NCMHCE New Narrative Exam Alert

Dr. Linton Hutchinson

You got questions, we got answers!

When will the new narrative exam be offered?

The shorter answer is, we don’t know the exact date. But from all indications and phone calls to NBCC, is looks like the new Narrative Exam has been pushed forward to the Summer of 2022. We’ll keep you in the loop with announcements, but as soon as we know, You’ll know!

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

The new narrative exam format will have 12-14 clinical case studies (who knows exactly how many cases at this point??) 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 10 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”

Will I have a choice of either taking the current (simulation) format or the new (narrative) format exam?

No dear, no. When the NBCC launches the new narrative exam format, the current simulation format will not be available. This also means that if you didn’t pass the current simulation exam and need to retake it, you will be taking the new narrative exam. No if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. Once the new narrative format of the exam goes live, you will not be able to take the simulation exam format.

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.

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 narratives have been field-tested to ensure that they are “moderately difficult”. The exam designers are testing your ability to apply knowledge of theoretical and skill-based principles to practice counseling safely and effectively. Basically, though the exam format will be different, the same level of knowledge will be necessary to pass the new exam.

How will the transition to the narrative exam affect my subscription to

Right now, when you purchase a subscription to our site, you have access to the study material for the simulation exam. The moment that the NBCC announces a release date for the narrative exam, you’ll have access to study material for both the simulation exam AND the narrative exam.

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 narrative exam testing begins and 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?

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. As soon as the NBCC announces a date for the new narrative exam, we will release our new study materials. Plus...when we launch the new study site, you will 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 will 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!