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Certification Examination Performance Information

Passing the ABGC Certification Examination indicates that a genetic counselor has attained a recognized professional benchmark of quality and expertise. Genetic counselors who achieve this benchmark are awarded a Certified Genetic Counselor (CGC©) credential. 

ABGC uses a criterion-referenced methodology in scoring the certification examination. With this type of scoring methodology, there is no “curve,” and candidates do not compete against one another. Instead, candidate performance is compared to the criterion of acceptable practice of a minimally competent practicing genetic counselor. In constructing criterion-referenced examinations, the score that is most important is the passing score, that is, the minimum score needed to pass the examination. The Angoff method is used to set the level of performance required to pass the examination.  A statistical process called equating is used to adjust for the slight variations in difficulty that can occur among multiple test forms (versions of the examination). These steps help ensure that all candidates are held to the same standard.  Careful adherence to this process yields a rationally determined passing score that can be used with confidence to make pass/fail decisions on the basis of candidates’ scores. 

With criterion-referenced scoring, it is theoretically possible for all examinees to pass the examination or for all examinees to fail the examination.  Since candidates are compared to the criterion of minimally competent practice, there is no minimum percentage of examinees that must fail the examination.  This can be seen in the variability of pass/fail rates from year to year.  Each examination form contains 170 scored items and 30 pre-test items. Pre-test items do not contribute to candidates’ scores, but information is collected on how well these items perform. This information will be used in the statistical analysis of future examinations. 

The ABGC certification examination development process and scoring determination rely on psychometric principles that ensure all candidates are treated fairly and that all pass/fail decisions are valid. This detailed process provides distinction and value to genetic counselors in the field, ensures that passing candidates have the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for competent practice, and provides protection to the public from incompetent practitioners. Additional information about this process is available on the ABGC website.

Provided below is some recent Certified Genetic Counselor (CGC)© Examination performance data. This information is also presented annually at the ABGC Business Meeting at the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) Annual Education Conference. For more information on the certification exam itself, please visit the Certification page on the ABGC website.


ABGC Certification Examination:  2010-2015


ABGC Certification Examinees:  2010-2015