I just passed my LEED AP BD+C exam last week with a score of 184/200 with a 170 being the minimum passing score. Compared to the LEED GA the questions and overall test was very difficult! I had trouble with probably 30% of the questions and there were some where I was at a complete lost where as with the GA I breezed through the questions with ease. I will outline my study habits that I went through for this test and give some tips on what I think really helped me pass the LEED AP BD+C.
My study regiment didn’t really start until 3 days before the test; the test was on Monday and started to fully commit to studying on Friday. Turner had a study session two months ahead of my test date and that really helped because it got me thinking and most importantly, started. Our company had a copy of the LEED AP BD+C reference manual so I spent Friday and Saturday reading the entire book from beginning to end except for the appendices. I HIGHLY recommend doing this because this is what LEED is all about; you need to know the requirements for each credit to be able to help the client and owner in deciding which paths to pursue. I also had access to study materials at greenexamprep.com and this was probably what allowed me to pass the test. The website had close to 500 practice questions and this helped prep me for the exam. I spent Sunday taking the specialized practice exams in Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Earth & Atmosphere etc. and on Monday I took 2 practice exams consisting of 100 random questions to prepare me for the actual test. When I say that I didn’t do anything all weekend but study, I’m not lying. I literally sat at my desk all day and studied from the time I woke up to the bedtime but most importantly, I got a good night rest each time and that truly makes a big difference. So here are a few tips for you to pass the exam:
Read the ENTIRE reference manual. Yes, I know it’s 600+ pages but if you are truly committed to passing this test, then you will have to read the ENTIRE manual and highlight and/or take notes as you move along. You want to focus on the requirements and implementation sections to truly understand what you need to accomplish to achieve the credit. This will help you create your foundation and with it you will be able to answer 95% of the questions. I would also stress to try and read it over a couple of days because it is extremely exhausting to look at that whole book for one entire day. I split the categories over 3-days and that seemed to work because it was still fresh in my mind over that period but wasn’t too draining.
Take as many practice questions/exams as you can. This strategy helped me out tremendously for the LEED GA so I did the same thing for the LEED AP. There are a few free sites on the internet that will provide you with a free 100 question practice exam but if you have the money then I would recommend signing up for a subscription at greenexamprep.com. Some of the questions that they had on their practice tests was verbatim of what was on my actual test and the format/questions are eerily similar. You CANNOT pass the LEED AP without practicing on questions and sample exams because this will familiarize you with the rigor of the questions and what pieces of information you will need to know to answer the questions correctly. I also found it very beneficial to take a full 100-question practice exam in similar exam conditions i.e 2-hour limit, no book, head phones on, etc. As the old saying goes: practice, practice, PRACTICE! And yes, we talking about practice. (Ref. Allen Iverson)
Do a “Brain Dump” before the exam. The exam center will give you a 10-minute period to take an optional tutorial on how to use the computer system. TAKE IT! The tutorial will teach you the layout of the exam screen, how to mark questions, the calculator, and how to navigate between questions; the important part of this tutorial is the 8-9 minutes you’ll have after the tutorial. I took this time to do a “brain dump” which was basically writing frantically all the information I had in my head down on paper to help me during the test. You will be provided with 2 sheets of paper and it’s very useful to fill as much as you possibly can. What information should you write? Anything that you might have trouble with or anything that pops into your head. For me, it was some of the tables correlating % and points like the renewable energy thresholds. I also wrote down some requirements that I got confused about like percent needed for open space and restoring habitat. The most important thing about the brain dump is that it gives you a kick start to your exam and really ramps up your brain to get ready for the test.
Take my advice above and you should be fine for the test! Don’t take it lightly because it is a difficult test and you should give it the time that it requires. The scoring must be weighted some how because even though I ended up with a 92% overall, the highest percentage I got in any category was 88% and even a 50% in one category. I really thought I was not going to pass the test because I guessed on a lot of questions but it’s one of those tests where you can study for weeks/months but there will still be questions that will trip you up. We’ve had 4 people in our office take the test and all 4 have passed, including myself. Prepare well and you should have no trouble passing with flying colors on your first attempt.