The WELL Building Standard: What is it?
For those of you who are just getting started with WELL, The WELL Building Standard is the first building standard to focus exclusively on the health and wellness of the people in buildings. It takes a holistic approach to health in the built environment addressing behavior, operations and design.
The WELL Building Standard, just like LEED, is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and wellbeing, through 7 concepts– air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind.
Just like LEED, WELL certifies building spaces. WELL Certified building spaces and WELL compliant core and shell developments can help create a built environment that improves the nutrition, fitness, mood, and sleep patterns.
If you think about it, each feature of the WELL Building Standard™ is ascribed to the human body systems that are intended to benefit from its implementation. This enables project teams to classify the intended benefits of each WELL feature and develop a comprehensive set of strategies. While there are different ways to group the body’s various systems, the WELL Building Standard considers each feature’s impact on these categories of body systems:
– Cardiovascular, Digestive, Endocrine, Immune, Integumentary, Muscular, Nervous, Reproductive, Respiratory, Skeletal and Urinary
Now that we’ve covered what WELL is, let’s cover some information about the WELL AP Exam.
So who is a WELL AP by the way?
The WELL Accredited Professional or WELL AP credential signifies knowledge in human health and wellness in the built environment, and specialization in the WELL Building Standard. A WELL AP possesses the knowledge and skills necessary to support the WELL certification process.
It is a credential similar to a LEED AP in that it demonstrates a professional’s mastery of the WELL rating system and ability to utilize it on project sites and contribute a deep understanding of the rating systems intentions and implementation strategies. To become a WELL AP, all candidates must pass the WELL AP exam.
Who can become a WELL AP?
There are no other prerequisites to sit for the WELL AP exam. The only requirement to register to take the exam is being 18 years or older. It is recommended you have experience with WELL projects, however it is not a requirement.
Just like LEED, the exam is developed using GBCI’s rigorous test development best practices and is designed to test a candidate’s competency to perform the duties of a WELL AP.
Is a WELL AP credential right for me?
Do you consider yourself a leader in your industry? Are you committed to placing health and wellness at the center of building design and performance? Then the WELL AP credential may be right for you!
How do I register for the exam?
The first step is to create an account with WELL online at www.wellonline.wellcertified.com. After you sign up for a free account, you will get a welcome email. Once you have an account with WELL online, the next step is to register for the WELL Exam!
How much does it cost to take the WELL Exam?
Before June 30, 2016, the WELL AP exam registration fee was $600. Since July 1, the fee is $800. You should also be aware, the exam fee is discounted for USGBC members, LEED APs and LEED Green Associates.
After you register for the exam – you will get a confirmation email from WELL online with a link to schedule your exam with Prometric. With the link, you will be able to schedule your test session at a Prometric testing center near you.
Exam sessions are available year round through Prometric test centers worldwide. If you would like to locate your nearest testing center and view availability, please visit prometric.com/gbci and click on “Locate.”
Also note that your exam application will expire in 1 year from the date of exam registration beyond which you will not be able to schedule your exam. One may contact GBCI to request one six month extension of this one-year period.
Once you schedule the exam, you can confirm, cancel or reschedule an exam on the Prometric website.
What’s the exam like?
The exam is similar to what we see with the LEED Green Associate, LEED AP and other credentials. It is a computer-based exam so you’ll take it at a Prometric center.
The exam assesses candidates’ abilities at three cognitive levels: Recall, Application and Analysis.
- Recall Items: These items assess a candidate’s ability to recall factual material that is presented in a similar context to the exam references.
- Application Items: These items provide the candidate with a novel problem or scenario that the candidate can solve using familiar principles or procedures described in the exam references.
- Analysis Items: These items assess a candidate’s ability to break the problem down into its components to create a solution. The candidate must not only recognize the different elements of the problem, but must also evaluate the relationship or interactions of these elements.
It’s a timed test and you’re allotted 2 hours for the exam. Be prepared to commit 2 hours and 20 minutes for the exam. Total exam time is broken out as follows:
- An optional 10 minute tutorial
- The 2 hour exam
- An optional 10 minute exit survey
There are 100 questions and the primary language for the exam is English. Exam question and answer options are displayed on screen. The computer records your responses and times your exam. You are able to change your answers, skip questions, and flag questions for later review. The exam has both scored and unscored items. Note that all items are delivered randomly throughout the exam and candidates are not informed of an item’s status, so candidates should respond to all the items on the exam.
Candidates will receive the results at the test center immediately following the test. The WELL AP exam is scored between 125 and 200. You have to earn a 170 or higher to pass and earn your WELL AP.
Your exam score will be displayed on screen at the end of the exam and you will receive a printed report of your results from test center staff.
What questions should I expect to see on the exam?
The WELL Building Standard and the “Introduction to the WELL Building Standard” are both helpful resources. The exam is based on the expertise of leading practitioners in the field of design, health and wellness in the built environment.
So diving a little deeper into what the exam covers, here’s a breakdown of the questions by concept. Remember the 7 concepts the WELL Standard is based on?
- Knowledge Domains
- Air (13 questions)
- Water (8 questions)
- Nourishment (8 questions)
- Light (11 questions)
- Fitness (8 questions)
- Comfort (10 questions)
- Mind (9 questions)
- WELL Certification (10 questions)
- Synergies (8 questions)
You can see beyond the 7 main concepts there is also a section on WELL certification process and Synergies. There are also 15 pre-test questions that round us off to 100 questions.
These questions test candidates’ abilities to recall factual information learned from the WELL standard guide, they test candidates’ abilities to identify a solution for a scenario or problem given in a question and also tests the candidate’s ability to analyze the relationship or interaction between multiple elements of the rating system.
WELL AP Credential
As soon as you have passed the WELL AP exam, you can use the title “WELL AP” and/or the logo.
Just like the LEED credential and most other credentials out there – you are required to earn Continuing Education to maintain your accreditation. WELL APs have 2 year reporting periods just like LEED APs.
In this 2 years, 30 total hours have to be completed. 6 of those 30 hours have to be WELL specific. A WELL specific course would have an explicit connection to the WELL rating system, whether it’s discussing the concepts, implementation strategies, etc. It would include the relevant health research to accommodate the discussion of the WELL concepts or features as well.
How do I prepare for the exam?
What study resources are available for WELL AP Exam? How do I study, Where do I start? Etc etc..
Exposure to concepts around health and wellness in the built environment through educational courses, volunteering, or work experience prior to testing definitely helps.
You may check www.gbrionline.org/well for free exam prep resources. You can also check out our exam resources loaded on the USGBC platform.
Just like the LEED Exam, the exam is multiple choice. You will be required to pick one correct answer from a group of multiple answer choices. For some questions, you will be required to pick multiple correct answers. Not to worry, the question will specify how many correct answers to pick. As far as study resources, you may download the WELL building standard which is FREE to download now from the WELL online website. However, reading and memorizing the entire standard is not required and not recommended especially if you can’t afford to lose your time. Many of the test takers have limited amount of time since all of us are busy with a full time job, school and life in general. Plus each of us are different the way we learn and grasp information. At GBRI, we have developed a multitude of exam prep options and based on your needs and circumstances, you can pick one or more.
Remember, the key is knowing what to learn to pass the exam, not the whole thing.
I have listed some of our resources here. Please visit our WELL Exam Prep Page for more details, free resources, webinars, etc.
GBRI is an American Institute of Architects (AIA) Education Provider and a USGBC Education Partner. Other than being an education provider, we are not affiliated with the WELL rating system nor GBCI that administers the WELL and LEED exams. We do not benefit monetarily from any exam registration or certification fees.