Exam (IDPX) is available to approved candidates who have completed both their education and the required amount of work experience. The exam consists of 150 scored questions and 25 questions that are unscored and experimental.  IDPX addresses the content areas of Building Systems, Codes, Construction Standards, Professional Practice and Project Coordination. Candidates are given four hours to complete the IDPX.

Practicum (formerly Section 3)

The Practicum Exam requires candidates to produce several design solutions. You receive a series of exercises that cover Space Planning, Lighting Design, Egress, Life Safety, Restroom [Washroom] Design, Systems Integration and Millwork Design. All candidates for a given test date receive the same exercises. The exercises require candidates to interpret a program into schematics, produce plan drawings and develop appropriate specifications and schedules. Work products must address codes and the principles of universal design.