Preparing for the NCIDQ Exam

As you prepare for the exam, remember:

1) Stick to the basics. Don’t over-think the questions or be distracted by the way something is done in your office. The purpose of the exam is to protect public health, safety and welfare by demonstrating that you're qualified and competent in those areas. There are no tricks or hidden agendas.

2) Experience counts -- a lot. The NCIDQ Exam tests the application of facts as they relate to public health, safety and welfare. It is practice-based, so your best preparation is to have well-rounded experience in a diversity of practice areas.

Resources for Preparation

CIDQ has several tools to help you prepare. Outside companies have also developed study tools. Because CIDQ writes the exam, we don't review or endorse any other company’s exam prep resources and are not responsible for errors found in those materials. Outside test prep providers are not involved in any way with developing or scoring this exam.

The CIDQ resources will tell you what is on the test, but they will not “teach” you what you need to know.

We have outlined the content of the exam on our web site, so you can see exactly what will be tested.

Here are more to prepare. Click on these links to jump to that section of the page below.

Practice Analysis

This document is essentially the blueprint our exam writers use when they write test questions. While much of this document is based on a technical analysis we conducted to validate the exam, some people find it helpful to see the kinds of tasks that are defined in today’s practice.

The most useful parts for your preparation are Appendix K and Appendix M. You can best use this information by first reading through all of the task areas for each section and highlighting areas that are less familiar to you. Then, spend extra time reviewing and studying those areas.

STUDY TIP: Use colored pens or highlighters to help you prioritize what's most important  for you to study. For instance, use yellow to highlight areas you know the least well, green for areas you are somewhat familiar with, and blue for areas you understand the best. Use this list as your study outline.

Download a PDF of this report for free.

NCIDQ Exam Preparatory Materials

Make sure you have all the tools you need to prepare for the NCIDQ Exam.

Visit our new online store, QShop, to purchase your exam study materials!

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Practicum Exam Prep

CIDQ’s Practice Design Problems (PDPs) help you prepare for the newly formatted practicum section of the exam by simulating the actual testing experience. The new PDP is a complete sample exam that includes all the kinds of exercises you will find on the actual exam.

NCIDQ’s Practice Design Problems come with:

  • Problem booklets and codes for all three parts of the exam
  • 18” x 24” vellum drawing sheets
  • A booklet of passing and failing examples with our comments (click here for a sample page)
  • Older PDPs come with online examples of passing and failing solutions

New PDPs will be released after each practicum exam. Practice Design Problems are available to anyone; you don't have to be an approved exam candidate to purchase one.

Important PDP information

First, use the printed PDP to simulate an actual exam scenario. Give yourself the same amount of time to take the test that you'd take for the real exam, under the same conditions (no reference materials, cell phones, etc). Get a feel for the timing and the pace of the actual test day.

Second, review the solutions when it’s convenient for you. Read the comments that show why different aspects of the candidate’s solution were rated pass or fail. Compare the solutions to your completed practice problems, and use this information to assess areas where you might need extra study. Learn how the exam is scored here.

Remember, the NCIDQ Exam is a practice-based examination; the best preparation is well-rounded, diverse experience.

Multiple-Choice Exam Prep


New practice materials for IDFX and IDPX are now available exclusively through the Prometric delivery system. Each practice test consists of 50 multiple-choice questions meant to simulate the questions on the IDFX and IDPX exams. During the practice tests, you can mark a question and return to it later. At the end of the practice test, you receive a report that provides your results by content areas of each section. These results can help you see where you're strong or weak and to study accordingly.  At the end of the exam, you will also receive the rationale for test answers you missed.

You can only complete the exam once, but you have up to 10 days to finish it.

When you order, you will receive an authorization code unique to you. Use this code to  access the practice test.

Purchase your multiple-choice practice tests now!

NCIDQ Exam Reference Materials

Most of the content of the NCIDQ Exam is taken from a body of knowledge that is generic to the practice of interior design. A well-rounded professional practice experience is the best preparation for the exam. However, it also helps to review other interior design resources, especially in areas where you have less skill or experience.

The materials listed here can provide helpful supplements to your study. They don't  represent the entire body of information that might appear on the tests, and CIDQ does not  guarantee all of the information contained in these references. Although the list may include more than one reference per content area, one such reference may be enough — and other resources that are not on the list may adequately cover the content area.

Standard Forms and Documents

NOTE: To prepare for the exam, you need to be familiar with the project forms, contractual agreements and construction documents commonly used in the practice of interior design. These forms are individually or jointly copyrighted and provided by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and the International Interior Design Association (IIDA).

Examples include:

  • Standard Form of Agreement between Owner and Designer
  • General Conditions to the Contract for Furniture, Furnishings and Equipment
  • Forms for change orders, addenda/um, and bonding of bids, performance and materials

Trade Journals/Magazines/Product Manuals

A number of industry publications provide current technical information.

The following building codes are currently in use in various parts of the United States and Canada:

  • IBC – International Building Code
  • Life Safety Code of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
  • National Building Code of Canada, 2005 edition


  • Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) and ADA-ABA (Architectural Barriers Act) Guidelines
  • American National Standards Institute (ANSI), “Specifications for Making Buildings and Facilities Accessible to and Usable by Physically Handicapped People”
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Standards and Practices

Reference Books

CIDQ uses a wide variety of books as references when developing multiple-choice exam questions. This list is not exhaustive, but it does represent books that are frequently used by our exam writers.

  • Binggeli, Corky. Building Systems for Interior Designers, second edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., |
  • Ballast, David. Interior Construction & Detailing for Designers and Architects, third edition, Professional Publications, |
  • Ching, Francis D.K. Building Construction Illustrated, fourth edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., |
  • Ching, Francis D.K. and Winkel, Steven R. Building Codes Illustrated: A Guide to Understanding the 2006 International Building Code, second edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., |
  • Coleman, Cindy, editor. Interior Design Handbook of Professional Practice. McGraw-Hill, Inc., |
  • De Chiara, Joseph, Panero, Julius and Zelnik, Martin. Time-Saver Standards for Interior Design and Space Planning, second edition. McGraw-Hill, Inc., |
  • Downey, Joel and Gilbert, Patricia K. Successful Interior Projects Through Effective Contract Documents. R.S. Means Company, Inc., |
  • Evan Terry Associates, P.C., editors. Pocket Guide to the ADA: Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities, third edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., |
  • Farren, Carol E. Planning & Managing Interior Projects, second edition. R.S. Means Company, Inc., |
  • Gordon, Gary. Interior Lighting for Designers, fourth edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., |
  • Harmon, Sharon Koomen and Kennon, Katherine E. The Codes Guidebook for Interiors, fourth edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., |
  • International Code Council, Inc. 2009 International Building Code, |
  • Karlen, Mark. Space Planning Basics, third edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., |
  • Knackstedt, Mary. The Interior Design Business Handbook: A Complete Guide to Profitability, fourth edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., |
  • McGowan, Maryrose and Kruse, Kelsey. Interior Graphic Standards. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., | Amazon.caStudent Edition @ |
  • McGowan, Maryrose. Specifying Interiors: A Guide to Construction and FF&E for Commercial Interiors Projects, second edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., |
  • Mitton, Maureen. Interior Design Visual Presentation: A Guide to Graphics, Models, and Presentation Techniques, third edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., |
  • Peña, William M. and Parshall, Steven A. Problem Seeking: An Architectural Programming Primer, fourth edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., |
  • Piotrowski, Christine M. Professional Practice for Interior Designers, fourth edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., |
  • Piotrowski, Christine M. and Rogers, Elizabeth A. Designing Commercial Interiors, second edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., |
  • Reznikoff, S.C. Interior Graphic and Design Standards. Watson-Guptill, |
  • Willbanks, Amy; Oxford, Nancy; Miller, Dana and Coleman, Sharon. Textiles for Residential and Commercial Interiors, third edition. Fairchild Publications, Inc., | not available
  • Winchip, Susan M. Fundamentals of Lighting. Fairchild Publications, Inc., |
  • Winchip, Susan M. Sustainable Design for Interior Environments. Fairchild Publications, Inc., |