Do I need to do many practice questions to prepare for a LEED exam?

There is NO absolutely correct answer to your question. People learn in many different ways. Personally I am NOT crazy about doing a lot of practice questions: think about it, if you do 700 practice questions, you’ll have to read 700 questions, and each question has at least 4 choices. That is at least 2,800 choices and it means a lot of words for you to read. I have seen some third party materials that have 1,200 practice questions. That will cost you even MORE time to go over the materials.

I prefer to spend most of my time to read, digest and really understand the fundamental materials, and MEMORIZE them naturally by reading the materials multiple times. This is because the fundamental materials for ANY exam will NOT change, and the scope of the exam will NOT change for the same main version of the test (until the exam moves to the next advanced version), but there are thousands of ways to ask you questions.

If you have a limited amount of time and effort like most people, it is more efficient for you to focus on the fundamental materials and actually master the knowledge that GBCI wants you to learn. If you can do that, then no matter how GBCI changes the exam format or how GBCI asks you the questions, you will do fine in the exam.

“Strategy 101 for the LEED Green Associate Exam is that you must recognize that you have only a limited amount of time to prepare for the exam. So, you must concentrate your time and effort on the most important content of the LEED Green Associate Exam…

The key to passing the LEED Green Associate Exam, or any other exam, is to know the scope of the exam, and not to read too many books. Select one or two really good books and focus on them. Actually understand the content and memorize it. For your convenience, I have underlined the fundamental information that I think is very important. You definitely need to memorize all the information that I have underlined. You should try to understand the content first, and then memorize the content of the book by reading it multiple times. This is a much better way than “mechanical” memory without understanding. ..

Most people fail the exam NOT because they cannot answer the few “advanced” questions on the exam, but because they have read the information but canNOT recall it on the day of the exam. They spend too much time preparing for the exam, drag the preparation process on too long, seek too much information, go to too many websites, do too many practice questions and too many mock exams (one or two sets of mock exams can be good for you), and spread themselves too thin. They end up missing out on the most important information of the LEED exam, and they will fail.”

—Quoted from pages XIX, XXI and 6 of “LEED GA Exam Guide”

To me, Memorization and Understanding helps each other. Understanding always comes first. If you really understand something, then Memorization is really easy.

For example, I’ll read a book’s first chapter very slowly but make sure I REALLY understand everything in it. I’ll take whatever it takes for me to REALLY understand the materials, I do NOT care others are much faster than me in reading it. Then, I’d re-read the first chapter again. This time, the reading is so much easier, and I can read it much faster, and then I’ll try to re-tell the content in my own language: I re-tell the substance, not the formats or particular order of things. This is a very good way for me to understand and digest the materials, and ABSORB and TAKE the content with me.

I’ll repeat the same procedure for each chapter, and then keeping re-read the book until I take the exam. This achieves two purposes:

1. I keep reinforcing the important materials that I already have memorized, and fight against human brain’s natural tendency to forget things.

2. I also understand the content of the book much better by reading it multiple times.

If you asked me to memorize something without understanding it first, it’ll be very hard for me to memorize it; Even if I memorize it, it’ll be very easy for me to forget it.

I always find doing too many practice questions takes too much time and is not efficient. Doing 2 or 3 sets of practice questions can be helpful, NOT 7 sets or 12 sets.

This is my suggestion, and it may help you.

Copyright 2010 Gang Chen, Author, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

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