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(NCE) National Counselor Exam for Licensure and Certification®

Brief Overview

The NCE is used to earn a national counselor certification and state counselor licensure. 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.



NCE for Counselors Interested in Military Employment

 Some individuals may be interested in this examination for the purpose of potential employment within the military or the military health systems. *Eligibility for a particular position is not guaranteed.


TRICARE Certified Mental Health Counselor:

For more information, please visit

Please direct TRICARE certification qualification questions to the TRICARE Management Activities Office.

The NCE Military Registration form is available here


Examination Format

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.

Content Areas for the NCE

1. Content Areas & Work Behaviors

  • Human Growth and Development
  • Social and Cultural Foundations
  • Helping Relationships
  • Group Work
  • Career and Lifestyle Development
  • Appraisal
  • Research and Program Evaluation
  • Professional Orientation & Ethics

2. In addition, the NCE is based on the following five work behaviors:
  • Fundamentals of Counseling
  • Assessment and Career Counseling
  • Group Counseling
  • Programmatic and Clinical Intervention
  • Professional Practice Issue

Scoring Procedures

Of the 200 items on the examination, only 160 items are scored to determine whether you meet or surpass the minimum criterion (passing) score for that form of the NCE. The remaining 40 items on the exam are being field tested to determine their appropriateness for future use. Since the 160 items to be scored are not identified in the exam booklet, you should respond with equal effort to all items.

The MAXIMUM possible score on the NCE is 160, and the minimum criterion (passing) score is derived from a modified Angoff procedure. The NCE is not scored on a "curve," therefore the candidate pool does not determine the passing score.

Exam Results

NBCC will mail examination results to examinees within eight weeks of the date of the examination. No scores are released by telephone. It is your responsibility to send written notification to NBCC if there is a change of address. To email a change of address, please send your message to:

NBCC's score report contains:

  1. Your number of correct responses for 13 domains on the NCE 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.

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.

Score Verification

If you took one of our examinations on computer, your scores are automatically sent to your State Board approximately 4 weeks after your exam date. Please check with your State Board before requesting score verification.



The cost for sending your scores to a third party is charged per verification (not per exam). If you would like multiple examination scores sent to the same location, all examination scores can be verified for the one fee.

Score Verification Fee varies by status type:

Active NCC - National Certified Counselor (NCC) or applicant who took the NCE as a part of the national certification application. Score Verification Fee: $20 plus any past due fees

Inactive NCC - A former NCC who took the NCE as part of the national certification application and the certification has expired. Score Verification Fee: $60 plus any past due fees

State - Verification for those who took an examination as a part of an application for state licensure and registered for the exam through the state. Score Verification Fee: $20

If you are unsure of your NCC status or past due fees, contact the Recertification Department at to avoid delays in the processing of your score verification request. 

State Board Contact Information – Credentialing

410 Capitol Ave - MS # 12APP
PO Box 340308
Hartford, Connecticut 06134-0308
(860) 509-7603 (tel.)
(860) 509-8457 (fax)