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What is the NALA/CP Exam?

NALA (formerly the National Association of Legal Assistants) administers a nationally recognized certification exam, NALA/CP (Certified Paralegal). Successfully completing this exam provides recipients with a credential proving mastery and competence in five topical knowledge and skill areas.  Certification is valid for a period of five years.  Evidence of continuing legal education must be submitted to NALA at the end of the initial five-year certification period to maintain the credential.  Visit the NALA website and this announcement for additional information.


The NALA-Certified Paralegal (CP) Exam is divided into five sections.  The topics included in each section and time allotted to complete the section are provided in the outline below:

  • Communications  (1.5 hours)
    • Word usage, punctuation, capitalization, grammar
    • Correspondence, concise writing, vocabulary
    • Rules of composition
    • Nonverbal communication
    • Skills encompassing professional and social contacts with employers, clients, office visitors, coworkers, and the public
    • Interviewing techniques
      • Interview situations
      • Potential roadblocks
      • Manner of questions
      • Use of checklists
      • Special situations
      • Interviewing clients and witnesses; initial and subsequent interviews


  • Ethics  (1 hour)
    • Ethical responsibilities of delegated work (including confidentiality, unauthorized practice of law, conflicts of interest, billing)
    • Client/public contact including identification as nonlawyer
    • Professional integrity and competence (knowledge of paralegal code of ethics)
    • Relationship with coworkers and support staff
    • Attorney codes and discipline


  • Judgment and Analytical Ability (2 hours)
    • Comprehension of data
    • Application of analytical techniques (ability to link facts to issues; recognize similarities and differences)
    • Evaluating and categorizing data
    • Organizing data and findings in a written document


  • Legal Research  (1.5 hours)
    • Sources of law including primary authority, secondary authority, and understanding of how law is recorded
    • Research skills including finding law, updating law, and procedural rules of citation (Bluebook is specifically mentioned)


  • Substantive Law (2 hours)
    • American Legal System (including general law principles)
    • Business Organizations
    • Contract Law
    • Litigation

Types of questions on the NALA/CP Exam

  • True-False Questions
  • Multiple Choice Questions
  • Matching Questons
  • Essay Questions

Helpful information about test questions and test-taking strategies:

  • Approach questions with a national perspective in mind.  Do not base answers on specific state rules.
  • Answer all questions on the exam.  Guessing may even provide a better score on the section.
  • Read and understand instructions before attempting to answer.
  • Be cognizant of time allotted for each section and plan your time accordingly.
  • Try not to change your answers...unless you are positive that you have made a mistake!


Click here to view a table describing the percentage of questions on specific topics within each section of the NALA/CP exam.

NALA, the National Association of Legal Assistants, is a nationally recognized professional association for paralegals.  It provides a national certification exam, the NALA-CP, for paralegal students upon graduation from a paralegal program.

Click here for information about the certification examination and the application process.  Click here to view a listing of testing centers in your state. Refer to this FAQ for more assistance.

Important information for Paralegal students and graduates:

  • Rasmussen University will reimburse students and graduates for the $275 application fee for the NALA-CP certification examination following completion of the exam. 

  • For reimbursement, please email with your NALA test results and NALA credit card receipt.

  • Students taking the exam should submit a completed application along with personal payment information directly to NALA.

  • Graduates of the Paralegal program must include an official transcript with the NALA-CP exam application.  Click here for instructions on how to obtain an official transcript.

Individuals must meet requirements in one of two categories outlined below to be eligible to take the NALA/CP exam:

Category 1

Graduate of Paralegal Program in one of the following:

  • ABA-approved program or
  • Associates degree program or
  • Post-baccalaureate certificate program or
  • Bachelor's degree program in Paralegal Studies or
  • A legal assistance program that consists of a minimum or 60 semester credit hours, 15 of which are substantive law courses

Category 2

  • Bachelor's degree in any program PLUS a minimum of one year of experience as a legal assistant or paralegal.

Beat your test anxiety by being prepared!

Utilize the resources below to help you best prepare for the NALA/CP Exam.

Study Aids:

Feeling overwhelmed about taking the NALA/CP Exam?  Check out these resources to help you stay on your A game!  We have all the resources you could want to help you prepare for your test and stay cool while taking it, plus some tips for mastering multiple-choice exams.  

  • Creating a Study Schedule – To really prepare for tests, you must begin at the beginning.  The key to learning is understanding not just memorizing. Creating study tools such as mindmaps and flashcards will help you in the long-run. Focus on steps 4 and 5 in the study cycle while preparing for the POST Board exam.
  • Pre-test Prep & Post-test Reflection – What are you doing to prepare for your exams, and what should you be doing?  This sheet helps you strategize better study plans.
  • Managing Test Anxiety Video – This short webinar will give you tips to help you keep your cool as you take your exam.
  • Test-taking Strategies Video – Do you always seem to choose the wrong option in multiple-choice tests?  Watch this short webinar on tips to help you master multiple choice and other test questions.
  • Studying Tips for College Students – No one knows studying for tests like a fellow students!  This student blog shares the studying tips you need to do well on tests.  You can also learn How to Beat College Exam Stress.


Click on the image below to link to additional test taking skills resources: