When we launched our multiple-choice practice tests for the first time earlier this year, one of the first complaints we got was “Why doesn’t NCIDQ tell me why the questions in the practice tests are right or wrong?” The world of licensure testing is different from the tests with which most of us are familiar, and the standards for high-stakes professional exams are different from college exams. NCIDQ’s exams are specifically designed to be fair to the candidates, reliable to the public, valid to the profession and defensible in a challenge. In order to do that, we can’t tell one person something and not tell everyone.
For example, if we explained why answer A was right and answer B was wrong on a practice test that you purchased, then you would have an advantage that someone else might not have. If we explained in a public forum why each answer was correct, then we are in effect “teaching” interior design, and that’s not the purpose of the examination, nor is it the role of NCIDQ.
In order to maintain fairness and reliability, we can only tell you what we test, not teach you what you need to know. It’s a subtle distinction, but an important one, especially since the NCIDQ Exam is about protecting the public. Hands-on experience is the best way to learn what you need to know to pass a practice-based exam like the NCIDQ Exam.
Our Web site lists the content areas and how many questions are in each content area. We even post our practice analysis (PDF download) study online, which is essentially the blueprint for the exam. In this way, NCIDQ provides complete information on what will be tested without compromising the standards or security of the exam.
The questions on NCIDQ’s multiple-choice practice tests represent the same percentage of exam content on the actual exam. The score report shows how you did in each content area, so that you know where you might need additional study and experience.
Creating valid test questions – whether for practice or use on an exam – is not cheap. A good question may take hours of work from volunteers and consultants to finalize it from the first draft to when it becomes a live question. The questions on the practice exam are not the “throw-away” questions. They are specifically designed to be as valid as a live question. We are working on additional questions so that we can offer a more robust product, but each question has to be written, tested and validated with references before we can even consider it.
You can learn more about the practice tests here.
NCIDQ® is an organization of regulatory boards and provincial associations in the United States and Canada whose core purpose is to protect the health, life safety and welfare of the public by establishing standards of competence in the practice of interior design. More information about the organization may be found at ncidq.org.