Exam Development & Study Tips

From Exam Development

to Exam Day


Here's how we develop our exams

and some best practices

for studying before AND during test day!


How Exams are Developed


Exam Questions

Exam questions are developed by the EDC based on the first printing of the code book.


All exam questions are presented in a four-option, multiple choice format, with one option on each question scored as correct.


While your exam will have content based on building codes, here are a few examples of how the questions are structured in the exam (with answers in bold):

What sea creature has eight legs?

A. A whale

B. A dolphin

C. An octopus

D. A crocodile

Given: A scientist needs to research colors not visible in a rainbow.

The scientist would need to research which color?

A. Red

B. Teal

C. Indigo

D. Yellow

All of the following are planets except:

A. Mars.

B. Orion.

C. Jupiter.

D. Mercury.

Studying for Your Code Council Exam

Strategies During your Exam

Everyone differs in how they approach an exam.

No matter how you tackle the test, here are some tips we recommend:

Beyond the Exam

A few tips that go beyond basic studying and test-taking:

When you complete your daily studying goals, give yourself a treat. Even if you haven't taken the test yet, it's good to reward yourself for making the effort of studying for a major exam.

Special Inspector Exam FAQ’s

FAQ's on Special Inspector Module Exams

Got questions? We've got answers! Click on one of the frequently asked questions below for more information.

Special Inspector Exams

Now Available!
Tall Mass Timber Buildings Special Inspector Certification

Special Inspector Certifications

Information on Exams

  • All exams are available on the PRONTO testing platform.
  • Candidates are encouraged to take the FREE PRONTO SI: Plans Exercise. With this tool you will navigate plans and exhibits as found on our PRONTO Special Inspector Exams.
  • Exams can be purchased through myICC.
20 19970 AC Sp Insp LandingPg Img 400x283 WEB FINAL

Which Exam Method Is Right For You?

20 18525 Icon Cluster
PRONTO vs. CBT: Which exam method is right for me?
Feature PRONTO
(Proctored Remote Online Testing Option)
(Computer-based Testing)
Results Immediate Immediate

Secure space of your choosing Dedicated testing site with vendor
Availability 24/7, 365 Depending on testing location and registration date

Connect online On location at testing site

Working computer or laptop, internet connection, audio and microphone

Check Your System Requirements

Drive to testing site

Testing Rules
PRONTO Webpage CBT Webpage

Ready to take your exam?

When you've figured out which exam method is right for you, get started by purchasing your exam!

NCPCCI Reciprocity Program

Expand Your Reach


A Special Offer for NCPCCI Certificants

The National Certification Program for Construction Code Inspectors (NCPCCI) Reciprocity Program is a distinct offering by the International Code Council (ICC) that grants ICC certification to NCPCCI candidates in comparable ICC certification exam areas.

You Get More with an ICC Certification:

  • Widely recognized - most jurisdictions throughout the United States recognize or require ICC certification; giving you more opportunities in your career.
  • Industry respected - when you hold an ICC certification, you are recognized as holding the premier certification for your profession.
  • Highly credible - ICC certifications have for decades proven competency for holding positions in industry.
  • Trust in a certification from the organization that develops the code!

Requirements are as easy as 1, 2, 3:

Comparable Exams:

NCPCCI Desig 12.2019 Update

* 1B = NCPCCI Building Inspector General, 3B = NCPCCI Fire Protection General, 3C = NCPCCI Fire Protection Plan Review

Combination Inspector Designations:

Once we have processed your certification request(s), if you have the following ICC categories, you will automatically be granted one of the ICC combination designations below at no additional charge.

NCCPCI Combo Desig 12.2019


Contact 888-ICC-SAFE (888-422-7233) ext. 5524 or email customersuccess@iccsafe.org.

ICC is Awarded ANSI Accreditation


The International Code Council (ICC) is Awarded
American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Accreditation

On March 29, 2019 ICC was granted initial accreditation under ISO/IEC 17024:2012 from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Personal Certification Accreditation Committee (PCAC) for the following certification programs:
  • Residential Building Inspector - B1
  • Commercial Building Inspector - B2
Who Accredits a Certification Organization?
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) that’s who!
ANSI administers an accreditation program for certification agencies through their accreditation program based on the International Standard ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024. ANSI accreditation is recognized across borders and is the official U.S. representative to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and, via the U.S. National Committee, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

What is the process to receive an ANSI accreditation?

ANSI accreditation is completely voluntary. Certification agencies are not required to receive ANSI accreditation, yet, accreditation by ANSI under its consensus and due process-based system provides certification agencies with an exemplary level of credibility, integrity and trust.
The ANSI accreditation process involves both a review of a paper application and the performance of an assessment (onsite visit) to validate information provided by the applicant. The onsite assessment for accreditation of personnel certification is unique to the ANSI accreditation process. On average, the overall process to meet requirements for ANSI accreditation is 12 to 24 months.

Why is ANSI accreditation important to the ICC Assessment Center and their Certifications?

  • The government and regulators rely on ANSI accreditation because of the proven outcomes of accredited programs. Government entities look to ANSI to provide accreditation programs that improve industry practices and distinguish quality certification programs.
  • ANSI is the only accreditor for standards as American National Standards.
  • A report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) cites ANSI 17024 accreditation programs as a tool to make certification program more reliable and rigorous.
  • A report from the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce (CSW) highlights the role played by ANSI 17024 accreditation in the development of an effective workforce credentialing market in the U.S.
  • ANSI believes accredited certifications are critical, particularly in areas relating to public health, national security, safety, and the environment, which are all areas in alignment with ICC philosophy.
  • The manner in which the B1 and B2 exams are accredited is the same standard to which ICC holds all of their certification exams.

 Why is ANSI accreditation important to YOU, the Certification holder?

  • Receiving an ANSI accredited certification is a mark of distinction. It shows that you are not about just meeting a standard, but about going beyond to pursue excellence.
  • The ANSI accredited certification signals to an employer that you have undergone a valid assessment to verify that you have the necessary competencies.
  • It gives you assurance that an ICC certification has gone through the rigorous process of accreditation to bring to you the most reliable and adept certification.

Certification Exams

Certification Exam Candidates

Exam Categories

National Certification
State-Specific Certification
UST Certification

Read More

Exam Preparation

How to Prepare for an ICC Exam,
Training and Education,
Study Tips

Read More

How to Register

How to register for
a Computer-based or PRONTO
Certification exam

Read More

After the Exam

Verify Certification,
Next Steps for specific Categories,
Wall Certificates, Feedback & Appeals

Read More

Combination Designations

Combination Inspectors,
Code Professionals,
Code Specialists

Read More

About the Exams

Administrative Policies, What to Expect,
Testing Accommodations,
Exam Development

Read More

Certification Maintenance

Renewals & Reinstatements,
Continuing Education Units (CEUs)

Read More

Browse the Exam Catalog

Contact us for support

Send us an email, we're here to help you!

Prepare for Your ICC Exam

How to Prepare for an ICC Exam



Or click on one of the steps below





Decide Which Exam You
Need to Take

Start with your local jurisdiction or employer

What requirements are needed for your job?
Maybe it's a certification, license,
or passing an exam relevant to your career.

Click on an Exam Type to View Exams Available

Step 2: Search

Get in the Study Zone!

Step 4: Plan

Plan for Test Day

Know what to expect before you take your exam.

What to Expect at Your...

Take Your Exam!

As you can see, preparing for an ICC examination starts with the right steps to get you to success.


Go back to one of the steps above

1. Decide

2. Search

3. Study

4. Plan

Friday Faces – Lucas Pump

Meet Lucas Pump

Lucas Pump

May is Building Safety Month. As part of this celebration, we want to recognize professionals whose combined efforts contribute to the awareness of building safety.

We’ve introduced several talented individuals who work “behind the scenes” in developing, maintaining, and administering ICC exams.  But what’s the experience like on the other side?  For today’s Friday Faces, we asked Building Inspector Lucas Pump about his personal experience in preparing for and taking an ICC exam. 

AC: What was your first Code Council exam, and when did you take it?

LP: Property Maintenance and Housing Inspector- I took it January 2010, approximately one month after I started a new position as a Housing Inspector with the City of Cedar Rapids.

AC: What prompted you to pursue an ICC certification in the first place? Was this a personal decision or a professional requirement?

LP: In my case, it was a professional requirement- our director wanted every inspector to be certified within the first year.  Personally, I took it as a challenge, and wanted to get it passed as soon as possible!

AC: How did you prepare for your exam?  Were there any particular study tips or tricks that helped you?

LP: First of all, do not read the code thoroughly, intensely paying attention to every detail. There is way too much information to absorb that way. Rather, skim and scan through the table of contents to see how the code is arranged.  In an open book test, it is very important to be able to find the answer and find it fast. (AC note:  It is also very helpful to consult the exam’s content outline when studying. Just search for the exam you plan to take on our Exam Catalog and click on the “Outline” section to view.)

AC: If you recall, was there anything that ICC could have done to have better helped you in your preparation?

LP: Not really. But I wish someone would have told me to make sure to use the bathroom before you go into your exam because if you have to get up in the middle of your exam, the time keeps ticking.

AC: What was test day like for you?  Were you nervous- or do you usually get nervous taking high-stakes tests?  Did you talk to others who had taken this exam?

LP: I had spoken with other co-workers who had passed the test, and they reassured me that they thought I would pass it, so that helped my nerves.  But, with any test, I think it is normal to be a little nervous.

AC: And. . .your results?

LP: I passed! I remember feeling very proud afterwards- and a big sense of relief rushed through my body.

AC: Sometimes failure happens, but it gives us an opportunity to gain strength and do better. If you had failed an ICC exam, did you do anything differently to prepare for your retest?

LP: I have only failed one time, and that was the Residential Plans Examiner Certification. I took it a couple weeks after passing a previous exam, and I just thought I could pass it without really studying. That turned out to be a big mistake. As confident as you think you are, always take time to study the material, and be knowledgeable about all of the content. In the end, I was upset that day I failed, but then I turned that energy into motivation. I rescheduled the exam a few weeks later and passed it.

If you get kicked off the horse, you just have to dust yourself off, and jump back on!

AC: How did receiving an ICC certification change anything for you as a professional?

LP: I believe that you gain respect from co-workers, and I have since changed over to a Building Inspector position which has enabled me to dive into new construction, remodels, as well as plans examining.

AC: How many exams have you taken since that first time, and has your preparation or experience changed in any way?

LP: I currently have 20 certifications, and my preparation has stayed relatively the same, although I never spend more than about 20 minutes at one time studying through the code book. Why? It is a proven fact that most people concentrate the best for about 20 minutes - then their learning productivity starts to decrease.

AC: Any suggestions or encouragement you’d like to offer first-time candidates currently preparing for their exam?

LP: Learn the book and know the material. If you are confident with the material in the code book and you know how to find the code sections (because you have reviewed the table of contents and the index). Then, you won’t be as nervous and you will perform better.

Friday Faces – Doug Hatch

Meet Doug Hatch

May is Building Safety Month. As part of this celebration, we want to recognize professionals whose combined efforts contribute to the awareness of building safety.

Test Developer/Program Manager Doug Hatch may live and work in California, but he’s much more a Doer than a Dreamer. Doug, who has been with the Code Council for 27 years, has worked as a high school history teacher and master electrician before joining what is now ICC.  A tireless and passionate worker, Doug offers a rich perspective on his tenure with ICC- as well as some photographic treasures!

AC: ICC was established in 1994, merging three code organizations into one model family, which included BOCA, ICBO, and SBCCI.  When did you join what is now ICC, and what was the name of the code body?

Doug: I joined in March 1991 working for the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO) in Whittier, CA.

AC: What was your first position with the company? 

Doug: I worked as Senior Certification Coordinator and then later was over Test Development and marketing of exams to new jurisdictions.


Doug pretending to be a candidate taking an early paper-pencil exam
He says he took off his tie to authenticate his role

AC: What period in your tenure with ICC have you seen the most change as such affects our customers and stakeholders?

Doug: Of course, the merging of the three model code groups into ICC was one of the most significant changes.  We were all code publishing organizations doing the same kind of work.  But when we merged, it became like blending families where we all had our own ways of doing things and then worked at becoming one big happy family which we are today.  Now I can call a co-worker in another office in another state who I hardly know, except for their name, and feel that we’re connected.   

AC: If one was to travel back to the early days in your job, what would be most surprising about the company and the testing department?

Doug:  We all dressed up for work each day.  When I first started, the men all wore white shirts and ties every day.  We had company picnics every three or four months where the staff’s families were invited on an evening or weekend for family games and food.

When I first started, we didn’t have email so we would step over to the co-worker’s or boss’s office and talk.  What a concept; actually talk about the work projects!  If we needed to have something in writing, we wrote memos and dropped them in the person’s in-box on their desk.  We’d look for new things in our in-box on the corner of our desks like we look for emails in Outlook today.  In the testing department, we only did paper/pencil testing.  We didn’t think of it as paper/ pencil testing but just testing, until computer-based testing came along.  A big change was CBT where the candidates could get their results immediately. 


  Doug at his desk c. 1994, with tie on

AC: What gets you the most excited about your job?

Doug: The best part of my job is working with co-workers and with the committee members.  The Exam Development Committee members are the top in their fields or professions.  It has been such a rich experience working with them and developing friendships that have lasted over many years.   Also, what is steady is the idea that my job is based on the principle of public safety which we sometimes take for granted.

AC: What would you want younger people considering a job in the code industry to know that might be a surprise?

Doug: For someone brand new from the public who doesn’t know much about building code enforcement; that inspectors are not mean.

AC: Do you ever sleep?

Doug: I try to, but with so much on my mind and so much work to do, I don’t get as much sleep as I’d like.