New ICF Credentialing Exam - International Coaching Federation
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New ICF Credentialing Exam

ICF Credentials and Standards is pleased to announce that it will launch a new ICF Credentialing Exam on August 1. This new exam reflects the updated ICF Core Competencies, published in November 2019, which set the global standard for professional and ethical practice in coaching.

NOTE: Candidates who submit an application for an ICF Credential on or after August 2, 2022 at 12 Noon EDT (New York) will be required to complete the new ICF Credentialing Exam. This includes candidates who have completed the CKA for a previous ICF Credential. Individuals renewing their ICF Credential will not be required to complete the exam.

The ICF Credentialing Exam will replace the current Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA). The new exam is a high-quality, state-of the-art credentialing exam aligned with the highest standards of certification test development practices and was informed by ICF-credentialed coaches from around the world who served as subject matter expert volunteers in its development.

The new exam will also be more secure, allowing each candidate to have a fair, equal opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and skill in coaching. Plus, improved exam security means your ICF Credential will have increased validity, integrity and overall value.

ICF Credentials and Standards is excited to partner with Pearson VUE to deliver the new ICF Credentialing Exam. Through its global network of testing centers and OnVUE (Pearson’s online service), candidates will now have the choice to either complete the exam in their home or office while being monitored by an online proctor, or to complete the exam at an on-site Pearson VUE testing center.

Key Dates for Implementation

July 27, 2022, at 11:59 p.m. EDT (New York) – final deadline to submit ICF Credential applications under the current application paths and assessments (Coach Knowledge Assessment and Performance Evaluation standards for ACC, PCC and MCC Credentials).

August 2, 2022, at 12 Noon EDT (New York) – ICF Credentials and Standards will resume accepting applications for the ACC, PCC and MCC Credentials using the updated application paths. Candidates who submit a Credential application on or after this date will be required to successfully complete the new ICF Credentialing Exam. Candidates who are required to submit a performance evaluation will be assessed using the updated Performance Evaluation criteria.

January 31, 2023 – CKA and current Performance Evaluation criteria will be fully retired. After this date, any candidate who still needs to pass a Performance Evaluation will be assessed to the updated Performance Evaluation criteria. Any candidate who still needs to pass the written exam will be required to complete the new ICF Credentialing Exam, regardless of their application submission date.

FAQs — New ICF Credentialing Exam

NOTE: Additional FAQs about the specifics and procedures of the new ICF Credentialing Exam can be found on the ICF Credentialing Exam page.


Why is ICF changing the way it delivers the ICF Credentialing Exam? 

Answer: ICF Credentials and Standards is committed to improving exam security as an important mark of quality for our Credentialing process, and we’re equally committed to supporting our global community of candidates. The new exam meets the highest global standards for high stakes certification exam development. That’s why we’re pleased to offer the new ICF Credentialing Exam through the global network of Pearson VUE testing centers, as well as through Pearson OnVUE—a live, remote proctoring service. Delivered on a secure platform, live remote proctoring provides the same high quality and security in the testing process, all from the convenience of a candidate’s home or office. 

Transitioning to a more secure delivery format for the ICF Credentialing Exam means that each candidate will have a fair, equal opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and skill in coaching. By securely delivering the exam, it also means that the ICF Credentialing Exam will be better protected from any potential misuse or malpractice, including copying and distribution of exam questions, that could prevent an equal and fair examination process for future candidates. 

The biggest benefit of these changes is to applicants and ICF Credential-holders – improving the security on the exam, raising the validity, integrity and, ultimately, the value of the credential. A more secure setting for taking the exam ensures that it is truly the applicant’s knowledge that is being tested. 

How will the updated ICF Credentialing Exam be delivered? 

Answer: We’re pleased to offer the new ICF Credentialing Exam through the global network of Pearson VUE testing centers, as well as through Pearson OnVUE – a live, remote proctoring service. Delivered on a secure platform, live remote proctoring provides the same high quality and security in the testing process, all from the convenience of a candidate’s home or office. 

The test is comprised of approximately 81 scenario-based items that will test the candidate’s knowledge of the ICF Core Competencies and how to apply them in realistic coaching scenarios. Each item contains a realistic scenario describing a coaching situation, followed by four response options. For each item, candidates will be asked to select the best response and the worst response among the options provided for that scenario. There will be one “correct” answer for each question.

The ICF Core Competencies were updated in 2019. Why are the ICF Credentialing Exam and Performance Evaluation criteria only coming into alignment in 2022? 

Answer: In November 2019, the updated ICF Core Competencies were released.   At that time, the intention was for education and training programs to begin teaching the updated competencies in early 2021, and for the updated competencies to be implemented into the credentialing process with the Performance Assessments and Credentialing Exam in 2021. 

Unfortunately, COVID-19 disrupted the timeline for the implementation of the updated Performance Assessments and Credentialing Exam.  However, it did not change ICF’s commitment to ensuring these aspects of the credentialing process are done to the highest standards; it just pushed back our timeline. 

ICF Credentials and Standards has been engaged in work with the Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO) since late 2019 to develop a new ICF Credentialing Exam that reflects and integrates the updated ICF Core Competencies. This new Credentialing Exam will replace the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA).  

In January 2022, ICF Credentials and Standards and our partners at HumRRO completed a global pilot of the new ICF Credentialing Exam, through which ICF Credential holders and candidates around the world completed the ICF Credentialing Exam in Pearson VUE testing centers. This pilot has provided critical data to help ensure exam questions are performing to psychometric standards and to assist ICF in developing scoring standards for the exam.  

Additionally, in partnership with our Academic Research team, external research consultants and a number of subject matter expert (SME) volunteers, we have also been engaged in several efforts to update the ICF Credentialing Performance Evaluation process at all three levels of Credentialing — ACC, PCC, and MCC. 

Will my Performance Assessments be evaluated in alignment with the updated ICF Core Competencies before the updated ICF Credentialing Exam is available? 

Answer: No. The transition to updated Performance Assessment criteria and the ICF Credentialing Exam will be implemented simultaneously.   

Applicants who submit a complete ICF Credential application before July 27 at 11:59 p.m. EDT (New York) will be assessed on the original Core Competencies and tested with the existing Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA).

Applicants who submit a complete ICF Credential application on or after the launch of the ICF Credentialing Exam (August 1, 2022) will be assessed on the updated ICF Core Competencies and tested with the new ICF Credentialing Exam. 

If I studied for the CKA using the original 11 ICF Core Competencies, can I still pass the new ICF Credentialing Exam? 

Answer: The updated ICF Core Competencies still very much reflect the content and spirit of the original ICF Core Competencies—they are simply streamlined in structure and the wording has been revised and updated to improve clarity. The skills developed and the knowledge gained under the original model will apply under the updated ICF Core Competencies. The new ICF Credentialing Exam will feature new questions, but the content will remain very similar.  

On the ICF Core Competencies page, a video and several webinars are available, discussing the differences between the two models. Additionally, on the ICF YouTube Channel, there is a series of webinars about each of the updated ICF Core Competencies featuring expert coach practitioners. These are excellent resources to understand how the original competency framework translates to the updated competencies.

Why are the Credential application fees increasing?

Answer: The ICF Credentialing application fees have not changed since 2015. The price adjustments being implemented cover the additional expense incurred by providing the exam in a more secure delivery format, which provides greater integrity and value for ICF Credentials.

Who needs to take the updated ICF Credentialing Exam?  Do I need to take the exam again when I renew my ICF Credential? 

Answer: Those who submit a new or upgraded ICF Credential application after the launch of the new ICF Credentialing Exam (August 1, 2022) will be required to complete the new exam, even if they previously completed the CKA for a prior ICF Credential.  
 
Individuals renewing (but not upgrading) an existing ICF Credential will not be required to take the new exam as part of the renewal process. 

If I previously passed the Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA) for a prior Credential, why do I have to take the new ICF Credentialing Exam when applying for a higherlevel credential? 

Answer: The existing Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA) has been delivered since 2014 through an online, on-demand format with very limited security measures. Because of this, the exam has accumulated high exposure since its original release.  

Moreover, to comply with global standards for certification bodies and to ensure consistency, fairness and equity in the Credentialing process, it is important that each candidate applying for an ICF Credential completes each requirement. Given that ICF is launching a new ICF Credentialing Exam, it will be important for each candidate applying for a Credential to complete the same exam. This allows all candidates to be held to the same standards and requirements for the Credentialing process.

Once I take the updated ICF Credentialing Exam, will I need to take it again, if I apply for another credential? 

Answer: At this time, the ICF Credentialing Exam must be taken with each new application for a Credential, even if the exam has already been passed. The ICF Credentialing Exam is part of the credential process. In alignment with the highest standards for credentialing bodies, each Credential is a stand-alone achievement and the applicant must complete all requirements for the Credential for which they applied.

ICF Credentials and Standards will be supporting ongoing updates to the ICF Credentialing Exam. ICF Credential-holders who apply for a higher level Credential in the future may see different forms of the exam to be completed at each Credential level as they apply.

What happens if I submit my Credential application before the new ICF Credentialing Exam is launched, but by the time I am ready to take the exam, the updated ICF Credentialing Exam is available – do I take the current CKA or the new ICF Credentialing Exam? 

Answer: Applicants will take the exam that is in effect as of the submission date of their completed ICF Credential application. If the CKA is still in place when a candidate submits a Credential application, then the candidate will take the CKA, even if the updated ICF Credentialing Exam has been released by the time the candidate is ready to take the exam.

For example, if you submit your ACC-ACSTH application on July 15, 2022, the CKA will still be the exam in place. After your application has been reviewed and you are ready to take the exam, the new ICF Credentialing Exam may already be in place, but you will still take the CKA. 

July 27, 2022, at 11:59 p.m. EDT (New York) is the final deadline to submit ICF Credential applications under the current application pathways and assessments (Coach Knowledge Assessment and Performance Evaluation Standards for ACC, PCC and MCC). 

If I submit my application prior to July 27, 2022, and I fail my first attempt at the CKA, which exam will I take for my retake? 

Answer: The CKA Exam will be discontinued on January 31, 2023.  Anyone who is eligible to test or retake the CKA exam and wishes to take the CKA must do so prior to that deadline. On February 1, 2023, anyone who needs to pass the written exam for a credential will be required to complete the new ICF Credentialing Exam. 

If I am taking the current CKA Exam, will I need to take it in a proctored environment? 

Answer: No, you will take the CKA Exam as it is currently offered, through online, on-demand delivery. 

Do I need to take the updated ICF Credentialing Exam to be listed on the Mentor Coach Registry? 

Answer: If you are currently listed on the Mentor Coach Registry, you will not be required to complete the updated ICF Credentialing Exam.  

Those applying for listing on the Mentor Coach Registry who have not completed an ICF Credentialing exam (CKA or the new exam) will be required to complete an exam to be listed. Those applying for the Mentor Coach Registry prior to the release of the new ICF Credentialing Exam will be required to complete the CKA; those applying for a listing on the Mentor Coach Registry after the release of the new exam will be required to complete the new ICF Credentialing Exam. 

Will all languages be available immediately with the new ICF Credentialing Exam? 

Answer: ICF Credentials and Standards is working to develop translations of the new ICF Credentialing Exam based on current demands. Language aids for the updated Credentialing Exam will be added incrementally following the launch of the new exam. Learn More.

Will accommodations be available to support candidates with a disability or physical condition that may impact their ability to test?

Answer: Yes. ICF Credentials and Standards is committed to supporting all candidates in pursuing an ICF Credential, including those who may need assistance in accessing the ICF Credentialing Exam due to a disability or other health condition. ICF Credentials and Standards provides reasonable accommodations to candidates with disabilities as defined by the Americans with Disability Act 

Candidates with a chronic health condition that may require medication, or a medical device are permitted to bring pre-approved comfort items with them to the testing center. For these items, a special accommodation request is not required. For a complete list of pre-approved comfort items, please review the Pearson VUE Comfort Aid List.

For other types of accommodation, including extra time or a separate testing room, candidates will need to complete a Special Accommodations Request Form prior to scheduling an exam appointment, along with the documentation of related needs. Those requesting accommodations must provide documentation from an appropriate licensed professional and submit this documentation at the time of their accommodation request.  

Additional information and instructions on requesting exam accommodations will be provided prior to the launch of the ICF Credentialing Exam. Learn More.

If I want to take the exam in-person, how will I find a testing center where I can take the ICF Credentialing Exam? 

Answer: ICF Credentials and Standards is proud to partner with Pearson VUE for the delivery of the new ICF Credentialing Exam. Pearson VUE has a global network of more than 5,600 testing centers worldwide.   Once authorized for the exam, candidates will be able to easily search for testing centers located near them and can select up to three test centers to compare appointment availability. Candidates can also search for Pearson VUE test centers available for the ICF Credentialing Exam on the ICF Pearson VUE page. 

How do I take the new ICF Credentialing Exam online? 

Answer: In addition to delivery through the global network of Pearson VUE testing centers, the new ICF Credentialing Exam will also be available to candidates through Pearson’s OnVUE system. This system provides live, remote-proctored delivery of the exam. delivered on a secure platform. This remote proctoring provides the same high quality and security as an on-site test, all from the convenience of a candidate’s home or office. 

The Pearson OnVUE system makes it easy to take the ICF Credentialing Exam online. However, it is important to plan ahead to ensure a successful exam experience. Detailed information about testing with Pearson’s OnVUE service, including resources on how to prepare and what to expect on exam day, is available on the ICF OnVUE webpage here. A brief video on the OnVUE testing experience can be viewed Pearson VUE’s Vimeo page.  

Candidates will be required to provide a government-issued identification, along with photos of themselves and their testing environment on exam day.

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