ICF Coach Credentialing Exam

3 Tips for Passing the ICF Coach Credentialing Exam

Passing the ICF Coach Credentialing Exam is required to earn your ICF coaching credential. It can be a difficult exam to pass. Statistics provided by the ICF indicate that only 73% of candidates succeed on their first attempt. However, iNLP Center’s students have an 84% first-attempt success rate and a 90% success rate at their second attempt.

Because of this, we’d like to share a few tips for passing the ICF Coach Credentialing Exam. 

From the ICF website… The ICF Credentialing Exam is designed to measure a coach’s knowledge of and ability to apply the ICF definition of coaching, the updated ICF Core Competencies, and the ICF Code of Ethics against a predetermined standard.

This statement provides considerable insight into the Coach Credentialing Exam. It is not about your opinion or view regarding coaching situations. Instead, it tests your ability to interpret the scenario and reflect the best practice aligned with the ICF Competencies and Code of Ethics.

The exam comprises 81 ‘situational judgment test’ (SJT) items. For each scenario, you must choose the Best and Worst answer from the four choices provided, not the right or wrong answer. An SJT is considered a more effective tool for measuring coach capabilities as it requires the candidate to understand the meaning of the competencies, as well as how to apply them in their coaching. This examination is not just a test of knowledge! Take note, the new competencies all start with a verb: the coach doing.

ICF Exam Tip #1

One of the biggest challenges in taking the 3-hour ICF Coach Credentialing Exam is managing yourself. The very thought of taking the exam can send shivers through the most adept individuals, and for some of you, it will have been a long time since you put yourself through such a process. So, tip number 1: 

Work on a resourceful exam state. Prepare yourself both physically and mentally.

It is essential to accept that the ICF is not being mean-spirited and deliberately trying to fail you and delay your coaching career. It is a genuine attempt to have you demonstrate your 100 or 500 hours of coaching experience.

ICF Exam Tip #2

The ICF Credentialing Exam is composed of three topics:

  • The ICF definition of coaching
  • The ICF Core Competencies
  • The ICF Code of Ethics

You can help yourself to pass the exam by reviewing your coach training. Be sure to pay attention to the application of the content you completed, not just the knowledge contained therein.

To prepare for the exam, review the documents above and compare the statements in the Core Competencies with the PCC Markers. The PCC Markers are observations of coaching behavior and may provide insights into the practices mentioned in the Core Competencies.

ICF Exam Tip #3

The ICF Coach Credentialing Exam requires determining the best and worst answer for a coaching scenario. To help you find the BEST answer, think about which answer partners with the client the most. Such as:

  • Client-centred rather than the coach’s opinion.
  • Inviting and acknowledging.
  • Empowering the client to choose and be in control.
  • Being transparent and responsive to the client.

To find the WORST answer, think about which answer is most coach-focused (as opposed to client-focused) and misaligned with the Core Competencies. Such as:

  • Coach controlling the session (advising, directing, choosing).
  • Coach judging the client (parent/child, dismissing, not supporting).
  • Coach showing a lack of trust in the client (telling, choosing).
  • Coach is more concerned with the coaching process than being present and responsive to the client.

The WORST answer is usually the answer in which the coach makes the choices, judges the client, does not provide acknowledgment of the client, leads/forces the coaching process, or ignores the needs of the client.

Don’t fear the ICF Coach Credentialing Exam

Embrace the challenge and work consistently to integrate the best practice model demonstrated in the competencies and your Life Coach Training program. No single source will provide you with a guaranteed pass. You must incorporate the teachings into your practice and seek continuous improvement in everything you do.

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