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NBCE Will Modify Part I and Part II Exams in 2019

The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) is modifying its Part I and Part II exams from six subject tests to single consolidated examinations, effective in January 2019.

For you this means an improved testing experience with computer-based testing, a shorter testing day, flexible scheduling options, and increased opportunities for testing.


EXAM DELIVERY FORMAT:  In 2019, the NBCE will deliver the Parts I, II, III, and Physiotherapy exams in a computer-based format on most chiropractic college campuses. This will provide an enhanced testing experience due to the increased testing features and functionality available through the CBT format.

WHEN:  We will test on nine weekends in 2019:

  • Part I:  January, April, August
  • Part II:  February, June, September
  • Part III:  March, July, October
  • Physiotherapy:  March, July, October

CONTENT:  Examination content, test plans, and weightings have not changed.  The new Part I and Part II exams are shorter—reduced from 90 items per domain (subject) to 50, for a total of 300 items for each Part I and Part II.

  • Part I domains include: General Anatomy (GEA), Spinal Anatomy (SPA), Physiology (PHY), Chemistry (CHE), Pathology (PAT), and Microbiology (MIC).
  • Part II domains include: General Diagnosis (GED), Neuromusculoskeletal Diagnosis (NMS), Diagnostic Imaging (DIM), Principles of Chiropractic (PRI), Chiropractic Practice (PRA), and Associated Clinical Sciences (ACS).

SCHEDULE:  In the past, you could be at a test site for nearly 11 hours to take an entire Part I or II.  Now, each Part I or Part II can be completed in a single morning or afternoon.  Several appointment options will be available, which you will be able to schedule.

SCORING:  The plan to modify Part I and Part II was evaluated by the NBCE Department of Psychometrics and Research.  Their research showed that reducing the number of items per domain would not reduce content validity or the reliability of the examination or the examinee classification into pass or fail.

PASSING SCORES:   The passing score for Part I and Part II remains 375.  This will be a positive testing experience for most students, who will now receive a single score for Part I and a single score for Part II.     Those who fail to pass all domains will have to retake the entire Part I or Part II.

SCORE ANALYSIS:   Percentile rankings will be provided in each domain for examinees who receive failing scores.  The percentile ranking reflects individual performance compared to other examinees who took the same test.

Anticipating Your Questions

What if I have one or two subject retakes pending at the end of 2018?

You can retake those subjects until January 1, 2021. These exams will be in the paper-and-pencil format, offered on the same weekend as the CBT exams.

 If I pass Part I in January 2019, when can I take Part III?

We will release Part I scores on February 18.  Your first opportunity to take Part III would be in July 2019, with registrar approval of eligibility.

If I pass Part I in January 2019, when can I take Part II?

You are not required to pass Part I prior to taking Part II, so in this case you could apply for Part II as soon as your registrar approves your eligibility. 

 Since Part I or Part II are now single exams, can I miss all of the questions in one domain of a Part and still pass?

You will either pass or fail the entire Part I and Part II as a whole.  In order to achieve a passing score of 375 or higher on the Part, you must demonstrate proficiency in each domain (subject). 

 If I fail Part I in January, when can I retake it?

Your next opportunity to retake Part I would be in April 2019.  The NBCE does not limit the number of times you can retake an exam.

See all applicable 2019 exam dates and deadlines here.

 How long will it take to complete the exam?

Testing appointments in the new format are five hours. You will get two 15-minute breaks during that time.

Are you changing Part III or Physiotherapy?

The content, number of questions, and amount of time for these exams will remain the same.

 Why is the cost the same if the exam is shorter?

The NBCE has fixed administrative expenses for exam administration; these are the same regardless of paper-and-pencil or computer-based testing.  Additionally, we are increasing the number of administrations per year.

 Will I get my scores sooner?

NBCE scoring-related psychometric procedures have not changed; therefore, we will require the same amount of time to produce your scores.

 Can I still opt to take exams in the pencil-and-paper format in 2019?

No, we will offer CBT exams only.  A standardized exam experience requires delivery in a single format. 

 Are you providing test accommodations?

The NBCE will continue to provide test accommodations in accordance with ADA guidelines. 

 When can I sign up?

Applications for the January 2019 Part I Exam will be available in early November. 

We’re excited about the transition of our exams to a model more consistent with best practices in professional testing.  In addition, this will provide the student with an enhanced testing experience with computer-based testing, shorter testing days, flexible scheduling options and more testing opportunities.

This is the first in a series of communications you will receive from the NBCE. If you have any questions, visit and use the LiveChat feature.  Or, call 800-964-6223.  You can also email with your specific questions.