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What Is the National Health Science Certificate & How Do You Prepare Students for It?

October 31st, 2023 | 6 min. read

Brad Hummel

Brad Hummel

Coming from a family of educators, Brad knows both the joys and challenges of teaching well. Through his own teaching background, he’s experienced both firsthand. As a writer for iCEV, Brad’s goal is to help teachers empower their students by listening to educators’ concerns and creating content that answers their most pressing questions about career and technical education.

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The National Health Science Certificate (NHSC) is an exam developed by the National Consortium for Health Science Education to measure a student’s knowledge of health science skills and concepts.

The certificate is designed as an end-of-program exam, taking multiple years of health science education into consideration.

Students who pass the assessment earn a certificate to acknowledge that they have thenational-health-science-assessment-certificate appropriate foundational skills for a career in healthcare.

It’s important to note that the National Health Science Certificate is not a right-to-work credential or accredited certification.

However, the National Health Science Certificate is the perfect way for high school students to show that they are ready to take the next step on the path toward becoming healthcare professionals!

So how can you support your students to succeed on the NHCS exam?

On this page, we’ll dive into how the certificate is structured and how you can prep students for the assessment.

But before we get to the details, it’s important to understand the National Health Science Standards, since those are the standards on the test!

What Are the National Health Science Standards?

The National Health Science Standards represent skills and knowledge that any student should know in order to enter the healthcare field.

The standards were developed by the National Consortium for Health Science Education (NCHSE) to give health science instructors guidance when developing their programs. NCHSE reviews the standards on a regular basis and makes updates when needed, such as when new technological advancements are made.

Overall, the standards are broken into 11 “foundation standards:”

  1. Academic Foundation
  2. Communications
  3. Systems
  4. Employability Skills
  5. Legal Responsibilities
  6. Ethics
  7. Safety Practices
  8. Teamwork
  9. Health Maintenance Practices
  10. Technical Skills
  11. Information Technology in Healthcare

Each of these standards is broken down into specific sub-standards that relate to skills and knowledge all healthcare workers should have prior to entering the workforce. And that’s where the certificate comes in--it’s how you can measure your students’ mastery of the standards!

So with that, let’s dig into how the certificate is structured and aligned to the standards.

How Is the National Health Science Certificate Structured?

The National Health Science Certificate is administered by Precision Exams by YouScience — a well-known provider of industry certifications — via an online portal.

To keep up with testing standards, questions appear in four formats:

  • Multiple choice
  • Labeling
  • Matching
  • Sequencing and ordering

The digital format means students interact with the exam in multiple ways through the YouScience assessment platform, including drag-and-drop functions and multimedia use.

In terms of its structure, the exam is made up of 108 test items that add up to a total of 116 points.

Similar to the National Health Science Standards, the certificate is reviewed and updated when needed.

Each foundation standard has a varying number of questions that contribute to a percentage of the overall assessment score.

You can see the breakdown in the graphic below:

National Health Science Standards Exam Blueprint 2022


But even with knowing the details of what’s on the exam, there’s still one last question.

How do you prepare your students to pass the health science certificate exam?

How Do You Prepare Students for the National Health Science Certificate?

Preparing students for the National Health Science Certificate can quickly overwhelm even the most experienced health science teacher.

When it comes to assessments and certifications, many instructors gravitate towards a test prep program. While practice tests can help you determine if your students are ready for the exam, they don’t help you teach the content!

At iCEV, we believe the best way to help students succeed on any certification exam or assessment involves two elements.

First, you need to teach the foundational skills and knowledge that your students will need to know for success in the field. Then, once you’ve taught the concepts, switch gears and focus on exam preparation and reinforcement.

The key to success for you and your students is to seamlessly put these two types of instruction together. But how can you do that?

You could create your own lessons, activities, and assessments to line up with the national standards and teach your students the basics. This can be a great way to provide a customized experience for your students, but it takes a lot of time — something you probably don’t have to spare!

That’s why many health science instructors have begun switching to a digital curriculum system they can use for both teaching everyday classes and preparing students for the certificate!

Preparing Students for the National Health Science Certificate with iCEV

Health science instructors across the US have added iCEV as a primary instructional resource to meet the national standards and prepare students for the National Health Science Certificate.

iCEV Health Science is a comprehensive curriculum system built to empower you to help your students succeed in the classroom and workforce.

This is made possible with thousands of ready-to-use instructional resources, classroom management tools, assessments, student tracking features, and more.

At iCEV, we use the National Health Science Standards as guidance when developing our health science curriculum.

When the standards or certificate change, we review our curriculum and make updates as needed. This means your students will receive the most relevant information when preparing for the National Health Science Certificate!

Overall, the best way to use iCEV for preparing students for the certificate is to blend it with your other test prep material and, most importantly, have a plan!

With that philosophy, here are eight steps you should take to get your students ready for the National Health Science Certificate (NHSC):

  1. Use iCEV as your main instructional resource
  2. Supplement with content from NCHSE and other organizations
  3. Familiarize yourself with NCHSE’s Certificate FAQ
  4. Have students take a practice exam part way through the semester
  5. Review student outcomes to spot gaps in knowledge
  6. Reinforce weak areas by providing customized review with iCEV
  7. Go over what students should expect on test day
  8. Wish your students good luck and wait to hear the results

So, are you ready to learn more about using iCEV to prepare your students for the National Health Science Certificate and their future careers?

Then start your free trial of iCEV and gain access to our comprehensive health science curriculum! 

Start Your iCEV Trial