New Subspecialty Certification: Obstetrics and Neonatal Quality and Safety

NCC is pleased to debut a new subspecialty exam for those wishing to demonstrate their expertise in Obstetric and Neonatal Quality and Safety (C-ONQS).  Don't wait, be the first to earn your C-ONQS certification. 

REGISTRATION FOR THIS NEW EXAM OPENS UP ON JUNE 1, 2020 AND TESTING AT A COMPUTER TEST CENTER BEGINS JULY 1, 2020. This new exam will be introduced in two phases (time frames). The exam delivered during each phase has delayed scoring until enough candidates have completed the exam to allow for psychometric analysis of the exam results and completion of standard setting to use for pass/fail decision.  Due to a delay in the score, those who participate in phase I and II testing will be eligible for NCC's Second Chance Free promotion.  See the details below. 

Phase I: Introductory examination phase begins with registration on June 1, 2020, and testing beginning July 1, 2020.

The introductory phase registration period begins on June 1, 2020, and is open until July 31, 2020.  Testing windows will open on July 1, 2020, and will remain open until September 30, 2020.  Testing during phase I must occur during this time frame. Candidates who register in June will have a 90-day testing window.  Those who register in July will have a 60-day testing window.  The testing window will close after September 30, 2020. Any candidate who registers after July 31, 2020, will be put into the phase II testing window with an eligibility window starting on November 1, 2020. The exam for the phase I test period will be scored in October with the completion of standard-setting.  There will be no testing in October of 2020 during the analysis of results. Scores for phase I are anticipated to be available by November of 2020. 

Those who participate in the Introductory Phase will be eligible for NCC's Second Chance Free promotion.   If you fail to pass, you will be able to retake the exam for free after this exam is released again to the general population in March of 2021. See the details below.

Phase II: The Second Introductory examination phase begins with registration on August 1, 2020, and testing beginning on November 1, 2020.

The Second examination phase will include a registration period from August 1, 2020, through October 31, 2020, followed by a 90-day  testing window that begins November 1, 2020.  Testing during phase II must occur during this time frame. Any candidate who registers after October 31, 2020, will not be part of the phase II trial and will be put into the open testing window with an eligibility window starting on March 1, 2021. Please note the testing window is delayed. During this phase, subsequent testing for a second form of the exam will be completed.  The analysis of this phase will be completed in February of 2021 and no testing will occur during this month.  Scores are anticipated to be available by March of 2021. 

Those who participate in the Second Examination Phase will be eligible for NCC's Second Chance Free promotion.  If you fail to pass, you will be able to retake the exam for free after this exam is released again to the general population in March of 2021. See the details below.

Open registration: Registration will begin November 1, 2020, for the exam, however, testing will not begin until March 1, 2021. 

After Phase I and II are completed, NCC will offer open registration with 90-day testing windows which will begin in March of 2021 or later based on the date of registration. There will be no "second chance free" promotion once the test and scoring delay period has ended.  


Whenever a new exam is offered, all questions used have no statistical history by virtue of the fact the exam has never been given before.  In order to gather the vital statistical information on the item and total examination performance to make valid psychometric judgments on pass/fail determinations, statistics from actual test takers must be ascertained. A pass/fail status cannot be reported upon the completion of your examination until the overall exam performance data is collected and analyzed from all test takers who test during your same testing window. 

Since the test questions and exam have no psychometric (statistical) history, results from all test-takers in the Introductory testing phase and the Secondary exam phase will be analyzed for psychometric soundness and performance prior to scoring.  Any question that does not meet the appropriate psychometric standards will be deleted from scoring and will not count toward or detract from an individual’s score.  This gives those who take the first test the advantage of the “benefit of the doubt” in determining pass/fail status.

All information is held until all candidates who registered during the Introductory period for phase I have tested. After statistical analysis and review are completed, results will be mailed to all those who took the test during the introductory phase. These are expected to occur sometime in November of 2020. Pass/Fail Results are mailed and will also be posted to online accounts within 15 days of testing for those who passed. You will be sent updates on the expected release dates for the pass/fail results.

Those in the Secondary examination phase will not be able to test until November  1 of 2020. The exam
results will be held until there are enough candidates who have tested to statistically analyze the
examination to ensure both difficulties of the form and pass/fail are in line with the first form of the exam. Scoring for Phase II of the exam is anticipated to be available in March of 2021. 

Currently, with the pandemic and the unknown path of COVID19, testing at test centers may be halted or slowed and results could be further delayed. The ability to score the exams is based on the number of test-takers.  You will be sent updates on the expected release dates for the pass/fail results. The exam results will be held until there are enough candidates who have tested to statistically analyze the examination to ensure both difficulties of the form and pass/fail are in line with the first form of the exam.

NCC is providing a “Second Chance Free” opportunity for those who register for the ONQS exam during the Introductory phase or the Secondary examination phase of testing and also test within the window outlined for these two phases. There is no cost for the second registration for those who qualify. Those who participated in the Introductory period or Secondary examination phase, who did not pass, will be allowed to take the test a second time for FREE if they still meet eligibility requirements. Details can be found below.

SECOND CHANCE FREE PROMOTION DETAILS FOR THOSE WHO REGISTERED IN PHASE I or II and failed to pass the exam on their first attempt:

Phase I and II registration that provides a SECOND CHANCE Promotion ends on October 31, 2020, at 11:59 PM CST. Anyone registering for the ONQS Examination during this window must also test during their initial eligibility window to receive the second chance free. For those who registered during the Second Chance Free promotion time frame, if you are unsuccessful in achieving certification on your first examination attempt, you can apply to retake the same NCC  subspecialty certification examination (ONQS) for a second attempt at certification for free.   You have one year from the date you failed the exam to register. You will be able to reapply by logging in to your account, meeting eligibility and registering again after 90-days and after November 1, 2020.  Please note, there is a 90-day waiting period from the first examination attempt before you can register for your second attempt.

  • Offer applies to certification registrations submitted and approved between June 1-October 31, 2020 and taken during the initial eligibility window provided for testing. 
  • Applies to NCC new subspecialty certification only (C-ONQS)
  • Candidates must wait 90 days from the date they took the exam for all computer tests or from the day they received their official results for all paper/pencil exams to register again and cannot register again until after October 31, 2020. Both requirements must be met.
  • Candidates must submit another application, and re-establish eligibility to register.
  • Candidates who wish to claim this offer must submit their 2nd chance application within one year of the day the first exam was taken. After that time, the offer will no longer be valid. 
  • The promotion is not transferable to other certifications or to other persons.
  • The exam can only be taken twice in a calendar year.
  • If an applicant files earlier than 90-days from the failed test date, the application will be denied.
  • If you are asked for payment you should abandon the registration and contact NCC to verify eligibility.  Those eligible for the second chance free promotion should not be asked for payment. You must be logged in to the NCC website when you registerCandidates who register again and pay a registration fee will not receive a refund. Please see the information on the amount of refund with withdrawals.

TESTING OVERVIEW for Phase I and II Testing

Once determined eligible for ONQS you will receive an eligibility notification by email and in your account with instructions on how to make your computer test center appointment.  The 60 to 90-day testing window for phase I begins July 1. For those who register in July, the window is only 60 days with testing ending on September 30, 2020. Once determined eligible for Phase II the testing window is 90-days.  Anyone not testing in phase I or II will have to wait for the open testing that should begin March of 2021.  There is a change fee and form required to change your testing dates.  

The examinations will be delivered via computer at one of the over 250 AMP/PSI Assessment Centers located throughout the United States. Exams will be administered by appointment only Monday through Saturday at 9:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. AMP Assessment Centers are typically located in H&R Block offices. Call PSI at1-833-256-1426 for more information. The subspecialty exam (ONQS) is 2 hours long. Please review the NCC Guide to Testing Methods.  Please note this new exam is NOT offered by Live Remote Proctoring. Also, test centers may be closed in certain areas of the county.  Please ensure your test center is open before registering for the exam. 

The examination fee is $210 which includes a nonrefundable $50 application fee submission cost. Individuals can submit a registration application on-line at any time

  • The examination fee must be paid when submitting the application.
  • There is a $30 reprocessing fee for applications submitted with missing incomplete or incorrect information. Make sure your license upload includes the expiration date.
  • After an exam is purchased, there is a 6-hour window to cancel the order.  The order can be canceled by logging into the account and clicking on "Cancel Application" found under the new certification. Only you can cancel the application and you must meet the 6-hour window. 
  • After 6 hours, an on-line Exam Withdrawal Request is required for a partial refund.
  • All applications must be submitted online at the NCC website.
  • All applications are reviewed for eligibility
  • It can take up to two weeks to determine eligibility
  • Once the application is approved, you will be emailed an eligibility letter that will indicate a 60 or 90-day eligibility window in which to schedule and take your examination. You have the first 30 days to set up a test appointment with our testing vendor and take the exam. The sooner you sign up to take the exam during the introductory examination phase, the sooner the tests can be reviewed and scored.
  • Payment can be made by credit card or e-check.
  • Please review the examination registration catalogs. The examination registration catalog lists additional fees that may apply. 

Obstetric and Neonatal Quality and Safety (C-ONQS)
ELIGIBILITY: Subspecialty Exam leading to C-ONQS Certification
Complete details can be found at EXAM REGISTRATION CATALOG and CANDIDATE GUIDE

  • Current/active/unencumbered licensure in the U.S. or Canada as a physician (MD or DO), registered nurse, advanced practice registered nurse (NNP, CNS, or CNM), certified midwife,  physician assistant, or respiratory therapist. The license number, licensing state or province and expiration date will need to be recorded. You will need to upload verification of current licensure or a copy of the license that shows the expiration date.
  • No practice experience is required but it is recommended that you have expertise in quality improvement and safety practices with a focus in obstetric and neonatal specialties, for the best possibility of successfully completing the credentialing process.
  • See details in the registration catalog.

CREDENTIAL: All those who successfully complete the Obstetric and Neonatal Quality and Safety certification examination will be entitled to use the credential C-ONQS.  To learn more about this exam and to register, click here.


ONQS Registration