Practice Analysis

Practice Analysis

Take the Practice Analysis Survey Now

Deadline: Monday, May 23, 2022

Have you ever wondered how ABGC determines what competencies to test for on the certification exam? How does ABGC know what it takes to be a genetic counselor? We obtain that information from you, as a certified genetic counselor! We conduct a practice analysis every five years to make sure the exam accurately reflects the evolving responsibilities of the genetic counseling profession. 

Your responses to the practice analysis survey directly impact the content of the certification exam. Here's how:
  • 1. You answer questions about the knowledge and skills you use in your role as a genetic counselor, including their importance to your job and how often you use them.
  • 2. Your responses are used to create an exam content outline.
  • 3. The exam content outline determines the content and skill level of the certification exam questions.

The practice analysis is a fundamental building block of the certification exam—so it's crucial for the survey data to include the diverse perspectives of the genetic counseling workforce. The more voices contribute to the survey, the better we will be able to incorporate genetic counselors' varying roles and functions into the certification exam. With a rapidly evolving environment like genetics and the expanding roles of genetic counselors, we need a robust response on the survey to capture these changes. 

Your individual responses will be kept confidential and will be combined with those of other respondents. Only staff persons from ABGC and their designated contractor, PSI Services, will have access to the data collected. Aggregated data from this survey will be published in a report that summarizes the process used to develop the specifications for the ABGC CGC certification exam. Please direct all inquiries to [email protected].

2017 Practice Analysis

The last practice analysis was conducted in 2017. Electronic invitations to complete a web-based survey were sent to 5,369 genetic counselors. The survey was open for one month and usable responses were received from 1,454 participants, for a corrected response rate of 27.7%. More than 97% of the respondents felt the job task list given adequately covered the responsibilities of the genetic counselor. The resulting detailed content outline and test specifications are used by the ABGC Certification Examination Development Committee to assemble test forms.

Provided below are some of the data on the survey responses to the 2017 Practice Analysis.  A similar analysis was completed in 2011 and 2008. These results are published in Hampel et al. J Genet Counsel (2009) 18:205216.

Respondent Demographics

Figure 1. Years of Genetic Counseling Experience


Figure 2. Percent of Time Spent in Clinical/Non-Clinical Roles. Respondents were asked to state the average percent of time devoted to clinical and non-clinical roles and to total their time to 100%.

Those respondents who indicated that they counsel patients as part of their regular job responsibilities were asked to identify a primary clinical specialty. This was defined as the subject area of their practice in which they spend the greatest portion of their clinical time. Respondents had 19 potential clinical categories to select from. These responses were collapsed to create 4 primary clinic specialties: prenatal, cancer, pediatrics and adult. Table 2 details the percent of respondents who identified a specific clinical area of practice.


Detailed Content Outline

As per the Standard of Accreditation of Graduate Programs in Genetics Counseling, adopted by the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling on February 13, 2013, these results can be used to determine the distribution of core cases across different practice areas. This distribution should be used to guide graduate training effective June 1, 2014, in conjunction with the implementation of the new Standards.

Examination Scoring Methodology