Expert Advice on Green Buildings

LEED AP CI vs. NC: Which Exam is Easier?


Marie asks: Which is easier to take, the New Construction or the Commercial Interior Exam?


Hi Marie:

The answer is totally subjective to the person taking the exam. If we had to choose (don't hold us to this) its our GUESS that the NC exam is more difficult than the CI exam. The NC exam study guide is over 400 pages long and, broadly speaking, the scope of a new construction (ground up) project is typically much more complex than an interior retrofit or design.

One could speculate that while the paperwork levels required for both LEED types may be comparable, the margin for error on an NC project would be slimmer than on a CI project. There's no easy answer to your question.

Hopefully someone's out there who's taken both exams who can testify as to their opinion on this subject!

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Expert Advice and Comments
rpfjr's picture

RE: Which Exam is Easier LEED NC or LEED CI??

CI may be harder, actually, to prepare for because the materials and support/study groups are far fewer.

Rob is the founder of

sdegaro's picture

My $0.02 on which exam is easier...

I have taken both exams and agree that it's subjective. I took the original LEED AP exam in 2002, but I'm basing my comment on that (which is an outdated with the new exam and accreditation process) and a formal exam preparation program that I offer to co-workers. I took the ID+C exam last December. Because the systems are actually pretty similar, taking both makes the second exam exam unfairly easy.

I will offer this though as a comparison. The BD+C exam actually tests three systems: New Construction, Schools and Core & Shell. The Commercial Interiors exam is only one system. I look at it two ways. First the BD+C exam has many more credits and differing requirements to cover the three systems. The ID+C only has the one set to cover. The level of detail and depth of the questions was similar between the exams, so a broader range of credits (BD+C) is in my opinion the harder exam because there's more to be tested on, but everyone will have their own opinion.

Scott DeGaro, CCCA, LEED AP BD+C, O+M, ID+C