LIVE image
7/1/09 Update: The LEED AP exam has significantly changed, and the following sample exam has not been updated to reflect this. By the way, if you are looking to learn about the LEED 2009 rating systems, there's no better tool out there than our own Eighty multiple choice questions, a score range of 125–200, a passing score of 170. If you've taken or are considering taking the LEED Professional Accreditation exam to become a LEED AP, you're familiar with these numbers. And you might have wondered, how does it all add up? What does my score mean? The official explanation from the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) and its LEED Candidate Handbook mentions a scaled score but does not explain how it is calculated. The information compiled here is from correspondence with Peter Templeton, a senior V.P. at the U.S. Green Building Council, and Beth Holst, recently hired at the GBCI as V.P. overseeing the LEED AP program. If I miss any details, I certainly hope they'll correct me. First, there are what Holst calls "multiple forms" of the 80-question exam. In other words, there are a finite number of question sets. Those question sets are not mixed and matched; questions are not randomly delivered from individual sets. How many sets are there? Neither Holst nor Templeton would tell me. Does that mean that there aren't very many? I don't know. When the test was developed, each of the question sets was delivered to a number of guinea pigs. The results were compiled, and, to no one's surprise, some question sets were found to be harder than others. Rather than try to make all of the question sets equally hard, the USGBC used that experimental data to establish a coefficient, or multiplier, for each question set. A raw score--the number of questions you get right--is multiplied by the coefficient for that question set to arrive at the scaled score. For more difficult question sets, a higher multiplier is used to convert a lower raw score to a higher scaled score, and vice versa. This process of coming up with the "scaled score" could mathematically result in a score higher than 200 or lower than 125, but what typically occurs with scaled scores, and I assume is the case here, is that any score higher than 200 is called 200, and any score lower than 125 is called 125. How was the passing score of 170 determined? Says Holst:
A representative group of LEED AP Professionals recommended to GBCI a standard of what a minimally competent professional needs to know about the tested content to obtain a passing score. The chosen passing score was selected by GBCI and was then converted to a scale score.
Key points:
  • No partial credit, and all questions are worth the same amount.
  • The same raw score on two different 80-question sets will result in different final scores via a scaling process based on the relative difficulty of the questions.
  • Your score on the LEED AP exam is neither the number of questions you answered correctly nor the percentage of questions you answered correctly. But if you divide it by two and look at it with squinty eyes it might be kind of close to the latter.
  • If you've taken a practice exam and want to know how you've done relative to the real exam, a passing score of 170 correlates roughly with a score of 85% on a practice exam, or 68 out of 80 questions correct. But this is only a rough guide. Don't let a practice exam score of 85% give you confidence. Let your confidence in the material give you confidence.
All of this leads me to wonder: How many LEED AP exam authors does it take to screw in a lightbulb? 1.85 if it's hard to reach, but 0.90 if it's right on your desk. More green building humor is here. The equations shirt (image above) is here.

If you enjoyed this article, sign up for BuildingGreen email updates



1 " ... and all questions are w posted by Allquestionsshouldbeequalinvalue on 10/22/2008 at 08:28 am

" ... and all questions are worth the same amount." Say what?

"The same raw score on two different 80-question sets will result in different final scores via a scaling process based on the relative difficulty of the questions." Where is the logic to this decision? "Your score on the LEED AP exam is neither the number of questions you answered correctly nor the percentage of questions you answered correctly." Say what? This is doublespeak. Bottom line, the LEED AP test is unfair because it factors your knowledge versus the past performance of other idiots and geniuses taking the test. Each question should be of equal weight and not based on the collective previous test taking knowledge of others. That is the blantant fallacy of this test and the overall test algorithm. The scoring of the test should not be based on past test taker performance and knowledge. Because you know the answer to a particular question while the many others who took the test previously did not - we will give you a lesser scaled score ??? Total and complete lunacy. Absolutely asinine. But please remember, for the most part, one is dealing with architects at the USGBC, so this illogical conclusion has a basis 'in fact'.

2 I like the green T-shirt with posted by Cat Tatlonghari on 08/05/2008 at 04:49 pm

I like the green T-shirt with alot of equations in physics accompanying your blog. How can I get one?

Carmelito Tatlonghari, M Medical Physics, LEED-AP

3 I also want to know where i c posted by ADAM PONTON on 08/18/2010 at 10:32 pm

I also want to know where i could find that awesome green shirt from?

4 Thank god for answering this posted by RealLifeLEED on 08/12/2008 at 01:30 pm

Thank god for answering this question! I've not had a good response since they changed the format...

— Share This Posting!

Recent Discussions

posted by ccnyIP
on May 20, 2015

I Have been in construction for many years and am now finishing my degree in mechanical engineering. I am truly amazed at reviews of many things...

posted by pmelton
on Apr 30, 2015

Here's a quick explanation of what a hygrothermal...

posted by pmelton
on Apr 29, 2015

John, I'm sorry to hear about your troubles. Based on my conversation with Peter Yost, our resident building scientist, it sounds like you've...

Recent Comments

The Building Envelope: Our Third Skin

Robert Riversong says, "I helped mix and install wood-chip clay-slip in a double-wall envelope, and it was done thoughtfully with a mixture of aggregate sizes, including..." More...

steven case says, "Hi Tristan I was wondering if you new or now of anyone that is living in a house of clay chip. I would be interested in speaking with them...." More...

Tristan Roberts says, "Hi Steven, the material you are referring to is usually called light clay, or sometimes Leichtlehm, from the German. It can be made with straw or..." More...

steven case says, "I just finished a class about clay and wood chip infill for walls have you ever done any testing or an article about them. All the oldest homes still..." More...

What Is a Hygrothermal Building Assessment?

Robert Riversong says, "As all water transport mechanisms and driving forces other than gravity are bi-directional (water is indifferent to which way it moves), there are..." More...