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Exam FAQs

Why should I become board certified?faq

Becoming Board Certified represents your initiative to excel beyond the normal requirements for operating a hearing instrument practice.

BC-HIS is the worldwide symbol of excellence.

Board certification increases client confidence.

Many employers require board certification for existing dispensing and will only hire certified dispensers.

Some states may require board certification in order to obtain full licensure.

Some states require board certification before you can sponsor/train another individual to become a hearing instrument specialist.

What are the eligibility requirements to take the National Competency Exam (NCE)?

Exam candidates must meet a minimum of two years dispensing experience within the last five years and have a current state/provincial dispensing license or certificate of registration (where applicable).

The two years of experience includes the training period with a licensed hearing instrument specialist or audiologist.

 Exam candidates may sit for the exam with a minimum 15 months of the two-year dispensing requirement. Upon passing an exam candidate will remain "Board Eligible" until the two-year dispensing requirement is fulfilled and appropriate fees are paid.

The state of Utah requires Board Certification before obtaining full licensure and exam candidates must submit an apprentice or trainee license with their application.

You are also eligible to take the NCE when you complete the two-year Hearing Instrument  program at one of the following Colleges or Universities:

How can I appeal the eligibility requirements if I am told that I don't meet them?

Eligibility Appeals Process:

If a candidate has been denied the opportunity to take the NCE, and they feel they have met the requirement above, they may appeal to the National Board for Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences (NBC-HIS) Executive Director by writing a letter indicating the reason(s) they should not be denied. In the event a candidate is not satisfied with the decision of the Executive Director, they may appeal, in writing, to the Executive Council for further consideration. The appeal must be submitted to NBC-HIS within thirty (30) days of denial.

How do I prepare for the exam (study materials)?

The NBC-HIS exam is an experienced-based exam. The exam is based upon what you do in your everyday practice of testing, fitting and dispensing hearing instruments.

If you have completed the Distance Learning Program from the International Hearing Society (IHS), those books can be used as resources. However, those books are geared for individuals with no prior dispensing experience or individuals that may be entering into the hearing healthcare field.

There are sample questions in the NBC-HIS Study Guide. Click on the link below for a study guide. These sample questions will not appear on the exam and are intended for informational purposes only. The Competency Model included in the study guide lists the areas covered in the exam. The model may be used as a reference in preparing for the exam.

If you would like additional materials, there is a recommended reading list on the website.

How much does the exam cost?

US/Canada Fees:
Exam Fees: $225.00

International Fee:
Exam Fee: $250.00

Do I have to be an International Hearing Society (IHS) member to become Board Certified?

No, but we highly recommend IHS membership.

To become an IHS member, contact the IHS office at 734.522.7200 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, or visit their website ihsinfo.org

How do I obtain a NBC-HIS Study Guide and exam application?

To download the Study Guide click here to download

To print an exam application, click here to download.

Where are the exam locations and the dates the exam is given?

The exam locations are pre-approved computer testing sites. Contact NBC-HIS for a location near you or click on the website link to access a list of locations. Click Exam and Exam Sites for a list.

PLEASE NOTE: exam locations are subject to change. Exam dates vary by exam location and availability, but most exam sites are open Monday thru Friday and the exam is offered all day from about 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Contact NBC-HIS for exam dates at a location near you.

What do I send with the application?

    • A photocopy of your current state/provincial dispensing license (where applicable).  Please make sure the expiration date on your dispensing license is after the date you plan to take the exam.
    • A letter on company letterhead from your employer or the individual that supervised your training to attest to your two-years of full-time dispensing experience. If you are self-employed send a copy of your articles of incorporation, Business Registration or a tax return that is at least two (2) years old.

Do I need a letter on company letterhead from the individual that supervised my training to attest to my two-years of full-time dispensing experience, if I have a Hearing Instrument Specialist diploma from ___________?

You do not need to provide a letter, if you can provide a copy of your Diploma / Certificate from one of the following Colleges or University:

What does the examination consist of?

The computer-based exam is based on practical knowledge and decision-making capabilities. It is an experience-based assessment comprised of one-hundred multiple-choice questions reviewing the daily skills needed to be a successful Hearing Health Professional. The exam is designed to test competency in these important areas of hearing instrument sciences:

  • Assess patient presenting problem and needs
  • Test and analyze patient hearing
  • Prescribe and analyze instruments
  • Fit, adjust, program and service hearing instruments and equipment
  • Counseling, rehabilitation and professional practice

When will I receive my test results?

An examination score result will be sent immediately to the exam candidate's computer upon submitting the completed exam. The score result will indicate either a Pass or Fail status.

 Actual percentage points earned on the exam will not be disclosed for candidates who pass the exam. Candidates who fail the exam will be provided actual percentages for each of the five (5) areas of competency.

What if I do not pass the exam?

If you are not successful in passing this exam, you may retake the NCE at any designated testing facility after a 30 day waiting period.

Contact the NBC-HIS office to discuss scheduling another exam date. Exam candidates may retake the NCE after a thirty (30) day waiting period by submitting payment of the examination fee. If you fail the exam a second time you must wait six (6) months before taking the exam again.

If you do not retake and pass exam within twenty four (24) months of your initial application date, your application will expire and you must submit a new application for approval. You will be required to pay the examination fee.

The new application must be accompanied with the appropriate exam fee and a current copy of your state/provincial license or registration.  This license / registration requirement will depend on the laws and regulations currently in effect in the applicant’s state or province.

What percentage did I get right?

The Exam score results will list either a Pass or Fail status. Actual percentages for candidates who pass the exam will not be disclosed. Candidates who fail the exam will be provided actual percentages for each of the five (5) areas of competency.

What is the pass percentage?

The National Competency Exam does not use the typical passing score for the exam. A rigorous process is used to determine the final score in accordance with best practices in the testing industry. Some of the questions are more difficult than others, and these differences are taken into consideration when tabulating the final scoring. For this reason, the formulated passing score is not published, and it would be misleading if it were.

Where can I get a report of Aggregate Assessment Data on the exam?

A. Contact the NBC-HIS office at 734-522-2900, or send an email to info@nbc-his.com to request a copy of the report.

Note: This report is only available to NBC-HIS Stakeholders, certificants, registered exam candidates and Kryterion psychometric staff.

Appealing test scores, what is the process?

An exam appeal will only be considered if there was a problem at the exam center that caused a problem in taking the exam. There will be no appeals for a rescore of exam since the chance of a scoring mistake is virtually nonexistent. Requests for exam appeals must be submitted in writing by registered mail within sixty-days of the exam date, and must be accompanied by a payment of $75.00. A candidate may appeal an exam score for the following reasons:

Excessive noise or confusion during the examination which inhibited concentration.

Exam room conditions (lighting, temperature, etc.).

Faulty computer operation.

If the review results verify that there was a problem, the $75 fee will be returned to the exam candidate.