Candidate FAQs

The National Board made changes to provide flexibility for successfully completing your portfolio submissions, Renewal or Maintenance of Certification during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more on our Pursuing National Board Certification during COVID-19 page. Create a National Board account to learn the latest National Board candidate news.

Candidate Frequently Asked Questions


About Eligibility

Q:Who is Eligible for Board Certification?


Candidates must possess a bachelor’s degree, a valid state teaching license, and three years of classroom or school counselor experience prior to starting the certification process. (NOTE: Candidates for the Career and Technical Education certificate are required to hold a bachelor’s degree only if their state required one for their current license). Candidates completing the World Languages certificate must also provide American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) certificates of Advanced Low or higher from ACTFL speaking and writing proficiency assessments. Teachers are asked to verify their eligibility during registration and may be asked to provide proof of meeting these requirements. For more information, see the Guide to National Board Certification and the Eligibility Verification Forms and Instructions.

Q:How do I determine my years of employment? Does substitute and part-time teaching count toward the three-year requirement?


Part-time and long term substitute teaching do count toward the three-year employment requirement. To calculate your actual years of employment, please refer to the instructions located on page three of the Eligibility Verification Forms and Instructions.

Q:I haven’t received notification that I was selected for the eligibility audit; should I send in my eligibility verification forms now?


No. Only submit the Eligibility Verification Forms if it is specifically requested by the National Board.

Q:I teach overseas. Am I eligible to apply?


Yes. Go to the Candidate Resources section and review the Guide to National Board Certification, download the Eligibility Verification Forms to see if you meet the education, employment and licensure requirements. Please note that the computer-based assessment (Component 1) is only administered in the United States, some U.S. Territories and Puerto Rico.

About The Process

Q:In what areas is National Board Certification available?


National Board Certification is available in 25 areas structured around 16 different disciplines and six student developmental levels (early childhood, middle childhood, early and middle childhood, early adolescence, adolescence and young adulthood, early childhood through young adulthood). Candidates in six certificate areas also select a specific specialty area within their discipline.

Q:How do I choose a certificate area?


Go to Choosing the Right Certificate. This document helps candidates determine which of the 25 certificate areas are appropriate to apply for and what the assessment will include. In general, candidates who meet the education, employment, and licensure requirements can register for any certificate of their choosing. (You can choose to certify under a different certificate area than your current teaching license if you wish to do so.)

Q:How do I register and become an active candidate?


Take time to read all of the information presented in the Guide to National Board Certification, paying close attention to important dates, deadlines and policies. When ready, create an account in the National Board Candidate Management System (NBCMS) to register and purchase components. (Note: A $75 registration fee is required during each cycle year and must be paid before you will be permitted to purchase a component. Registrations that do not have at least one component purchased will be withdrawn after the registration deadline.)

Q:How do I select and purchase components?


Log in to your National Board account and click Browse under Certifications in the left-hand navigation menu to access available certification areas and components. Use the search bar to select your certificate area and view components available for purchase. To purchase a component, click the component name link and follow the onscreen prompts. You will be required to verify your contact information and sign attestations before submitting payment– you should only purchase the components you plan to complete during the current cycle and must purchase at least one component in order to remain active during the current cycle.

Q:I just completed the registration process, when can I expect materials and learn more about completing my components?


Assessment materials, including National Board Standards, Component Instructions, and Scoring Guide, are paperless and are available here. Candidates who are eligible and fully paid will receive emails throughout their candidacy about scheduling and testing the component-based assessment (Component 1 which is completed at a Pearson VUE testing center) and how to upload and submit the portfolio components (Components 2-4) electronically.

Q:What are important dates and timelines?


Registration for each assessment cycle typically begins in April each year and ends in February of the following year. This April-February window includes registration and component purchase deadlines. Component 1 testing and submission of Components 2-4 takes place in the Spring, after the registration window has ended. Scoring occurs in the summer, with scores being released no later than December. See the Important Dates and Deadlines section in the Guide to National Board Certification for specific details related to the most current candidate cycle.

Q:Can I take a year off?


Yes. Candidates can have a year during which they don’t take or retake any components as long as they attempt each of the four components within the first three years of their candidacy and complete the entire process within the required five-year window. Note: Although you have a five year window to complete the certification process, you are expected to complete all components you purchase during the assessment cycle in which the component is purchased.

About Scores and Retakes

Q:What scores do I need to achieve National Board Certification?



  1. You must earn a minimum unweighted average score of 1.75 on Component 1 (i.e., the assessment center section). The minimum score requirement on this section is based on unweighted rubric scores, not weighted scores.
  2. You must earn a minimum unweighted average score of 1.75 on Components 2 through 4 (i.e., the portfolio section). The minimum score requirement on this section is based on unweighted rubric scores, not weighted scores.
  3. You must earn a total weighted score of at least 110.

The National Board’s assessors use a rubric score scale based on four primary levels of performance (Levels 4, 3, 2, and 1), with plus (+) and minus (–) variations at each level. Scores in Level 4 and Level 3 represent accomplished teaching practice.  A score of 2.75 is the lowest rubric score in the range of clear evidence of accomplished teaching practice. Scores in Level 2 and Level 1 represent not yet accomplished teaching practice. More information about rubric scores can be found in the component instructions and Scoring Guide: Understanding Your Scores.

The component scores will be weighted as follows:

  • The assessment center section (Component 1: Content Knowledge) makes up 40% of your total weighted score:
    • The weight of the three constructed response items is 50% of the assessment center section (each constructed response item is weighted 6.67% of the total weighted score).
    • The selected response part is 50% of the assessment center section (the section is weighted 20% of the total weighted score).
  • The portfolio section (Components 2, 3, and 4 combined) makes up 60% of your total weighted score:
    • Component 2: Differentiation in Instruction weight is 25% of the portfolio section total (15% of the total weighted score)
    • Component 3: Teaching Practice and Learning Environment weight is 50% of the portfolio section total (30% of the total weighted score)
    • Component 4: Effective and Reflective Practitioner weight is 25% of the portfolio section total (15% of the total weighted score)

For more details, see the Scoring Guide: Understanding Your Scores.

Q:What scores should I aim for in order to achieve National Board Certification?


Take a look at the 4-level scoring rubric in the Scoring Guide to understand what your unweighted scores mean. There are four score levels, and levels 3 and 4 represent accomplished teaching practice. A score of 2.75 or higher on each component or part of Component 1 will mean you demonstrated at least clear evidence of accomplished teaching, and you are in an excellent position to earn National Board Certification.

While you should aim to earn a 2.75 on each component and each part of Component 1, you could, in theory, earn a 2.63 on each component and each part of Component 1 and earn a total score of 110 and thus achieve National Board Certification. See “A Note About Scores and Weights” in the Scoring Guide.

Q:Where can I find more information about scoring of the assessment?

Q:When are scores and certification decisions released?


National Board releases scores and certification decisions no later than December 31 each year. See the Scoring Guide: Understanding Your Scores for a sample score report.

Q:Can I retake a component?


Yes. Candidates can retake each component up to two times. Retakes can happen at any time during the five-year window. The highest numeric score received on each component will be used for the total score calculation. For information on retakes and preparing for the next assessment cycle, see the Scoring Guide: Understanding Your Scores and General Portfolio Instructions.

Q:How do I know if I should retake a component?


When scores are released, candidates receive results for each component attempted. Candidates should refer to information in the Scoring Guide: Understanding Your Scores to assist them in making decisions about whether or not to retake. Candidates will have up to two opportunities to retake a component after an initial attempt. Candidates may simultaneously register to initially attempt one component and also retake other component(s). Note: Component 1: Content Knowledge consists of four individual parts which a candidate may or may not elect to retake.

For additional information on retaking components refer to the Scoring Guide: Understanding Your Scores and the General Portfolio Instructions.

Q:What is the overall National Board certification rate?


Of all teachers receiving a certification decision since 2017, the year the National Board revised its assessment, 70% earned the National Board Certified Teacher designation. The cumulative certification rate includes teachers who received a certification decision after receiving scores on all four of the assessment’s components. Learn more.

About Cost and Payment

Q:How much does it cost to become National Board Certified?


How much does it cost to become National Board Certified?
A: There is a $75 nonrefundable and nontransferable registration fee that must be paid during each assessment cycle before you can select a component plus a $475 fee for the initial attempt of each of the four required components. Components can be purchased and paid for separately, at any time prior to the registration deadline for each assessment cycle. Purchase only the components you plan to complete during the assessment cycle for which you are registered.

Q:I registered as a candidate in a previous cycle; do I have to pay the registration fee again to select a new component?


Yes. The $75 nonrefundable and nontransferable registration fee is charged once per assessment cycle and is required for each cycle in which you purchase and complete a component.

Q:What supports are available to help defray costs?


Some states and districts provide financial support to teachers who want to earn their National Board Certification. There are some state, and/or local funds available to support National Board Certification fees. In addition, states and districts offer salary increases, bonuses or other incentives to educators who become NBCTs.  Before you register, contact your state or local program administrator for information about fees and incentives available in your state, as well as for any special application requirements that may apply. Find out your state information.

Q: I am receiving third-party funding, how do I select a component without paying?


Log in to your National Board account and click “Purchase Component” from the left-hand navigation menu – you should only purchase the components you plan to complete during the current cycle. If you are expecting payment from a third party, you must complete the component purchase process through Step 3: Order Review and click the “Submit Order” button for the component(s) to be reflected on your account and to receive payment. Candidates should allow up to 10 business days for payments to post to their accounts after selecting a component and receiving payment.

Q:How do I apply for a scholarship?


Through the generosity of corporate and foundation partners, National Board is periodically able to offer a limited number of scholarships to help offset a portion of the fees for National Board Certification. Scholarships are allocated under the guidelines set by the donors. If you have selected a component and you meet the guidelines for receiving any remaining scholarship funds, you will be notified via email with required next steps. Please note that funding is limited and you should not rely on a scholarship to cover your component fees.

About Candidate Support

Q:What if I need additional help?


The Guide to National Board Certification is the best and most detailed resource for prospective candidates to learn more about the certification process. Our Customer Support team is also available to answer questions and assist with the registration process. In addition, candidate support is provided by networks of NBCTs in many locations across the country. Learn more about NBCT Networks.