FAQ - Exam Changes as of January 1, 2023

What is changing with The Conference’s exam program as of January 1, 2023?​

SBE/NBE Moving to NBE-Arts and NBE-Sciences

The Conference is simplifying its exam program by moving the SBE/NBE to the NBE-Arts and NBE-Sciences. The content of the exams won’t change and the cost to take the exam is the same.  As of January 1, 2023, candidates who were eligible for the SBE will sit for the NBE-Arts (funeral directing) or NBE-Sciences (embalming). The preparation for the exam will remain the same, as will the passing standard.

Updated Exam Blueprint

After a nation-wide job task analysis (JTA) survey of funeral service licensees, the NBE-Arts and NBE-Sciences blueprints will be updated January 1, 2023. The JTA survey is conducted periodically by The Conference under the guidance of testing and psychometric experts, and is used to determine the significance/importance of the various activities performed by practitioners across the country. This ensures the exam is testing current and relevant content necessary to serve the public as an entry-level practitioner. While the changes are minor, the exam study material will also be updated later this year to reflect the updated blueprint. For a detailed look at what is changing please click here.

Updated Score Reports

The Conference is excited to announce updates to the NBE score reports beginning January 1, 2023. While the passing score reports will remain the same, unsuccessful candidates will receive their failing scaled score. In addition, they will also receive a list of objective areas from the NBE content outline where one or more questions were answered incorrectly. This is to help candidates better understand their deficiencies as they prepare to retake the exam. Read more about the score report changes here.

Calculators on the NBE

The Conference will allow candidates to use basic calculators on the NBE. These calculators will be built into the exam software at the testing center and will be automatically available for use on both the NBE Arts and NBE Sciences. Read more about the calculator change here.

Why will the SBE no longer be offered?

In an effort to simplify the licensure exam process, The Conference is moving its exam program from SBE/NBE to NBE-Arts and NBE-Sciences only. The NBE and SBE are derived from the same content outline and exam question bank. The passing standard is the same for both exams as well. Meaning, the exams measure the same entry-level knowledge and have the same level of difficulty. Overall, this change is an effort to make the process more streamlined for candidates, as the NBE-Arts and NBE-Sciences are accepted as a component for licensure by all state licensing boards/agencies, though educational requirements vary.

How can I become eligible to take the NBE-Arts and/or the NBE-Sciences?

The eligibility process will remain the same as it is currently. If you attended a mortuary science education program, the eligibility will come from that school. If you did not attend a mortuary science education program, the eligibility will be submitted by your state licensing board. Please note that licensure requirements and exam eligibility processes vary by state, so it’s always best to check with the state board/agency in which you are seeking licensure.

What if I was previously eligible for the SBE?

Eligibilities for the SBE will transfer to NBE as of January 1, 2023. For example, if you were eligible for SBE-Arts, you will be eligible for NBE-Arts. 

Once I’m eligible to take the NBE-Arts or NBE-Sciences, how long am I eligible?

If your exam eligibility was submitted by a mortuary science school, your eligibility does not expire. If your exam eligibility was submitted by a state board, they may set an expiration depending on state licensing requirements. Please check with the state board/agency for clarification.

What happens if I apply for the SBE but don’t take it before January 1, 2023?

If you apply for the SBE but don’t take the exam before January 1, 2023, you will be automatically reprocessed by January 6, 2023, to take the corresponding NBE-Arts or NBE-Sciences section(s). You are also welcome to contact our office beforehand if you plan on taking the test after January 1st so that we can proactively reprocess your application for scheduling. This will allow you to schedule an exam date in advance of the change (for after January 1st). Keep in mind that exam applications/fees expire after one year from the date submitted.

What changes should I expect if I previously took the SBE?

The only changes you will notice is a simpler application process and the addition of 20 unscored pretest items on the exam. To account for the extra questions, you will also be given 20 extra minutes to complete the exam. Your exam will still have 150 questions that are scored, as your performance on the pretest questions do not count for or against you. The NBE and SBE are derived from the same exam blueprint and test questions, so the content and difficulty will not change. 

What if I previously passed the SBE?

Your results will be kept on file with The Conference indefinitely and will reflect what exam you took, and when you took it. For example, if you took the SBE-Arts in 2021, it will always be reflected as the SBE-Arts. If you take the NBE-Arts in 2023, it will be reflected as the NBE-Arts.

How many questions are on the exam?

The NBE-Arts and NBE-Sciences will each include 150 scored items, along with 20 pretest questions. These pretest questions are being tested for possible future exam use and will be mixed into the scored items. These questions do not count for or against your score. Knowing how they perform on an exam before they are scored is what allows us to provide immediate score reports following your exam.

Will there be changes to the study material?
While we will be updating the study material later this year to reflect the exam blueprint changes, the current study material will remain relevant as the updates in content are minimal. The Arts section of the study guide and the PNBE-Arts are to prepare for the NBE-Arts. The Sciences section of the study guide and the PNBE-Sciences are to prepare for the NBE-Sciences.
How often can I retake the NBE-Arts or NBE-Sciences?

The retake policy will continue to be 30 days between exam attempts for failing candidates. There are no limits on the number of times you can retake the exam. You may still reapply for the exam during that 30-day timeframe so that you can schedule your exam date in advance.

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