National Opticianry Competency Exam (NOCE)

The National Opticianry Competency Exam (NOCE) is a certification by the American Board of Opticianry & National Contact Lens Examiners (ABO-NCLE) used to validate the skills and knowledge necessary to perform the role and responsibility of an Optician in the United States.


To sit for the exam, you need to be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. If the state licensing board where you work has different requirements, the state’s requirements take precedence.

How to register

The NOCE exam is conducted at a Prometric test site at over 300 locations nationwide. The test is offered quarterly in February, May, August, and November. You register for the exam on the ABO-NCLE website. When your registration is complete and the $225.00 fee paid, a confirmation email is sent to you. Payment for the exam is accepted by credit card only.

When you receive your confirmation, you can register for the exam at Prometric on their website.

NOCE test design

The NOCE is a two-hour computer-delivered examination consisting of 125 multiple-choice questions. Each question on the exam fits into one of three types: recognition, application, and understanding. The questions on the NOCE are divided into the following six domains:

Ophthalmic optics

Questions in this domain test your skills and knowledge in terminology, prescriptions and their limitations, characteristics of lenses, lens powers and formulas, multifocal lenses, lens materials, and prism.

Ocular anatomy, physiology, and pathology

This section assesses your knowledge of the eye—its structure and function, and refractive errors.

Ophthalmic products

This section tests your ability to apply your knowledge and experience applying product knowledge, guiding a patient in selecting appropriate products, frames, and lenses.


Your knowledge, skills, and abilities with ophthalmic tools, instruments, and equipment and their maintenance are assessed.

Dispensing procedures

Questions in this domain verify your knowledge and skill with patient interaction and the appropriate selection, fitting, measuring, and adjustment of equipment.

Laws, regulations, and standards

Your knowledge of the governing laws, regulations, and standards is examined.

An on-screen scientific calculator is available for your use and scratch paper may be provided. You receive credit for each correct answer and are not penalized for incorrect responses. If time remains when you are finished, review your answers and guess if you have to.

Test day

Your test appointment confirmation contains the information you need to check-in with the center. Be sure to review the information and follow the directions for your exam. Arrive 30 minutes before your appointment so you have time to complete the paperwork and have your identification verified. Your testing appointment may be canceled, and your fee forfeited, if you arrive late.

A locker is provided for your belongings, and you are not allowed to bring anything to your testing station. Breaks are not factored into your allowed time.

Exam scoring and notification

Your exam is scored electronically, and each correct response receives one point. You are not penalized for incorrect answers so make your best guess if you do not know the answer. Your points are then totaled, and the sum becomes your raw score. Your raw score is converted to a scale score. To pass the National Opticianry Competency Exam, you need a scaled score of 70%.

Your official score report is mailed two to six weeks after the testing window closes. Your score report will state whether or not you passed or failed. If you did not pass, diagnostic information is provided to help you study to retake the exam. State licensing boards receive a roster of those who passed the exam and those who did not. The ABO-NCLE maintains a candidate database indefinitely.

If you need to retake the examination, you will have to re-register and pay the fee. ABO-NCLE enforces a waiting period that involves skipping a test period before registering again. For example, if you sat for the exam in February, you have to wait until the test window opens in August to register for a retake.

Six to eight weeks after you receive your score report, ABO-NCLE mails your certificate. Your certificate is valid for three years from the date you took the exam.  You must renew your certification every three years.

How Can I Prepare for the NOCE?

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: August 1, 2019