NCE: Review and Impression

Posted: January 9, 2010 at 6:10 pm by
Filed under Psychology

psi NCE: Review and Impression

For the past 4 months I have been studying for the National Counselors Exam (NCE). I knew from the beginning it would not be easy, so I decided to study for it early. I researched the Internet and found a good book, Encyclopedia of Counseling by Howard Rosenthal. The book covers all content areas, and has over 1000 questions designed to give you a basic understanding of the format and content of the NCE. I knew, however, this one book was not enough to cover all aspects of the NCE, so I decided to use my class notes and go through all my textbooks from graduate school as well as search the Internet for flashcards and practice tests.

After looking for flashcards, I decided I needed to make my own. I created over 500 flash cards for the NCE, which can be found here. I then devised a study schedule. I was to read about a specific theory each day, look over 200 flash cards at random, and read over the late minute boot camp within the Encyclopedia of Counseling. I decided this would be enough if I was to pass the exam. I will now be blunt with you, I was dead wrong.

I took the exam on the 7th of January. If you do not know, it is computer based, which is a very good thing. For one, you get your score as soon as you finish, and second, you can bookmark items you want to look over. As I took the test, I began to notice most questions were quite difficult. As I progressed, my self esteem began to collapse, as I did not know a definite answer for around 80% of the items. Most items I could get to 2 choices, however on most I was not 100% sure. As the test ended, I was sure I was to fail, as I did not see any hope on passing. I was shocked to find I passed the exam, with 120 questions correct out of 160. I answered 29 questions correct more then I needed to pass. I was shocked and dumbfounded. How did I pass, when I did not know 80% of the answers?

Now that I have had a few days to think, I figured it out. The NCE is NOT a test of facts and theories. It’s main purpose is to determine if you can come to a logical, rational answer when given facts you do not know. This makes sense, as Psychology is a relativistic profession with few black or white choices. If you cannot be objective, and figure things as you go, you will fail in this profession. During the exam, I had to take many examples where I did not know all the facts. I had to look at each answer choice and reason it out. In that sense, I must have preformed well.

I will admit, the NCE was much harder then I expected it to me. I know application was one of the main components, however almost all the facts and information I studied was not on the exam. If I was to study again for it, I would learn the specifications of each main theory in each content area, but I would also learn more about group work, program design and evaluation, ethical situations, and research studies. While the Encyclopedia of Counseling is a good book, it covers the basics only. You can answer most questions correctly in the book and easily fail this exam.

So, how do you study for it you ask? Talk with those who have taken it, just do not expect to get specifics as to the questions on it. Also note, there are many different versions of this exam, so the one I took most likely will not be the same for you. The best thing you can do is read many different books, research articles, and psychology journals. Do not sit and memorize facts, it is pointless. As long as you know the ins and outs of all main theories in all content areas, do not stress yourself to memories everything you see. Take a holistic approach and look at all aspects of the profession. Last but not least, do not give up. I felt defeated as I took the last half of the test, but I did not give up. I tried my best to finish and to score as high as I could. Even when I did not know most of the answers, I took each question one step at a time. In the end, it worked, and soon I shall be a Licensed Professional Counselor – Intern. If you do not give up, you will be as well.

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14 Responses to “NCE: Review and Impression”

  1. Good article. I believe it is thay way with many professions, especially in this day and age when new knowledge, facts, are appearing at such an accelerated rate. A working knowledge of, comes to mind.



  2. maxineNo Gravatar says:

    Hello Peter,
    I have to say that you are correct. I took the test yesterday, July 14th and flunk!!!! I order all of the material of the Rosental package, the cd’s dictionary, the purple book of counseling and learned all of that material. I study for 7 months and 12 days up until the day of the test, and was confident when i went in there to take the test and ended up failing badly. Out of 160 i made a 62 and i felt like crap, dissapointed, frustrated, angry and just wanted to cry because i put in all of that sweat and time into it. I also knew that it was not going to be like all of the info that studied, however i thought at least i had all of the theories down pack even information that was given to me from graduate school of more sample of question and failed badly. I reside in north carolina and have not worked since Dec when my job folded due to medicaid and for me to get a job in the field of my studies they (north carolina) wants you to have that LPC, so i was praying that i would have it today for me to seek employment. I did figure out this morning that all that studying that i did will not be the way to go and your are correct it has to be more logic then studying. I will be contacting the NBCC to reapply to take the test again, at this time i am not going to look at that stuff again to study because i don’t have the energy or time that i put into it and i do believe that i have all of that information stored in my head from 7 months and i am just going to go with it….any suggestion please feel free to contact me….at this time i am good and have to move on !!! however i will not stop until i passed because i did not go to school not to get this. you have an awesome message that needs to get out to a lot of people that fails this exams…my husband found your website and sent it to me because he knew i was down about not passing the test!!!


  3. The test was tough, no question. Thinking about it now, I am not sure as to how I would study. I would know every theory, at least the main points. I would begin study major scientific studies in Psychology, especially landmark cases. I would study court cases as well. I would next work on logic puzzles, and study on how to best work out test questions. I think the only way I scored so high as I took each question by itself, and questioned each answer choice looking for the most logical answer. As I guessed on more then 50%, this had to be what saved me. I was able to see what answers could not be true, leaving only 2 most times to choose from.

    I would work everyday until you pass. I would also not get discouraged, I am sure you are not the only one to fail it. I imagine most do. Work on logic, study all theories, study court cases, and do not panic. In time you will pass.


  4. JonNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t agree with your comment

    “It’s main purpose is to determine if you can come to a logical, rational answer when given facts you do not know. This makes sense, as Psychology is a relativistic profession with few black or white choices. If you cannot be objective, and figure things as you go, you will fail in this profession.”

    I failed the test for the second time yesterday by only one question. It has extremely little to do with counselor competency. If you asked me each question face to face, I could give you a good correct answer. I don’t see how “choosing the best answer” when 2-3 of the questions are correct makes you a better counselor. The test is desigend for people who think from the left side of the brain and are excellent with details. It is a way for the NBCC to get money from us. It is political and a waist of time and money.


  5. maxineNo Gravatar says:

    Hello everyone!!!! Just want to give a follow up on my second try of taking the LPC again and i did not pass again…..however i passed from a 62 to a 68 WTF!!!!! I took the test in Feb 9, 2011. I know i should not express these feeling in that way. I need a 91 to at least pass the test. I was screaming again and realized….what’s the point. It is to the point i can’t stand studying again…it really makes me sick. So, i have re-group, i applied for my LCAS and received my provisional licensing and they give you at least 5 years to pass the test. From getting that provisional licensing i have been able to seek employment being that i have not worked for over two years trying to pass that LPC. I am not going to give up on it….however i am not going to stress out anymore to pass it. Now….here i am again studying for another licensing and praying that i can deal with the outcome of me not passing and or passing. I get mixed feeling about these licensing because it appears to me that it is about money. Does it really have to so diffulcult to get these licensing especially when you get in debt for attending graduate school and still can’t move on because we have to pass this test that appears impossible? Ok, i am done and just wanted to leave a follow up message about my second go round in taking this LPC again.



  6. larry owensNo Gravatar says:

    I took and failed the test for the first time today. I was very upset when I saw the questions. The wording was so confusing that I had to reread each question about 10 times. Most of the question asked had nothing to do with anything learned in grad school. I studied but I did not spend hours studying simply because I know hoe standardized test are designed. Plus, I had to ask the people on site was I taking the correct test. most of my questions were about group counseling. No theory questions at all.


  7. Amy B-BNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks for this posting! I just took my exam today in CT and won\’t get my results for 6 weeks :( I too studied the Encyclopedia of Counseling (but really only for a week!) Like you all, I was unsure about most of my answers realizing that more than one answer could often apply. I\’m not sure the reasoning behind so many logic questions but I agree that more emphasis on counselor skills and applications would probably make a better \


  8. DawnNo Gravatar says:

    I took the NCE for the third time today and failed again! I felt so good about the test and knew for sure I had it this time. It is so frustrating when i know I am a good Counselor. I missed it by 1 point the first time then 6pts the second and 8 pts this time. WTH!!! I am trying not to get discouraged and give up. I need to find a study group and maybe that will help me. It was encouraging to read the comments on here to know that others are having a hard time too. I’m in Charlotte, NC so if anyone knows of a group here let me know.


  9. GayleNo Gravatar says:

    I have taught psychology and have a few years under my belt I am a therapist. I currently live in a state where one must take both exams. I took the test 2 years ago and received a 90. I have studied with Linton’s website for about 10 days because it is test oriented. It is a great site. The last time I did all of Rosenthal’s book as well as the CD’s. I took the test yesterday and failed again at 90 points. I knew I was in trouble after a few questions and thought by accident I was given the wrong test. I began to get that throw up feeling because all the questions had nothing to do with what I have known or will ever know. It had many questions about school counseling. But most of the questions none of the answers seemed right. The pressure for me to provide for my family…. I felt nothing but that these people who control our lives by giving a test like this are evil people trying to confuse,manipulate, and just make you think you have a DSM diagnosis is beyond belief. You cannot study for this exam because it does not contain any thing in the assessment for a therapist. My question is why? Try talking to them on the phone as well they know they are gods over us. Not fair at all.


  10. AnnNo Gravatar says:

    I took the test, I studied Rosenthal’s book, listened to the CD, did Linton’s for a week, my notes, and took a 2 fullday study review offered in Chicago. It was all worth it, cause I did pass the first time. I also left copies of study materials in different rooms to be able to pick up at any time to review.
    I think my husband thought I was nuts, however I heard it was not an easy test, nd it wasn’t. I organized all my materials in catagories, made it easier to understand.
    I shared my study materials with others.


  11. MaxineNo Gravatar says:


    Well it has been at least 2 years of me not thinking about taking that exam again. May GOD Bless you in your future of becoming an LPC-I. If you see this message maybe you can give me some suggestion in how to study the material again, I am the person who took this exam twice with no success. I truly would consider trying this again.


  12. alNo Gravatar says:

    I have taken the NCE two times and have failed both times. However, i did much better the second time. In my opinion the test has little to do with actual counseling with someone with a mental disorder. I say this because i have been working with those who have a mental health diagnoses of Bipolar, schizo affective, Major Depression, and Paranoid Schizophrenia. I perform psychosocial rehab. skills, and other related assistance. I am here to tell everyone, the NCE has little to do with actual counseling on a one to one. I have too have read Dr. Howard Rosenthal, Encyclopedia of Counseling three times and have heard his tapes at least three times. I just do not understand why i am not able to pass this test. I am open to just about any suggestion someone is willing to provide.


  13. AlmaNo Gravatar says:

    Reading all your postings are helpful in knowing I am not alone in this fear of retesting. I will be taking the exam for the 5th time in 2 weeks. The first time was 3 years ago and I scored 76′ 6 months later I scored 82, One year later I scored 84 and six months after that 87, I felt defeated! I re-examed my career choice as I doubting my skills.
    Although I progressed each time I felt the study material was repeatitive and every time I took the test the questions were barely related to the material I studied. I have spent so much money reapplying and on every study material out there. I am so scared in taking the test.
    I have been in the field for 8 years working in Addictions. I know I can do this because I passed the LADAC. Exam and it was very challenging.
    To everyone out there that has failed but knows in the heart this is where they are meant to be, don’t give up and I won’t give up either!


  14. meghanNo Gravatar says:

    I studied my butt off for about 2-3 months.
    I used all of Dr. Rosenthatl stuff, plus and Study secrets…and unfortuneley failed by 7 POINTS!!!! I am heart broken, however, THERE WAS MINIMAL THINGS I STUDIED ON THIS TEST. I Actually started to cry during it a little because I was so overwhelmed that nothing I studied for months was on this.
    HOw the hell are we supposed to prepare then? It’s stressful enough working a full time job and waiting to pass this for my dream to come to pass and yet…I cant pass. I am so upset over it.


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