Practicing counselors and graduate students know that there are 200 questions on the National Counselor Exam (NCE) and that only 160 of them are scored for you. The highest possible score you can attain is 160; however, a score of about 100 is sufficient to pass the exam in most cases. Some forms of the exam (which may be the one you take) may require a 105 or so out of 160 to pass. In any case, getting about 65% of the 160 questions scored for you correct will translate into success on the NCE.
Exam items generally fall into three categories: recall, application and analytical. Recall questions stimulate the memory and remind you of some concept, idea, technique, person, etc. Most counselors like these questions because they are confident that their previous knowledge or information helps them find the right alternative of the four presented for the question.
Application questions rely more heavily on the work you have done as a counselor. This counseling work could be in a practicum, internship or in a paid position as a counselor. The exam questions present a scenario or vignette of some counseling situation. You need to use your work experience in terms of some application of knowledge, theoretical technique, assessment procedure, ethical situation, etc. and use that information to review the four answers given for that exam question.
Analytical questions which may be longer and look more complex, beg you to take them apart. Identify the basic issues, concepts, principles within the questions. Make lists, underline, and highlight these various parts and pieces. If you take the exam on computer, you can make lists on your ‘scratch’ paper. Determine what is really important to the question and what is more filler and not critical. In other words, tear the question apart. Not all of it is as important as some other parts. After doing this “analysis,” put it back together with a better understanding and pick the answer that makes the most sense.
NBCC (www.nbcc.org) and the professional counselors they use as exam consultants want counselors to use a variety of skills on the exam. That’s why it includes a variety of questions requiring recall, application and analytical processes and skills.