To earn your certification, you need to achieve a passing score on an examination. Each exam consists of questions on the skills and knowledge required for competency in ophthalmic dispensing. The National Opticianry Competency Examination (NOCE) is spectacle related and is given by the ABO. The Contact Lens Registry Examination (CLRE) is given by NCLE for certification in contact lens dispensing.

Both the NOCE and the CLRE exams are psychometrically developed. After test specifications are created (based on the Job Analysis), the exams are written by groups of certified opticians and contact lens fitters appointed by the ABO and the NCLE. They are assisted by our testing service, Professional Examination Service (PES). The questions are then reviewed by the testing service specialists for proper testing principles and rules of grammar and style. Questions are created to test a candidate's ability to recall knowledge and to apply that knowledge to specific dispensing functions.

Both exams are offered twice a year, in May and November, in numerous sites across the country. The next available exam is May 2012. The Exam Application is available for download HERE in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. Any information regarding this exam will be released in mid–late January. The cost to sit for the exams is $225 for the ABO and $225 for the NCLE. Each exam consists of up to 125 multiple choice questions; candidates have up to two and a half hours to complete the exam. You may request a registration packet from the staff office by calling 1-(800) 296-1379 or email us at mail@abo-ncle.org. Along with the application, you will receive several brochures from organizations that offer various study materials to help you prepare for the exams. ABO and NCLE do not sell or endorse any study materials.

Eligibility: Everyone who is at least 18 years of age and has a high school diploma or GED is eligible to sit for the exams. (In states with conflicting regulations, the state licensing board regulations are followed.) While no experience is required, candidates with two to three years hands-on experience or completion of an optical school program are more successful in passing the exams.

Candidates always have questions on what they will be asked on the exam. For the ABO exam the content areas are 31% on analyzing and interpreting prescriptions, 51% on fitting and dispensing spectacles and other ophthalmic devices, and 18% on the use of standard ophthalmic equipment.

For the NCLE exam, the content areas consist of 16% on prefit, preparation and evaluation, 25% on diagnostic fit and evaluation, 29% on lens dispensing, patient education and delivery procedures, 21% on follow-up visits with patient/customer and 9% on administrative issues.

After you pass your exam, you will receive an attractive, professionally lettered certificate to display to the public as a symbol of your competence. Your certification must be renewed every three years through completion of continuing education requirements and payment of a modest renewal fee. Along with your certificate, you will receive information on these requirements and on ways to help you fulfill them. Carefully choosing this continued education to fit your particular needs is the way to continued competence.

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