NCE Test Day Preparation

Preparing for the NCE

The National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) can seem daunting. After all, an exam is one of the requirements to become a National Certified Counselor. However, with the appropriate preparedness, the NCE doesn't have to be so intimidating. This is a matter of being properly registered, knowing what the exam is looking for, and knowing what to expect at the testing center. Let's walk through the steps of test preparation, from registration through the exam day.

Application and Registration

The first step to preparing for the NCE is to get signed up. On the website of the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), you will find the link to the ProCounselor portal where you will begin applying for the test. You must print off and submit the application packet and pay the registration fee of $275. Once this has been completed and accepted, you'll receive an NBCC ID number (don't lose this) and be able to register for a testing date and facility. Exams are generally offered in April and October.

This is also the time to let the NBCC and testing center know if you require any accommodations. In accordance with the ADA, the NBCC must attempt to provide accommodations to candidates with some form of disability. You have until 45 days before the exam to submit accommodation requests.

If something happens and you need to change your exam date, you can ask to postpone and have it pushed to the next available testing period. If you do this more than 30 days before the original exam, there's no penalty. If you're within that 30-day window, you will have to pay a $150 reregistration fee. However, let the NBCC know if you have had an unexpected illness, accident, death in the family, or another emergency. They may waive the fee.

The Months Before: Studying

Now that you're registered, the best thing to do is to study. Talk to people who have taken the exam, familiarize yourself with the exam content and expectations, and try out sample/practice questions. It may also be a good idea to invest in test prep courses or resources. These generally do cost money, but might also be extremely helpful.

Over this time, study the way that works best for you. Take care of your physical and mental health as well, and practice relaxation techniques during studying. You can use these during the exam as well.

As you are studying, has some resources that could be useful to you. The NCE Information Guide provides access to lessons, flashcards, and practice tests for the NCE. This is a great place to get started as you familiarize yourself with all the resources available through

The NCE Exam: Study Guide & Practice course provides 21 chapters of detailed lessons on the information and knowledge the NCE will be looking for. This course also contains practice questions and flashcards.

The Weeks Before

It's 1-2 weeks before the testing date. At about 10 days before the test, you should receive an exam admission letter from the NBCC. This will include details about where to go and what to bring with you. If you do not receive this letter, contact the NBCC immediately to confirm your testing date.

Continue to study during this time, but don't overdo it. This test is important, but pulling all-nighters will exhaust your body and mind, and make you more prone to illness. If you need to calm your nerves about the test day, take some time to go to the testing center. Not only can seeing the center make it feel less intimidating, but this also gives you an idea of how long it will take to get there, and ensures that you won't get lost trying to find it on the testing day.

The Day of the Exam

For the day of the exam, make sure you have a good breakfast and are adequately hydrated. Before you leave for the test, make sure you have everything you'll need. Here's a basic list to consider:

  • You must have two current forms of identification, one of which must have a photograph. The name on these must match the name on your registration form. A driver's license, state ID, military ID, or passport are valid forms of identification as long as they are current. Student IDs and employee IDs are not valid forms of identification since they are considered temporary.
  • Bring the exam admission letter that you received 10 days ago. This contains your NBCC ID number, which you must have in order to take the exam.
  • The testing facility will provide writing utensils and everything else you need to take the test. You do not have to provide these yourself.

Try to get to the testing facility a little early. This is not necessary, but can help calm nerves and ensures that you won't be late due to unexpected traffic. Any candidate who arrives more than 15 minutes after the time noted on their admission letter will not be allowed to enter the testing facility or take the exam.

Finally, give yourself a little pep talk. You've studied, you're at the testing facility, and you're prepared. You've got this.

What is the NCE Exam?

The National Counselor Examination is a 200-question test given to prospective counselors for the purpose of earning National Certified Counselor recognition or state licensure.

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