NCIDQ Exam: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How is the exam developed?

The CIDQ Board works with a professional testing company to develop, administer and score the exam. The Board carefully documents each step in the test-development process, and subject-matter and testing experts provide multiple reviews to strengthen the validity of the exam. Continuous evaluation of the exam's quality and reliability maintains the exam's validity as a measure of knowledge and skill in interior design.

Review the Exam Development page for details.


What is covered on the exam?

The exam covers a broad range of knowledge and skills that interior designers use in their daily practice. The exam tests only knowledge and skills that protect public health, life safety and welfare. It does not test knowledge that is not critical to public safety, such as design history and furniture styles.

Review the Exam Content page for details.


How many sections are there on the exam?

There are two multiple-choice sections (a half-day each) and one practicum section (a full day). You must pass all of them to complete the exam.


Do I have to pass the exam to be licensed?

Yes. The NCIDQ Exam is recognized in the United States and Canada as the qualifying exam for the interior design profession. As such, states and provinces with registration (licensing) statutes have stipulated that interior design professionals must successfully complete the NCIDQ Exam in order to be licensed.


How often does CIDQ update the exam?

The multiple-choice sections are updated with new questions for each exam. New practicum exercises are given on each exam. The underlying "blueprint" of subject areas covered on the exam is updated approximately every several years to reflect changes in interior design practice. The most recent analysis was conducted in 2014 and changes will be rolled out over the next year and a half.


How much does it cost to take the exam?

Click here to see current exam fees. All prices are in U.S. dollars and are subject to change.


I passed some sections of the old exam before it changed. Can I apply credit from those sections toward the current exam?

No. You must pay for and pass all three sections of the current NCIDQ Exam to receive the NCIDQ Certification. There are no exceptions to this policy. Passing the exam and receiving certification show the public that you are at least minimally competent when you were issued the credential. When candidates are allowed to take individual test sections over many years or decades, it is more difficult to make this claim.


Is there a time limit for how long I have to take the exam?

Yes. You must pass all three sections of the exam within a five-year window or retake any sections you have not passed.

If you started taking the exam in 2009 or earlier, you must complete all three sections by Dec. 31, 2014. If you haven't completed and passed all three sections in that time, you must retake all three.

If you started taking the exam in 2010 or later, you must complete all sections within ten exam windows of your applying for the exam. The same criteria as above apply -- if you haven't completed and passed all three sections in that time, you have to reapply and retake all three. That's because new applicable professional skills emerge all of the time and are reflected on the most recent versions of the exam. So going beyond the five-year (10 exam) window makes some of your knowledge obsolete.