Our Director of Sustainability passed the new WELL AP Exam using GBRI’s WELL AP Exam Preparation Program. Let’s have an inside look at the WELL AP exam through the eyes of Jeslin Varghese.
The WELL Building Standard is a performance-based system like LEED that focuses exclusively on the health and wellness of the people in buildings. While the LEED rating system and other green building rating systems looks more closely at environmental sustainability, the WELL standard focuses on the health and wellness of occupants within buildings.
A WELL AP possesses the knowledge and skills necessary to support the WELL certification process. 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.
Q.1 – How hard is the WELL AP exam?
Jeslin : In my experience, the exam is not as hard as the LEED AP exam. So if there were a scale, I would put LEED Green Associate on one end, WELL in the middle and LEED AP exam in the end.
Q.2 -How long is the exam?
Jeslin: The exam is 2 hours long and has 100 questions that represent all WELL concepts, WELL certification and synergies. You would not need 2 hours. I took a 7 minute break (the exam clock still runs when you take a break), went over questions I marked for review, reviewed all answers and still managed to finish 10 minutes earlier. If you practice taking mock exams, this won’t be a problem at all.
Q.3 – What was the exam like?
As mentioned in my previous post and the course, questions represent WELL concepts..
The exam is based on the Sep 2015 Well certification guide (For example recertification requirements for Core & Shell are different in 2015 and 2016 versions)
There are no questions that required you to pick more than 1 answer.
There are a lot of FACT based questions.
Questions differentiating preconditions from optimizations
There are a few simple calculation based questions
There are a few documentation/verification questions
There are a couple of questions related to reference standards
Q.4 – What’s the passing score? What was your score?
You need to score 170/200 or 85%. I got 95%. You get a category breakup. For example, mine was 100 for 3 categories, 90 for 4 categories, etc.
Q.5 -Did you use any test prep?
Yes. I used GBRI’s All-inclusive exam prep that included self-paced video modules, a stand alone study guide, audio files, practice exams, mock exams and memory tools. I didn’t use all of this. Since I take the train to work, I used my commute to read the study guide, the memory sheet to revise, practice exams and 5 mock exams to test my strengths and weaknesses. Important wellness facts, glossary terms and documentation were highlighted and marked in the study guide, which helped a lot.
Q.6 What study materials should one use?
If you do not plan to spend any money on study guides or exams preps, you could just download the WELL certification guide and standard. Make sure you download the appropriate version of the guide. There are FREE exam prep resources available as well. Understand all concepts, features and parts within each feature. Try to relate features. Test yourself by asking questions on requirements for a particular precondition or optimization or some parts within. There is a lot of information and strategies you will see repeated across WELL concepts. For example – Carbon filters – You will see this in the Air Feature (under inorganic contaminants). You will again see Activated Carbon under other air features and water features. UVGI is another example that you would see in Air, Water and Mind. Particulate matter is another one. Even if you decide not to use any test preps, I highly recommend taking GBRI’s Mock Exams or Practice Tests.
Q.7 – How much time should one study to get a decent score on the WELL test?
This depends on so many factors. I have been reading the material for a month or so but did serious studying for a week. Based on my experience and your schedule, I recommend:
- For people who are busy with current job or school:
- 1 hour to study and 1/2 hour to revise and test yourself a day x days a week – 4 weeks. Week 5-6- Mock Exams and Week 7 – Take the test.
- If you are a part-time student or employee – I believe you can knock this out in 3-4 weeks
Q.8 -Do you have any advice about what not to do?
Don’t overload yourself with multiple study resources and guides. This might make you feel there is a lot to study and go through. You might even feel overwhelmed. Once you have started studying, do not procrastinate. It’s better to keep the momentum. Otherwise, you will be wasting a lot of time studying the same thing again and again.
Q.9 -What helped you get a high score?
Memorization techniques from the exam prep guide helped me a lot. For example – This one is already mentioned in the guide – 12-34-45-56-65-76-88. These feature numbers mark the cut-off numbers between preconditions and optimizations in every WELL concept. You can see a pattern here to memorize this. Apart from that, I made a few stories of my own to remember preconditions and optimizations. I have included them in a video available on YouTube as well.
Another thing I did was search for a particular term, keyword or standard within the guide to see where else it’s mentioned. I would then take notes of them.
Q.10 – Where to start? And When to start?
As the saying goes -Today is that day you were worried about yesterday. There is no auspicious time to start. The first step is to educate yourself on the basics and deciding whether to earn this credential or not. The basic courses are available FREE. The actual exam fee is a bit expensive in my opinion. Once you decide, keep going. For me, I learned a lot of information with respect to wellness by preparing for the exam. As far as technique goes, I believe there is no right, wrong or perfect technique. Some techniques work for us while others do not. That’s completely okay. When we know how we learn best in terms of our learning style, we are able to apply appropriate study techniques – be it for an exam, training, job or real life.