Written Examination Frequently Asked Questions

Updated: September 29, 2020

1. How were questions on the written exam derived?

Item content is grounded in Section VI of the Houston Conference guidelines, reflecting the foundational and functional core knowledge bases for the independent practice of clinical neuropsychology.

Given this framework, a formal job task analysis (JTA) was conducted to identify essential knowledge for clinical practice based on responses from approximately 300 ABCN-certified neuropsychologists. The JTA established a rubric of five domains to be examined on the ABCN written exam: professional standards, research methods, clinical assessment, case conceptualization, and intervention. Details on these domains can be found here.

ABCN-certified subject matter experts (SMEs) were trained through Alpine Testing Solutions, Inc. to become item writers and item reviewers. This cadre of SMEs was responsible for creating new items and reviewing/modifying existing items as informed by the JTA rubric. Item psychometrics are provided by Alpine Testing Solutions to inform subsequent revisions to the exam.

2. How is the ABCN Written Examination scored?

Exam performances are reported as scaled scores, with a score of 300 being required to pass the exam. The scaled score is an empirically derived conversion of raw scores that ensures candidates who take different versions of the exam meet the same performance level required to pass. No further scaled score metrics are provided; however, candidates who do not pass the written examination are informed of relative areas of strength and weakness across content areas, as described in FAQ #3 below.

3. Can I know my raw score? Can I know how I performed compared to others?

The ABCN written examination is a criterion referenced exam in which the passing standard is set by the Board of Directors on the basis of item difficulty and the knowledge expected of qualified clinical neuropsychologists. Scores are not norm-referenced or graded on a curve. Therefore, passing the exam is not dependent on how your score compares to other candidates.

If you do not receive a passing score on the Written Examination, you will receive a breakdown of your Test Section scores to help you better understand your performance and guide remediation efforts should you choose to retake the exam. Please be aware that these scores are reported as percent correct; one cannot calculate the overall scaled score from these section scores.

In reviewing patterns of performance across Test Sections, keep in mind that strong performance in a specific section may not automatically carry over to your next attempt. Section scores can vary between attempts, particularly for sections with a low number of questions. ABCN advises individuals who retake the examination to study for the whole exam, paying special attention to areas of weakness. The Clinical Neuropsychology exam blueprint is available here and provides a complete listing of the testable content for the examination.

4. Are sample items available to illustrate the structure and content of questions that will be included on the exam?

The following items represent examples of questions that will appear on the ABCN Written Examination. As noted above, exam questions will cover the content domains and objectives derived from the ABCN Job Task Analysis (JTA). Each sample question below includes a reference to the specific JTA Domain and Objective measured by the item.


1. A 5-year-old boy presents for evaluation with a clinical presentation of mild intellectual disability, significant language delays, hyperactivity, social difficulties, and hand flapping. He has no abnormal physical characteristics by observation or physician examination. Of the following genetic conditions, which is most consistent with this clinical presentation? (3.03 ‐ Apply knowledge of psychometric and patient characteristics)
a. Rett syndrome
b. Prader Willi syndrome
c. Fragile X syndrome
d. Williams syndrome

2. A 42-year-old gentleman reports a 2-year history of uncontrollable movements in his arms and legs, emotional problems and a decline in thinking ability. What information from the records would be most important in differential diagnosis? (2.01 ‐ Determine diagnostic information needed from Record Review)
a. Developmental history
b. Family medical history
c. History of traumatic brain injury
d. Substance use history

3. Quality of childhood education reliably predicts which of the following racial disparities in late-life cognition among African Americans, as compared to Caucasians? (1.2 – Know the impact of diversity on neuropsychological practice)
a. Faster rates of cognitive decline.
b. Lower baseline test scores.
c. Poorer test sensitivity to early dementia.
d. Slower response times on speeded tasks.