Coach Knowledge Assessment - International Coaching Federation
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Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA)

This page includes information on the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA), which is the final examination based on the original 11 ICF Core Competencies. Successful completion of an assessment is required before a Credential is awarded.

If you submit a Credential application prior to July 27, 2022, at 11:59 p.m. EDT (New York) and have not already passed the CKA, you will need to complete and pass this assessment. If you have not passed the CKA by January 31, 2023 — even if you submitted your application prior to the date above — you will be required to take the new ICF Credentialing Exam.

For applications submitted on or after August 1, 2022, at 12 Noon EDT (New York), the new ICF Credentialing Exam will be your required assessment.


The Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA) is a tool that can be used to measure a coach’s understanding of the knowledge and skills important in the practice of coaching. The CKA covers five broad domains: setting the foundation, co-creating the relationship, communicating effectively, facilitating learning and results, and coaching foundations and knowledge base. All questions are based on the ICF definition of coaching, ICF Core Competencies and ICF Code of Ethics. The difficulty level of each question varies, with some intended to assess awareness of a concept or skill while others may present a scenario that requires deeper understanding. 

The current version of the CKA contains 155 multiple choice questions. Each one contains a short statement or question with four possible responses. For each question there is only one response that ICF has established as correct. 

The CKA is offered in various languages — a listing can be found below. 

Procedure

Once your credential application is reviewed and approved, you will be contacted by email with a status update containing the next step of the credential process. This email will contain directions on how to access the exam, as well as other pertinent information about the process. 

NOTE: The estimated time for review of an application varies by credential application level and path.  

  • ACC-ACTP & PCC-ACTP application: Estimated 4-week review time 
  • ACC-ACSTH, ACC-Portfolio, and PCC-ACSTH applications: Estimated 14-week review time 
  • PCC Portfolio and MCC applications: Estimated 18-week review time 

Once you have been notified that you are eligible to take the exam, you have 60 days to complete it. Once the exam has been started, three (3) hours are provided to complete the exam. The exam will need to be completed in one sitting. A total exam score of 70% is required in order to pass the exam. 

Upon completion of the exam, Pearson Vue – our examination partner – will notify you of your score immediately.  Please allow 48 hours for ICF to update individual records with the exam score.   

After the score has been entered into the ICF record, you will receive an email that either awards the credential for which you have applied, or provides directions on how to retake the exam. 

The fee to retake the exam is $75 USD. 

CKA Sample Questions

The following five questions (one in each domain) are samples of the types of questions that may be on the exam. The correct response is shown in bold.

  • Domain: Setting the Foundation

    The client is a high-energy manager with a generally positive outlook. Just before coming to the coaching session, the client was told that their responsibilities are about to drastically change and will no longer be doing the work they are passionate about. The client has come to the session in a particularly negative mood, and has expressed the desire to address this situation during today’s session. What is the BEST way for the coach to proceed?

    • Ask the client about all of the potential positive outcomes from this situation.
    • Remind the client that the agenda for this session was set at the end of the last session.
    • Explore the outcomes for the session and ensure that the client and coach are both clear on them.
    • Point out to the client how extremely important it is to be passionate about the work we do.
  • Domain: Co-Creating the Relationship

    A client is explaining a situation to a coach, who senses that there is more that the client is not sharing. How should the coach approach the situation? 

    • Interrupt the client and ask for greater disclosure.
    • Give the client the “bottom-line” read on the situation.
    • Ask the client’s permission to probe a little deeper.
    • Give the client feedback on the importance of honesty in coaching.
  • Domain: Communicating Effectively

    When dealing with a client who brings many issues to the table, it is best for the coach to pick the option 

    • where the coach has the most expertise.
    • of asking what the client would like to start with.
    • that looks most likely to be handled in the time available.
    • that the coach thinks can do the most good for the client.
  • Domain: Facilitating Learning and Results

    An appropriate role for a coach in goal setting, planning, and prioritizing with a client is

    • critiquing and embellishing a client’s goals.
    • letting the client self-determine the need for goals.
    • taking charge of the process to ensure it is completed accurately.
    • facilitating a process around the client’s goal setting, planning, and prioritizing.
  • Domain: Coaching Foundations and Knowledge Base

    Every coaching conversation should include 

    • an action plan.
    • an agenda identified by the client.
    • review of fieldwork.
    • a summary by the coach of the client’s progress.

More Information on the CKA

  • Languages Available

    The CKA is offered in the following languages:

    • Arabic 
    • Bulgarian 
    • Chinese 
    • Czech 
    • Danish 
    • English 
    • Finnish 
    • French 
    • German 
    • Hungarian 
    • Italian 
    • Japanese 
    • Korean 
    • Polish 
    • Portuguese 
    • Russian 
    • Spanish 
    • Swedish 
    • Thai 
    • Turkish 
  • CKA FAQs

    Q: Why did ICF begin requiring a Coach Knowledge Assessment for all applicants?
    A: ICF believes it is vital for all ICF Credential coaches to demonstrate foundational knowledge of the ICF Core Competencies, ICF Code of Ethics, and ICF’s Definition of Coaching. Having a standardized and scientifically constructed test delivered by a credentialing organization is a globally recognized way to help ensure the fairness and strength of the ICF Credential. The exam is intended as an assessment of knowledge. Actual application of this knowledge is assessed by the review of actual coaching sessions as conducted by ACTPs or via the ICF Portfolio Credential process.

    Q: When/how does an applicant receive the Coach Knowledge Assessment?
    A: Once an applicant’s credential application is reviewed, ICF staff will contact the applicant via email with a status update containing the next step in the review process. The steps for a credential application review vary depending on the path in which the applicant applies for the credential.

    • ACTP and ACC ACSTH: Once the application review is complete, you will be sent a link to the Coach Knowledge Assessment.
    • PCC ACSTH and Portfolio Applicants: Once the application review is complete your recordings will be sent to ICF trained assessors for review. After the assessors complete the review, you will be sent a link to take the Coach Knowledge Assessment. Status updates will be sent after each step to keep you informed.

    Q: Once I receive the link, how long do I have to take the exam?
    A: You are given 60 days to login and take the CKA. Once you login you are provided 3 hours to complete the exam.

    Q: How long does an applicant have to take the Coach Knowledge Assessment?
    A: Once logged in to the online test portal, after an applicant selects their preferred language for the test, they will be given three hours to complete the test. Most applicants complete the test in just over two hours.

    Q: How did ICF determine three hours was sufficient to complete the test?
    A: Research based on “best practices” regarding multiple-choice tests was consulted to establish a fair and reasonable amount of time for completing a test of this type and number of questions.

    Q: Can you start the Coach Knowledge Assessment and save to complete at a later time?
    A: No. Once an applicant starts the test, the test must be completed within the three hour time limit.

    Q: What is the question format?
    A: The questions are in multiple-choice format only, with each question having four possible responses.

    Q: How many questions are on the Coach Knowledge Assessment?
    A: The current version of the test has approximately 155 questions. This number will vary slightly over time as new questions are added and older questions are removed. Also, different language versions of the test may have slightly more or less questions.

    Q: What do the test questions cover?
    A: The test content covers five broad domains: setting the foundation, co-creating the relationship, communicating effectively, facilitating learning and results, and coaching foundations and knowledge base. All questions are based on the ICF Core Competencies, ICF Code of Ethics and ICF’s Definition of Coaching. Questions are of varying levels of difficulty with some intended to assess awareness of a concept or skill while others may present a scenario that requires deeper understanding.

    Q: Is the Coach Knowledge Assessment available in my language?
    A: The test is available in several languages. For the most up-to-date offerings, please see the language information above.

    Q: Who created the Coach Knowledge Assessment?
    A: The test was developed by ICF using globally accepted practices for test creation, including a comprehensive role study of the knowledge required of coaches. All questions were written by experienced ICF coaches serving as subject matter experts and validated using an extensive review process.

    Q: Are there sample questions available for review?
    A: Yes. CKA sample questions can be viewed on this page.

    Q: How should I prepare to take the test?
    A: By completing an ICF ACSTH or ACTP, you will have received instruction that is in alignment with the ICF Core Competencies, ICF Code of Ethics and ICF’s Definition of Coaching. Reviewing the training you receive from an ICF ACSTH or ACTP is the best way to prepare for the Coach Knowledge Assessment.

    Q: How is an applicant notified of their results?
    A: Once an applicant completes the Coach Knowledge Assessment, results are compiled and provided immediately to the applicant via email from the testing site. One week after completion of the CKA, applicants will receive official notification from the ICF Credentialing department regarding the approval status of the credential application.

    Q: What score is required in order to pass?
    A: Currently, the passing grade is 70 percent (70%), but may change over time as ICF publishes new versions of the Coach Knowledge Assessment.

    Q: Is feedback provided regarding the questions missed?
    A: A score is provided for each of the five test domains along with an overall score. Feedback on incorrect individual test items is not provided at this time.

    Q: What happens if an applicant doesn’t pass the Coach Knowledge Assessment on their first attempt?
    A: An applicant can elect to retake the test for a fee of $75 USD.

    Q: If I encounter a problem during the Coach Knowledge Assessment whom should I contact?
    A: ICF will not provide assistance regarding the content of the test, including answers to or clarification around test questions. For technical problems with the test platform, applicants should contact ICF by email. ICF business hours are 8:30 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. (New York). The ICF office is closed on weekends and U.S. holidays throughout the year. If you experience any problems with the test, please contact the ICF Support Team by visiting the support page.

  • Support

    If you have additional questions about the CKA exam, please visit the FAQ page.

    If you need support regarding the CKA or if you do not find the answer to your question in the FAQ section, please visit the support page.

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