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Basic Certification Exams

ABO-NCLE is very excited to announce that it is now able to offer the National Opticianry Competency and the Contact Lens Registry Exams four times per year.

To earn your basic certification, you need to achieve a passing score on an examination. Each exam consists of questions on the skills and knowledge required for competency in ophthalmic dispensing. The National Opticianry Competency Examination (NOCE) is spectacle related and the Contact Lens Registry Examination (CLRE) is for certification in contact lens dispensing.

Both the NOCE and the CLRE exams are psychometrically developed by impartial Subject Matter Experts within the field of Opticianry and Contact Lens Fitting. After test specifications are created (based on the Job Analysis), the exams are written by groups of impartial Certified Opticians and Contact Lens Fitters.  The questions are then reviewed by the testing service specialists for proper testing principles and rules of grammar and style. Questions are created to test a candidate's ability to recall knowledge and to apply that knowledge to specific dispensing functions.

From administration to administration, the passing percentages for both the ABO and the NCLE exams change. For 2013, 3,470 individuals completed the ABO examination with a 62.5% pass rate; 1,266 individuals completed the NCLE examination with a 53.5% pass rate.  As of December 31, 2013, there are 29,585 ABO Certified Opticians and 10,557 NCLE Certified Contact Lens Technicians.​

The information online clearly states that if a candidate fails an examination, he or she is precluded from registering for the next regularly-scheduled exam administration period. (e.g., May examinees cannot retake the exam until the following November administration) The registration procedure will actually prevent anyone from registering for the next exam administration period if they are not eligible.

The examination schedule for the year 2018:

February 1-15, 2018 
Regular registration will open on July 15, 2017; Regular registration ends on January 8, 2018
Late registration ends January 15, 2018

May 1-15, 2018
Regular registration will open on January 16, 2018; Regular registration ends on April 1, 2018
Late registration ends April 15, 2018

August 1-15, 2018
Registration opens April 16, 2018; Regular registration ends on July 1, 2018
Late registration ends July 15, 2018

November 1-15, 2018
Registration opens July 16, 2018; Regular registration ends on October 1, 2018
Late registration ends October 15, 2018


Exams are given in English and Spanish, via computer and each exam is 2 hours long. You must be at least 18 years old, and a high school graduate or have earned a GED or the equivalent in order to take the exams. ABO-NCLE reserves the right to require that you produce proof of eligibility at any time.


Everyone who is at least 18 years of age and has a high school diploma or GED is eligible to sit for the exams. (In states with conflicting regulations, the state licensing board regulations are followed.) While no experience is required, candidates with two to three years hands-on experience or completion of an optical school program are more successful in passing the exams.

Candidates always have questions on what they will be asked on the exam. For the spectacle-related exam the content areas are: analyzing and interpreting prescriptions; fitting and dispensing spectacles and other ophthalmic devices; and the use of standard ophthalmic equipment.

For the contact lens dispensing exam, the content areas consist of: prefit, preparation and evaluation; diagnostic fit and evaluation; lens dispensing, patient education and delivery procedures; follow-up visits with patient/customer; and administrative issues.

After you pass your exam, you will receive an attractive, professionally lettered certificate to display to the public as a symbol of your competence. Your certification must be renewed every three years through completion of continuing education requirements and payment of a modest renewal fee. Along with your certificate, you will receive information on these requirements and on ways to help you fulfill them. Carefully choosing this continued education to fit your particular needs is the way to continued competence.

**If you are applying for an ABO and/or NCLE Examination as part of a Licensing State requirement, please verify the appropriate steps with your state licensing board before registering for any specific examination.  Each state has its own specific requirements, and failure to abide by those requirements may result in denial of credit for the examination, or other consequences, depending upon any licensing state’s regulations and requirements.

Downloadable Documents

To download a copy of the Basic Examination Handbooks, please click HERE. (Handbook is currently under construction.)

To download a copy of our Disability Accommodation Form, please click HERE.

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