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Understanding How the NCE is Scored

November 12, 20232 min read

A Passing NCE® Score

There is no known score that is a passing score. One customer called the NBCC and reported to us that NBCC told her that passing scores (depending on the form of the exam) range from 56% to 67%. It appears that each form of the exam has its own passing score but is not published ahead of time. Customers have reported to us that they are scoring between 58% and 70% on’s full-length practice exams and are passing the actual exam. Obviously, can’t guarantee this will hold true as every exam is different. For a complete description of the way the NCE is scored, see the NCE Handbook (page 12).

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Score Report Breakdown

When you take the National Counselor Examination, your score report includes breakdowns of how well you did in the following areas:

  1. WORK DOMAIN – This is one of the 6 areas recently updated by the NBCC to determine question distribution.

  2. CACREP AREA – These content areas remain unchanged in the new National Counselor Examination® updates. Many study manuals (including ours) are organized around them. Your score here may help you organize how you study.

  3. Additionally, if you are taking one of our simulated practice exams, you will also see how your score is broken down according to our NCEExamPrep Study Manual

NCEExamPrep Study Manual Order of Chapters

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Item Analysis Questions

Item Analysis questions are used by both the National Counselor Examination® and NCEExamPrep to test questions for possible use in upcoming exams. Each exam (both NCE and full-length NCEExamPrep practice exam) contains 40 of these unscored questions. If you get one of these Item Analysis questions “correct” on our exam, it is marked “incorrect” so it does not factor into your final score.

The way the total score is tabulated is based on the 6 Work Domain categories. Every question is grouped (and tagged) based on its content. There are 6 scored groups (the work domains categories) and 1 unscored group (the item analysis questions). The question distribution aligns with the updated outline from NBCC so of the 200 questions on the exam, there are 160 scored questions – all from the 6 work domain groups. Because we wanted to replicate the actual NCE, we included 40 “item analysis” questions in the distribution in our full-length practice exam simulations. Your final score is tabulated based on the number of correct answers out of 160.  

On NCEExamPrep Practice Exams, To keep from including the correctly answered “item analysis” questions in the total score, they are marked incorrect. So, if you got 25/40 “item analysis” questions correct, the 15 incorrect ones would not be counted anyway and the 25 correct ones are marked incorrect so as not to factor into the total score.

Here’s an example of how the question distribution might be scored:

sample NCE score table

This is just a sample chart. Your actual scores will likely be different.

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Sara Meeter

I thank you for all your help and your program. This was my fourth time taking the NCE and because of your program I passed!Thank you so very much!


Lynne Boyette

Yesterday, I took my NCE exam and passed!  I guess there is hope for someone who graduated with their masters 23 years ago!



I passed last week & wanted to thank you for all your help in doing so! The practice exams helped TREMENDOUSLY with becoming more confident in test taking! Good luck to anyone taking it soon!