National Certified Addiction Counselor Level I and Level II Tests

Addiction counselors play an important role for people recovering from substance use disorder. As of 2020, more than 37 million Americans aged 12 years and older are current illegal drug users. Out of that number, only 10% seek help and rehabilitation. As an addiction counselor, you will serve as one of the patient’s support systems, providing guidance and resources to help them manage their recovery in the long-term.

Professionals working in Substance Use Disorders and Addiction-related fields can certify their skills and working experience by passing one of either the National Certified Addiction Counselor Level I or Level II Tests (NCAC I and NCAC II tests). This article will discuss what both tests are and their differences, what you can expect from the test content, how to register for the exam, and the required score to pass the exam.

About the NCAC Exams

The National Certified Addiction Counselor Level I and Level II Tests (NCAC I and II) are administered by the National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals (NCC AP).

Once you pass either the NCAC I or NCAC II Test, you may submit this as a requirement to gain either an NCAC Level I or NCAC Level II certification, respectively, under the National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors or NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals.

These certifications are voluntary national and international certifications for professionals in Substance Use Disorders and Addiction-related disciplines, validating the skills attained through years of work experience and, specifically for Level II certification, specific undergraduate course work.

NAADAC encourages counselors to take these certification exams to distinguish themselves as a practitioner who specializes in addiction assessment and treatment. Moreover, this certification means that you adhere to the field’s highest ethical standards for professionals, verifying your competence and commitment as an addiction counselor.

While these two tests and certifications are similar in name and content, there are key factors that distinguish both of them.

NCAC I

The NCAC I Certification and Test is recommended for those who have completed High School or have passed the GED, and have completed at least 270 required contact hours of education and training in Substance Use Disorders/Addiction or related counseling subjects.

NCAC II

The NCAC II Certification and Test is recommended for those who have completed a Bachelor’s Degree or higher in Substance Use Disorders/Addiction and/or related counseling subjects, along with a minimum of 450 required contact hours of education and training in the same field.

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Exam Outline Review

The NCAC I and NCAC II written examinations consist of 150 objective multiple-choice questions to be answered within the 3-hour time limit. Both tests are designed to assess applicants on their projected knowledge based on experience, education, and training.

Candidates for the exam are expected to be well-versed in these topic areas and will be evaluated through the test accordingly:

  • Treatment admission (screening, intake, and orientation)
  • Clinical assessment
  • Ongoing treatment planning
  • Counseling services (individual, group, family, crisis intervention, and client education)
  • Documentation
  • Case management
  • Discharge and continuing care
  • Legal, ethical, and professional growth issues
  • Physiology and psychopharmacology

NCAC I

The exam is divided into five areas of knowledge with specific percentages allocated to each. These are:

  • Orientation to the treatment process (14%)
  • Assessment (23%)
  • Ongoing treatment planning and implementation (25%)
  • Addiction counseling practices and skills (21%)
  • Professional practices (17%)

NCAC II

The exam is divided into five areas of knowledge with specific percentages allocated to each. These are:

  • Orientation to the treatment process (14%)
  • Assessment (23%)
  • Ongoing treatment planning and implementation (23%)
  • Addiction counseling practices and skills (23%)
  • Professional practices (17%)

Exam outline for the NCAC I and II exams which have a 3-hour time limit and 150 multiple-choice questions each

Registering for the Exam

To register for either one of the tests, you must register through NCC AP’s accredited testing partner Kryterion. You may take an onsite exam by locating a test center near you or opt for distance proctoring and take the test remotely from your home or office.

Some states offer the NCAC I and NCAC II Tests as part of their state credentialing or licensing process. If you are taking the test for your state license, you have to be approved by your state board before you can register for testing. Upon approval, your state board will then provide the information and a code for registration. If you register without being approved by your state board, you will not be allowed to take the test and your fee will not be refunded.

Exam Cost

For those taking one of the exams specifically for NCAC Level I or Level II certification, your application must first be approved by the NCC AP before registration. Initial application fees for both exams are $235. Additional requirements include the appropriate application forms and other listed requirements on the NAADAC website for NCAC Level I and Level II, respectively. Once your application is approved, you will receive an email with the code and link to register for your chosen exam.

Retaking the Exam

Don’t fret if you need to retake the exam! The NCC AP allows applicants who failed the exam to retake the test up to three times within the calendar year. However, if you still fail the following exams, you are required to wait until the next year to retake the exam.

If you fail the exam as a requirement by your state board, you must contact them to register for the exam again. If you fail the exam as a requirement for the NCC AP national credential, contact NCC AP to re-register for the exam. The costs for re-testing are the same as those for the initial application.

FAQs

When will I get my NCAC test results?

Upon completion of the exam, you will receive an email with your unofficial test score and results. If you are taking the exam under your state licensing board, your official score report will be sent there.

You may also request for an official score report by emailing nccap@naadac.org. There is no fee if you request for your report within two months from your testing date.

What is the minimum passing score for the NCAC?

To pass the NCAC I and NCAC II Tests, you must score 101 correct answers out of 150, equivalent to a 67% passing score.

If you have previously taken one of these exams as part of a state licensing procedure, you may be able to use your score towards a national-level certification.

What happens if I fail the exam?

If you fail either the NCAC I or NCAC II exam, you are able to retake the exam. Click here to see details about retaking the exam.

How can I study for the NCAC tests?

Mometrix provides a printed study guide, written by counseling and social work experts to help you prepare for the NCAC I and II exams. Click the button below to learn more!

 

by Mometrix Test Preparation | This Page Last Updated: September 4, 2022