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How to Pass the LEED Green Associate Exam

Step-by-step Instructions

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So you’ve decided that you’re ready to become a LEED Green Associate? Great! The world needs more LEED Green Associates! You’re in the right place because this page contains all the background information, resources, and links that show you how to pass the LEED Green Associate Exam on your first try. Also included are some pro-tips from GBES experts that have been helping people pass LEED exams since 2007. To date, we’ve helped over 150,000 professionals, and we hope that you are the person that advances the green building movement the most.


STEP 1A – Sign Up For Your Exam

We recommend that you sign up for your exam and pick a date 2-3 months out because it is great motivation for studying. Deadlines help fight against procrastination! Or purchase study materials first and when you are ready, sign up for the test. Whatever you think will work best for you!

If you or your company is a USGBC member, be sure to note that when creating your USGBC account (for a $50 discount). It’s easy to do. Just go to www.usgbc.org and create an account or login to your existing account. Then, fill out your profile and what company you work for. You need a USGBC account to register for your exam.

Then, from the USGBC’s website click “Credential” and “Register for Exam”. If you’re a student be sure to check that box when registering, and you test for only $100. USGBC members test for $200 and non-members can take the test for $250. You can retake your exam, but if you fail 3 times in-a-row then you have to wait 6 months before you can try again (don’t worry, if you use our study tools for this exam you will pass on the first try).

Next, pay your exam fee and save the code that you get somewhere handy. You’ll then go to www.prometric.com and use that code to pick your test day, time, and location. You can test anytime within 12 months of when you register. Prometric testing centers are computer labs, and there are usually several in each major city. If you’re in an area where there is no Prometric testing center, you can contact the USGBC for alternative testing methods.


STEP 1B – Purchase Exam Materials

Materials are not an option. There are free resources, but that will not be enough. You will need to purchase study materials. For over 13 years, GBES has been the #1 provider of LEED, WELL, and AIA exam preparation and continuing education. Over 150,000 professionals have chosen GBES in their journey to earn their LEED, WELL, and SITES AP credentials. We have the best study materials on the market and we offer a selection of exam prep materials for any budget. We also guarantee these materials or your money back – we help you pass the exan the first time. Check out these LEED Green Associate exam prep bundles.


STEP 2 – Study

The LEED Green Associate is a closed-book exam. You have 2-hours to take 100 multiple-choice questions. You are tested over LEED v4 and all the LEED v4 Rating Systems. Questions on your LEED Green Associate exam come from these knowledge domains:

  • LEED Process (16 Questions)
  • Integrative Strategies (8 Questions)
  • Location and Transportation (7 Questions)
  • Sustainable Sites (7 Questions)
  • Water Efficiency (9 Questions)
  • Energy and Atmosphere (10 Questions)
  • Materials and Resources (9 Questions)
  • Indoor Environmental Quality (8 Questions)
  • Project Surroundings and Public Outreach (11 Questions)

Note: The exam contains 15 unscored “beta” questions. These do not count against you; so, it is recommended if you see a really difficult question, mark it and come back to it after you finish all the other questions you do know. It might not even count against you; so, don’t spend too much time on it.

PRO TIP – Keep your studies high-level. Watch this video for a breakdown of what and how you need to study:

You need to know a little about a lot on this exam. Don’t get bogged down in the credit details or trying to memorize numbers. You need to know the concepts. If you have your own definition for each of the key terms on our cheat sheets included in your GBES UNLIMITED membership you will be able to pass your exam easily.


STEP 3 – Read These TOP 10 LEED Green Associate Exam Tips:

Tip #1: Don’t worry about memorizing numbers. The main numbers you need to know for the LEED Green Associate exam are: 

Any numbers related to Minimum Program Requirements (MPRs):

  • Four ASHRAE Standards (90.1, 62.1, 55, and 52.2) and what they pertain to. Respectively they pertain to Energy, Ventilation, Thermal Comfort, and Air Filtration.
  • Indoor and Outdoor water use reduction (20% and 30% better than code respectively)
  • Green Score of 40 or more to be considered a Fuel Efficient Vehicle (FEV).
  • USGBC registration and certification fees as well as Credit Interpretation Request (CIR), Appeal, Technical Appeal, Split Review, and Combined Review fees.
  • Baseline Flush and Flow rates (1.6 gpf toilet, 1.0 gpf urinal, and 2.2gpm faucet). Remember, LEED requires 20% better than these baselines.
  • ¼ and ½ mile thresholds in the Location and Transportation Category related to diverse uses and transportation options.
  • In order to get credit for sourcing regional materials, they must be sourced within 100 miles.

Tip #2: The LEED Green Associate isn’t that bad if you familiarize yourself with our study tools and all the concepts you learn about. The questions on your exam are not just memory recall, but instead, they are more applied and critical thinking.

Tip #3: Read each question on your exam twice (or carefully) before reading the answers! Often the LEED Green Associate exam will try to trick you by sneaking in an important word like “not” or “isn’t”.  Read each question carefully so you don’t misread them.

Tip #4: Read all the answers on your exam! You must always choose the BEST Answer. Most questions have multiple answers that are “right”, but only one that is the BEST.  For example, implementing a concept that reduces carbon emissions will be a better answer than one that promotes the local economy or saves water. The way the USGBC prioritizes answers in order of importance are:  Reducing carbon emissions, reducing ozone depletion, improve air quality, preserving water, protecting ecosystems, protecting natural resources, then promoting local economies, community health, and quality of life. More on this later in TIP # 10 below.

Tip #5: Know what LEED Stands for. There is a good chance you will get a question along the lines of: What does LEED Stand for?  LEED Stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

Tip #6: Know how to properly abbreviate U.S. Green Building Council and LEED Green Associate. Correct answers are USGBC (NEVER United States Green Building Council because USGBC is worldwide) the other way is U.S. Green Building Council, and LEED Green Assoc. (Never LEED GA, for example).

Tip #7: Know the difference between a project that is LEED Certified and a LEED certified project. When you use a capital “C” in Certified, it refers to a project that has met all MPRs, Prerequisites, and has earned between 40-49 LEED credits.  Using the lowercase “c” in certified means a project could have earned any certification level (ie Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum).  USGBC has done and continues to do a great job with branding, and therefore, they want you to learn consistent ways in which to refer to the LEED brand.

Tip #8: Use memory tips when studying. One must learn a lot of new concepts in order to do well on the LEED Green Associate exam, and memory tips help.  Professional memory experts use weird associations or even bizarre visualizations can help you more easily remember things.  Experiment with what works well for you. An example of memorizing that ASHRAE 55 is what LEED references as a guideline for Thermal Comfort in a visual way: When you get cold you tend to cross your arms. You have 5 fingers on each hand. So together ASHRAE 55 has to do with Thermal Comfort. A simpler example is thinking about Plush carpets when thinking about Green Label Plus (which is the label LEED recognizes for sustainable carpets that are healthier to use in buildings than non-Green Label Plus carpets).

Tip #9: There are 4 ASHRAE Standards that you need to know for your LEED Green Associate exam:

  • ASHRAE 90.1 – Energy
  • ASHRAE 55 – Thermal Comfort
  • ASHRAE 52.2 – Air Filters
  • ASHRAE 62.1 – Ventilation

Tip #10: Sometimes there are multiple “right” answers; so, always choose the “best” answer. The best answer is based on the following goals of the USGBC in this order (A being a “best” answer when compared to B):

A. Reducing Carbon Emissions (for example a Location and Transportation strategy is better than a Water reduction strategy because keeping cars off the road reduces carbon emissions)
B. Reducing Ozone Depletion
C. Improving Air Quality
D. Preserving Water
E. Protecting Ecosystems
F. Protecting Natural Resources
G. Promoting Local Economies and Transparency

Final Tip: When you get settled into Prometric computer lab you have 10 minutes to familiarize yourself with the testing controls before you begin your 2-hour exam. You also get scrap paper and a pen. Take a minute or two to familiarize yourself with the testing controls, and then use the remaining 10 minutes to do a brain dump of numbers, ASHRAE standards, acronyms, credit thresholds, or whatever you are worried about getting confused on during your exam. Doing a brain dump helps give you confidence going into your exam and more importantly it helps you not second guess yourself on the items you were able to write down prior to starting.

STEP 4 – Take lots of practice tests!

Our practice tests are among our most helpful study tool and our customers rave about how helpful they are. Some have even passed just by using a lot of our practice test questions, but we highly recommend our GBES UNLIMITED membership which contain all 600 of our practice test questions for this exam.

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