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ACE the ICF Credentialing Exam with These Tips!

Updated: May 13

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is ushering in a new era with their latest credentialing exam that supersedes the CKA (Coach Knowledge Assessment).

As the coaching industry continues to evolve, the ICF is adapting to meet the changing needs of clients.

First things first, let's break down what's new and what you need to know about this exam.


What's new with this exam?

When applying for an ACC, PCC or MCC credential, you will need to submit all necessary documents and receive an invitation to the "ICF Credentialing Exam" which you need to schedule within 60 days of your notification.


1. 81 Scenarios


The exam now consists of 81 scenarios and is arranged in the following manner:


a. Exam Instructions: 3 minutes

b. Section 1 (41 items): 87 minutes

c. Scheduled Break: 5 minutes.

d. Section 2 (40 items): 85 minutes

The 5 minutes break set-up is offered from 1st Feb 2023.


2. Best and Worst Actions


For each scenario you will be presented with 4 possible answers. You will have to select the best action and the worst action among the options provided for that scenario. There is only one correct best action and one correct worst action for each coaching scenario. Although more than one response may represent a reasonable response to the scenario presented, candidates will receive credit only for selecting the best possible action or the worst possible action.


3. Your Score


It is based on successfully identifying each correct Best Action and Worst Action. Candidates receive credit for each correct action identified. Candidates are not penalized for incorrect responses. The passing score and all exam results on the ICF Credentialing Exam are reported as scaled scores. The range of possible scores is 200 to 600, with a passing score of 460 (76%).


4. Test Centers or online with a “proctor”


The exam is administrated by “Pearson VUE” and happens either in one of their test centers or online with a “proctor”, someone who is watching you through your webcam while you take the test at home. Once you have selected your exam date, it is important to immediately download and test the program that will be used for the exam. It is recommended to perform a trial run 24 hours prior to the exam. On the day of the exam, you will have a 30-minute buffer period before the exam begins to perform further testing and take photos of your environment and identification documents. To avoid any issues with the strict proctor, it is best to take the exam in a quiet and private space and important to remain silent throughout the duration of the exam.


What should I study?


When it comes to studying for this new exam, it boils down to two main topics:


1. ICF Code of Ethics



2. ICF Core Competencies


Read the ICF Core Competencies which have been streamlined down to eight from the previous eleven and watch the videos on the ICF website.


Although this handbook is for those applying for PCC, I would strongly advise anyone applying for ACC, PCC, or MCC to read this very comprehensive document.


How should I study ?


Now that you know WHAT you can study, its equally important to know HOW to study as well. In preparing for the exam, I invested time in reading and re-reading but every individual has their own preferred learning style. Thus, you should find the learning strategy that works best for you.


Even if you manage to memorize all of the study material you will have to deal with realistic scenarios. It’s more HOW you put into practice the competencies and code of ethics rather than answering on the main words of a core competency which was in the previous CKA.


1. Focus on the coaching mindset


Remain calm and focused. Take a step back and consider the scenario from different angles. Look for clues in the question stem or scenario that may help guide you towards the best answer. Think about how you could best serve the client in a partnering coaching way and what would be the opposite.


2. English Language


Note that the scenarios are written in an inclusive way. This means that you won’t find he or she referred to the ‘client’, you will have ‘their’. This might be utterly confusing for non-native English speakers like me.


3. Time to set the date for the exam as soon as you can


Sometimes, mulling over a decision can pile on the pressure for you and gives way to procrastination. So, give yourself a deadline and start working right away.



All the best!

GoMasterCoach Team


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