National Certified School Counselor Examination (NCSCE)

Satisfactory performance on the National Certified School Counselor Examination (NCSCE) is one of the criteria used by NBCC to identify professionals who may be eligible to become a National Certified School Counselor (NCSC).

The National Certified School Counselor Examination (NCSCE) is based on a national job analysis. The purpose of the study was to describe the job activities of professional school counselors in sufficient detail to provide a basis for the development of a professional, job-related certification examination that is in compliance with the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing, and the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) standards.

A school counselor is required to make important decisions regarding the well-being of students. Therefore, the NCSCE combines traditional multiple choice items with innovative simulated cases to more realistically assess knowledge, skills, and abilities in such decision making.

Exam Format

The NCSCE consists of seven (7) simulated school counseling cases, which access specific School Counselor Knowledge, and forty (40) multiple choice questions assessing General Counselor Knowledge.

The forty (40) multiple choice questions on the NCSCE will cover the knowledge areas assessed by theNational Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE).

Each simulated school counseling case will consist of three components: Scenario, Information Gathering (IG) sections, and Decision Making (DM) sections. Each case begins with a Scenario. The remaining 5 - 8 sections of each simulated case are classified as either IG or DM.

The Scenario provides the setting and introductory information (e.g., age, gender, presenting problem(s)).

In Information Gathering (IG) sections examinees are to gather all relevant information for answering the question. This might include family background, status of physical health, etc. Read all responses before uncovering the responses that you consider necessary to proceed in response to the presenting issue. You should select all options that are appropriate at the time. If you select more or less options than are appropriate, this will adversely impact your information gathering score.

Decision Making (DM) sections provide opportunities for making judgments or decisions. These sections may be formatted in one of two ways:

  1. Single Best Option - There may be more than one acceptable option, but one option is generally regarded most acceptable.
  2. Multiple Options - Several options are considered appropriate. These sections address decisions in which a combination of actions is required.

In the decision making section described in 1 above, the instructions will be to “CHOOSE ONLY ONE” option. You should not assume that your response is incorrect if you are directed to make another selection. The simulation examination format sometimes uses this direction. The multiple option type of decision making described in 2 will have instructions to “SELECT AS MANY.”

Taking the Examination

The procedure for completing the simulated case section of the NCSCE is different from that of more common multiple-choice section. Each simulated case is identified by a number and the student's name and each section is identified by a letter. Since progression through the individual simulations is not in sequence (that is, one page directly after the preceding page), it is important to make sure the number and student name is for the problem on which you are currently working.

You must use the special latent image marker provided to mark the selection(s) in the area numbered to correspond with the selection in the left-hand column. Use gentle, horizontal strokes with the marker across the latent image response area. Continuous or hard rubbing will obliterate the response. Printed information will appear in two to three seconds and provide you with the information selected, indicate the consequences of your action, or direct you to the next section for consideration. Two asterisks (**) indicate that a complete response for that selection has been uncovered.

After each section is completed, care should be taken to follow the exact directions regarding the next section. Remember, the route through the simulation is NOT in alphabetical order (A-B-C-D….). Make sure you go to the section last indicated and that you are still in the correct problem (check student name). For example, you may be directed to go from section A to section F, then to section B. The directions “END OF THE PROBLEM. PLEASE PROCEED TO SIMULATION ___.**,” indicate that the simulation case has been completed.


  • Follow all instructions precisely. Do not uncover more than one selection in the DM sections unless instructed to do so. Be sure to go to the sections in the order in which you are directed.
  • Review the student name and the section heading before marking a response to determine that the correct section is being completed.
  • Carefully read all of the options for selection in a section before you uncover the response to make sure you have chosen correctly. The purpose of information gathering sections are not to arrive at a decision with a minimum number of choices, but rather to measure your ability to select all of the information that is relevant and necessary for the highest standards of practice.
  • Verify that the response number corresponds to the selection number before uncovering the response with the latent image pen.
  • Responses must be completely developed once the process has been initiated. There is no opportunity to change a selection even if it was developed by mistake.
  • Do not uncover responses you do not think answer the question.
  • Use gentle, horizontal strokes with the latent image pen; rubbing will obliterate the response.
  • Try to visualize what would be done in a real practice setting in the decision making sections. Do not try to second guess what the problem authors want by thinking “Now what do they want me to do?” Instead think, “What is the best approach?” Select the best alternative(s) from the options provided.