Acute Care CPNP® Exam
Frequently Asked Questions

Browse the categories below and click the questions for answers. If you don't see your question here, use our search feature at the top right of this page or email pncb@pncb.org.

Exam Eligibility & Application

I graduated from a PNCB Recognized Program. What are the eligibility requirements?

What is the educational degree requirement to take the CPNP® Exam?

I was educated as a family nurse practitioner. May I take the CPNP® exam?

If my university isn't a PNCB Recognized Program, how can it be recognized?

I am a nationally certified FNP, currently licensed in my state as an APRN and I practice as an acute care PNP. Am I eligible to sit for the Acute Care CPNP® Exam?

I am enrolled in a primary care PNP program as a first year student. I really want to function as an acute care PNP. After graduation, would I be eligible to sit for the Acute Care CPNP® exam?

I am an NP working in an emergency room. Will I be eligible for this exam?

I am a Primary Care CPNP® and hope to achieve Acute Care PNP certification. Will I be able to maintain both certifications?

My state currently does not require the Acute Care CPNP® Exam. Why should I get this certification?

I graduated from an Acute Care PNP program over ten years ago. I am not sure faculty can attest to the NP competencies or verify my hours of clinical practice? What do I do?

May I mail my transcript personally?

What transcript(s) are required to apply for the exam?

What is the registration process for testing?

How long does it take to determine exam eligibility?

Primary Care vs. Acute Care Roles

I graduated from a primary care program. May I take the acute care exam?

Preparing & Studying

How do I study for the exam? Can you recommend a particular review course or book?

Taking the Exam

Do I need computer knowledge to take the exam?

How long is the exam?

When will I receive my exam results?

Will I be able to take the exam at the time and place I want?

I have a disability-related need and may require special accommodations to take the exam. What do I do?

Exam Policies & Procedures

If I take the exam and am unsuccessful, may I take the exam again? If so, how long must I wait in order to re-exam?

What if I am unable to take the exam once I have applied?

May I extend or have my 90-day testing period reassigned?

What if I do not show up to take the exam at my assigned date and time?

Once my exam is scheduled with Prometric, may I reschedule within my 90-day testing period?

What circumstances would cause me to forfeit the exam fee?

Verification of Certification

What must I do to have a verification of my certification sent to my employer or state board of nursing?

Maintaining Certification Through Recertification

If I successfully complete the exam, what are the requirements to maintain national certification?

Visit Recertification for full details on requirements, options, and deadlines for our annual Recert program.

Name Changes

What if my name has changed since I graduated?

Duplicate Lapel Pins & Certificates

I've lost my lapel pin. How do I get another?

I would like a duplicate wall certificate. Can you mail me one?

Exam Eligibility & Application

I graduated from a PNCB Recognized Program. What are the eligibility requirements?

Please see our exam eligibility requirements.

What is the educational degree requirement to take the CPNP exam?

A Master's in nursing is the minimum degree requirement for national nursing certification as an advanced practice nurse practitioner. Candidates who do not hold at least a Master's degree in nursing will not be eligible for this exam. The DNP is not required for exam eligibility.

My educational preparation is as a family nurse practitioner. May I take the CPNP exam?

No, not unless you can document additional formal academic PNP education such as a post-master's PNP certificate. If you are interested, please contact the program director of a recognized PNP program to discuss a post-master's certificate.

If my university is not listed as a PNCB Recognized Program preparing PNPs, how can it be recognized?

Have your program director contact programresources@pncb.org for specific information.

I am a nationally certified FNP, currently licensed in my state as an APRN and I practice as an acute care PNP. Am I eligible to sit for the Acute Care CPNP Exam?

Your FNP preparation in primary care does not include curriculum or pediatric clinical hours to equal that of a PNP acute care program. You will need to complete a formal post-master's Acute Care PNP educational program in order to be eligible for the exam.

I am enrolled in a primary care PNP program as a first year student. I really want to function as an acute care PNP. After graduation, would I be eligible to sit for the Acute Care CPNP exam?

To be eligible for the Acute Care CPNP Exam, you will need to graduate from an Acute Care PNP graduate educational program. Click here for a current list of programs recognized by the PNCB. Please contact exam@pncb.org if your program is not included on this list.

I am an NP working in an emergency room. Will I be eligible for this exam?

You must be a graduate of a formal Master's or Doctorate in Nursing with a concentration in acute care or dual acute/primary care as a nurse practitioner from an Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredited college or university.

OR

Graduate of a formal post-master's acute care nurse practitioner certificate program from an ACEN or CCNE accredited college or university.

I am a Primary Care CPNP and hope to achieve Acute Care PNP certification. Will I be able to maintain both certifications?

Yes, you will be able to maintain both primary care and acute care certification through the PNCB. Review recertification requirements for the dual acute/primary care CPNP Recertification Program here.

My state currently does not require the Acute Care CPNP Exam. Why should I get this certification?

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing, the National Task Force Criteria and the APRN National Consensus Model include recommendations that all states require nurse practitioners to have congruence between education, national certification and clinical practice. While a few states may not currently require national certification for licensure, your employer may require certification or you may move to another state that requires it.

I graduated from an Acute Care PNP program over ten years ago. I am not sure faculty can attest to the NP competencies or verify my hours of clinical practice? What do I do?

The PNCB staff will work with you and the faculty in your program to complete the required PNCB eligibility documents for the Acute Care CPNP Exam.

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May I mail my transcript personally?

No. All transcripts must be mailed directly to the PNCB from the Registrar's office of the educational institution.

What transcript(s) are required to apply for the exam?

Please refer to the eligibility requirements to review detailed transcript requirements.

What is the registration process for testing?

Once the candidate receives notification of eligibility from the PNCB, an appointment may be made to sit for the exam. The "letter of eligibility" will indicate the candidate's 90-day testing period which is assigned as each candidate's eligibility record is established with Prometric. Specific instructions will be provided detailing the process of scheduling a testing time within the 90-day eligibility period.

How long does it take to determine eligibility in order to sit for the exam?

Once the PNCB receives all documentation (online application, fees, transcript(s) and documentation of PNP education form [if required]) a letter of eligibility will be mailed to you, generally within 3 weeks. Determination of eligibility will be completed in a timely manner following receipt of all required materials. A verification of eligibility to sit will be sent, if requested.

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Primary Care vs. Acute Care Roles

I graduated from a primary care program. May I take the acute care exam?

No. Only graduates of an acute care or dual (acute care/primary care) program may sit for the acute care exam. The educational curriculum, precepted clinical experiences and population-focused nurse practitioner competencies are different for these two roles. The 2008 APRN Consensus Model requires that there be congruence between the role (nurse practitioner) and population (acute care) focus of the formal education program and the certification exam.

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Preparing & Studying

How do I study for the exam? Can you recommend a particular review course or book?

The PNCB cannot endorse a particular text or review course, but visit our Resources Page for possible suggestions and a list of questions to consider when selecting courses or books. The PNCB now offers a learning activity called PEDs Exam Prep: Acute Care that can help you become familiar with the presentation and structure of actual CPNP Exam questions.

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Taking the Exam

Do I need computer knowledge to take the certification exam?

No. Computer knowledge is not required to take a computer-based exam at Prometric. Before the exam begins, a customized introductory lesson is provided that explains the procedure used to select an answer and move from question to question. This introductory lesson does not reduce your assigned testing time.

How long is the exam?

The exam includes 175 multiple-choice questions. Of these, 150 questions are scored questions and 25 are unscored pretest questions. You will not know which questions are scored or unscored when you take the exam. You may take up to 3 hours to complete the exam.

When will I receive my exam results?

Preliminary exam results are received immediately after taking the exam. No results are given by phone or email. Official PNCB notification confirming your exam results are mailed approximately 2-3 weeks after the testing date.

Will I be able to take the exam at the time and place I want or need?

In most cases, yes. However, in order to obtain a desired time and place within your testing period, an appointment must be made as soon as you receive notification from Prometric that you are eligible to schedule an exam date and time. Examinations are delivered by computer at over 300 Prometric Test Centers (PTC) geographically located throughout the United States, including most territories, and Canada. However, waiting to make your appointment may jeopardize your scheduling needs.

I have a disability-related need and may require special accommodations to take the exam. What do I do?

In order to facilitate disability-related needs, we work with Prometric to arrange specific accommodations. Indicate your need for special accommodations when you apply for the exam and print our Request for Special Exam Accommodations Form, then complete and mail it to the PNCB office.

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Exam Policies & Procedures

If I take the exam and am unsuccessful, may I take the exam again? If so, how long must I wait in order to re-exam?

What if I am unable to take the exam once I have applied?

What if I do not show up to take the exam at my assigned date and time?

Once my exam is scheduled with Prometric, may I reschedule within my 90-day testing period?

What circumstances would cause me to forfeit the exam fee?

May I extend or have my 90-day testing period reassigned?

For procedures and policies on any of the above, please refer to your candidate handbook.

Please note: For testing period extensions, at no time will your testing period be more than 90 days. Once you apply for the extension, your 90-day testing window will begin soon after your request for an extension is approved. Some individuals incorrectly interpret this to mean that applying for an extension grants them 180 days to take the exam. To extend your testing period, click here.

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Verification of Certification

What must I do to have a verification of my certification sent to my employer or state board of nursing?

Upon your initial certification and each time you recertify, the PNCB provides a free verification to the state boards of nursing* you provide to us as part of your application/enrollment process. To request verification of certification for other state boards of nursing or an employer, see our verification webpage for details.

*For verification after each time you recertify, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, New York, Tennessee, and Vermont Boards of Nursing have asked to be excluded from this process. You may still request that verification be sent to these states by emailing verif@pncb.org.

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Name Changes

What if my name has changed since I graduated?

Documentation of name change is needed if the name on the exam application is different from the name on the transcript. Complete our Name Change Attestation Form. It may be mailed or faxed (1-301-330-1504) to our office. Name change issues must also be resolved before testing time.

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Duplicate Lapel Pins & Certificates

I've lost my CPNP lapel pin. How do I get another?
Simply email us and we'll be glad to send out a replacement.

I would like a duplicate CPNP wall certificate. Can you mail me one?
We'll be glad to send you another copy. Click here to order a duplicate.

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