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Preparing for the Exam and Study Tips


NCE Practice Exam

The National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) is administered and maintained by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), an internationally-recognized provider of national counselor certification for those wishing to become a Licensed Professional Counselor.

MFT Practice Exam

The Marital and Family Therapy (MFT) exam is administered by the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards for those wishing to become licensed as a Marriage and Family therapist.

Start Preparation early

Procrastination is the enemy of exam preparation.  It is recommended that you start studying way before the last minute.  Cramming your learning into a short period of time can be overwhelming and ineffective.  Start studying as soon as possible to give you ample time to review the material.  Some prefer to study a few hours daily, while others prefer to study longer over the weekend or at night.  Find a study routine that works best for you and stick to it.

Create a study plan

Creating a study plan is crucial to efficient exam preparation.  It helps to structure your time, set priorities, and allocate enough time to each subject or content area.  First, determine your exam date and work backwards, setting aside ample time for each subject.  Next, assess your strengths and weaknesses in each subject and prioritize accordingly.  Also, consider factors such as class schedules, extracurricular activities, and personal obligations when creating your study plan.  Finally, be realistic about how much time you can commit to studying each day and adjust your plan accordingly.  A well-structured study plan can reduce stress and increase confidence on exam day.

Prepare a Timetable

Studying without planning rarely works out well. So, you should make a well-planned timetable before starting to study. Work out how much time is required for each subject. It will surely help you to divide time for each and every topic.

Organize Good Study Material

Start collecting enough material to study a few months before the exam. Keep your study material organized.

Complete Practice Exams if Possible

Doing practice exams will help you to understand the format of the questions that come in the exams.

Give more time on weaker areas of the subject

A good schedule is one that which focuses on all the subjects, but at the same time, a student should focus more on the weak subjects or weak areas.

Get Enough Sleep

Most of the students revise (or cram) late into the night before the day of the exam. But it is not the right way! You should sleep well the night before the exam so that you retain the things you learned. You all must know that it is only proper sleep that turns your short-term memory into long-term memory. Sleeping for at least 7-8 hours daily is beneficial for the health as well as the proper functioning of the mind.

Make a habit of writing or making notes

Reading the chapter and highlighting important points is good but writing it down on a notebook or somewhere else helps you at the time of exams. This method helps you retain more information for a longer period of time.

Don’t Study Untouched Chapters before the exam

Never pick the chapters or the portion which you haven’t studied earlier because if you try to learn those untouched lessons, you may forget the things which you have learned thoroughly. First, try to prepare the whole syllabus for your exams at the beginning of the session but if you are left with very little time to study then try to avoid the things that you haven’t gone through previously.

Avoid Cramming!

Nearly 90% of the students cram before their tests or exams. This is the wrong way to retain things in your mind. With a very short time and a lot of material to study, the brain doesn’t absorb the crammed things. The very best way to stop cramming is to start studying for your exam early.

Organize Study Groups with Friends

Get together with friends for a study session. You may have questions that they have the answers to and vice versa. As long as you make sure you stay focused on the topic for an agreed amount of time, this can be one of the most effective ways to challenge yourself.

Take Regular Breaks

While you may think it’s best to study for as many hours as possible, this can actually be counterproductive.  Everyone’s different, so develop a study routine that works for you.  If you study better in the morning, start early before taking a break at lunchtime, or if you’re more productive at nighttime, take a larger break earlier on so you’re ready to settle down for the evening.  Try not to feel guilty about being out enjoying the sunshine instead of hunching over your study guide(s).  Remember, Vitamin D is important for a healthy brain.

Plan Your Exam Day

If you are taking the exam via computer, make sure your computer is in good working condition and that your internet connection is up and running.  If you are traveling to the exam site. Make sure you get everything ready well in advance of the exam – don’t leave it to the day before to suddenly realize you don’t know the way, or what you’re supposed to bring. Check all the rules and requirements and plan your route and journey time. If possible, do a test run of the trip. If not, write down clear directions.

Use flow charts and diagrams or flashcards

Visual aids can be really helpful when revising. At the start of a topic, challenge yourself to write down everything you already know about a topic – and then highlight where the gaps lie. Closer to the exam, condense your revision notes into one-page diagrams. Getting your ideas down in this brief format can then help you to quickly recall everything you need to know during the exam.

Stick to a Study Schedule

If you’re having trouble studying regularly, creating a study schedule can be a huge help. Doing something regularly helps your mind get used to it. If you set aside a time to regularly study and stick to it, it’ll eventually become a habit that’s (usually) easy to stick to. Getting into a fixed habit of studying will help you improve your concentration and mental stamina over time. And, just like any other training, your ability to study will improve with time and effort. Start Studying Early and Study for Shorter Periods. Some people can cram for several hours the night before the test and still get a good grade. However, this is rarer than you may hope. Most people need to see information several times, over a period of time, for them to really commit it to memory. This means that, instead of doing a single long study session, break your studying into smaller sessions over a longer period of time. Five one-hour study sessions over a week will be less stressful and more effective than a single five-hour cram session. It may take a bit of time for you to learn how long and how often you need to study for a class, but once you do, you’ll be able to remember the information you need and reduce some of the stress that comes from schoolwork, tests, and studying.

Remove Distractions

When you’re studying, especially if it’s for a subject you don’t enjoy, it can be extremely tempting to take “quick breaks” from your work. There are untold distractions all around us that try to lure our concentration away from the task at hand. However, giving in to temptation can be an awful time suck. A quick glance at your phone can easily turn into an hour of wasting time on the internet, and that won’t help you get the score you’re looking for. In order to avoid distractions, remove distractions completely from your study space.

Use Active Learning Techniques

Active learning techniques, such as summarizing, note-taking, and teaching others, are more effective than passive learning techniques like re-reading and highlighting (unless this method works for you).  You are more likely to remember and understand the material by actively engaging with it.  Consider using flashcards or mind maps to help you remember key concepts.  Teaching others is also an effective way to reinforce your learning, as it forces you to explain concepts in a way others can understand.

Understanding your Learning Style

Understanding your learning style can help you tailor your studying to suit your needs and preferences.  Visual learners benefit from diagrams or videos, while auditory learners prefer to listen to lectures or audio recordings.  Kinesthetic learners might benefit from hands-on activities such as role-playing.


Effective exam preparation is critical for successful testing.  It requires intentional and consistent effort.  This is by no means a definitive list of preparation and study tips. However, following the tips and techniques outlined above can improve your study habits, enhance your memory retention, manage your time better, and reduce stress during the exam period.  Remember, there is no one-size fits all approach to exam preparation.  It is wise to experiment with different study techniques and learning styles until you find what works best for you.  With determination, discipline, and the right mindset, you can confidently approach any exam and achieve desired results.  Good luck!

List of Resources

There are no official Study Guides for the CPCE OR AMFTRB PRACTICE EXAMS.  Any study materials developed for the NCE, CPCE, AMFTRB, or MFT will be beneficial.

  • Encyclopedia of Counseling: Master Review and Tutorial for the National Counselor Examination, State Counseling Exams, and the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination 4th Edition by Howard Rosenthal(Author)
  • Vital Information and Review Questions for the NCE, CPCE and State Counseling Exams: Special 15th Anniversary Edition 3rd Edition

by Howard Rosenthal (Author)

  • National Counselor Examination NCE Exam Prep: Updated Yearly Study Guide Includes 4 Complete Practice Tests with Fully Explained Answers

by Leland Chant (Author)

  • NCE Exam Preparation Study Guide: NCE Exam Prep and Practice Test Questions [3rd Edition] by Tpb Publishing(Author)


  • CPCE Exam Preparation 2023 and 2024: CPCE Study Cards for the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Exam [Full Color Cards] Cards – March 10, 2023 by Mometrix(Author)
  • NCE Exam Preparation Study Cards: NCE Exam Prep 2023-2024 with Practice Test Questions for the National Counselor Examination [Full Color Cards] by Mometrix(Author)
  • NCE Exam Preparation 2022 and 2023 Secrets: 650+ Practice Test Questions, National Counselor Study Guide with Step-by-Step Video Tutorials: [3rd Edition] by Matthew Bowling(Author), Mometrix (Author)
  • National Counselor Exam (NCE) and Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Exam (CPCE): Your Study Guide for Success, Book and Online Exam Prep 1st Edition by KaRae’ NMK Powers-Carey PhD BSN RN LCMHCS LLP LCAS NCC ACS BC-TMH(Editor), LoriAnn Sykes Stretch PhD LPC (VA) LCMHC-S (NC) NCC ACS BC-TMH (Editor)
  • Mastering the National Counselor Examination and the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination 3rd Edition by Bradley Erford(Author), Danica Hays (Author), Stephanie Crockett (Author)
  • NCE Exam Preparation 2023 and 2024: NCE Study Guide Book with Practice Test Questions [4th Edition] by Joshua Rueda(Author)
  • Study Guide for the National Counselor Exam and CPCE Spiral-bound – March 15, 2021 by Andrew A Helwig(Author, Editor)
  • CPCE Exam Prep: Complete Test Prep for the Councilor Preparation Comprehensive Examination: Includes Study Guide, Practice Test Questions, Answers, and Exam Review by Harper U. Walton(Author)
  • CPCE Flashcard Study System: CPCE Test Practice Questions & Exam Review for the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (Cards) Flc Crds Edition by CPCE Exam Secrets Test Prep Team(Author)
  • CPCE Practice Questions: CPCE Practice Tests & Exam Review for the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination by CPCE Exam Secrets Test Prep Team(Author)
  • CPCE Secrets Study Guide: CPCE Test Review for the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination by CPCE Exam Secrets Test Prep Team(Author) Is an exclusive collection of the tips and the information that has been specially selected to provide the best results on the CPCE.
  • CPCE Exam Preparation: 2 Practice Tests and Counselor Study Guide: [Includes Detailed Answer Explanations] NCMHCE Study Guide: NCMHCE Exam Prep and Practice Test Questions for the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination [2nd Edition] by Tpb Publishing (Author)
  • The NCE National Counselor Examination Study Guide: Expanded Edition: Proven Methods to Pass the NCE with Confidence – Complete Practice Tests with Answers  Audible Audiobook – Unabridged SMG (Author, Publisher), Mary Dreyfus (Author), Lauren Garvin (Narrator)
  • NCMHCE Practice Questions 2022 and 2023 – 2 Full-Length Tests for the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination: [3rd Edition] (Mometrix Test Preparation) 3rd Edition by Matthew Bowling(Author), Mometrix (Author)
  • NCE Exam Prep 2022-2023: Study Guide + 600 Test Questions and Detailed Answer Explanations for the National Counselor Exam (Includes 3 Full-Length Practice Tests) by Newstone Counselor Exam Team(Author) Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE): Exam Prep & Study Guide. This product is the best all-encompassing solution for people who want to successfully pass their Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE) exam. It works well for all types of learners – we present the material in several different ways at a pace that best suits each person’s individual needs, tremendously helping you with fully understanding the concepts taught. Our product is designed specifically to help you master the material on the exam.