Many clinicians in the mental health field go on to become Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCCs) or National Certified Counselors (NCCs). To achieve either of these distinctions, along with completing a relevant master’s degree and obtaining work experience with clinical supervision in the field, candidates need to pass the National Counselor Examination (NCE). It’s important for prospective LPCCS and NCCs to know that the NCE exam will soon undergo a change in its content, with the new exam format being phased in next year.


According to The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) and the Center for Credentialing & Education (CCE), the changes to the exam will go into effect beginning in March 2020. The NBCC and CCE’s new version of the NCE reflects the responsibilities and duties certified and licensed counselors perform at their positions. The new exam reflects the Job Analysis survey previously undertaken, which includes responses from over 16,000 counselors throughout the United States.


The new exam will test six domain areas, a reduction from the eight in the previous test, which were empirically determined to be the most important and relevant during an LPCC or NCC’s typical workday. These six domains were selected from the eight content areas emphasized by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The new domain areas on the exam will be: Professional Practice and Ethics, Intake, Assessment, and Diagnosis, Areas of Clinical Focus, Treatment Planning, Counseling Skills and Interventions, and Core Counseling Attributes.


It's important to study all six domains, as they’ll comprise a total of 200 questions. Your score will only be graded on 160 of them, as the other 40 are used by the NBCC to develop future examination questions. You won’t know during the test which items are scored and which are unscored. In total, you’ll have up to three hours and 45 minutes to finish all 200 questions.


The new examination is being phased in to allow for a standard setting period.  During the setting period, candidates who prefer to take the current version of the exam can still sit for it by March 2020. As long as they pass the exam before the new version is phased in, candidates submitting materials to become LPCCs or NCCs can still submit scores using the current version of the exam.


AATBS has developed study materials for the new exam. Get Your New Materials Here 

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