Why do some test takers who do so well in grad school fail the NCMHCE? What are the most common barriers to success on the licensure exam? How can you manage test anxiety during your exam? Read more here.
A conversation with Dr. Alyson Carr on how failing the NCMHCE (National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination) provided a catalyst for personal and professional growth as well as how counselors can transform failure into an opportunity to refine and enrich our practice.
DISCLAIMER: I do not work for the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). I have recently received quite a few emails from test takers trying to distinguish between the following acronyms: NCMHCE, NCE, NCC, and CCMHC. This blog post is simply my interpretation of the information provided by NBCC. If you see anything in this post that is inaccurate, please post a comment or send me an email so I can update it accordingly.
National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE): This exam is required for licensure in some states.
National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE): This exam is required for licensure in some states.
Depending on which state you live in, you are required to earn a passing score on either the NCMHCE or the NCE in order to become licensed. Becoming licensed earns you credentials such as LPC, LCPC, LPCC, LMHC, LPCMH, LCMHC, or LPC-MH.
Just click on your state on the State Board Directory and then look at what is displayed on the right side of the page to determine which exam you need to pass to become licensed in your state: http://www.nbcc.org/directory
National Certified Counselor (NCC): A passing score on the NCE or the NCMHCE is one of the requirements for the National Certified Counselor (NCC) certification.
For more information about NCC application requirements, click here: http://www.nbcc.org/Certification/NationalCertCounselor
Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC): Many people ask me if this credential is an exam. If I understand correctly, this is not an exam – it is a certification. A passing score on the NCMHCE is required for this certification.
For more information about the CCMHC application requirements, click here: http://www.nbcc.org/Certification/CertifiedClinicalMentalHealthCounselor
One of the benefits of becoming certified is that it demonstrates a commitment to the profession and corresponding licensing bodies. Some certifications have continuing education requirements for recertification, which further illustrates ones dedication to ongoing learning as it relates to the field.
Hope this helps!
When test takers reach out to me for guidance on how to prepare for the NCMHCE, it is not uncommon for their inquiry to begin with a description of how a bad experience in a CHOOSE ONLY ONE section of the NCMHCE sent them into a downward spiral of extreme anxiety and ultimate failure on the exam.
Let’s talk about the difference between a SELECT AS MANY and a CHOOSE ONLY ONE section on the NCMHCE.
What is a SELECT AS MANY section?
SELECT AS MANY means that you are being asked a question with a number of correct answer selections. For example, let's say there are 10 answer choices and 7 of them are correct: If you select only 4 of the 7 correct answers – you will be allowed to move onto the next section. If you select only 1 answer, and it is incorrect, you will be able to move onto the next section. If you only select 3 wrong answers, you will be able to move onto the next section. To summarize, in a SELECT AS MANY section, you can literally “select as many” answers you think you correct and then you can move onto the next section in your simulation without really knowing if you made all (or any) of the right answer choices.
What is a CHOOSE ONLY ONE section?
CHOOSE ONLY ONE means that you are being asked a question with only ONE correct answer. If you do not select the correct answer on your first try, you must continue making answer selections until you choose the correct answer and can move onto the next section. See how the pressure of needing to select the ONLY correct answer can immediately trigger test anxiety? What adds to this pressure is the realization that not only do you need to select the ONE CORRECT ANSWER, but if you DO NOT select the ONE correct answer on your first try, you will need to continue making selections until you get the right answer. And, what happens when you make wrong answer selections? You lose points. It’s no wonder that nerves take over when a test taker begins a CHOOSE ONLY ONE section.
How to handle the anxiety associated with a CHOOSE ONLY ONE section of DOOM
1. Remember that you do not have to get every single answer correct in order to pass the NCMHCE – you WILL make incorrect answer selections on test day and you need to be equipped to respond to this stress with a level head that doesn’t compromise your performance.
2. Remember that you do not need to hit every single case out of the ballpark – your final score on the NCMHCE is an overall cumulative score so if you are doing well in the majority of your simulations, you have some wiggle room in the event you are confronted with a case that really stumps you.
3. Anticipate being in a CHOOSE ONLY ONE section on test day and build up your emotional resources by working through these kind of sections when you are practicing using CounselingExam.co
When taking the PearsonVue version of the NCMHCE, select all of the buttons in a given section first. Then, click "Get Feedback" for all of the buttons you've selected (as opposed to clicking the button, followed by "get feedback," next correct button "get feedback," and so on...).
Approaching your exam this way will prevent you from being distracted by any information you uncover when you click "get feedback." By clicking all of the buttons first, before clicking "get feedback" you increase your chances of staying focused on the most relevant selections before taking in all of the new information you've revealed.