Passing the NCIDQ Exam begins with solid preparation and a consistent training schedule. At Qpractice we run you through drills that both our members and we ourselves have used to increase our speed, performance and test scores. With these best practices, you can knock out those little – but crucial – things that can too easily sideline you and instead keep your eye on the ball, zeroing in on the ultimate goal: passing the test itself. Before and during test day, use the following plays from our strategic playbook to coach yourself, develop a tactical game plan, and reach your own career-building victory.
BEFORE TEST DAY
- Get a hotel room if you live out of town.
- If you live in the same area as the local test center, survey the area for traffic – know ahead of time so you have an estimate on the travel time and parking situation.
- DO NOT go find out on the test day itself.
- Make sure the name on your ID matches the name on the Letter of Admission. Ladies, use your maiden name or married name. The bottom line is, the name should match.
Plan an approach:
- Practice hand drawing and stick to a method that works best for you.
- Try both space planning with sticky notes and with bubble diagrams in practice.
- Do not suddenly try something new on test day. Practice multiple times with tracing paper over the vellums of previous NCIDQ Practice Design Problems to give yourself the training for completing the hand drawings quickly on exam day.
Prepare your supplies:
- For a list of the tips and tools we recommend and why, read this post: Must-Have Practicum Problems & Tools
- Become thoroughly familiar with the Guide to the NCIDQ Practicum Examination, which we linked to within the post.
- Do not depend on your testing center having drafting tables. Take your own portable drafting board (remove the parallel bar, it is faster to use a T-square instead). Illustration or mat board could also be used. Make sure your board fits within the 30 in x 48 in surface allowed.
- Use a case or a big plastic trash bag to protect your supplies from getting wet if it rains on test day.
- Prep your templates and tools that you use most frequently. Templates and tools should be weeded out during practice to those that are most useful. Save time not having to fumble through too many templates on test day.
- Use approved templates. Qpractice Members have used and recommend the ASID Washington State Chapter templates. Use different colored Sharpies to mark which scale or items in the template you will be using most often. For example: The 60 in turning radius or 30 in x 48 in clear floor space.
ON TEST DAY
- Arrive early between 7:30am-7:45am.
- Bring your Letter of Admission and Control Number.
- Bring your Photo ID.
- Have your drawing supplies and board ready to go.
- Get organized in your assigned space. Keep your drawing area neat because this will help your speed and keep those often used tools within reach.
Practicum Part A Space Planning Strategies:
1| Timesaver rule of thumb: Complete the easy problems first and allot the extra time for the challenging drawings.
> Lighting (11%) 1 hour: Complete lighting first so you can get this out of the way quickly and devote the remaining time to Space Planning.
> Space Planning (23%) 3 hours -Track your time. Practice this drawing 3 to 5 times until you can comfortably complete in less than the required time while meeting all of the program requirements.
2| Get your ducks in a row on the plumbing trench: At one point or another, even the most prepared and practiced designer can have a deer-in-the-headlight moment during the 3-hour time crunch of the NCIDQ Space Planning Exercise. Though it may seem daunting, it is not impossible to do and can easily be broken down into digestible pieces.
While there are many considerations for the space planning problem, we have found that many designers are unfamiliar with the plumbing trench, making it one of the most misunderstood areas of the exam. Once you understand the plumbing trench, it makes space planning much easier, because it is your starting point in space planning. Think of it as the backbone in space planning, and once you have it down, the rest of the space can be planned around it according to the criteria in the program instructions.
Simplify your approach by keeping these tips in mind:
- Any plumbing fixture with a floor drain (water heater, toilet, shower, tub, mop sink, and their supply) should go on the trench.
- You can typically extend the trench for a combined total of 20 feet, but always defer to the instructions in your program.
- Other plumbing must be on a wall connected to the trench, typically within 10 feet. Refer to the program instructions.
- Neither the plumbing supply nor drain lines can pass through a doorway.
3|Always label the following:
- Turning radius
- Clear floor space (where applicable for accessible spaces; circulation)
- Corridor widths and show the turning radius at egress and change in direction
- Push/Pull clearance at doors
- Heights: Outlets (if non-standard or GFI outlets) and Counters (in accessible spaces)
- Furniture, especially if unrecognizable
- Room names and sf/m2, but do this last so that your drawings are neat and easy for the graders to read
Meeting all the program requirements and completing the entire drawing is the main goal. Simple solutions are best. Do NOT over think and do NOT embellish so you can use your energy in completing the drawing within the timeframe. Happy space planning!
Want to learn more about other factors for the space planning problem or other practicum drawings? Join us for Qpractice Office Hours on Saturdays.