Getting acquainted with the process

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Taking the Continuing Competency Assessment

  • YOU MUST Sign in with your email address and password.
  • Current Core Certifications must complete an assessment. Legacy Certifications do no complete an assessment.
  • Print out the computer requirements and technical solutions page so you will have a copy if you encounter a problem when you are taking the assessment.
  • Click on the "Take the Assessment" button from the Maintain your Certification page.  View the list of Continuing Competency Assessments you are qualified to take at the bottom of that page.
  • Select the Continuing Competency Assessment you wish to take. You must take the assessment at the start of each maintenance cycle.
  • Overview instructions for the Continuing Competency Assessment will appear - please read carefully. At the bottom of the page will be a button to begin the assessment. The Assessment is timed and must be completed once it is started. 
  • A Continuing Competency Agreement will appear. You must agree by checking the agreement box in order to proceed.
  • Once you accept the agreement and are ready to begin, click the button to begin assessment and then "Launch Test".
  • Launching the test will open the first question in a new browser window. The timing of the exam will begin at this time. You will have 2 hours and 15 minutes to complete it.  You must do this in one sitting.  Once you exit, you cannot reaccess the assessment.
  • Each question will appear by itself on the screen. The options you will have on each screen are Next Question, Previous Question or Review Questions.  There are 125 questions to answer.
  • Select the answer by clicking on the radio button stipulated as a, b, or c. Once you select it, going to the next question saves your answer.
  • If the system will not accept your answer, go to Review Answers and then choose Change Answer. You can then resume taking it in one question per page format.
  • The Review Answers button can be selected at any time and will show you all the questions on the assessment and the answers to the questions you have answered to that point.
  • You can go back and forth in the assessment by using your previous and next question buttons or by going to the review answers button and scrolling to the question you wish to re-review.
  • At the end of the exam, select Review Answers and you can review all of your answers. You will have the opportunity to change any answers at that time.
  • Once you select submit answers, the session will end. Click the button to access your education plan and return to the primary website.
  • The assessment will submit automatically once the maximum time has expired.
  • Once submitted, you will immediately receive your Education Plan which is based on the specialty index report for each core area. You can print this and it will stay in your profile on the NCC website under Education Plans.  It will also be available for reference in your maintenance application.
  • No CE certificate is given. The 5 hours for taking the assessment will automatically appear in your online maintenance application but must be coded by you in the Core Competency Area of your choosing. This credit is not transferable.
  • The Education plan in your profile is interactive and will update when you add CE to your maintenance application.  It is a great place to track CE entered and what is still required.
  • If you leave the assessment for any reason the timer will continue.  If you have not submitted or you are disconnected, and there is still time on the timer, you can still access the assessment. Once time is up if you have not submitted the system will submit the assessment for you. 

Continuing competency agreement

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You must agree to abide by the agreement in order to proceed to take the assessment. You will be asked to agree by a check off box just prior to your accessing the assessment. The agreement stipulates the following:

By participating in the continuing competency assessment I understand no communication of any kind about the assessment, its content or my responses to any questions can be shared with others during or after taking the assessment. I agree I will not consult with any person, virtual or hard copy resource while taking the assessment and understand that any such actions can subject me or others to certification revocation. I further agree to abide by all policies and rules of the Continuing Competency Assessment program required for maintenance and understand continuing education credit awarded by NCC for taking the Specialty assessment can only be used for the purpose of maintaining my NCC certification.

Your 5 CE hours – where it's documented

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You will be awarded 5 CE hours for your participation in the Continuing Competency Assessment.

The five hours are automatically added to your maintenance application, but you must assign these hours to the core competency area of your choosing.

There is no CE certificate issued as the credit is given in recognition of your participation and for NCC maintenance purposes only.  The 5 hours are not transferable for other purposes.  Therefore, no CE documentation (certificate) will be recorded in your account.

Education Plan and Performance Feedback

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After you complete the assessment, you will immediately receive your specialty index report and Education Plan. The Education plan is based on your strengths and knowledge gaps. The Education Plan specifies the amount and nature of the continuing education that needs to be completed for maintenance. This education plan will be posted in your NCC website profile on the NCC website under Education Plans.  

The plan is also recorded in your online maintenance application.  This plan is interactive, meaning it shows how the CE you enter is meeting your required CE hours. You must manually enter CE earned from outside sources such as conferences.  NCC CE modules and Pretests are automatically entered for you. Using the online maintenance application CE page is a great way to track your CE and how your plan is being met.

Specialty Index Report


Each continuing competency assessment results in an education plan with up to 50 total hours of CE. The content is weighted and distributed to reflect the specific specialty’s current core certification examination content. The specialty index report provides the tabulated results of your assessment in a non-grade format. The ratings in the report are based on the type and amount of content within each specialty’s competency content areas (test outline for the certification exam).  For purposes of establishing the need for additional CE in a content area, ratings of 7.5 or higher on the CCA have been determined to “meet the standard” so that an individual does not need to focus continuing education in that content area for purposes of NCC certification. Both total hours of the plan and hours in each core competency area (specialty code) less than 7.5 must be met.

The Education Plan starts with a baseline of 15 hours of CE that can be obtained in any core competency areas related to the specialty. If an individual had a specialty index ratings of at least 7.5 in all categories of their specialty, their Education Plan requirement would designate a minimum of 15 hours of CE in any specialty competency areas. Individuals who do not achieve 7.5 or higher ratings in core content categories would need to complete all 50 hours of CE using defined categories and amounts as outlined in the education plan. If the baseline hours plus the required CE in each core exceed 50 hours, the baseline requirements are substituted with the specified core competency hours.  This makes sure no one has more than 50 hours CE to earn for any given maintenance cycle. Under the Professional Development Maintenance Program model, no individual completing a specialty assessment will be required to earn more than 50 hours of CE to meet maintenance requirements.  Maintenance will require between 15 and 50 CE; however, the 5 hours of CE that NCC awards for completion of the continuing competency assessment can be applied to the Education Plan and applied to a core code or baseline as chosen by the individual. Based on this the amount of CE that must be earned after taking the CCA is between 10 and 45.

The sole purpose of Continuing Competency Assessment (CCA)  is to provide an education plan that reflects both the strengths and gaps in core competency knowledge.  The CCA has no pass/fail and does not affect an individual's ability to maintain their certification.   The CCA is not intended to judge the actual clinical practice of an individual since practice is a matter of local regulations and employer-mandated skills and procedures. An individual's current clinical role may be limited or expanded beyond the competencies associated with the original core specialty examination. For this reason, the CCA  was developed to provide a means to support continued professional development addressing those knowledge competencies that were validated when an individual originally took and passed an NCC core certification examination. It allows NCC to re-validate those knowledge competencies by tailoring continuing education for certification maintenance on an individual basis versus a "one size fits all" approach.  This approach provides the constituent a foundation for demonstrating that professional development is ongoing toward the overall knowledge competencies associated with their specific certification specialty regardless of the practice role in which they are actively engaged.  

As learning is not static, the purpose of the specialty index report is to guide certified individuals in obtaining education to meet their ongoing education needs based on objective data.

Can I see my answers to the assessment?

Since the CCA is a secure evaluation tool, it is not possible to provide the correct responses to individual items. In fact, NCC developed this assessment to focus on groupings of items that make up a core competency area within each specialty. These groupings are the basis for the weighting and calculations used for the specialty index ratings rather than the individual correct or incorrect item responses and the overall focus is intended to be on areas of content versus specific items.


NCC does recognize non-CE activities for maintenance, namely presentation of CE programs, writing professional literature and preceptoring.  These hours can only be applied if the certificant has baseline hours that are applicable to any competency.

If the specialty index report does not show a baseline requirement and requires all 45 hours of CE in the specific competencies, these alternate mechanisms cannot be used.