10 Tips for Passing the LEED Green Associate Exam

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Senior Editor BuildingGreen, Inc. Mar 13 2013 LEEDuser Moderator Post a Comment

Despite waiting till the last minute to study, I got a really good score and became a LEED Green Associate. Here’s where I spill all my secrets!

Let’s get one thing straight: I don’t usually procrastinate.

But when I read that being a LEED Green Associate (or, if you must, LEED Green Assoc.—but never LEED GA!) involved “basic” green building knowledge, I figured I had things pretty well under control. I started studying six days before the test.

Oops

There’s a second thing that everyone should get straight on: the exam goes far beyond the basics. It assumes extensive knowledge of the LEED building design and construction (BD+C) rating systems, and the only way to pass the test is to read, master, and in some cases memorize key parts of the BD+C Reference Guide.

Owning the BD+C Reference Guide is not optional. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s cheaper than re-taking the test, and you’ll need it later when you start working on projects anyway.

As a supplement, consider browsing around here on LEEDuser.com. We include a Bird’s-Eye View page on every credit: these answer FAQs and give readers the skinny on what each credit is really about. People frequently use the forums during test prep to clarify things they're not sure of. And like the Reference Guide, LEEDuser will come in handy later.

Also, consider this study guide and practice exam, presented in partnership with GreenStep Education. It is so comprehensive that GreenStep says you don't need the reference guide. Sure wish I'd had this thing when I was studying! You all are lucky....

Now for the secrets!

Here are my (once) tried and true (for me) tips for studying and passing the exam. I hope they help you too. With any luck, I’ll be back in a year or so with tips for acing the LEED AP BD+C exam as well.

(By the way, I took the exam under the v2009 rating system. I've updated this post to speak to the new v4 test—but the basic advice has not changed.)

Beyond the Reference Guide

10. Read the Candidate Handbook very carefully, especially the part where they tell you which material you need to know. Master all of it. They aren’t kidding about this—not even a little bit.

9. Explore LEED Online. Get to know all the rules about registration—including which rating systems different project types are eligible for—as well as certification and appeals, including details about:

  • Credit interpretation requests (CIRs)
  • Templates
  • Scorecards
  • Design-phase and construction-phase credit reviews
  • Timing of different sorts of communications with reviewers
  • Fees

8. Memorize the MPRs. You should be able to recite them like a child reciting Bible verses to the Sunday School teacher. What? You don’t know what the MPRs are? I hate to yell, but GO FIND OUT RIGHT NOW!

Inside the Reference Guide

7. Fully understand energy optimization, onsite renewables, and green power. These are the most important credits in LEED, and nothing will wreck your day like forgetting the rules for RECs. Except possibly not knowing which things count as onsite renewables (combined heat and power from methane, yes; from trash incineration, no).

And how do you sleep at night without remembering which building systems use process energy? or without knowing how to calculate your percentage energy savings above baseline according to the requirements of ASHRAE 90.1-2007 (with errata but without addenda), Appendix G?

6. Know your prerequisites. Be able to list all the prerequisites of LEED for New Construction by heart, and understand the intent of each one.

5. Know your refrigerants. Pay close attention to the difference between the prerequisite and the credit regarding refrigerants (hints: global warming and fire suppression systems). Know when CFCs in the HVAC system disqualify a project from LEED certification (hint: learn the single tiny exception).

Finally, commit to memory the table in the Reference Guide that shows a variety of CFCs, HCFCs, HFCs, and natural refrigerants. Seriously: see if you can replicate the entire thing on a blank page without peeking. They might ask you absolutely anything from that table. Oh, and don’t forget the supplemental materials on refrigerants referenced in the Candidate Handbook either!

4. Know your standards and calculations. You should acquire a reasonable understanding of all the standards and calculations you see in the Reference Guide tome—but there are an awful lot of them.

Based on my real test and the Everblue practice tests I took, these are some of the key standards, codes, regulations, and definitions you might want to get to know. No need to purchase or read the original standards, but make sure you understand exactly why and how each one is used in LEED:

  • ASHRAE 52.2
  • ASHRAE 55
  • ASHRAE 62.1
  • ASHRAE 90.1, including its relevance to light pollution
  • ASTM E 1980, including the difference between SRI, reflectance, and emissivity
  • CDPH Standard Method v1.1
  • CRI Green Label Plus
  • EPAct 1992 as it relates to water conservation (this one’s important! memorize the tables in the Reference Guide!)
  • EPA definition of a brownfield
  • Green Seal-36 and Green Seal-11
  • SCAQMD 1168 and SCAQMD 1113
  • SMACNA

Test prep and test-taking tips

3. Take as many practice tests as you can get your hands on. Since I didn’t start when I should have, I attribute a good deal of my ultimate success to the practice questions and tests I took on everbluetraining.com. I scoffed at the questions while I was reading them, but they turned out be really valuable for three reasons.

The test questions not only sent me back to the BD+C Reference Guide over and over but also gave me a genuine sense of the actual test content. They also taught me to slow down and read much more carefully so I wouldn’t do something stupid like get density and community connectivity mixed up (just to name a totally random example that I’m sure would never happen to me or anyone else!).

Although every test is randomly generated from a large bank of questions, I’m sure companies like Everblue pay employees to take lots of tests so they can write more accurate practice questions. I didn’t try out any other company’s practice questions to compare, but the Everblue ones ultimately turned out to be quite representative.

2. Read, re-read, and re-re-read. And then check your answers twice. They give you two full hours to answer 100 questions. I got through them in about 30 minutes, using the “mark” button to flag a few that I didn’t feel sure about.

Then I took another 30 minutes to go through the marked ones, reading even more carefully. I caught a couple mistakes that way, although two questions remained baffling (I used the “comment” feature to point out the ambiguities, but that only helps the next test-taker; as the Candidate Handbook explains, your score at the end of the two hours is final).

Finally, I used the whole remaining hour to double- and triple-check every single answer. Because really, who wants to pay $150 and drive two hours to take an exam and then do something daft like get geothermal and ground-source energy mixed up? Not me.

Most important of all

1. Start early. Give yourself at least one full, all-day stretch to study—read, take notes, digest, and test yourself on—each of the major credit categories. Give yourself similarly long stretches to study each of the following:


Finally, take a good twelve hours for reviewing it all, including any final practice tests you choose to take.

OK, fine. I didn’t try that last one, but I sure wish I had. (No doubt my preternaturally supportive husband wishes I had as well. Thanks, David!)

How about you?

I hope others will add their own tips and tricks for passing the LEED Green Associate exam in the comments. And hey, I wouldn’t mind some advice on the LEED AP specialties while you’re at it!

As for those who haven’t taken the test yet—it can’t hurt to take Tristan Roberts’ advice for me the morning of : Listen to “Eye of the Tiger” on your way to the exam. Also, study hard, sleep well, and good luck!

72 Comments

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Julian Laze
Sep 04 2016
Guest
17 Thumbs Up

LEED Green Associate Exam!!! Leedv4

Project Location: United States

Hi Paula.
Thanks for your information and your tips... I have the book, but at the end of each chapter I'm seeing questions that I never crossed reading the chapter. I don't know if I'm missing something( maybe there is another book) or do I have to do the research on my own?? My exam is on Nov 23, and so farFloor-area ratio is the density of nonresidential land use, exclusive of parking, measured as the total nonresidential building floor area divided by the total buildable land area available for nonresidential structures. For example, on a site with 10,000 square feet (930 square meters) of buildable land area, an FAR of 1.0 would be 10,000 square feet (930 square meters) of building floor area. On the same site, an FAR of 1.5 would be 15,000 square feet (1395 square meters), an FAR of 2.0 would be 20,000 square feet (1860 square meters), and an FAR of 0.5 would be 5,000 square feet (465 square meters). I'm not convinced that I could pass that. Please help, any tip is very helpful right now. Thank you and all the best

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Paula Melton Senior Editor, BuildingGreen, Inc. Sep 06 2016 LEEDuser Moderator

Hi, Julian! Great to hear from you. I'd be surprised if there are questions that are not addressed within the book, but mistakes happen! I apologize if that's the case. Can you provide an example? I'll see if I can help.

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PRATIK KUMAR
May 24 2016
Guest
26 Thumbs Up

LEED-GA as a student

Project Location: India

Hello everyone,
Kindly help me out in providing a proper knowledge about LEED-GA exams as a student.
As i am a working professional and doing my PG-Diploma in Urban planning as part time,and also interested in writing LEED-GA , m i eligible to write the same as student.

Thanks in advance, Please do reply for the same.
Pratik Kumar

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Paula Melton Senior Editor, BuildingGreen, Inc. May 24 2016 LEEDuser Moderator

Hi, Pratik! I'd be happy to help you sort out your Green Associate credential. Where are you in the process? Have you started, or are you just exploring the possibility of doing it?

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Moataz Sakkary
Aug 08 2015
Guest
139 Thumbs Up

LEED AP BD+C V4 EXAM in one month!

Project Location: United Arab Emirates

Dear All

Please guide me if any other way than studying the USGBC book, as I have to take me Exam by 15 of September???!!

And what is exactly the eight tips companion workbook ?

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Paula Melton Senior Editor, BuildingGreen, Inc. Aug 10 2015 LEEDuser Moderator

Moataz, the companion workbook is part of a study package for the exam. There are 8 study strategies (put together by me based on what worked for me), and then a workbook to help you implement the 8 strategies. There's also an online practice exam with instant feedback on the answers.

Regarding the ref guide, if you are concerned about time, you can purchase the reference guide from USGBC as a pdf and download it instantly, so you don't have to wait for shipping.

I hope this is helping!

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Sarah Vella
Sep 26 2014
Guest
65 Thumbs Up

LEED Green Associate Exam Prep

Hey everyone,
I am planning to take the LEED GA Exam sometime within the next few months. I was just wondering what books are good to study in preparation for this exam. I've been doing some research and there are quite a few out there. Some popular ones I have come across are:
Core Concepts Guide
Intro & Overview BD&C Guide
Studio4 Study Guide

Would anyone recommend anything in particular? I don't really want to buy something I don't need.

Thanks for you help!

Sarah

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Glen Phillips Director of Sustainable Education, GreenCE, Inc. Oct 28 2014 LEEDuser Expert 1522 Thumbs Up

There were several new exam prep resources launched at Greenbuild last week, including print study guides (the one from ATP is especially well done - although it is very content dense). The resource that has me the most excited, however, is the Free LEED Exam Prep course from GreenCE, which includes a full 8-hours of video instruction, 300 practice questions, study sheets, and more.

This might be of specific interest, as it is the only full course of study that is offered for free.

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Monica Pinjani
Sep 22 2014
Guest
68 Thumbs Up

LEED GA v4 exam

Project Location: United States

Hi Everyone
I intent to take the Green GA exam this October. Was initially planning to take the 2009 format exam but due to personal reasons couldn't take it before June 15. Just needed guidance whether the Studio 4 LLC 2009 study guide (2nd Edition) is enough and do I need to invest in the latest v4 revisions? and any references suggestions to the new format will be highly appreciated.
Thanks in advance!

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Gang Chen Author, AIA, LEED AP BD+C , ArchiteG, Inc. Sep 23 2014 Guest 648 Thumbs Up

LEED v4 has many changes, and I think you need to use an updated version of the study materials. There are several available now on Amazon.

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Glen Phillips Director of Sustainable Education, GreenCE, Inc. Sep 23 2014 LEEDuser Expert 1522 Thumbs Up

I believe Studio4 has updated their study guide to version 4, and it looks like it is now available for purchase on their site for $35.

In terms of other education options, GreenCE has been offering LEED v4 Green Assoc. exam prep courses in a live webinar format (on-demand version coming soon), and there are several other education providers who also offer v4 education materials. My suggestion would be to use a v4 aligned study resource, as there have been major revisions to the exam specification (i.e. what topics are fair game on the exam), so while the underlying principles haven't changed much, the exam itself is significantly different.

Best of luck with your preparation!

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Moataz Sakkary Aug 07 2015 Guest 139 Thumbs Up

Dear All

I already booked my exam on AP BD+C on 15th of Sep. this year.

I already had my GA on V3, can u suggest me any way to study for the AP exam from scratch very fast.

or even how to pass the exam because I already booked my exam.

anyone know how much to reschedule the exam ? (fees)

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Paula Melton Senior Editor, BuildingGreen, Inc. Aug 07 2015 LEEDuser Moderator

Moataz, I think you can easily be ready by September 15. Cramming is actually a really good strategy!

There's no substitute for just digging in and memorizing, but, at the risk of being too self-serving, I do recommend our study guide and practice exam! These are designed to help you discern which specific things to memorize, saving you time and headaches. Good luck!

LEEDuser’s Guide to Passing the LEED v4 AP Exam

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Moataz Sakkary Aug 08 2015 Guest 139 Thumbs Up

Paula, do you mean that I can use your study guide and the practicing tests only without referring to the AP BD+C book ?

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Paula Melton Senior Editor, BuildingGreen, Inc. Aug 10 2015 LEEDuser Moderator

Moataz, in theory you could do that, but tbh I would recommend owning the reference guide as well for checking against and reinforcing the content as you study.

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Tonima Ferdous
Jul 07 2014
Guest
184 Thumbs Up

LEED v4 Green Associate

I am planning to take the exam in September 2014. However, I came to know that the study guides will not be released until Fall 2014 (I am not sure about the specific date of release though). Would it be wise to wait until the guides be available in the market, or should I prepare myself according to the reference materials mentioned in the USGBC Candidate Handbook? Thank you in advance.

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Paula Melton Senior Editor, BuildingGreen, Inc. Jul 09 2014 LEEDuser Moderator

Tonima, if you are not pressed for time and are planning to use commercial study materials, I might recommend waiting. It will take a while for test-prep companies to take the exams and make new materials. If you have a reason to take it in September specifically, my guess is that you could use older materials as a guide for what will be on the exam, and then mainly study the BD+C reference guide. That's what I'm doing for the v4 AP exam, which I am ending up taking because I didn't have time to study in May!

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Tonima Ferdous Jul 10 2014 Guest 184 Thumbs Up

I appreciate your suggestions Paula.
In case I do not go for the commercial study materials, did you mean to study the full BD+C reference guide v4 for preparing myself for the LEED Green Associate? Then what about the Green Building and LEED Core Concepts Guide mentioned in the candidate handbook? I apologize that I am bothering you again. However, I have to buy one guide book very soon and that is why I require some clarifications.
Thank you in advance.

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Paula Melton Senior Editor, BuildingGreen, Inc. Jul 10 2014 LEEDuser Moderator

No, you need to study everything they tell you to study, but, as I said in the blog post, the ref guide is the best source of info you can get. The test is NOT as introductory as they claim and is quite focused on referenced standards and other finer points of specific credits.

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Tonima Ferdous Jul 10 2014 Guest 184 Thumbs Up

Thanks a lot Paula. I am going to read your blog post once again.

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Glen Phillips Director of Sustainable Education, GreenCE, Inc. Jul 10 2014 LEEDuser Expert 1522 Thumbs Up

Paula is spot on, as per the LEED Green Associate Candidate Handbook:
"The primary sources for the development of the LEED® Professional Exams are the LEED Rating Systems".

This means that while the other references remain important, including the Core Concepts Guide, the exam will absolutely require knowledge of the intents, requirements, and referenced standards - going well beyond the CCG in terms of detail on the LEED programs.

My suggestion on literature, used to supplement a v4 study course (such as GreenCE's live webinar series starting July 29th), would be to purchase the Core Concepts Guide, and get your Rating System info from the freely available Rating System documents, combined with the intro and overview sections of the BD+C guide that is also freely available.

If you go on to pursue a LEED AP specialty credential, then a copy of the full Reference Guide would be crucial (plus you'd need one as a practitioner anyways).

Just be thankful the references no longer includes the technical and scientific paper on refrigerants.

Good Luck!

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Tonima Ferdous Jul 17 2014 Guest 184 Thumbs Up

Glen, I appreciate your reply. Thanks a lot!

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H KACI
May 18 2014
Guest
362 Thumbs Up

2009 and V4

Hello everyone
I have decided to take the exam just before the system changes to V4.
I ha a couple of questions:
1- Comparing the specifications of 2009 and V4 , it seems the latter is much more simplified. Now I am wondering if I should just reschedule and take the V4?
2- If I should go for 2009 exam , I have one month to prepare. Are all the references (14 I believe) equally important or I can spend more time in few and just flip through the rest?
Thanks a lot LEED community for your advice
Cheers.

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Executive Editor – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. May 19 2014 LEEDuser Moderator

H, regarding v4 vs. v2009, I think both exams will be hard and it's up to you to weigh what matters most—studying for where LEED is going, or where most LEED projects are currently. If you are an active LEED professional you will stay up to date and get expertise on both as  matter of course.

As for studying, my understanding is that you need to cover all your bases.  I would certainly focus on the core of the rating system, but understand that that is not enough to earn a high exam score.

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H KACI Jun 15 2014 Guest 362 Thumbs Up

Thanks Tristan for your feedback.
I ended up sticking to the v2009 Green associate exam which I passed.
I find the exam easier than I expected.
I will focus now on the BD+C exam which will be under v4.
Any thoughts on a preparation plan?
Thanks

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umich grad
May 15 2014
Guest
214 Thumbs Up

Do you have to memorize credit names AND numbers?

Do you have you memorize the credit name associated with each credit number? I thought I read somewhere that USGBC will never ask a question with either the credit name OR the credit number, but that the questions always show BOTH. But I can't seem to find that language anywhere and am wondering if it has since changed? For example in LEED for Homes, do I need to memorize MR credit 1.1 is Water Reuse The reemployment of materials in the same or a related capacity as their original application, thus extending the lifetime of materials that would otherwise be discarded. Reuse includes the recovery and reemployment of materials recovered from existing building or construction sites. Also known as salvage.- Rainwater Harvesting System? Or will USGBC always state the credit number with the name in the questions? Thanks!!

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Heather DeGrella Sustainability Design Leader, Opsis Architecture May 15 2014 LEEDuser Member 1921 Thumbs Up

You don't need to know the credit numbers, but you should know the names. The name is how they ask about particular credits.
good luck!

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umich grad May 15 2014 Guest 214 Thumbs Up

Thank you, Heather!

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S S
Apr 08 2014
Guest
147 Thumbs Up

Regarding LEED GA Exam

Hi All,
I'm preparing for LEED GA exam. I have some doubts. I'd be really grateful if someone is able to answers my doubts:
I have some questions:
1. Will it be sufficient to use the materials given in the candidate handbook for reference ?
2. Is it necessary to memorize or know the number of LEED points pertaining to each credit for all the LEED rating systems?
2.Is it necessary to memorize HVAC requirements for climate zones, standards for Environmental coating, Minimum air flow requirements for continuous flow systems, Standards for water efficient fixtures
Thanks

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Glen Phillips Director of Sustainable Education, GreenCE, Inc. Apr 09 2014 LEEDuser Expert 1522 Thumbs Up

Good questions! As someone who regularly leads online study courses for the LEED Green Associate exam, I can try to answer them.
1. Technically, all the exam questions are derived from the reference materials in the candidate handbook, although many candidates benefit from a study course - especially if this is their first LEED exam or if it has been a while since they have taken a formal exam.
2. At the Green Associate level, you won't need to know specific point values for any of the Rating Systems, although a basic understanding of the credit weightings is important (including a general sense of which categories of concern are most important).
3. Some of these technical details aren't even covered in the reference materials (as listed in the candidate handbook), so they would not be fair game as an exam question. One thing to keep in mind is that because the Rating Systems (NC, Homes, EB) are source documents for the exam, anything that is listed in the credit requirements (edit- such as the water fixture table Paula mentions below) are fair game for the exam. More generally, the LEED Green Associate exam verifies a candidate's knowledge of many green building concepts and LEED, although it doesn't typically require extensive technical (e.g. mechanical engineering) knowledge. The one notable exception to this is regarding refrigerants (which are covered in extensive technical depth within one of the referenced documents), so be sure you know these well.

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Paula Melton Senior Editor, BuildingGreen, Inc. Apr 09 2014 LEEDuser Moderator

I would memorize the EPA table of water-efficient fixtures. Might not be considered fair game, but they show up in practice tests frequently, and they were on my GA exam.

You should also be familiar with referenced standards, yes, including VOCA volatile organic compound (VOC) is a carbon compound that vaporizes (becomes a gas) at normal room temperatures. VOCs contribute to air pollution directly and through atmospheric photochemical reactions (excluding carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbonic acid, metallic carbides and carbonates, and ammonium carbonate) to produce secondary air pollutants, principally ozone and peroxyacetyl nitrate. content standards for various product categories.

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Maria Sideri
Feb 19 2014
Guest
145 Thumbs Up

Taking the LEED Green Associate 2009 or V4?

I'm an architect, with a masters in energy efficiency and sustainable building and I want to take the LEED Green Associate Exam in June. Problem is, due to other obligations, I will only have exactly one month to study before the system changes to V4.

So I'd like your opinion. Is one month of studying enough? Are there any benefits in taking the 2009 exam, or should one just go for V4?

Thanks in advance!

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Paula Melton Senior Editor, BuildingGreen, Inc. Feb 19 2014 LEEDuser Moderator

It depends how much of that month you can devote to studying, I'd say. You're already pretty aware of the "basic concepts" they claim the GA exam is about, but in reality, it's about basic LEED concepts and information, not basic sustainable design concepts.

I am taking the v2009 AP exam this spring even though I know more about v4 at this point, mainly because it's convenient for me. I think it makes sense to know both rating systems, but if you were to take the v4 exam, you'd have a leg up on those who know v2009 and haven't practiced v4 yet. You also wouldn't have to memorize two sets of numbers! I'd say it's a toss-up. :-)

Maybe you have the ideal combination: GA exam under v2009 and AP exam under v4. The GA exam isn't going to change nearly as much as the AP exams, I wouldn't think.

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Michael D. DeVuono Senior Staff Engineer, T&M Associates Feb 19 2014 LEEDuser Expert 6142 Thumbs Up

The Green Associate exam focuses on basic green building concepts and ideas. The specialty exams test your knowledge of the rating systems.

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Paula Melton Senior Editor, BuildingGreen, Inc. Feb 19 2014 LEEDuser Moderator

Michael, that is only true in theory. In practice, the Green Associate exam requires fairly extensive knowledge of LEED rating systems: definitions, referenced standards, and even how to use LEED Online. That is hardly what I would call basic green building concepts and ideas.

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Susan Walter Specifications Director, Populous Feb 19 2014 LEEDuser Expert 22673 Thumbs Up

I'd have to agree, Paula. I forced our GA candidates in house to study the first page of each LEED credit in BD+C so they would have an understanding of the credit, the points available, intent and requirement. I also recommended they read the benefits section, understand the scorecard and points available in each category. They all cried foul about this extra work but everyone who took the GA exam came back and said the RG work they did helped them pass the exam.

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Gang Chen Author, AIA, LEED AP BD+C , ArchiteG, Inc. Feb 19 2014 Guest 648 Thumbs Up

You need 1 to 2 weeks typically to prepare for the LEED Green Associate Exam, and some people have done it by spending 10 hours in total.

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Michael D. DeVuono Senior Staff Engineer, T&M Associates Feb 20 2014 LEEDuser Expert 6142 Thumbs Up

I think my reply was taken out of context, and was likely too brief to be honest.

The changes to the GA exam will not be very dramatic, due to the fact that the GA exam tests basic green building knowledge (which includes basic credit library knowledge,and basic LEED knowledge). If any calculations changed between versions, it should not have much bearing, because the GA exam does not get that deep.

Read through the credit summaries and know the credits exist, and what rating system they belong in, but you arent going to need to know how to do the calculations and detailed implementation aspects of each credit.

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Executive Editor – LEEDuser BuildingGreen, Inc.
Jan 03 2014
LEEDuser Moderator

updated moderation rules for this page

Some good discussion on this page -- thanks all. I want to set a high bar and am increasing the moderation requirements for anyone posting to this page who wants to talk about their own products, or products that they worked on.

 I will have a couple of conditions for approving those posts:

1) Offer a tip about studying that doesn't relate to choice of study guide.

2) Diclose your affiliation in your profile and in your post.

3) Tell us one good thing that is unique to your company's materials.

4) Tell us one thing you'd like your  company's materials to improve upon.

5) Tell us about cost of your materials.

6) (New requirement) Have at least one useful post elsewhere on the LEEDuser forum that helps someone out with a question, and/or provides useful insight into how credits are being reviewed, etc. In other words, show us that you know your stuff! Looking for posts to respond to? Check here.

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Michael Rogovin
Dec 30 2013
Guest
331 Thumbs Up

Practice tests for GA

Everyone I spoke to says the best prep is practice tests. There are a variety of offerings, from th USGBC to private vendors, mostly with about 7-800 questions ranging in cost from $40 to around $200. Other than from the vendors themselves, any thoughts about which offerings had questions most similar to what I would find on the real GA exam? While the logical choice might be the USGBC, it is the most expensive and I don't know that its questions are any better than anyone else's. Thanks

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Paula Melton Senior Editor, BuildingGreen, Inc. Jan 02 2014 LEEDuser Moderator

Michael, the questions on any practice test are not very similar to the real thing. The writers take the exams over and over but can't actually reveal the questions to the public. I think the best approach is to think of the practice questions as a learning tool rather than an accurate representation of the test. With the SATs and such, practice tests are often based on retired questions, but the pool of possible questions is much smaller with these, so that's not really possible.

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Michael Rogovin Jan 02 2014 Guest 331 Thumbs Up

Thanks. Sounds like any of the products would be good for that. I don't mind investing in my career, but I do mind overspending for comparable product.

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Heather DeGrella Sustainability Design Leader, Opsis Architecture Jan 03 2014 LEEDuser Member 1921 Thumbs Up

GreenCE has practice questions for the Green Associate and the BD+C that are very similar to the real tests.They come with pop-up descriptions that explain in detail why the answer you chose was correct or not correct.

They are simulated like the real exam, which gets you familiar with the interface of the exam. But because of that you aren't able to print them out and have to have internet connection, which some might consider the downside.

Here are the tips I used to give for studying for the exam:
• LEEDuser – great forum for asking questions related to LEED and for their glossary: www.leeduser.com
• Go thru the practice questions and practice exam multiple times. When you get something wrong, don’t just memorize the correct answer but make sure you understand why right is right and wrong is wrong
• Study those refrigerants!
• Understand the difference between Life Cycle Cost Analysis and Life Cycle Assessment
• Keep AlbedoAlso known as solar reflectance: the fraction of solar energy that is reflected by a surface on a scale of 0 to 1. Black paint has a solar reflectance of 0; white paint (titanium dioxide) has a solar reflectance of 1. The standard technique for its determination uses spectrophotometric measurements, with an integrating sphere to determine the reflectance at each wavelength. The average reflectance is then determined by an averaging process, using a standard solar spectrum, as documented by ASTM Standards E903 and E892./Reflectance, EmissivityEmissivity is the ratio of the radiation emitted by a surface to the radiation emitted by a black body at the same temperature., and SRIA measure of the constructed surface's ability to stay cool in the sun by reflecting solar radiation and emitting thermal radiation. It is defined such that a standard black surface (initial solar reflectance 0.05, initial thermal emittance 0.90) has an initial SRI of 0, and a standard white surface (initial solar reflectance 0.80, initial thermal emittance 0.90) has an initial SRI of 100. To calculate the SRI for a given material, obtain its solar reflectance and thermal emittance via the Cool Roof Rating Council Standard (CRRC-1). SRI is calculated according to ASTM E 1980. Calculation of the aged SRI is based on the aged tested values of solar reflectance and thermal emittance. straight
• Read through all of those referenced readings in the GA Candidate handbook
• Understand Integrated DesignAn integrated design process (also called "integrative" design by some proponents) relies on a multidisciplinary and collaborative team approach in which members make decisions together based on a shared vision and holistic understanding of the project. Rather than a conventional linear design process in which a design is passed from one professional to another, an integrated process has all key team members talking together through out the design and construction process as they share ideas and use feedback across disciplines to iteratively move toward a high-performing design. Approach (also called Integrated Project Delivery)

Full disclosure: I used to work for GreenCE and helped developed the questions along with a broader team. Because I don't work for the company anymore, I am not on top of current prices.

Good luck!

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María Fernanda Aguirre Architect LEED AP BD + C - LEED AP ID + C Renato Miranda and Associates
Jun 12 2013
Guest
498 Thumbs Up

I took both tests

I took LEED Green Associate and LEED AP BD+C tests both at the same time. Worst idea ever, at one instance I was about to take my things and leave crying (my native language is spanish, thus, for us is much more stressing). The goog part of this story is that I passed both tests with 95%. I took the tests on 2012 and eventhough I had the Study guide for LEED Green Assoc. the best for me and some coleagues who join me on giving the tests was to use the Reference Guide as study material. I was able to compare both and by farFloor-area ratio is the density of nonresidential land use, exclusive of parking, measured as the total nonresidential building floor area divided by the total buildable land area available for nonresidential structures. For example, on a site with 10,000 square feet (930 square meters) of buildable land area, an FAR of 1.0 would be 10,000 square feet (930 square meters) of building floor area. On the same site, an FAR of 1.5 would be 15,000 square feet (1395 square meters), an FAR of 2.0 would be 20,000 square feet (1860 square meters), and an FAR of 0.5 would be 5,000 square feet (465 square meters). my advice is to have the reference guide and study using it even if you don't want to be AP with specialty.
Complementing this, I explored GBCIThe Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) manages Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building certification and professional accreditation processes. It was established in 2008 with support from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)., USGBC and Leedonline web sites which have all the material you need regarding CIRCredit Interpretation Ruling. Used by design team members experiencing difficulties in the application of a LEED prerequisite or credit to a project. Typically, difficulties arise when specific issues are not directly addressed by LEED information/guide, LEED Interpretations, Fees, MPRs, etc. and the good thing about this is that you get familiarized with web sites related to LEED.

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Paula Melton Senior Editor, BuildingGreen, Inc. Jun 12 2013 LEEDuser Moderator

Congrats on passing your exams, María! And thanks also for the words of caution about taking both at once.

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Gang Chen Author, AIA, LEED AP BD+C , ArchiteG, Inc. Jan 02 2014 Guest 648 Thumbs Up

Study and pass the LEED Green Associate Exam can be very easy: You should spend about 60% of your effort on the most important and fundamental LEED material, about 30% of your effort on sample exams, and the remaining 10% on improving your weakest areas, i.e., reading and reviewing the questions that you answered incorrectly, reinforcing the portions that you have a hard time memorizing, etc. I am the author for "LEED Exam Guide Series," including "LEED Green Associate Exam." The best feature for our books is they will save your time and money since we put all the information you need to pass the LEED exams in one place. For example, one of my readers study and pass the LEED Green Associate Exam by spending 10 hours IN TOTAL studying only "LEED Green Associate Exam." The content of our books are good but we'd like to improve the layout of our books. "LEED Green Associate Exam" is available at Green Exam Education.com for $69.98, and often available at a discounted price of $47.48 (32% off).

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Kathryn West LEED AP BD+C, O+M, Green Globes Professional, JLL Jan 03 2014 LEEDuser Member 7344 Thumbs Up

I'll say that I used Gang Chen's mock exam for my LEED AP O+M Exam in 2012 and I thought it was great.

I'm not selling anything nor have I ever sold study materials so I don't think the moderation rules apply to this post :)

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Bill Swanson PE, LEED AP Integrated Architecture
Mar 15 2013
LEEDuser Expert
23759 Thumbs Up

Why not GA?

It seems the whole LEED industry is abbreviation. SSc8, MPR's, AP BD+C, RECA Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) is a certificate representing proof that a given unit of electricity was generated from a renewable energy source such as solar or wind. These certificates are able to be sold, traded, or bartered as environmental commodities, where an electricity consumer can buy the renewable energy attributes of electricty to support renewable energy, even if they are consuming generic grid-supplied electricity that may be supplied by nonrenewable sources., CIRCredit Interpretation Ruling. Used by design team members experiencing difficulties in the application of a LEED prerequisite or credit to a project. Typically, difficulties arise when specific issues are not directly addressed by LEED information/guide, LI, H, FSCIndependent, third-party verification that forest products are produced and sold based on a set of criteria for forest management and chain-of-custody controls developed by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), an international nonprofit organization. FSC criteria for certifying forests around the world address forest management, legal issues, indigenous rights, labor rights, multiple benefits, and environmental impacts., VOCA volatile organic compound (VOC) is a carbon compound that vaporizes (becomes a gas) at normal room temperatures. VOCs contribute to air pollution directly and through atmospheric photochemical reactions (excluding carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbonic acid, metallic carbides and carbonates, and ammonium carbonate) to produce secondary air pollutants, principally ozone and peroxyacetyl nitrate., CFC, ASHRAE, EPA, ect, ect. I hear everyone refering to the tests as either the GA or the AP. And people who pass the GA test as GA's. So I guess I don't understand why USGBC (oops, GBCIThe Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) manages Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building certification and professional accreditation processes. It was established in 2008 with support from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).) doesn't want us to use the term 'LEED GA'. If we can use 'LEED AP' I'm not seeing the problem. Is this some sort of insult? A legal issue where GA is trademarked by another organization? Just curious if anyone knows why.

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Executive Editor – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Mar 15 2013 LEEDuser Moderator

You left out my favorites.... SCAQMDSouth Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) is the air pollution control agency that regulates stationary air pollution sources in parts of southern California, including Orange County and most of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside County., SMACNAThe Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association (SMACNA) is an international association of union contractors, in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Brazil., and WURAG. I wonder why they didn't follow AIA and do "LEED AP Assoc." for the second tier. Then there would be one less acronym.

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Paula Melton Senior Editor, BuildingGreen, Inc. Mar 15 2013 LEEDuser Moderator

In the LEEDv4 drafts, they have also stopped the acronym/numbering system for credits. Maybe it's a conscious decision to make things seem less opaque and clique-ish. Just an uneducated guess, though.

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Claire Moloney Content & Community Manager Poplar Network
Mar 14 2013
Guest
198 Thumbs Up

Re: Tips for Passing the LEED Green Associate Exam

Thanks for a great post, Paula! I took the exam in December 2010 as a Cornell student, and I didn't use the BD+C reference guide. Instead, I used the study guide that came with the course that I took, created flash cards from it, and took as many practice tests as I could (which I agree, is essential for passing the exam). I passed with a 95% - without ever reading a reference guide, going on LEED Online or reading USGBG's other "references" in the Handbook. The BD+C reference guide contains a lot more information than you need to know as a LEED Green Associate (it's really meant for the LEED AP BD+C exam) - and study guides are usually much more concise, cheaper, and contain additional information that you need to know that isn't in the reference guides (like LEED Online or CIRCredit Interpretation Ruling. Used by design team members experiencing difficulties in the application of a LEED prerequisite or credit to a project. Typically, difficulties arise when specific issues are not directly addressed by LEED information/guide info). Since I'm a visual learner, I found writing my own flash cards and testing myself was very important for passing the exam. You can buy them, but I think that writing them out myself really helped. Now, since I graduated, I work with Poplar Network, which has it's own brand of LEED exam prep products. Based on my experience studying for the exam and listening to a lot of green building professionals questions is that they don't know how to prepare once they have the right materials. For this reason, we created a memorization guide that explains how to study for the exam based on the way that you learn (audio, visual, kinesthetic). It also explains memory tricks from memorization experts who have won memory contests (yes, they exist!), and how you can adapt them to the LEED material. I thought the people reading your article about how to study might be interested in this guide. This comes for free with our LEED Green Associate study bundle (sold for $149). One thing I do wish we had at Poplar, like you mentioned above, is the ability to mark questions to go back to in our exam simulator. Each time I've taken the exam, I've prepared with exam simulators from various companies that don't have this feature, but found it extremely helpful on the actual exam, like you said. We'll work on adding this to our system so that people can learn how to make the most of it while they practice.

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Executive Editor – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Mar 14 2013 LEEDuser Moderator

I appreciate the helpful tips, Claire, and information on Poplar's offerings.

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Kathryn West LEED AP BD+C, O+M, Green Globes Professional, JLL Jun 28 2013 LEEDuser Member 7344 Thumbs Up

how do you learn about LEED Kinesthetically? Change a bunch of air filters? :)

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Executive Editor – LEEDuser BuildingGreen, Inc.
Mar 14 2013
LEEDuser Moderator

other providers

Great post, Paula, and congratulations!

We'd love to hear questions and comments from other LEED Green Associates who have taken the exam, or are thinking about it.

I'm guessing we might get some comments from representatives of companies promoting study materials. Based on experience, I will have a couple of conditions for approving those posts:

1) Offer a tip about studying that doesn't relate to choice of study guide. 2) Diclose your affiliation in your profile and in your post. 3) Tell us one good thing that is unique to your company's materials. 4) Tell us one thing you'd like your  company's materials to improve upon. 5) Tell us about cost of your materials. Thanks!

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David Hubka Director - Operations, Transwestern Sustainability Services Mar 14 2013 LEEDuser Expert 4004 Thumbs Up

Great post Paula!
That was earily similar to my Green Associate exam content, especially the refrigerant part. I was surprised at all the refrigerant questions, and the in-depth detail of the questions. Definately spend time on the refrigerant chart and referenced standard "The Treatment by LEED of the Environmental Impact of HVAC Refrigerants".

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Kathryn West LEED AP BD+C, O+M, Green Globes Professional, JLL Mar 14 2013 LEEDuser Member 7344 Thumbs Up

I passed without the BD+C Reference guide. I bought practice tests and a book by Michelle Cottrell (showed up on Amazon when I searched for LEED Green Associate) then I got stressed 3 days before the test and bought the USGBC Study Guide which didn't really have new information just some new quiz Q+A. I think one of the quiz sets I got was from Studio 4 LLC. I'm not affiliated with any of those study materials.

When I was studying for the LEED AP O+M test I'd put little notes on things like cleaners/pest control products to remind me which credits were associated with those products (easier to memorize than just words on a page). I also read the credit language out loud and recorded it using my iPhone and would play it while I was in the car... so I never wasted a minute when I could be studying!

quizes are the most important I think because they show you where you are weak and where you might have misinterpretted the credit language.

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Ron Ho May 26 2013 Guest 190 Thumbs Up

I agree on the abbreviations portion.
It got me rather confused at the beginning of my exam preparations for LEED exams!

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Brendan Jackson Sep 17 2013 Guest 158 Thumbs Up

chatted briefly with a 0 waste contractor in my area about getting into what he does and he said the 1st thing to do would be getting a LEED green associates. What makes getting a LEED green associates so important and what kind of opportunities does it open for you? I really want to work in sustainable construction and i'd like to know if going through with this is really the right choice for me.

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Yoseika Castillo Muñoz LEED AP, Interior Architect , c_arquitectura Sep 26 2013 Guest 322 Thumbs Up

what is the single tiny exception of the CFC´S in HVAC?
am confused! haha it is that there is no win-win solution?

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Kathryn West LEED AP BD+C, O+M, Green Globes Professional, JLL Sep 26 2013 LEEDuser Member 7344 Thumbs Up

If the building is connected to an existing chilled water system... you can demonstrate that phasing out the CFCsChlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are a compound of carbon, hydrogen, chlorine and fluorine, once commonly used in refrigeration, that depletes the stratospheric ozone layer. is not feasible. That must be done by a third party... if the simple payback period is longer than 10 years then the phase out is considered not economically feasible.

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Kathryn West LEED AP BD+C, O+M, Green Globes Professional, JLL Sep 26 2013 LEEDuser Member 7344 Thumbs Up

another good tip that wasn't mentioned here:

Make a 1 page "cheat sheet." Copy this sheet over and over again.

Then when you get into the test you have 10 minutes to "practice using the computer." For those of us born after 1960, we probably don't need to practice using the computer mouse. Take that time to instead "dump" all the information you know onto the piece of paper/marker board they give you at the testing center. ASHRAE 90.1 = Energy, ASHRAE 62.1 = ventilation, HFCs have ODPOzone Depletion Potential (ODP) is a measure of ozone impact a chemical has relative to CFC-11 (trichlorofluoromethane), which has a ODP of 1. of ~0 but high GWPGlobal Warming Potential (GWP) is a measure of substances’ ability to absorb heat and warm the atmosphere relative to carbon dioxide, which has a GWP of 1, over a given time period. , etc. That can help you keep your cool when you get asked some question 'cause you can just refer to your "cheat sheet"

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Heather DeGrella Sustainability Design Leader, Opsis Architecture Oct 07 2013 LEEDuser Member 1921 Thumbs Up

Hi Tristan,
I agree with the comment about keeping comments non-proprietary. One thing I value about LEEDuser is exactly that rule. That being said, I would ask that the reference to a private company in Paula's post above be removed, as there are many companies that provide good practice question. By the way, in case people haven't heard, USGBC has posted the official information on the sunset date for the current version of the exam (based on LEED v2009 material). The deadline to take the exam is "before June 2014" which I guess means by May 31, 2014. Good luck everyone!

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Executive Editor – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Oct 07 2013 LEEDuser Moderator

Heather, Paula's post follows the rules that I set out earlier, which was easy for her since she was providing a broad range of tips and is not affiliated with an exam prep company. Again:

1) Offer a tip about studying that doesn't relate to choice of study guide. 2) Diclose your affiliation in your profile and in your post. 3) Tell us one good thing that is unique to your company's materials. 4) Tell us one thing you'd like your  company's materials to improve upon. 5) Tell us about cost of your materials.

Thanks for the tip on the sunset date.

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Yoseika Castillo Muñoz LEED AP, Interior Architect , c_arquitectura Oct 28 2013 Guest 322 Thumbs Up

yeeeih am a LEED NOW :D thanks to you I was able to organize my self to study alone, very helpful info & tips you rock!

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Paula Melton Senior Editor, BuildingGreen, Inc. Oct 29 2013 LEEDuser Moderator

Congratulations, Yoseika!

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Luis Mendez Nov 14 2013 Guest 156 Thumbs Up

Everything OK, but for one detail, i started studying 6 months before the examination and i concentrated only on the list of documents on: http://www.usgbc.org/credentials/leed-ga/prepare , and i also reached an excellent score, what i could confirm is that the test does not go beyond these documents, i mean any additional knowledge is not bad for anyone but i read your article three days before the test and i got really discouraged because i thought i still would need to master the whole reference guide content, but it was not so. If you only concentrate on understanding the material indicated by USGBC you will surely succed.

If your intention is to go on to the next step and become a LEED AP, then you must master oll of the Reference Guide.

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Paula Melton Senior Editor, BuildingGreen, Inc. Nov 18 2013 LEEDuser Moderator

Thanks for your comments, Luis! I agree that the test doesn't go beyond those documents. However...just reading the rating systems isn't enough. You need to be very familiar with the referenced standards within them in order to succeed at the test. The Reference Guide isn't the only way to accomplish this, but it's a reliable way.

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Gang Chen Author, AIA, LEED AP BD+C , ArchiteG, Inc. Dec 26 2013 Guest 648 Thumbs Up

Thanks for sharing. I think LEED GA is a registered trademark by another organization. That is why the USGBC and GBCIThe Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) manages Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building certification and professional accreditation processes. It was established in 2008 with support from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). is not using it.

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H KACI May 14 2014 Guest 362 Thumbs Up

Hello everyone
I have decided to take the exam just before the system changes to V4.
I ha a couple of questions:
1- Comparing the specifications of 2009 and V4 , it seems the latter is much more simplified. Now I am wondering if I should just reschedule and take the V4?
2- If I should go for 2009 exam , I have one month to prepare. Are all the references (14 I believe) equally important or I can spend more time in few and just flip through the rest?
Thanks a lot LEED community for your advice
Cheers.

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Kinga Kluz Jun 12 2014 Guest 110 Thumbs Up

hello evereryone ! I am looking for a good guidebook leed v4. Anyone can recommend me something- which contains the info about the v 4 system?

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David Hubka Director - Operations, Transwestern Sustainability Services Jun 16 2014 LEEDuser Expert 4004 Thumbs Up

The v4 User Guide is a good place to start, you can download it for free here: http://www.usgbc.org/resources/leed-v4-user-guide

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Mei Velas-Suarin Environmental & Social Development Professional Jul 04 2014 Guest 45 Thumbs Up

Hello Paula, and everyone! Thank you, Paula, for this very helpful article and tips! (I just signed-in today.) :) I plan to take the LEED Green Associate exam, hopefully, this year. This is really a helpful site.

Yoseika, congratulations! I really want to follow your "self-study" route. What were the materials that you had used and how long did you prepare for it? I will also try to check if I can email you directly.

Thanks, everyone! Keep the tips coming! Happy weekend!

Cheers,
Mei

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