National Board Exam

The National Board Exam (NBE) for Funeral Services is an all-inclusive test of mortuary science education administered by the International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards.

The exam is given via computer at remote testing sites throughout the year. The NBE is one component used by regulatory boards when awarding practitioner licenses.

The NBE is used in many states, as an assessment of content knowledge required to practice as a licensed Funeral Director or Embalmer. Please check the requirements of the state you wished to be licensed in for further information. 

NBE Content

The NBE is split into two exams. One exam is 170 questions relating to mortuary science. The second exam relates to mortuary arts and also consists of 170 questions.

NBE Science Section

  • Embalming
  • Restorative Art
  • Preparation for Disposition
  • Funeral Service Sciences
  • Pretest Questions 

NBE Arts Section

  • Funeral Directing
  • Funeral Service Marketing/Merchandising
  • Funeral Service Counseling
  • Regulatory Compliance
  • Cemetery & Crematory Operations
  • Pretest Questions 

NBE Scaled Scoring

The Conference uses a scaled system to score the NBE.  Each exam will be different from another.  Questions are pulled from an item bank in accordance with accepted weighted formulas.  Since there is a varying degree of difficulty between questions, one form of the exam may be harder or easier than another. 

By utilizing a scaled scoring system, it ensures that no candidate obtains an unfair advantage.  Psychometric scaling is a complex, but a fairer method of scoring exams. 

Candidates taking the NBE will be notified of Pass/Fail instantly at the testing center.  No numerical scores are ever given.  The Arts and Science sections are scored separately and candidates must pass both sections in order to be considered passing the NBE.

Passing/Failing the NBE

FINE Mortuary College students must complete all of the requirements for graduation before taking the NBE. Students must take the NBE or a state board exam before being awarded the FMC Associate Degree in Applied Science.

To explore the annual passing rate of first-time takers on the NBE in the past three years at FMC and other accredited funeral service education programs please visit the ABFSE web site.


Qualified candidates can take the NBE up to three times in one year. If the applicant fails the exam, they must wait 90 days before retesting the failed section of the NBE.


National Board Examination scores, graduation rates, and employment rates for this and other ABFSE-accredited programs are available at To request a printed copy of this program’s scores and rates, go to the Business Office, FINE Mortuary College, 150 Kerry Place, Norwood, Massachusetts, or by e-mail at, or by telephone at 781-762-1211.