Many of you studying for the exam have either recently received your Master’s degree (congratulations!), you are Registered Mental Health Counselor Interns (Registered Interns) who may have been putting off taking the exam for a little while, or you are Registered Interns who were unable to pass the exam the first time and are ready to tackle it again. For the recent graduates who are just starting your first job or are on the job hunt, this is an exciting time for you. If you can find the time to take the exam early in your career as a Registered Intern, I recommend you do so. The information from your graduate program is fresh in your head and applicable to the exam. It will also be a relief to check it off of the list of tasks you will need to complete in order to become a licensed professional.
For those of you who have been working as Registered Interns for a few years, it can be really helpful to brush up on content prior to taking the exam. In your jobs you have learned the expectations and policies of your work place. Naturally, you will apply what you have learned from your job to the exam. However, that is not necessarily how the NCMHCE is written. The exam comes from a slightly different perspective and the challenge is separating your real-world knowledge and focusing more on the textbook and theory perspective of the exam. This does not diminish your clinical experiences or knowledge you have gained, as these areas will help guide your intuitions as you work through the case studies. In our tutoring sessions, we will focus on how to identify the information that is relevant to the case study.
Another area of tutoring focus is helping you learn how to differentiate between correct and incorrect choices for each question. The exam often offers over 10 possible answers for each question. One of the problems I encountered when studying for the exam was that I neglected to select some of the correct choices which caused a lower overall score at the end of the case study. It is just as important to know which answers to rule out in addition to being able to identify as many correct answers as possible. For those of you who have taken the exam before, this is likely something with which you are familiar. This is something we will work on together.
Lastly, let’s talk about test anxiety. For some, this is a real and strong hurdle to overcome. It can be frustrating to take an exam and know that you are familiar with the information but find that your anxiety gets in the way of your success. In addition to covering exam materials, I can offer support for your anxiety and talk about ways in which you can manage these feelings and build your confidence.
As part of the first tutoring session, I will quietly watch as you complete simulations. This will provide insight into how you navigate each case in addition to providing an understanding of your strengths and the areas with which you could benefit from additional support. From this, I will develop a tutoring plan based upon your needs. Moving forward, we will work through simulations together where you take the lead and I will be there to offer guidance. When you find yourself stuck in a simulation, we will talk through it together and help you figure out the best options and rule-outs. You will be provided with feedback on how to continue your focused studying between tutoring sessions.