The Alcohol and Drug Counselor or ADC credential is the largest in the field of addiction-related behavioral healthcare. Over 63 countries use this exam and the credentials earned as the gold standard for professionalism and competency. It is the foundation upon which almost all addiction-related professions are built.
Who is Eligible?
Eligibility for all IC&RC exams is determined solely by local IC&RC member boards. Each board has its own application processes, fees, timelines, and standards for credentialing. Be sure to contact your local IC&RC member board to know what these requirements and details include.
When and Where Can I Take it?
All IC&RC exams are administered through a division of Schroeder Measurement Technologies (SMT) known as ISO-Quality Testing or IQT. Exams can be given via paper and pencil or computer at testing centers found throughout the world.
Computer-based testing (CBT) is offered on an as-needed basis. Your local IC&RC member board will be able to give you information on when the next CBT is being offered and how to go about registering for it.
Paper and pencil exams are given only four times a year in March, June, September, and December. Your local member board will be able to advise you on how to register and when and where these exams will take place.
In either case, your local member board will have a full list of dates, times, and locations that are available for you to take the exam. Be sure to note specific registration deadlines and requirements.
Once you have registered for your exam, you will receive a Candidate Admission Letter with information about your appointment and the rules and regulations of the testing center. Keep this, as you will need to bring it with you to your CBT exam.
Special accommodations are available for those who cannot test under normal conditions. Check with your local member board to see if this can be done for you and how to request it.
Should you need to cancel or reschedule your exam appointment, you can do so by contacting your local member board. CBT exams must have changes made at least 5 days before it is scheduled to take place. Rescheduling or cancellation fees apply.
What Should I Bring?
It is crucial that you arrive early or on time for your exam appointment. Those who are late will not be allowed to test and will have to reschedule and pay the appropriate fees.
Before you can begin your test, you will have to sign in using a current and valid government-issued photo ID. This must contain your signature, full name as it appears on your application and registration information, and a recent and recognizable photo. You will also need to bring your Candidate Admission Letter if you are taking a CBT exam.
No personal belongings are allowed in the testing area. This includes cell phones, books, paper, and pencil, or study materials. These items will be kept in a designated area for the duration of the exam.
What Does it Cover?
The ADC exam contains four main sections or domains. There is a total of 150 multiple choice questions with 25 of those being unidentified pretest questions. These will not count towards your score and scattered throughout the exam.
Below is a brief outline containing a description of each and the weight it is given on the exam.
Screening, Assessment, and Engagement (23% of exam)
Communicating with the client to determine needs and the process of addressing those, knowledge of used substances and the effects on the body, evaluating client’s medical, mental health, and physical history, and documentation
Treatment Planning, Collaboration, and Referral (27%)
Collaborate with client and family members to match them to specific resources and treatment plans, consult community resources to maintain or modify treatment plans, documentation of plan and ongoing results
Developing healthy relationships with clients and family members, evaluating treatment plan progress and client’s safety, educate client and family about substance abuse, its effects, and best recovery practices, documentation of counseling activities
Professional and Ethical Responsibilities (22%)
Professional code of ethics and standards, continued professional education and evaluation, recognizing diversity and demographics, referring the client to appropriate professionals outside the counselor’s ethical scope, documentation accuracy, and record keeping
You will be given three hours and 30 minutes for the paper and pencil exam. The CBT exam is given three hours to complete.
How is it Scored?
Your official scores are sent to your local IC&RC member board to be processed upon completion of your exam. This process typically takes about four to six weeks for paper and pencil exams, while the CBT exams receive results within two to three weeks. CBT exam takers will receive an unofficial score report immediately on their computer screen after the exam is completed.
Your official score report will include your final scaled score and percentage of correct answers in each main section of the exam. Scores are given on a range from 200 to 800. The minimum passing score is 500.
For those who do not pass, retakes are available after a 90-day waiting period. You will need to contact your local member board to register and schedule a retake of the ADC exam. Remedial actions must be taken after four failed attempts are taken.
How Can I Prepare for the Alcohol and Drug Counselor Test?
That’s a great question. We’ve broken down the answer into three parts.
- Do yourself a favor and study. Do not walk in unprepared. We have recommended prep materials below, but that only helps if you actually try. Plus, studying is actually proven to be the best antidote to test anxiety.
- Take care of yourself. Make sure you’re eating well, exercising, and sleeping. All of these things are scientifically linked to brain performance. If you take care of your body, you’ll be helping your grades.
- Get a study guide or set of flashcards. Some people study better a certain way. Find your study strengths and make the most of them. We’ve tried to make it easy for you by tracking down the best study guide and flashcard set for your exam. Below you’ll see links to both!