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The National Psychology Exam: A summary of the Candidate Manual

Updated: Feb 18

Preparing for the National Psychology Exam is a crucial step for provisional psychologists in Australia. This blog post provides a detailed overview of the exam, drawing from the official National Psychology Exam Candidate Manual from AHPRA. We'll cover the key aspects including the exam format, identification requirements, testing environment, and post-exam procedures.

Understanding the National Psychology Exam

Overview of the National Psychology Exam:

  • Developed by the Psychology Board of Australia in line with the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.

  • Supports the Board’s General registration standard for becoming a psychologist.

  • Focuses on eight core competencies provisional psychologists are expected to meet for general registration as a psychologist in Australia. The eight core competencies are across four domains: ethics, assessment, intervention, and communication.

  • The questions are based on case studies and professional issues.

  • The candidate manual Includes additional resources like orientation documents, and the recommended reading list. These can all be found on AHPRA's website. Prior to sitting the exam, AHPRA will allow you to sit a practice exam containing 20 questions.

  • The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions.

  • The exam tests application of psychological knowledge to practice and the questions have been developed by senior practitioners.

  • There is no negative marking; all questions have equal value. However the percentage of questions will comprise of: 30% from the assessment domain; 30% from the interventin domain; 30% from the ethics domain; 10% from the communication domain.

  • The duration of the National Psychology Exam is 3.5 hours. If you have a disability or an impairment that may impact your ability to complete the examination in this timeframe, you can apply for special consideration. This must be done directly through AHPRA prior to registering for the exam.

  • Pass grade is a scaled score of 70%.

  • Strategies to prepare include creating your own comprehensive study plans, reviewing the National Psychology Exam curriculum and reading list.

  • While taking a preparation course is not mandatory, it can save you time, money, and stress in trying to figure out how to structure your study independently. I have a comprehensive National Psychology Exam Preparation course designed for provisional psychologists. It covers the entire curriculum with over 41 hours of content you can log as professional development. It is accessible via desktop or my app so you can learn on the go. Check it out here.

  • Special accommodations are available for candidates with documented conditions. There is also special consideration for candidates unable to sit or complete the exam due to exceptional circumstances. Requests for special accommodations or considerations must be made in advance with relevant documentation.

Registering for the National Psychology Exam

  • Registration involves creating an account on the exam portal and selecting a testing center.

  • Exams are scheduled four times a year in various locations across Australia. You can also elect to sit it online (remotely).

  • Fees are currently $450 to sit the National Psychology Exam. You will need to pay this for each attempt.

  • Payment can be made via credit card through the exam portal.

  • Refunds are available if cancellation occurs 72 hours before the exam. 2024 schedule of dates for the National Psychology Exam are below:

  1. Monday 29 Jan - Friday 16 Feb [Exam registration period: Monday 4 Dec – Friday 12 Jan]

  2. Monday 29 April - Friday 17 May [Exam registration period: Mon 4 Mar – Fri 12 Apr]

  3. Monday 29 July - Friday 16 Aug [Exam registration period: Mon 3 Jun – Fri 12 Jul]

  4. Monday 28 Oct - Friday 22 Nov [Exam registration period: Mon 2 Sep –Fri 11 Oct]

The day of the National Psychology Exam

  • Provisional psychologists must bring specific documents to the test centre-

  • Identification: Candidates must present a printed email confirmation with their exam authorisation code and two forms of formal identification, one being a photo ID.

  • Arrival Time: It's recommended to arrive 15-20 minutes before the scheduled exam time for check-in and security processes.

  • Security Measures: Candidates undergo several security checks, including pocket inspections and eyewear examination, to ensure no prohibited items are brought into the exam.

  • Confidentiality Agreement: Candidates must agree to keep the exam content confidential, adhering to strict guidelines.

During the National Psychology Exam

  • Testing Environment: The exam is conducted in a highly controlled environment with strict rules and supervision.

  • Professional Conduct: Candidates are expected to adhere to ethical and professional conduct standards. Breaches may lead to exclusion from the exam or further disciplinary action.

Post-Exam Procedures

  • Receiving Results: Results are emailed within four weeks of the the last day of the exam that sitting period, indicating a pass or fail status without detailed feedback.

  • In Case of Failure: Candidates who fail can re-sit the exam after a further three-month period of supervised practice. Specific procedures apply to those failing three times.

  • Review Process: There is no review based on exam content, but candidates can request a review for exam process deficiencies or administrative errors.

Additional Information about the National Psychology Exam

  • Guidelines and Resources: The Psychology Board of Australia provides guidelines and resources for exam preparation.

  • Contact Information: All queries should be directed to the National Exams Coordinator.

This exam is a significant step in the journey to becoming a registered psychologist in Australia. Understanding its format, requirements, and procedures is key to effective preparation and success. For more detailed information, candidates should refer to the official National Psychology Exam Candidate Manual. If you are looking for assistance in preapring you, check out my comprehensive National Psychology Exam Preparation course for provisional psychologists.

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