Basic Certification Exams
ABO-NCLE offers all of its Examinations, including the National Opticianry Competency Examination, the Contact Lens Registry Exams, four times per year. Please review the Basic Examination Handbook for more information. Test Administration Procedures, including security, eligibility, distribution, scheduling, and other on-site exam-related information is all handled by our Testing Facility, ProMetric, and is located HERE. By applying for any ABO or NCLE Examinations, Candidates have agreed to the terms of the Security Requirements of ProMetric and ABO & NCLE. Additional information regarding the scheduling, on-site security, and other exam delivery information can be obtained by utilizing the "contact us" page.
To earn your basic 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 the Contact Lens Registry Examination (CLRE) is for certification in contact lens dispensing.
Both the NOCE and the CLRE exams are psychometrically developed by impartial Subject Matter Experts within the field of Opticianry and Contact Lens Fitting. After test specifications are created (based on the Job Analysis), the exams are written by groups of impartial Certified Opticians and Contact Lens Fitters. 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. A Practice Examination is available for purchase HERE, and samples of the questions are also located in the Basic Examination Handbook.
From administration to administration, the passing percentages for both the ABO and the NCLE Basic exams change. For the 2017 year, the ABO Basic Examination had a 57% pass rate; the NCLE Basic Examination had a 61% pass rate. The ABO Practical Examination had a first time test taker pass rate of 63%; the NCLE Practical Examination had a first time test taker pass rate of 62%. As of December 31, 2017, there are 30,151 ABO Certified Opticians and 11,001 NCLE Certified Contact Lens Technicians.
PLEASE NOTE: There is no longer a six-month waiting period if a candidate fails an examination. He or she is now allowed to register for the next regularly-scheduled exam administration period. (e.g., May examinees now may retake the exam during the following August administration). The examination registration process will now allow anyone to register for the next exam administration period if they should fail an exam during the previous administration. Please know that late fees may apply based on the examination registration window.
The examination schedule for each year is as follows:
February 1-29 Testing Window:
Regular registration opens on December 1 and closes on January 15
Late registration ends January 30
OptiCon @ Vision Expo East (New York City, NY):
Contact ABO & NCLE at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
May 1-31 Testing Window:
Regular registration opens on March 1 and closes on April 15
Late registration ends April 29
August 1-31 Testing Window:
Registration opens on June 1 and closes on July 15
Late registration ends July 30
OptiCon @ Vision Expo West (Las Vegas, NV):
Contact ABO & NCLE at email@example.com for more information.
November 1-30 Testing Window:
Registration opens August 16 and closes on October 15
Late registration ends October 30
Basic Examinations are given in English and Spanish, via computer, and each exam is 2 hours long. There is a brief tutorial and a summary that do not affect the 2 hour time allocation for the Basic Examinations. You must be at least 18 years old, and a high school graduate or have earned a GED or the equivalent in order to take the exams. ABO-NCLE reserves the right to require that you produce proof of eligibility at any time.
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 spectacle-related exam the content areas are: analyzing and interpreting prescriptions; fitting and dispensing spectacles and other ophthalmic devices; and the use of standard ophthalmic equipment.
For the contact lens dispensing exam, the content areas consist of: prefit, preparation and evaluation; diagnostic fit and evaluation; lens dispensing, patient education and delivery procedures; follow-up visits with patient/customer; and 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.
**If you are applying for an ABO and/or NCLE Examination as part of a Licensing State requirement, please verify the appropriate steps with your state licensing board before registering for any specific examination. Each state has its own specific requirements, and failure to abide by those requirements may result in denial of credit for the examination, or other consequences, depending upon any licensing state’s regulations and requirements.
To download a copy of our Disability Accommodation Form, please click HERE.
Review Courses for the ABO and NCLE Exams
The following list of review courses/materials is provided for the exam candidates' information and is not an endorsement by ABO-NCLE as to the quality or content.
Material is based on the instructor/writers’ interpretation of the job analysis and the instructors/writers of these courses/material have no direct knowledge of the specific exam questions. Participation in a review course is no guarantee that you will pass the exam(s). If you are interested in taking a review course or obtaining materials, please contact the organization(s) listed below.
National Academy of Opticianry (NAO)
Please click HERE to download the Spectacle and Contact Lens Exam Prep Seminar and Webinar Registration Form.
For ABO Basic and Advanced Exam Prep materials available from the NAO, click HERE.
For NCLE Basic Exam Prep materials available from the NAO, click HERE.
Optical Training Institute
Contact: Gerald Ludwin
Comprehensive, proven method of test preparation, audio CDs and workbooks
Opticians Association of Georgia
Contact: Thomas Blair Jr.
Opticians Association of Wisconsin
Contact: Ed Wnuczek
ABO exam review DVD available
Professional Opticians of Florida
Online ABO and NCLE Examination Preparation
Live ABO and NCLE Examination Preparation Classes
Study Materials for Examination Preparation
Contact: Mike Della Pesca
Exam review modules for both exams including sample test; each review has four 2-hour modules