National Counselor Examination For Licensure and Certification

The National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) is a 200-item multiple-choice examination designed to assess knowledge, skills and abilities determined to be important for providing effective counseling services. The NCE is a requirement for counselor licensure in many states. It is also one of two examination options for the National Certified Counselor (NCC) certification. It may also be accepted by military health systems to become a recognized provider.

The NCE was first used in 1983 as part of the NCC application process, and continues to undergo regular review and development to ensure it represents the current reality of practice and research in the counseling profession.

Study guides are available to help you prepare for the NCE.

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Content and Development

The National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification measures knowledge from the eight content areas of the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and the work behaviors determined by NBCC’s job analysis. Content is, therefore, based in both academic knowledge and current professional practice.

More information about the content and development of the NCE can be found in the NCE Handbook.

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Sample Questions for the NCE

The sample questions below should give you an idea of what to expect on the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE). For further practice questions, study tips and more, order NBCC’s official preparation guide or other study materials.

In attempting to understand the life perspectives and characteristics of their clients, some counselors use Kohlberg's theory of moral development as a theoretical framework. These counselors know that Kohlberg's theory includes three progressive levels culminating in:

  1. principled thought, wherein the individual adopts a self-accepted set of standards of behavior
  2. personhood, wherein the individual is free from moral dilemmas
  3. self-actualization, wherein the individual is fully humanistic
  4. androgyny, wherein the individual exhibits both male and female stereotypic behaviors
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A professional counselor determines fees for monthly consultation services on a job-by-job basis. This is an example of which of the following types of reinforcement schedules?

  1. Variable Interval
  2. Fixed Interval
  3. Fixed Ratio
  4. Variable Ratio
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Research on the development of a person in a so-called "humanistic life outlook" has shown that it is facilitated by:

  1. formal educational experiences
  2. observational learning experiences
  3. diverse interpersonal interactions
  4. All of the Above
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When persons who are characteristically shy and withdrawn participate in "assertiveness training," initially they experience uncertainty and self-doubt. Counselors refer to this social psychological concept as:

  1. dissociation
  2. acculturation
  3. cognitive dissonance
  4. individuation
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"Men (used here to mean all people) are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them." This quote, attributable to Epictetus, most closely describes the counseling theory developed by:

  1. Carkhuff
  2. Freud
  3. Rogers
  4. Ellis
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The counseling technique in which the counselor intensifies the client's emotional state in order to help the client understand the irrationality of the emotional reaction is known as:

  1. Paradoxical Intention
  2. Reconfiguration
  3. Confrontation
  4. Systematic Desensitization
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Counselors know that groups are formed for different purposes. For example, in some groups the primary goal is to yield some specified outcome, or "product," while in others the primary goal is to focus on the "process" of interaction within the group. Which of the following types of groups is more product than process oriented?

  1. Behavioral
  2. Client Centered
  3. Adlerian
  4. Transactional-analysis
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In the context of group counseling, members that are high in conformity also tend to be high in:

  1. Superiority
  2. Independence
  3. Authoritarianism
  4. Intelligence
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A counselor who structures a career counseling group to help group members understand a "fields and levels" approach to careers is following the theory of:

  1. Tiedeman
  2. Holland
  3. Super
  4. Roe
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The concept of "career maturity" has been described and researched most extensively by:

  1. Ginzberg
  2. Hoyt
  3. Tiedeman
  4. Crites
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Person A and Person B both took the same test. Person A got a score of 100 while Person B got a score of 75. In order for a counselor to determine whether the difference between their scores was because of "chance," the counselor would need to know which of the following characteristics of the test:

  1. Standard Error of Measurement
  2. Standard Error of the Mean
  3. Mean
  4. Standard Deviation
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A person got a score of 85 on a norm-referenced test. This means that the person:

  1. insufficient information
  2. mastered 85% of the material covered in the test
  3. achieved a score of better than 83% of those taking the test
  4. answered 83 questions correctly
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A counselor conducted a study intended to evaluate the effectiveness of ongoing group career counseling on the vocational maturity of high school sophomores. The study was begun in September and continued until June. This study is particularly susceptible to which of the following threats to the validity of an experiment?

  1. Reactive effects of experimentation
  2. Multiple treatment interference
  3. Regression
  4. Maturation
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A counselor designs a study where two experimental groups and one control group complete pre- and post-experiment measures of self-concept. The subjects were not randomly assigned to the groups because of scheduling problems. Which of the following techniques is MOST appropriate for analyzing the resultant data?

  1. Correlated t-tests
  2. Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed-ranks test
  3. Analysis of covariance
  4. Analysis of variance
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You have been providing career counseling to a client who is seeking employment. Concurrent with the counseling, and with your knowledge, the client has made application for employment with several employers. A potential employer calls you and asks for your opinion as to your client's suitability for the employer's job opening. Under which of the following conditions are you free; i.e., not in violation of professional ethics, to provide the information requested?

  1. When you are certain that the information you would provide would assure that the client would get the job
  2. When it is clear that the client will not get the job unless the information is given
  3. None of the Above
  4. When in your best judgment you believe the information would enhance the client's chances for getting the job
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As applied to professional licensure of counselors, the term "reciprocity" means that:

  1. a licensed counselor may legally perform the functions of a licensed psychologist
  2. one licensing agency agrees to accept the licensing standards of another as sufficient for its own
  3. certification is synonymous with licensure
  4. graduation from a fully accredited counselor education program automatically constitutes eligibility for licensure
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How is the NCE Scored?

The NCE is not scored on a “curve,” so your passing score is not influenced by other examinees’ results, but you can compare your score to national results with the NCE statistical summary.

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