NCMHCE Study Guide

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.

About the Examination

The NCMHCE exam is a computer-delivered, clinical simulation examination. It consists of 10 counseling cases designed to assess your problem-solving abilities. This is achieved by evaluating 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 illustrate a range of competencies that have been deemed necessary to succeed within the field.  They are divided between five to 10 sections, which are classified as either Information Gathering (IG) or Decision Making (DM).  IG and DM are two of the three components that make up the assessment:

Component 1: Scenario

The scenario will set up the stage for your responses in the respective sections. It will provide you with basic, pertinent client information, such as how old they are, whether they are male or female and what problems they are presenting with.

Component 2: Information Gathering (IG) Sections

In the IG section, you will need to gather whatever information would be deemed relevant for the diagnosis and treatment of the client you are given in the Scenario, such as:

  • Current State of Physical Health
  • Family Background
  • Previous Counseling Experience(s)

You may be given multiple options and asked to make a selection. Be sure to read all options before responding and select all relevant responses by clicking the circle next to them and hitting the “submit” button. Your final IG score will be negatively affected if you submit too many or too few options for the question.

Component 3: Decision Making (DM) Sections

The DM section will ask you to make clinical judgements or decisions based on that information you have been given.

Examination Formatting

The NCMHCE exam itself is different than multiple-choice examinations. Instead, you will encounter questions on the IG and DM sections that may be formatted in two different ways:

  1. Single Best Option where you will need to choose the most acceptable response, even though there may be more than one acceptable option.
  2. Multiple Options where several responses will be appropriate. A combination of actions will be required for the decisions being made in these questions.

You may encounter either of these question formats in the DM section. For “Single Best Option” you will want to choose the most appropriate response out of the given options. The examination may sometimes ask you to make another selection, but this does not mean your previous selection was incorrect. For “Multiple Options” you will be instructed to select as many responses as indicted. For these questions you will mark a circle next to the response(s) before clicking the “submit” button. To familiarize yourself with the exam format, we recommend taking the Mometrix NCMHCE practice exam. This practice exam will present itself as if it were the actual examination, allowing you to become comfortable navigating the exam and responding to questions.

Registering for the NCMHCE Exam

NCMHCE Study Guide
Check Out Mometrix’s NCMHCE Secrets Study Guide

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 to Take the Examination

You may schedule a testing date to take the MCMHCE 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.

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.

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 the IG or DM 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 send 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.


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