Alcohol and Drug Counselor Exam

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The Alcohol and Drug Counselor Exam is monitored by the IC&RC body, created in 1981, responsible for ensuring professionals are well-trained to treat alcohol and drug problems of clients. The exam is updated every five years through a peer review method of existing Alcohol and Drug counselors in the United States. [1]

Function of the Test

ADC Study Guide

The purpose of the Alcohol and Drug Counselor exam is to test qualified candidates to become Alcohol and Drug Counselors in the United States and 23 other countries around the world. Candidates typically have at least a high school education, however many candidates have an Associates, Bachelors, or Masters degree. [2]


Typically, Alcohol and Drug Counselors must have at least 6000 hours of supervised work experience in the related field. Candidates with an Associate’s degree in behavioral science only require 5000 hours. Candidates with a Bachelors degree require only 4000 hours. Candidate with a Masters degree require only 2000 hours. [3]

  • Further, candidates must have 270 hours specific to Alcohol and Drug Counseling with 6 of those hours in counselor ethics.
  • A candidate must also have 300 hours specific to domains in Alcohol and Drug Counseling, including the 12 core functions and TAP 21 Competencies with a minimum of ten hours for each core area.
  • Candidates must sign a code of ethics before taking the exam.
  • In order to be recertified as an Alcohol and Drug Counselor, one must take 40 hours of continuing education on a two year basis.

Test Administration

ADC Flashcards

The Alcohol and Drug Counselor test is administered through paper and pencil as well as Computer Based Testing. Both a government ID and Candidate Admission letter are required in order to test. For those with disabilities, a request for accommodation must be mailed before the candidate begins examination. If the candidate is disabled due to a medical or physical condition, he or she should provide evidence of visitation with a doctor no more than three months before beginning the test. If he or she has a psychiatric or psychological condition, documentation under APA guidelines from within the past three years must be submitted. IC&RC Member Boards' information can be found on their website. [4]

Pencil and Paper Exam

For the pencil and paper exam, testing is offered four times a year in the months of March, June, September, and December. In general, however candidates should contact their IC&RC Member Board for the exact date of the exam as well as location, time and registration information.

Computer Based Testing

For the Computer Based Testing, candidates may take the test on an on-demand basis given if the exam is available at the IQT Testing Center of choice. Candidates must be pre-registered with their IC&RC Member Board after meeting the eligibility requirements and after that process they receive an email on where the exam takes place, the exam date, and the exam location.

Rescheduling of the Exam

For the Paper and Pencil Exams, candidates should contact their IC&RC board as soon as possible in order to reschedule before the administration window closes. Administration windows change often, so the candidate should plan retesting as far in advance in possible. If he or she is able to take the test at another day during that window, he or she will have to take the test during the next upcoming window. For Computer Based Exams, cancellation or rescheduling is only possible at least 5 days or more before the scheduled exam date. The candidate can reschedule the test online through IQT Testing.[5] However, this requires a rescheduling fee. If a candidate has a severe emergency, he or she may reschedule at any time, provided he or she has proper documentation of the emergency. [2]

Test Format

Sections of the ADC Test[6]
ADC Test Subject Areas Percentage
Clinical Evaluation 16%
Treatment Planning 13%
Referral 7%
Service Coordination 7%
Counseling 22%
Client, Family, and Community Education 10%
Documentation 11%
Professional and Ethical Responsibilities 14%
Total Questions 150

Test Environment

The ADC Test allows two options: Paper and Pencil, or Computer testing. Both of these testing options are not provided in every area, so cadidates need to check their specific testing area for options. For admission, test takers need to bring a form of valid, photo ID to the testing center on the day of the exam, as well as their candidate admission letter. Candidates will be provided with scratch paper to write on, but the usage of cell phones and electronic devices are not allowed.

Test Structure

The Alcohol and Drug Counselor Test is made up of 150 questions. Of these 150, there are 25 unscored, pretest questions. All 150 items will have to do with eight domains: Clinical Evaluation, Treatment Planning, Referral, Service Coordination, Counseling, Client, Family, and Community Education, Documentation, and Professional and Ethical Responsibilities. THe ADC Test may be taken on computer or with paper and pencil. The computer format takes three hours, and the paper and pencil takes three and a half hours.[7]

Sample Questions

More free ADC practice test questions.


Scores are given on a scale between 200 – 800 points with a required 500 points needed in order to pass the exam. After completing the exam, candidates receive official score letters which report their final score as well as a percentage of items that were answered correctly for each content portion of the exam. [2] The exam contains 150 questions, 137 of which measure 8 Domains, and 13 more on Case History. All questions are multiple choice, giving 4 choice options, however there is no guessing penalty. The exam is limited to 3 hours. [8]

Recent/Future Developments

Currently, over 45,000 professionals have completed and passed the Alcohol and Drug Counselor exam worldwide. [2] The exam is updated on a 5 year basis by professionals within the Alcohol and Drug Counselor field whom composed IC&RC Member Boards. The exam will next be updated in 2016. [9]


  1. ^ Setting Global Standards for Addiction Professionals March 3 2014
  2. ^ a b c d Candidate Guide for the IC&RC Alcohol and Drug Counselor Examination” March 3 2014
  3. ^ Alcohol& Drug Counselor (ADC) March 3 2014
  4. ^ IC&RC Find a Board March 3, 2014
  5. ^ IQT Testing April 1 2014
  6. ^ ADC Guide 20 February 2014
  7. ^ IC&RC Exam 16 June 2014
  8. ^ What to Expect and How to Prepare for the Addictions Counselor Exam February 14, 2014
  9. ^ About IC&RC March 3, 2014