NCMHCE New Narrative Exam Alert

Dr. Linton Hutchinson

You got questions, we got answers!

When will the new narrative exam be offered?

June 7-25, 2022: test takers can take part in the "standard-setting cohort" for the new narrative format exam.

Fall 2022: test takers who are taking the exam as part of their national board certification (to obtain the NCC credential) will take the new narrative format exam; specific dates for this have not been provided by the NBCC, though traditionally October has been the “fall” certification cycle.

November 7, 2022: test takers seeking only state licensure will take the new narrative format exam; the simulation format exam will become extinct by this date. Starting November 7th, the new narrative exam will be mandatory.

How is the new narrative exam different than the simulation exam?

The new narrative exam format will have 11 clinical case studies. In each narrative case study, you’ll be given waaaaaaay more background information than you would ever want to know about a client, along with an intake summary and two lengthy counseling session summaries. And break out your thesaurus and dictionary because there’s a lot of reading and clinical terminology.

The good news is, you won’t have any information gathering (IG) like the simulation exam. The bad news is, the entire narrative exam is based on decision making (DM) skills! Back to the good news... the exam is a hybrid format that combines a simulation vignette with multiple choice questions. In each narrative, you’ll be asked 13 multiple-choice questions. Like a typical multiple-choice question, there will be four answer options and only one of them will be correct.

Say goodbye to “choose as many”. Say hello to “it’s okay to guess if you don’t know the answer”

How much time will I have to take the new exam?

There’s a silver lining to this whole exam change. Instead of only having 3 hours to take the simulation exam, you’ll have 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete the narrative exam. Talk about a win!

How will the new exam be scored?

No more of that confusing need to pass both IG and DM to be successful on the exam. On the new narrative exam, every time that you answer a question correctly, you get a point. All of your points are added up at the end, resulting in one final score. You won’t lose any points for incorrect answers, so it’s to your advantage to guess if you don’t know the answer. Of the 143 total multiple choice questions you will have to answer, only 100 of those will be scored. The other 43 questions are part of field-testing. You will not be told which questions are part of the field-testing, so treat every question as though it is being scored.

Will the new exam be harder or easier than the current exam?

The NBCC says that the new narrative format “matches the range of difficulty of the current test format.” Sooooo, just like the simulation exam, the narrative exam is objective and relies on evidence-based practice. The exam designers are testing your ability to apply knowledge of theoretical and skill-based principles to practice counseling safely and effectively. The new exam puts a strong emphasis on the working relationship between counselor and client. br />
How will the transition to the narrative exam affect my subscription to

Right now, when you purchase a subscription to our site, you will have access to study material for both the simulation format AND narrative format.

How long will I have access to the simulation exam study material on

You’ll have access to the simulation exam study material as long as that format of the exam is given. As soon as the simulation exam is phased out, we will not offer access to the simulation exam because that study material will go the way of MySpace!

Can I use my subscription to study for the new narrative exam?

Yes! We’ve got you covered! We began creating content for the narrative exam as soon as the NBCC made their first announcement about the change. You can study for the new narrative exam right now. You also have access to some awesome new features as well, including customizable study plans, new video instruction, exam tutorials, and a huge collection of narrative case studies and exams to practice.

I’ve been studying for the simulation exam, but I’m scheduled to take the narrative exam. Do I need to start studying all over again?

Fortunately, there is a lot of crossover in terms of content on the new exam. CACREP topics like ethical principles, treatment planning, theoretical models, and interventions haven’t changed much. However, there will be additional topics included on the narrative exam (remember statistics and appraisal...?). For a complete list of these topics, check out the NBCC’s NCMHCE Content Outline. If you’ve been studying the content for the simulation exam, you can continue to build on that foundational knowledge, making sure that you also review the new topics.

What will change more drastically is the format of the exam and the strategies that you use to answer questions. If you plan to take the narrative exam, you should study the corresponding study material that we provide. Taking a multiple-choice style exam requires an entirely different study strategy than what you would use for the simulation style exam. It will take time to learn the nuances for the narrative exam. Bottom line, if you have been studying for the simulation exam, but are scheduled to take the narrative exam, all is not lost. You just need to switch over to using our narrative study material and make sure you practice our narratives and full-length exams to pass the exam.

It’s in there!