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How to Prepare for an NCQLP Certification Exam

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The National Council on Qualifications for the Lighting Professions lighting certification exam is a four-hour, two-section exam that includes 180 multiple-choice questions, 80 of which cover job-related case studies. You can prepare for the certification exam by reviewing the NCQLP Lighting Certification Candidate Handbook, forming a study group and using flashcards to help you memorize facts.

Multiple-Choice Questions

Of the multiple-choice questions, 23 require you to recall or recognize specific facts, 58 require you to comprehend, relate or apply knowledge to new or changing situations and 19 require you to analyze and evaluate information, and use this information to arrive at a solution. To prepare, you must know how to assess or identify lighting systems, lighting maintenance procedures, electrical and building conditions, energy usage, developing and using schematic designs, operations and maintenance procedures, responding to bid requests and submitting bid proposals. Because the LC is geared toward lighting professionals with between three and six years of experience, your firsthand experience can help prepare you for the exam, as can reviewing NCQLP-recommended reference materials, such as the IES Lighting Handbook, ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2010, NFPA 70 National Electrical Code, NFPA 101Life Safety Code and the RP16-10 Nomenclature and Definitions for Illuminating Engineering. The Candidate Handbook also includes sample test questions that simulate the types of questions you will see on the exam.

Case Studies

The case-study portion of the exam requires you to be familiar with commercial facilities, institutional facilities, residential facilities, industrial facilities and roadways. You must know how to light art, and about daylighting, exterior and emergency lighting, safety lighting and security lighting. The Candidate Handbook includes a cast-study scenario that simulates the type of questions you will see on the exam.The Handbook also walks you through how to best answer the related case-study questions. To further prepare for this part of the exam, you may want to role-play with one or more people, creating real-world scenarios and addressing how you would approach them and potential problems.

Codes and Regulations

You must understand lighting guidelines, standards and regulations, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, OSHA Safety and Health Standards, and standards specific to ultraviolet lighting. The NCQLP suggests that candidates become familiar with regulations related to lighting across the United States.

Other Recommendations

Though the NCQLP makes a handbook available to LC candidates, it does not offer additional test-preparation materials. It suggests candidates form a study group, spend more study time on their weakest areas,and organize and study reference materials other than the handbook. It also suggests that recording and playing back information can help you study as can creating flashcards for further review. You may also tap into professional lighting organizations for help as well. For example, the New York chapter of the Illuminating Engineering Society has offered an eight-week in-person and web-based test prep study group in the past, and the GE Lighting Institute and Sylvania offer test-prep courses as well. To help lighting professionals prepare for the NCQLP exam, Sylvania's test-prep course involves online knowledge quizzes, interactive group discussions and out-of-session reading and homework assignments.

Keep in Mind

You can apply to take the NCQLP exam as long as you have a bachelor's degree and at least three years of work experience in the lighting industry or six years of experience in total. Certification is good for three years, and you must take 36 credits of professional development every three years to re-certify. You can retake the exam as often as you need to pass it.


William Henderson has been writing for newspapers, magazines and journals for more than 15 years. He served as editor of the "New England Blade" and is a former contributor to "The Advocate." His work has also appeared on The Good Men Project, Life By Me and The Huffington Post.

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