AP-ND certification preparation tips.

Sustainable Neighborhood Development: Pro Tips for Acing the LEED AP ND Exam

The LEED AP ND, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional in Neighborhood Development exam is a prestigious certification that signifies expertise in sustainable neighborhood development. Passing this exam requires a solid understanding of green building principles and the ability to apply them in real-world contexts. Here are ten effective study strategies to help you succeed in the LEED AP ND exam.

What Does the LEED AP ND Certification Assess?

The LEED AP ND specialty exam assesses the knowledge and skills required to be involved in the design process, promote integrated design, and simplify the application and certification procedures.

Target Audience:

The LEED AP ND certification is relevant for individuals involved in the planning, design, and advancement of pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods and communities.

LEED AP ND Knowledge Domains:

1. LEED Process (13 Questions)

2. Smart Location & Linkage (21 Questions)

3. Neighborhood Pattern & Design (23 Questions)

4. Green Infrastructure & Buildings (21 Questions)

5. Project Surroundings and Public Outreach (7 Questions)

AP-ND knowledge domains.

LEED AP ND Exam Formats and Procedures:


  • Combined Exam: $550 (or $400 for USGBC members)
  • Specialty Only: $350 (or $250 for USGBC members)

Prerequisites/Eligibility Requirements:

  • Candidates must possess a current LEED Green Associate credential or pass that exam concurrently.
  • Must be at least 18 years old.
  • It is highly recommended to have experience with LEED-registered projects.

Exam Format:

  • Combined Exam: 100 multiple-choice questions per section.
  • Specialty Only: 100 multiple-choice questions.
  • The exam can be taken at a Prometric Testing Center or as an online proctored exam from home.

Language Support: Translation aids for Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese, French, and Spanish are available for the BD+C and O+M exams.

Scoring: A score of 170 out of 200 is required to pass.

Rescheduling and Cancellations: Changes can be made up to 3 days before the exam date, though fees may apply.

Discover the LEED AP ND Exam Acing Strategies:

1. Get to Know the LEED AP ND Exam Format:

  • Begin by familiarizing yourself with the structure and content of the LEED AP ND exam. The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions to be answered in two hours, focusing on three main areas: Smart Location and Linkage, Neighborhood Pattern and Design, and Green Infrastructure and Buildings.
  • Understanding the format helps you strategize your study approach and manage your time effectively during the exam.

2. Study the LEED ND Reference Guide Thoroughly:

  • The LEED ND Reference Guide is your primary resource for exam preparation. It contains detailed information about the LEED AP ND rating system, including criteria and strategies for each credit.
  • Read through the guide carefully, making notes and highlighting important sections. A deep understanding of the guide will provide you with a solid foundation for the exam and help you grasp the rationale behind each requirement.

3. Develop A Comprehensive LEED AP ND Study Plan:

  • Creating a LEED AP ND exam study plan is essential for organized and consistent preparation. Break down the material into smaller, manageable chunks and set aside specific times to study each section.
  • Aim to cover all topics at least once, with extra time allocated for review. A regular study routine, even if it’s just a few hours each day, is more effective than last-minute cramming.

4. Use Practice Exams to Gauge Your Progress:

  • Practice exams are invaluable for assessing your knowledge and honing your test-taking skills. They give you a realistic idea of what to expect on the actual exam and help you identify areas where you need improvement.
  • After each practice test, review your answers, particularly the ones you got wrong, to understand your mistakes and focus your study efforts accordingly.

5. Group Discussion Helps Your Preparation Process:

  • Joining study groups or participating in online forums can provide additional support and valuable insights. Discussing complex topics with peers and sharing study materials can enhance your understanding and keep you motivated.
  • Online communities are also great for finding tips and resources from others who have successfully passed the exam.

6. Concentrate on High-Value Topics and Credits:

  • Not all topics carry the same weight in the LEED AP ND exam. Identify the most important concepts and credits, particularly those that are heavily emphasized in the exam.
  • Focusing on these areas can improve your chances of passing by ensuring you understand the core principles of sustainable neighborhood development.

7. Utilize a Variety of Study Resources for the AP ND Exam:

  • Don’t rely on a single study resource. Supplement your study with a variety of materials such as textbooks, online courses, flashcards, and video tutorials.
  • Different resources can provide new perspectives and help clarify difficult concepts, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the material.

8. Attend Relevant Workshops or Webinars:

  • Consider attending workshops or webinars focused on the LEED AP ND exam. These events often provide in-depth explanations of difficult topics, practical study tips, and updates on recent changes in LEED standards.
  • Engaging in these sessions can enhance your knowledge and provide additional support for your exam preparation.

9. Apply What You Learn Practically:

  • Whenever possible, try to apply what you’ve learned in real-world situations. Practical experience helps reinforce your understanding of key concepts and makes the material more relevant.
  • Whether through work, volunteering, or personal projects, applying LEED principles in real neighborhood developments can enhance your retention and comprehension.

10. Maintain Your Health and Manage Stress:

  • Taking care of your physical and mental health is crucial during exam preparation. Ensure you get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet, and engage in regular physical activity.
  • Practice stress management techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga to keep your mind clear and focused. A healthy lifestyle can significantly enhance your ability to absorb information and perform well under exam conditions.

Important Tips to Manage the LEED AP ND Exam Day Stress:

The day of the LEED AP ND exam can be stressful, but with the right preparation and mindset, you can approach it with confidence. Here are five crucial tips to help you navigate exam day successfully:

1. Arrive Early and Be Prepared:

  • Plan to arrive at the testing center at least 30 minutes before your scheduled exam time. This allows you to check in, get comfortable with the environment, and handle any last-minute issues without feeling rushed.

2. Bring the Right Supplies:

  • Ensure you have everything you need for the exam, including valid photo identification, any required confirmation documents, and possibly a bottle of water or snacks for before or after the test, depending on the testing center’s policies.

3. Stay Calm and Manage Your Time Wisely:

  • Once the exam begins, take a deep breath and remain calm. Start by reading each question carefully and allocate your time wisely. With 100 questions to complete in two hours, you have an average of about 1.2 minutes per question.
  • If you encounter a difficult question, don’t spend too much time on it. Mark it for review and move on to easier questions, returning to the more challenging ones if you have time at the end.

4. Take Short Mental Breaks:

  • Use the time wisely, but also remember to take short mental breaks if you feel overwhelmed. Even a few seconds of deep breathing can help reset your focus and reduce anxiety.

5. Review Your Answers Carefully:

  • If time permits, review your answers before submitting the exam. Pay close attention to the questions you marked for review and double-check your responses for accuracy.

Concluding Thoughts:

Preparing for the LEED AP ND exam is a significant endeavor that requires dedication, strategic planning, and a comprehensive understanding of sustainable neighborhood development. By adhering to a structured study plan, leveraging diverse resources, and engaging in practical applications, you can build a robust foundation of knowledge and skills that are essential for success.

Best of luck on your journey. Your commitment to excellence and sustainability will not only help you succeed in the exam but also empower you to make a lasting impact in the field of neighborhood development. Your future as a leader in sustainable practices is within reach—embrace it with confidence and purpose.


1. What are the fees for the LEED AP exam?

  • The fees for the LEED AP exam are $550 for the combined exam and $350 for the specialty-only exam. USGBC members receive a discounted rate of $400 for the combined exam and $250 for the specialty-only exam.

2. What are the prerequisites for taking the LEED AP exam?

  • To be eligible for the LEED AP exam, you must hold a current LEED Green Associate credential or take and pass that exam at the same time. Additionally, you must be 18 years of age or older. It is also strongly recommended to have experience working on LEED-registered projects.

3. How is the LEED AP exam formatted?

  • The LEED AP combined exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions per section. For the specialty-only exam, there are 100 multiple-choice questions. You can take the exam at a Prometric Testing Center or from home as a remote proctored online exam.

4. In which languages are translation aids available for the LEED AP exam?

  • Translation aids are available in Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese, French, and Spanish for the BD+C and O+M exams.

5. What is the passing score for the LEED AP exam?

  • To pass the LEED AP exam, you need to score at least 170 out of 200.

6. What is the rescheduling and cancellation policy for the LEED AP exam?

  • You can reschedule or cancel your LEED AP exam up to 3 days prior to the exam date. Some fees may apply for rescheduling or cancellations.

7. Can I take the LEED AP exam online?

  • Yes, you have the option to take the LEED AP exam online as a remote proctored exam or at a Prometric Testing Center.

10. What practice resources are available for the LEED AP ND exam?

  • You can use online practice exams, such as those offered on Process Exam, which provide real-time case study-based questions similar to the actual exam.