Counseling Program Testing

Program Testing, Certification, & Licensure

Counseling students are required to take and pass a comprehensive exam (the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination) in order to help them synthesize their learning about counseling and ensure that they have a thorough understanding of professional attitudes, skills, and knowledge related to eight common-core areas as defined by CACREP’s Standards for Preparation. Students who plan to pursue clinical mental health counselor licensure also must take and pass the National Counselor Examination. Students who plan to pursue school counseling licensure must take and pass the Professional School Counselor Praxis exam. Details about these exams and registration processes for them is listed below.

Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE)

The Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE) is an objective test based on eight core curricular areas. The CPCE was developed by the Center for Credentialing & Education (CCE), an affiliate of the National Board for Certified Counselor (NBCC). It is a knowledge-based summative evaluation that measures pertinent and professional knowledge acquired by students during their counselor preparation programs. Preparation for the CPCE also helps students prepare for the National Counselor Exam (NCE). All students must take the Comprehensive Exam (CPCE). If a student fails the CPCE, but successfully passes the NCE, the Department of Counseling Chair will determine if the passing NCE score can replace the CPCE score.

The CPCE consists of 160 items with 20 items per area. The exam is administered in whole and not by sections. The eight core curricular areas of the CPCE are:

  • Human Growth and Development – studies that provide an understanding of the nature and needs of individuals at all developmental levels.
  • Social and Cultural Foundations – studies that provide an understanding of issues and trends in a multicultural and diverse society.
  • Helping Relationships – studies that provide an understanding of counseling and consultation processes.
  • Group Work – studies that provide an understanding of group development, dynamics, counseling theories, group counseling methods and skills, and other group work approaches.
  • Career and Lifestyle Development – studies that provide an understanding of career development and related life factors.
  • Appraisal – studies that provide an understanding of individual and group approaches to assessment and evaluation.
  • Research and Program Evaluation – studies that provide an understanding of types of research methods, basic statistics, and ethical and legal considerations in research.
  • Professional Orientation and Ethics – studies that provide an understanding of all aspects of professional functioning including history, roles, organizational structures, ethics, standards, and credentialing.

Detailed descriptions of the core areas are found at

Criterion for Passing

Passing scores for the CPCE are determined by the overall total score, not a score for each section. UNC Charlotte’s criteria for passing the exam is one standard deviation below the mean score of all students taking the exam (e.g., if the mean score is 100 and the standard deviation is 10, a passing score would be 90). Students are able to re-take the exam if they do not pass it the first time. The retake will include the entire exam.

Registering for the CPCE

Students should consult with their advisors regarding their readiness to take the CPCE. In general, students should complete all of the core courses that align with the core curricular areas on the exam prior to taking the CPCE. Current students should follow the instructions below to register for the CPCE after consulting with their advisor.

CPCE‐CBT (Testing at a Pearson VUE site)

*If you will be requesting exam accommodations, refer to SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS.

NOTE: If you are also taking the NCE, you must register for the CPCE and NCE separately. You must register and create an account for each exam. Do not use the same username for the two accounts.

Registering with CCE:

1. Go to the CPCE registration link and fill out the required information .

DO NOT complete the CCE registration more than one time.

2. Once you complete the registration above, you will receive an “Authorization to Test” email from Pearson within 7 business days (not calendar days). Be sure to check your spam and junk folders. The email will contain your candidate ID number. Please allow 7 business days to receive your email before contacting CCE. Registrations cannot be expedited.

Registering with Pearson VUE:

(Note: The CPCE does not use private access codes.)

1. AFTER you receive the email from Pearson VUE, go to their website to create an account. (

**IF YOU DO NOT RECEIVE AN EMAIL FROM PEARSON VUE after waiting 7 business days, please contact CCE at cpce@cce‐ DO NOT CREATE AN ACCOUNT with Pearson VUE until you have your Candidate ID number.

2. Once on the Pearson VUE web page, click on Create Account on the right side.

3. Create a Web Account page: Enter your first name and last name that was used with your CCE registration. Then, put in your Candidate ID number from your “Authorization to Test” email and click Next.

4. Enter your contact information. When putting in your email address, BE SURE to put the same email you used when you completed the CCE registration.

5. You will need to create a username, password, and answer security questions. YOUR USERNAME should be the email address used for the CCE registration.

6. Your pre‐approved exam will be presented. Click on the underlined exam “CPCE‐CBT Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE).”

7. ***If you will be receiving special exam accommodations, you can now click on “Sign out”. You will need to contact the Pearson VUE Accommodations team at 800‐466‐0450 to schedule a test date and pay via credit card or voucher number, if applicable. DO NOT PAY for your exam online if you will be receiving accommodations.

8. Otherwise, on the “Exam Details” screen: Click on Schedule this Exam.

9. “Confirm Exam Selection” screen: Click on Proceed to Scheduling.

10. “Test Center Search” screen: Select a test center and click Next.

11. “Choose Appointment” screen: Click on a date and it will show you the times available. Click on an available time.

12. “My Order” screen: This shows the details of your appointment and price of the exam. Click on Proceed to Checkout. Keep in mind that ALL FEES ARE NON‐REFUNDABLE. DO NOT PAY for the exam unless you are ready to test.

13. “Checkout‐Step 1: Confirm Personal Information”: Your name must exactly match the identification that is presented at the test center (first and last name). Click on Next.

14. “Checkout‐Step 2: Agree to Policies”: Read over the CCE policies, check the box at the bottom right and click Next.

15. “Checkout‐Step 3: Enter Payment”: Enter credit card information and then you will see your Order Total. Click on Next.

(If your school has provided you with a voucher number, click on “Add Voucher or Promo Code and enter the voucher number.)

16. “Checkout‐Step 4: Submit Order”: Review everything and then click on Submit Order.

17. REMEMBER YOUR USERNAME AND PASSWORD. You will need this on the day of the exam.

Registration Policies for the CPCE

  • Registrations cannot be expedited for any reason.
  • Students can test up to 3 times within the 6 month eligibility period as long as eligibility has not expired. They must pay for the exam each time they test.
  • If students need to make any edits to their demographic information that was exported to Pearson VUE, they can send an email to cpce@cce‐ with the corrections, and it will be updated.
  • If a student’s ELIGIBILITY EXPIRES and they have not paid for the exam, they should ask the Director of Testing to email the CPCE Program Coordinator (Laura Hall) at CCE to extend their eligibility. They should NOT COMPLETE THE CCE REGISTRATION AGAIN.
  • Once a student pays for the exam, they must test on the scheduled date or their exam fee will be forfeited. If they want to RESCHEDULE their test date and their eligibility has not expired, they will need to pay a $50 fee and contact Pearson’s customer service at least 24 hours before the original test date to do so.
  • If a student needs to RETAKE the exam, they will log into their Pearson VUE account at, check their eligibility, and register/pay for the exam. Students should NOT PAY for the exam again if their eligibility has expired.
  • After completing the exam, the test center will provide students with a score report. It will show the student’s score in each content area and a total score. If students need a copy of the score report at a later time, they will need to contact customer service at Pearson VUE.
  • A score roster will be sent to UNC Charlotte with confirmation of testing the following month after a student tests. UNC Charlotte should receive it by the middle of the month. (i.e. a score roster of students who tested during the month of August will be sent to the school around September 15th).
  • SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS: If a student is approved for exam accommodations, the UNC Charlotte Disabilities Office should email a letter on school letterhead with the student’s name and the accommodations approved to receive to Laura Hall at The letter will need to be signed and dated by the school representative. Students should NOT PAY for the exam until the accommodations have been applied to their account. They will then call the Pearson VUE Accommodations team and schedule/pay over the phone.
  • Pearson VUE customer service is open Monday‐Friday 7:00am‐7:00pm CST. (866‐904‐4432)

National Counselor Examination For Licensure and Certification

The National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) is required in most states for individuals seeking licensure as a professional counselor. In North Carolina, it is required for licensure as a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counseling-Associate (LCMHC-A), formerly the LPC-A credential. The NCE is also one of two examination options for the National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential. It may also be accepted by military health systems to become a recognized provider. The NCE is a 200-item multiple-choice examination designed to assess knowledge, skills, and abilities deemed important for providing effective counseling services. The NCE was first used in 1983 as part of the NCC application process, and it continues to undergo regular review and development to ensure it represents the current reality of practice and research in the counseling profession. Test takers are required to review the examination handbook prior to sitting for an examination. It is located on the website for the National Board for Certified Counselors at

The NCE is typically taken during the student’s final semester of graduate study. It takes place at an approved Pearson Test Center off-campus.

NCE Registration

To register for the NCE, students must first complete the UNC Charlotte Department of Counseling Application, sent via an onlilne SurveyShare link from the Director of Clinical Field Experience & Testing. Once students complete the department’s application, the Director will send the roster to NBCC. Then NBCC will contact students via email with additional NCE registration details.

Questions about the CPCE or NCE:

Contact: Director of Clinical Field Experience & Testing

Dr. Tabitha R. Haynes

PRAXIS (for School Counseling Licensure)
Students seeking licensure as school counselors (K-12) in North Carolina must take the Counseling specialty section of the PRAXIS II (#5421) exam. The passing score for certification is 156. Students must register to take the PRAXIS. The Registration Bulletin is in the Office of TEAL located on the 1st floor in the College of Education (see Students may also get the registration bulletin on the web ( Plan to take the PRAXIS exam approximately six (6) months before certification is needed.

NOTE: The Counseling section of the PRAXIS is not offered on every examination date. You may contact ETS at to learn when the counseling section will be offered and to obtain a study guides for the test.

All school counseling students who successfully complete their program and pass PRAXIS, can apply for their NC k-12 License through the Office of Teacher Education Advising & Licensure TEAL is located on the first floor of the Cato College of Education.

Cato College of Education, Suite 119
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte, NC 28223
P: 704-687-8725
F: 704-687-1635

Office Hours:
Monday – Friday 8:00am-6:00pm

Questions about PRAXIS and k-12 Licensure:

Contact: Director of the School Counseling Program

Dr. Taryne Mingo

Licensure & Certification

Upon graduating from UNC Charlotte’s CACREP Master’s program, there are two distinct licenses and certifications for which students are eligible.

Students who graduate from the School Counseling concentration are eligible, upon passing the PRAXIS exam required by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI), to be recommended for school counseling licensure (k-12) from the North Carolina DPI. All graduates are eligible to apply for the credential of Licensed Professional Counselor Associate (LPC-A) through the NCBLPC.

NOTE: When applying for your LPC-A, please go to the NCBLPC web site and fill out the reference to be sent to your clinical instructor which will be forwarded to them by the Board.

NOTE: We no longer fill out a hard copy (paper) forms to verify clinical hours.

LPC-A: Licensed Professional Counselor Associate: visit the board website for requirements and application information.

NCC: National Certified Counselor
The National Certified Counselor credential is achieved upon completion of the following criteria:

  1. Hold a master’s degree in Counseling from an accredited university program (CACREP)
  2. Pass the National Counselor’s Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE)