General NCE Information
National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)
The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) is the nation's premiere professional certification board devoted to credentialing counselors who meet standards for the general and specialty practices of professional counseling.
National Counselor Exam (NCE®)
Satisfactory performance on the National Counselor Examination (NCE®) is one of the criteria used by NBCC to identify professionals who may be eligible to become a National Certified Counselor (NCC). Many states also use the NCE for state credentialing.
The purpose of the NCE is to assess knowledge, skills, and abilities viewed as important for providing effective counseling services. The NCE is designed to be general in nature. It is intended to assess cognitive knowledge which should be known by all counselors regardless of their individual professional specialties.
Content Areas & Work Behaviors
Although different questions are used for each administration of the examination, the following eight content areas are always covered:
Human Growth and Development
Social and Cultural Foundations
Career and Lifestyle Development
Research and Program Evaluation
Professional Orientation & Ethics
In addition, the NCE is based on the following five work behaviors:
Fundamental Counseling Issues
Diagnostic and Assessment Services
Professional Development, Supervision and Consultation
The NCE is comprised of 200 multiple choice questions and is scheduled for a four-hour period beginning at 9:00 a.m. Responses are recorded on a separate machine-scorable answer sheet.
A different edition of the NCE is compiled for each administration of the exam. Each form’s questions are drawn from the NCE item pool which has undergone extensive review and field testing. The entire item pool, each form of the NCE and the answer sheet are copyrighted. Consequently, any distribution of the examination content or materials through any form of reproduction or oral or written communication is strictly prohibited. Disclosure of examination content is a violation of the NBCC Code of Ethics.Special Accommodations
Examination administration sites are selected with access for candidates with physical disabilities. If you require special assistance from other individuals, such as readers or recorders, you must request permission from NBCC for the admittance of an assisting individual at the examination site. This request must be made in writing at the time of application.
If you cannot participate in the examination on Saturday for religious reasons, send a written request with your application to arrange for a special administration of the NCE on the Friday immediately preceding or the Monday immediately following the scheduled administration date.
Four hours are scheduled for the NCE. If additional time is necessary because of special needs or because English is a candidate’s second language, you may request a time extension. This request must be submitted in writing with your application.
Click here to email NBCC's Examinations Department concerning Special Accommodations. All requests for special accommodations are reviewed individually and are subject to NBCC approval.
TEXAS: Results are immediate at the testing site for computer versions. Pencil and paper versions are available and will need coordination through participating universities and the NBCC. Please check with your state licensing board for other states.
NBCC will mail examination results to examinees within eight weeks of the date of the examination for paper and pencil formats. No scores are released by telephone.
NBCC’s score report contains: (1) your number of correct responses for 13 domains on the NCE (8 content areas and 5 work behaviors) and your TOTAL SCORE, which is the sum of the correct responses; (2) the group mean and standard deviation for each domain and the total exam; (3) the minimum criterion (passing) score for that form of the NCE.
If your TOTAL SCORE meets or exceeds the minimum criterion score, you have passed the NCE. Score reports are mailed only to the examinee at the address provided on the NCC application or Exam Registration Form.
It is your responsibility to send written notification to NBCC if there is a change of address.
Your specific examination scores will not be released to a third party without your written permission. Scores cannot be released until all requirements, including fees, are fulfilled. There is a fee charged for sending score verifications to third parties.
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