NCMHCE Exam Review

A passing score on the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) is required for licensure in some states. It is one of the requirements for both the National Certified Counselor (NCC) and Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC) certification. Successful completion of the exam and certification demonstrates your commitment to the profession and dedication to continued learning within the field.


The National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) is transitioning to a new format in the fall of 2022. This format will emphasize the long-term, ongoing therapeutic process of the counseling relationship.
NCMHCE Format Comparison Chart


The National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) is transitioning to a new format in the fall of 2022. This format will emphasize the long-term, ongoing therapeutic process of the counseling relationship.

NCMHCE Format Comparison

About the Examination

The NCMHCE exam is a computer-delivered, clinical simulation examination. The specifics of the examination will differ depending on the format. The “old” format is the current format and will be available until the spring of 2022 for certification candidates and until October 2022 for licensure candidates. The new format will be available for certification candidates beginning in the fall of 2022 and will be available for licensure candidates beginning in November 2022.

The new NCMHCE format consists of 11 counseling cases designed to evaluate your capability to make vital clinical decisions that pertain to the health and well-being of figurative mental health clients you may encounter in real-world situations. Each case will include one narrative and 13 multiple-choice questions.

The exam is split into three parts:

Component 1: Intake

This part of the exam provides you with basic, introductory client information such as how old they are, whether they are male or female and what problems they are presenting with. You will also be given setting, as well as the presenting concerns and diagnosis of the client.

Component 2: Clinical Session I

In this part of the exam, you will work on the presenting concerns with the client by using evidence-based approaches.

Component 3: Clinical Session II

In this part of the exam, you will simply be continuing the work that you began in the last component.

At the beginning of each counseling case, you will be provided with the client’s initial diagnosis. You will then be asked to evaluate how that judgement was initially made. In some instances, you may have to either 1) provide one or more co-occurring diagnoses or 2) monitor the therapeutic relationship and change the diagnosis as it evolves and changes.

Examination Formatting

The NCMHCE exam is a standard multiple-choice exam, requiring you to choose a single correct answer among choices A-D. The questions are derived from a piece of narrative provided at the beginning of each exam section and are designed to measure an entry-level counselor’s knowledge of the following:

  • Professional practice and ethics
  • Intake
  • Assessment and diagnosis
  • Treatment planning
  • Counseling skills and interventions
  • Core counseling attributes in a real-world clinical mental health session

Online NCMHCE Prep Course

If you want to be fully prepared, Mometrix offers an online NCMHCE Prep Course. The course is designed to provide you with any and every resource you might want while studying. The NCMHCE Course includes:

  • Review Lessons Covering All the Topics
  • 600+ NCMHCE Practice Questions
  • More than 500 Digital Flashcards
  • Over 30 Instructional Videos
  • Money-back Guarantee
  • Free Mobile Access
  • and More!

The NCMHCE Prep Course is designed to help any learner get everything they need to prepare for their NCMHCE exam. Click below to check it out!

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How is the NCMHCE scored?

Each section of the exam has a minimum number of points that are needed to be considered as passing. The points for each section are tallied and you are given a raw score for the entire exam.

How much does it cost to take the NCMHCE?

To register to take the NCMHCE, you will be required to pay $275. This fee is nontransferable and nonrefundable.

What does NCMHCE stand for?

NCMHCE stands for National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination.

What is the NCMHCE exam?

The NCMHCE exam is a national certification that is required for those who wish to become a Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor.

How long do you have to take the NCMHCE?

The new NCMHCE exam format is timed for 260 minutes (4 hours and 20 minutes). The old format is timed for 195 minutes (3 hours and 15 minutes).

How do you sign up for the NCMHCE?

To register to take the NCMHCE, you will need to create an account for ProCounselor on the NCMHCE website:

Registering for the NCMHCE Exam

When you decide to register for the examination, you may do so either online (the preferred method) or via a paper registration form. You will be required to pay a fee for the registration, either online with a credit card or with a cashier’s check or money order with a paper registration. These fees are not refundable or transferable and do expire if the NCMHCE exam registration process has not been completed within one year’s time. Once you have completed the registration process, you will have six months to take the examination or you forfeit both the registration and fees. If you do not successfully pass the exam, you may register to test again after a three-month waiting period. You will be required to pay the associated fees each time you register.

Scheduling Your Examination

You may schedule a testing date to take the NCMHCE exam after you have successfully completed the registration process. Your candidate ID number will be sent via e-mail. This number will be needed in order for you to schedule an appointment to take the exam either through online scheduling (preferred) or on the telephone. You will be asked to confirm your chosen location, date and time for your examination, in addition to being given a time you will be expected to report to the testing center on test day. Take note of this time. You will not receive any further communications from the test administrators or testing location leading up to your appointment.

Rescheduling the NCMHCE Exam

You may reschedule your appointment any time up to 24 hours prior. However, there will be a $50 fee to reschedule your appointment if you do so within 7 days of the originally scheduled appointment. In the event that you need or plan to reschedule your appointment but fail to do so at least 24 hours before your scheduled time, arrive more than 15 minutes late for your appointment or fail to report to your designated testing center at your scheduled appointment time for any reason, you will forfeit both your registration and paid fees. To reregister for the examination, you will be required to submit a separate registration and fees.

If the examination needs to be rescheduled due to inclement weather, an emergency or power outage, you will be notified by e-mail or telephone with rescheduling procedures. Cancellation is up to the discretion of the respective testing centers and is usually determined based on whether testing center personnel are able to open the facility. In the event of a power failure in the middle of an exam administration, you will be able to restart the exam where you left off before the interruption.

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Testing Dates and Locations

You may register to take the NCMHCE exam at any of the 250+ testing centers throughout the United States. Testing dates are typically available in the first two weeks of every month on a first-come-first-served basis without application deadlines, though available testing dates and times will be indicated when you go to register for the examination. Exceptions include recognized holidays.

Preparing for the NCMHCE Examination

As you prepare for the exam, be sure to review the Mometrix NCMHCE study guide and take our NCMHCE practice exam. This practice exam will allow you to get a feel for what to expect in the examination’s clinical mental health counseling cases and respective Information Gathering and Decision Making sections. The study guide and practice exam will help acquaint you with what topics and respective work behaviors you should expect to encounter on your scheduled testing date, which include:

Assessment and Diagnosis

  • Identification of any relevant family issues
  • Identification of problems or symptoms
  • Identification of relationship functioning
  • Integration of client assessment and observational data

Counseling and Psychotherapy

  • Evaluation of referral information
  • Informing the client of ethical standards and practice
  • Clarification of roles for both the client and counselor
  • Implementation of individual counseling

Administration, Consultation and Supervision

  • Assisting clients with obtaining services
  • Determination of whether services meet clients’ needs
  • Maintenance of case records/notes/files
  • Conducting professional communication

As you prepare to take the NCMHCE exam, choose appropriate study materials, such as an NCMHCE study guide, that will help you review topics old materials as well as learn new materials. Keep in mind that your main objective is to receive a passing score to achieve licensure.

What to Expect on Test Day

On your testing day, try to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment time. You will be required to present two forms of identification, one of which must have a photograph. If you fail to provide appropriate identification and are not admitted to the testing center, it will be written as a missed appointment and result in forfeiture of your examination fee. Know that the name you used on your test registration and the name presented on your current photo ID must match, both must be current and both should have your signature as you will be required to sign a roster for the testing center administrator to verify your identity. The administrator can accept the following forms of identification, but note that whichever form you use must be current:

  • Driver’s license
  • State ID card
  • Passport
  • Military ID card

Temporary identification, including employment and student ID cards, are not acceptable.

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After confirming your identity, you will be directed to a testing carrel. When you begin the examination, you will first be required to agree to the terms of the nondisclosure agreement (NDA) before proceeding to take the NCMHCE examination. It is important to note that you may not bring any personal items into the testing room with you, including cell phones or cameras, and no testing materials may leave the testing location as all questions are copyrighted. All testing materials must be returned to the proctor upon completion of the exam or you will not receive your score report.

Taking the Examination

If you prepared for the NCMHCE exam by taking an NCMHCE practice exam, you should be familiar with the examination screen, which includes two windows:

  • The Scenario Window on the left side of the screen displays the simulation you are currently working on.
  • The Options Window on the right side of the screen displays section you are currently working in. This window will also include instructions, such as how many responses you are to choose.

Once you have submitted a response, you cannot unselect it as your submission reveals information about that selection. To review previous sections and feedback for responses, go to the top right-hand portion of your testing screen. Here, you will be able to view a review screen of your progress on the current case.

Receiving Your Scores

Upon successful completion of the examination you will be able to receive an unofficial score report from the exam proctor which will indicate a pass or fail. Scores are determined solely based upon the individual’s performance on the exam and are not compared to or influenced by the performance of other candidates. You will need to receive a passing score for both the Information Gathering and Decision Making sections.

Passing scores and additional requirements for licensure are determined by the State Board, so be sure to verify what requirements you will need to meet prior to beginning the registration process. Passing scores will be sent to your state licensure board within 30 days. If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again after a three-month waiting period.

NCMHCE Study Guide Customer Success Stories

Our customers love the tutorial videos from Mometrix Academy that we have incorporated into our NCMHCE test study guide. The NCMHCE study guide reviews below are examples of customer experiences.

I like how everything is condensed in to easy chunks so that I can stop just about anywhere, put a sticky note in place, and pick right up when I next pick up the book. I especially like how the answers are rated and explained so that I can think about the answers and how they relate to the scenarios. Several other sites and books I first looked at had the rating, but no explanation. Having been in the field almost 2 years before taking the test, I like that I can take what I read and apply it to personal experience in the field.

NCMHCE Study Guide – K. Nelan

I enjoy studying from "book material" than being on the computer for hours studying. I can also make notes in the book for further thought and follow up. The material is very informative and understandable with the breakdown of the diagnosis and assessment. With the practice questions, I can take them repeatedly and learn from my mistakes with the explanation of each choice given.

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NCMHCE Study Guide – Customer

The product was good for me because I was able to see questions that are similar to the exam. I am a visual person, so been able to practice and see the questions, give me a better insight for my studying.

NCMHCE Study Guide – Customer

It's easy to read, has great simulations, and I'm sure it will help me pass the test. I especially appreciated the "Specific Issues" section which reinforced my knowledge on Career Counseling.

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It is very easy to understand and is full of important information that can be used on the test. It is easy for me to maneuver and understand the wordings and the information presented in the book. I am enjoying using it as a reference to my upcoming test.

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I purchased this item in particular because of it's volume of information, clarity and practice exams. So far, it has become my go-to resource for studying and has proven to be beneficial for me.

NCMHCE Study Guide – Customer


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by Mometrix Test Preparation | This Page Last Updated: November 2, 2022