How to Pass the LEED Green Associate Exam
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 130,000 professionals, and we hope that you are the person that advances the green building movement the most.
STEP 1 – Sign up for your exam
We recommend that you go ahead and 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!
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 an 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 memebers 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 2 – Study
What helps here is knowing what to study so you can save a lot of time. Don’t study the 850-page reference guide from the USGBC… that’s too much! We’ve broken everything you need to know down into a road map of what, how, and in which order to study in our Unlimited Exam Prep Membership. You get all of our study tools for this exam for one low price making it by far our best deal. Also, you get instant access for 12 months which is ample enough time for this exam. Most people can pass it between 2 weeks to 3 months of studying.
The LEED Green Associate is a closed-book exam. You have 2-hours to take 100 multiple-choice questions. You may see a few pick two or pick three questions, but most are multiple choice. 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) – how the LEED certification process works, what LEED stands for, how to abbreviate U.S. Green Building Council, how many credits for Certified, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and questions along those lines.
Integrative Strategies (8 Questions) – (see page 11 of Candidate Handbook for a more-thorough description of the types of questions you will see from these different Knowledge Domains)
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 Unlimited Exam Prep Membership you will be able to pass your exam easily.
Step 3 – Download These Free Resources
Just click the link to download instantly:
1 – Candidate Handbook – this contains info about the exam, where questions come from, and how to sign up.
2 – LEED v4 Glossary– 257 important LEED v4 terms you need to know to pass.
3 – Free 30-Day Study Plan – this just helps you pace out what you need to study over 30 days and help keep you on track.
4- 30 FREE LEED Green Associate Sample Questions – this is just a pdf, not our exam simulator, but it’s free.
STEP 4 – Watch this Overview of the LEED Green Associate Exam
STEP 5 – 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 for memorizing that ASHRAE 55 is what LEED references as a guideline for Thermal Comfort in a visual way is this: 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 – FINAL STUDY TIP HERE, AND THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE:
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
BONUS TIP – Do a brain dump before you start your 2-hour exam. 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 6 – 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 Platinum Pack or Unlimited Exam Prep membership which contain all 600 of our practice test questions.
Not sure what you want to help make earning this credential easier? Browse more of our study tool options by clicking here.
Still want more tips on how to pass the LEED Green Associate exam?
We recorded one of our recent Green Building Matters Community LEED Green Associate study calls, and you can watch it for additional LEED Green Associate exam tips: