Funeral Service Exam

This exam is developed by the International Conference of
Funeral Service Examining Boards, Inc., better known as The Conference. The
National Board Exam or NBE is used to a standard of licensure in the diverse areas
of knowledge and skills needed for the field of funeral service. The NBE is
taken as two separate exams: one on Art and one on Science.

Who is Eligible?

To be eligible for the NBE, all candidates must:

  • Have completed all requirements for graduation from an ABFSE-accredited mortuary science program and be verified by that school
  • International candidates must have a valid license as a funeral director/embalmer in another country and be endorsed by a funeral service regulatory body recognized by The Conference

There is a fee of $250 for each of the two sections of the exam. This may be paid together or separately. Applications may be made online or by mail.  

Where and When Can I Take it?

Once your application has been approved The Conference will send you an Authorization to Test letter, inviting you to register for your exam. The NBE is administered by Pearson VUE, a professional testing firm and is taken on computers. Each of the two main sections of the exam is taken separately and are to be scheduled on different days.

Pearson has nearly 300 locations throughout the U.S. These are open year-round, except on holidays, Monday through Friday. Choose a date, time and place that is convenient for you. However, it is recommended that you register early as seating and space may be limited at some locations.

Special accommodations are available to those who may not be able to test under normal conditions. This may be requested during your registration.

Should you need to reschedule or cancel your exam appointment, you may do so by contacting Pearson VUE at least 24 hours before you are to test. If you wait any longer, you will be counted as a no-show for the exam and will forfeit all fees you have paid.

What Should I Bring?

Pearson VUE recommends that you arrive at least 30 minutes early for your exam to have time to check-in properly and make sure you are ready. If you arrive late, you will not be allowed into the testing center and will have to forfeit all fees and reregister.

You will need to bring two forms of valid and current, government-issued identification with you. These must include your signature and full name as it appears on your registration information.

One ID must be a primary/photo ID and have a recent and recognizable photo. If your ID has missing or incorrect information, you may be asked to supply another one or risk not being to test that day.

This form of computer-based testing provides you with all the resources you will need at the testing center. Therefore, you will not need, nor are you allowed to bring, any personal items with you into the testing area. This includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Cell phones
  • Watches, jewelry, and outerwear
  • Calculators, study materials, and writing utensils
  • Bags or purses
  • Food or drinks

These items may be kept in a designated locker for the duration of your exam. If you are found with any of these items on your person during the exam, you will be dismissed from the testing center and your scores will be voided.

What Does it Cover?

The NBE is broken into two main sections: Arts and Sciences. Each of these sections consists of 170 multiple-choice questions. Of those 20 are classified as unidentified pretest items. These will be scattered throughout the exam and will not be counted towards your score.

Below is a brief outline of the NBE and its sections, including the number of questions in each.


  • Funeral directing 51
  • Funeral service marketing/merchandising 21
  • Funeral service counseling 22
  • Regulatory compliance 36
  • Cemetery and crematory operations 20


  • Embalming 58
  • Restorative Art 34
  • Preparation for Disposition 31
  • Funeral service sciences 27

You will have three hours to complete each exam, including a non-disclosure agreement and a brief tutorial.

How is it Scored?

You will receive an unofficial score report containing your pass/fails status after you complete the exam at the testing site. This status and a feedback chart for unsuccessful candidates is also available through your Pearson VUE account.

Your official score report will be sent within one to two weeks to The Conference and the state licensing board(s) you selected during your application. To send your score report to additional states, there is a fee of $25 at the time of application and $50 after your application.

Your pass/fails status is based on a raw score (the number of correctly answered questions) that is converted to a scale score (determined by the difficulty of the questions). A scale score of at least 75 is considered passing. However, you will not receive a numbered score.

If you fail either or both sections of the NBE, you can retake whatever section you failed to receive a passing score. You will have to reregister and submit another payment for sections failed no sooner than 90 days after your last attempt. Only three attempts are allowed per year.

Those who pass the NBE will receive a wall certificate within three to four weeks from when your scores were released. If you wish to have a wallet ID card as well, this request can be made by contacting The Conference. Additional wall certificates and ID cards are available for purchase.

How Can I Prepare for the Funeral Service Test?

That’s a great question.  We’ve broken down the answer into three parts.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!

Study Guide



Last Updated: November 9, 2023