About the NABNE and NPLEX Organizations
How are NABNE and NPLEX associated?
See About Us.
What are the mandates and terms of reference for NABNE and NPLEX?
The purpose of NABNE is to determine the eligibility of applicants to take the NPLEX Examinations, to administer the examinations to examinees, and to send exam results and transcripts to regulatory authorities. The institutions that regulate naturopathic medicine grant authority to NABNE to be the examining body for the naturopathic profession through their agreement to use the results of the NPLEX Examinations in their determination of the candidate’s eligibility for licensure (U.S.) or registration (Canada).
The purpose of NPLEX is to provide excellent board examinations that are reliable and will provide a valid assessment of a candidate’s readiness to be a safe practitioner. NPLEX follows the testing standards set forth in the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (compiled by the American Educational Research Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Council on Measurement in Education). These are the standards endorsed by the Council on Licensure, Enforcement, and Regulation (CLEAR – a North American organization, of which NABNE/NPLEX is a member).
At the current time, all of the 18 states (plus Washington, DC and Puerto Rico) and 5 provinces that regulate the naturopathic profession recognize NABNE as the examining body and NPLEX as the examination that will ensure that physicians who are licensed meet minimal competency standards. NABNE and NPLEX have been endorsed as the standard for the profession by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME), the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND), and the nine naturopathic medical programs recognized by the CNME.
How is NABNE structured?
NABNE’s structure is very similar to that of the National Board of Medical Examiners, although names for the various parts of the NABNE body differ. The five-member NABNE Board currently has two members from Canada, and three from the U.S., with graduates of Bastyr University (BU), National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM), Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM), and Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (SCNM). However, this distribution is coincidental, as the Board is not required to be representative.
The Advisory Council is the representative body. NABNE invites every constituency to appoint a member to attend the annual Advisory Council meetings. The constituencies include all the states and provinces that have laws regulating the profession, nine currently approved naturopathic programs, the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME), the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), and the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND). NABNE sends out information prior to the meetings and it is up to the constituency to provide written input before the meeting if the jurisdiction/school/organization cannot send a representative.
How are members of the NABNE Board elected?
The Board has been selected on the basis of expertise in some area of board examination or licensure, and willingness to serve. The majority of Board Directors are appointed by NPLEX. For the other members, nominations are solicited from the Advisory Council. If no names are forthcoming, the Board looks to people who have met the qualifications for the type of director being sought. An applicant to the NABNE Board of Directors submits a resume of professional experience along with a list of two or three references. An ad-hoc committee of two or three NABNE Board members interviews the nominee and the references, by phone or in person. The committee then recommends to the Board whether the nominee should be approved or rejected. A majority of members voting to approve the nominee constitutes appointment of a new NABNE Director. Members who are approved reveal all professional commitments and recuse themselves from votes in which there may be a conflict of interest.
How are NPLEX Board and exam chairs selected?
The five-member NPLEX Board of Directors is responsible for the operations of the organization and is elected from the 16-member NPLEX Council of Exam Chairs (NCEC). The 16 members of the NCEC, in conjunction with the NPLEX Director of Exam Development and two Exam Development Specialists, are responsible for the exam development process. When a position on the NPLEX Council of Exam Chairs (NCEC) is open, NPLEX first considers the people who have written items for an examination and who have served as volunteers on one of the committees (Local Exam Committee, Cut Score Committee). Applicants must meet the qualifications for the position (i.e., hold an appropriate degree in a biomedical science field, or notable knowledge in the content area of the specific examination). If no one is identified, NPLEX widens its search and takes suggestions from current NCEC members. The Board has never had to look further than the current NPLEX volunteer base or recommendations from NCEC members. However, if in the future an exam chairmanship was open for which there were no nominations from these two resources, NPLEX would advertise the (volunteer) opening with the AANP and CNA.
Once a person has been nominated for the position, s/he is asked to serve as chair for the next examination. If the nominee completes this task in a timely and competent manner, s/he is interviewed by the NPLEX nominating committee. Two or three references are contacted. If the nominee meets the criteria, the next step is attendance at an NCEC meeting where s/he meets all the NCEC members, and both the NCEC and nominee determine if it is a good fit. The NCEC then votes whether or not to approve the person. NCEC members are evaluated every few years to ensure continuing performance as an exam chair.
NCEC members have been chosen based primarily on their expertise in the exam area and their willingness to volunteer the significant number of hours required. In its selection process, the Council does, however, also look at a number of other factors:
- College affiliaton, if the exam chair is not an N.D.
- Naturopathic program attended, if the exam chair is an N.D.
- Licensing jurisdiction
About the NPLEX Examinations
What does an NPLEX Examination look like?
See Examination Overview.
Who writes the items (questions) on NPLEX Examinations?
NPLEX has more than 100 item writers who have been trained in item writing techniques.
- Biomedical science faculty and qualified naturopathic physicians write items for the NPLEX Part I – Biomedical Science Examination.
- Licensed, practicing naturopathic physicians write items for the NPLEX Part II – Clinical Science Examinations.
Are items (questions) reviewed by anyone else before they go into the examinations?
Every item is reviewed by a minimum of nine naturopathic physicians to ensure that each item is appropriate and valid. All items are referenced from standard sources.
How does NPLEX ensure that the exams are fair and valid?
Since 1990, NPLEX has focused on developing procedures to ensure that national testing standards are followed. NPLEX follows AERA/APA/NCME standards for test development and administration. Extensive analyses of exam performance and passing scores have led to refinement of systems. NPLEX has completed two criterion-related validity studies of the Part II – Clinical Science and Clinical Elective Examinations and has redone the original job analysis three times.
Who is eligible to take the NPLEX Examinations?
Why are students or graduates from only certain naturopathic medical programs eligible?
To be an approved naturopathic medical program, the school must:
- Provide two years of graduate level biomedical science coursework as a foundation for clinical training.
- Meet standard requirements for appropriate curriculum and clinical experience.
- Give students a thorough knowledge of diagnostic techniques that can only be acquired through contact with actual patients.
- Require supervised clinical practice on patients seeking naturopathic care.
- Have been accredited or pre-accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME).
Which naturopathic medical programs are approved?
About the Application Process
Where can I get a Bulletin of Information?
How much does it cost to take the NPLEX?
How do I apply to take the NPLEX?
See Application Process.
Am I required to request a Part I transcript at the time I apply to take the Part II – Clinical Science Examinations?
Can I be assured that the information I give to NABNE with my application is kept confidential?
Does NABNE require transcripts from my naturopathic college or undergraduate college?
NABNE does not require transcripts from your undergraduate college or from your naturopathic college.
NABNE does require a letter verifying that you have completed all academic requirements appropriate to the examination(s) you are applying to take. You must request that the registrar from your naturopathic program, who will know the appropriate format for your letter of verification, send it directly to NABNE.
When will I know if I have been approved to take the examination(s)?
Can I postpone my examination(s) until the next administration?
When can I print my Registration Ticket?
How do I submit a change of address?
See Address Change Form.
How do I report a name change?
See Name Change Form.
About Preparation to take the NPLEX
How should I study for the examinations?
The first step in preparing to take the examination(s) is to review the official NPLEX Part I – Biomedical Science Examination: Blueprint & Study Guide or NPLEX Part II – Clinical Science Examination: Blueprint & Study Guide. All exam items are multiple-choice with one correct answer and three distractors; however, the way the questions are asked may take any of several forms.
As part of your NPLEX application, you will receive a free download of NPLEX Blueprint and Study Guide pertaining to the examination(s) you are registering to take. The Study Guide you download will be provided as a PDF file. However, the Study Guide is copyrighted and may not be distributed. If you do not have Adobe Reader on your computer you may download it here.
If you are not applying to take the NPLEX Examination(s), you may submit your request and payment online to obtain a PDF of the Study Guide for either the Part I – Biomedical Science Examination or for the NPLEX Part II – Clinical Science Examinations.
Both the NPLEX Part I or Part II Blueprint and Study Guides are updated each year with information pertaining to both the August and subsequent February NPLEX exam administrations (e.g., August 2016 and February 2017) and may be ordered on or after May 1st. A Study Guide ordered prior to May 1st of each year will contain information relevant to the previous two NPLEX exam administrations (e.g., August 2015 and February 2016).
Study guides produced by individuals or organizations not affiliated with NPLEX can be useful in preparing to take the examination(s); however, NPLEX cannot warrant that the information contained in these materials is representative of the content of the NPLEX Examinations.
Are there any practice examinations I can take?
NPLEX does not publish complete practice examinations. The NPLEX Blueprint and Study Guide has a few examples of the types of items you may encounter on an examination. NPLEX recommends that you read through the sample items to get a complete picture of the item formats. Some non-NPLEX preparation courses do provide practice examinations; however, those examinations are not developed by NPLEX, and NPLEX cannot guarantee that they reflect the content of, or adequately prepare you to take, the examination(s).
About the NPLEX Exam Administration
When are the NPLEX Examinations administered?
See Exam Schedules.
Where will the NPLEX Examinations be administered?
See Test Sites.
What do I need to know about the exam administration?
Will I have enough time to answer all of the questions?
The testing period is designed to give you enough time to answer all of the questions. It is rare for NPLEX to receive an answer sheet that has not been completed. At various intervals during the testing period, the proctor will announce the remaining time you have to complete the examination, so that you can pace yourself accordingly. Because the penalty for an unanswered item is the same as that for an incorrect response, it is wise to mark your best guess on a difficult item and return to it later if time allows. It is important to answer all questions and mark them on your answer sheet in the time allotted.
What if I think there is problem with a question?
After each exam administration, NPLEX does a careful analysis to ensure the validity of every item. If there is a problem with an item, the item will be reviewed before scores are finalized. In the past, NABNE allowed examinees to comment on individual items during the testing period, but research performed over the course of several exam administrations showed that items that were potentially problematic had been identified by statistical item analysis. Therefore, the comments offered no new information. Exam results reflect any changes (e.g., giving credit for more than one correct answer) that are made in the post-test analysis process.
About the Scoring Process
What happens after the exam administration?
About Exam Results
What will the report of my exam results be like?
Can I have my answer sheet manually scored?
See Manual Scoring.
Can I appeal to have my scores changed if I fail any examinations?
See Issues and Appeals.
Can I find out how students/graduates from each of the approved naturopathic medical programs performed?
NPLEX does not release these statistics. Contact the individual Approved Naturopathic Medical Programs.
About the Score Reports and Transcripts
What is the difference between a score report and a transcript?
- A score report contains the exam results from a single NPLEX exam administration (e.g., only the scores from NPLEX Examinations you took in August 2016).
- A transcript contains the exam results from every NPLEX Examination you have ever taken.
How do I order Transcripts?
Is there a limit to the number of times I can take an examination?
There is not a limit to the number of times you can take an NPLEX Examination. However, you may be required to fulfill additional requirements in order to be eligible to take or retake the examination(s) if you:
- Graduated from an Approved Naturopathic Medical Program more than five (5) years ago.
- Have not taken and passed the NPLEX Part II – Core Clinical Science Examination within ten (10) years of passing the NPLEX Part I – Basic Science or Biomedical Science Examination(s).
If either of these circumstances apply to you, contact NABNE regarding additional eligibility requirements.
Is NABNE a licensing Board?
- NABNE is not a licensing Board. Passing the NPLEX Examinations does not guarantee that you will be eligible for licensure in a jurisdiction.
- NABNE is an examining Board.
- Each regulatory authority has its own unique requirements for licensure and may require that you take additional (non-NPLEX) examinations.
- NABNE is NOT involved in the preparation, coordination, scheduling, or administration of these examinations.
If I pass the NPLEX, can I be licensed in every jurisdiction?
Jurisdictional requirements take precedence over NABNE policies regarding:
- Waiver of the NPLEX Part I examination requirement (e.g., whether or not the regulatory authority will accept non-NPLEX Part I scores, etc.)
- Other (e.g., the number of times an examination may be retaken, etc.)
Check with the regulatory authority in the jurisdiction in which you plan to practice to determine their requirements.
Which states and provinces have licensing laws?
How do I find out which NPLEX Examinations each regulatory authority requires?
How can I contact state and provincial licensing/regulatory authorities?
Is it illegal to practice as a naturopath in an unlicensed state if I have not graduated from a four-year, in residence approved naturopathic medical program and have not passed the NPLEX?
Diagnosis of diseases/conditions by unlicensed naturopaths is illegal in most states. Although you may be able to prescribe botanical substances, if you cannot diagnose, the treatment may or may not be appropriate. Furthermore, if at some point an unlicensed state or province does pass a naturopathic licensing law, you may no longer be allowed to practice as a naturopath if you are not licensed.