The NBCC describes the NCE as follows:
"The purpose of the NCE is to assess knowledge, skills, and abilities viewed as important for providing effective counseling services. The NCE is comprised of 200 multiple choice questions and is scheduled for a 4-hour period."
Visit the NBCC Website.
The AATBS NCE program provides a comprehensive review of each of these content areas, and practice exam questions that parallel the structure and content of the National Counselor Examination.
The NCE contains 200 multiple choice questions. Of these 200 questions, 40 are included for experimental purposes and are not “graded” or counted in a candidate’s total score. Therefore, the highest score a candidate can receive on the exam is 160. However, since you cannot differentiate questions included for experimental purposes from those that are graded, you should consider all questions to be of equal weight when you take the exam.
All exam questions provide four alternative answers and only one answer is scored as correct for each item. There is NO penalty for guessing. Therefore, you should mark an answer for EVERY question, even when you are uncertain about whether your response is correct.
As discussed before, 160 of the 200 questions count toward your total score. Every administration of the exam offers a different form of the test and the passing score varies with each administration. Recently, the minimum criterion scores required to pass have ranged from 90 to 102 (out of 160). This translates to getting 56% to 64% of the items correct. If you live in a state that sets its own cutoff score, rather than using the one established by the NBCC, the passing score may be different.
After you’ve taken the exam, you’ll receive a score report from the NBCC. The report will consist of 14 scores: 8 scores for each of the content areas, 5 scores for each of the work behavior areas, and your total score. Your total score will determine whether you pass.
Eight domains of knowledge are covered on the NCE. The domains and the topics they cover include:
The NCE attempts to reflect the actual work done by professional counselors. The NBCC conducted a study intended to establish specific “work behaviors” that should be addressed by the examination. Through the use of surveys, the NBCC classified counselors’ work behaviors into categories. The most recent classification occurred in 2001 and impacted the October 2001 examination and subsequent exams. The questions from the eight domains listed above will address at least one of these five categories. In other words, the eight domains provide the basis for the content of the questions and the five work behavior areas provide the basis for the context of the questions. For the purposes of studying for the exam, the eight content areas provide a more useful breakdown because the actual information (i.e., content) needed in order to answer a question correctly will likely come from an understanding from the content area. The context of the question (i.e., the work behavior area associated with the question) may vary, but the correct decision will likely depend more on content knowledge.
Each of the five categories and their associated work behaviors are listed as follows:
In some states, during the exam you will respond on an optically scanned answer sheet, blackening the appropriate answer space using a #2 pencil. In other states, your exam will be administered on a computer.
You will have 4 hours to complete the exam (this is true whether you are taking the exam for national certification or state credentialing).
You should review the practice exams throughout the study process, from the beginning stages until just before the actual exam. The practice exams will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, refine your understanding of the topics, and enhance your test-taking skills. We strongly encourage participants to study all of the questions in the practice exams multiple times because they are the most exam-specific information in the study materials.
Note-taking (e.g., flashcards, summary tables) can be a very important part of your study process. Because there is so much information to retain during your studies, you will need some strategy for synthesizing and organizing all the information.
The best way to develop your test-taking skills is to review as many practice questions as possible in our study materials. We provide a detailed explanation following each question, which will help you to learn from your mistakes. In addition, we provide specific test-taking strategies for analyzing the most difficult questions such as translating the wording into simpler language, eliminating poor choices, identifying trick questions, and so on.
AATBS has been successfully preparing candidates for licensure for over 30 years. We have many tools to assist you in your preparation. They include:
The most important reason to attend our workshop is simply because it will increase your test-taking performance and ability to pass the NCE. Our instructors have many years of experience in teaching candidates to pass the exam.
AATBS consistently reports pass rates in the 90% range. More importantly, their scores are directly correlated with the level of preparation.
AATBS’s success rate on the NCE is due to the quality and variety of study resources that our staff of experts—researchers, writers, instructors, and consultants—have created to assist you in your preparation. This cannot be matched by any of our competitors, which means we can tailor an individualized study program to meet your particular needs.
Please contact us at (800) 472-1931 with any questions. A customer service representative or educational consultant will be available to help you.
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