CPN Exam Resources

Check your readiness and prepare

CPN Champion Maureen Davis, MSN, RN, CPN from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center


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CPN Exam Resources

The Certified Pediatric Nurse exam is 3 hours and asks 175 multiple-choice questions based on categories in the content outline, an essential study reference. Create a personal study plan and prepare using the resources below.

Use this step-by-step checklist to help you plan and prepare for your exam.

CPN exam readiness checklist

The content outline/test blueprint is your #1 tool to start your study. It describes all subject areas covered by the exam and questions per category.

PNCB certification exams are comprehensive tests, so be sure to study all areas of the content outline.

Tip! This exam tests your ability to apply knowledge and use critical thinking skills to determine one best answer among answer choices.

Download your content outline:

  • Beginning November 2017: Use the updated CPN content outline based our 2016-17 Job Task Analysis research. This routine required research ensures that exam content accurately represents current pediatric RN practice in the U.S. 

Content for the updated exam has not changed considerably. You do not need to study differently, and there is no advantage to taking one content outline's exam over the other. See full details about the latest 2016-17 study in our executive summary of highlights and 2016-17 CPN Exam PowerPoint.

PNCB recommends you use ONE pediatric nursing textbook that you are familiar with to review for the exam. This text should also focus on the subject areas covered by the CPN exam content outline.

You do not need to study all the references listed below. Other candidates have found the most current edition of the following references useful for their review. PNCB does not endorse nor have any proprietary relationship with any of the following textbooks or their publishing companies.

For Basic Pediatric Nursing Content:

Wong's Essentials of Pediatric Nursing
By Marilyn J. Hockenberry and David Wilson

Wong's Nursing Care of Infants and Children
By Marilyn J. Hockenberry and David Wilson

Child Health Nursing: Partnering with Children and Families
By J. W. Ball, R. C. Binder and K. J. Cowen

Essentials of Pediatric Nursing
By T. Kyle and S. Carman

Pediatric Nursing, Caring for Children and Their Families
By Nicki L. Potts and Barbara L. Mandleco

Pediatric Physical Examination: An Illustrated Handbook
By K. Duderstadt

Principles of Pediatric Nursing: Caring for Children
By J. W. Ball, R. C. Binder and K. J. Cowen

Neinstein’s Adolescent and Young Adult Health Care: A Practical Guide
By Lawrence S. Neinstein, Debra K Katzman, Todd Callahan, Catherine M. Gordon, et al

Leadership and Nursing Care Management
By Diane Huber

For Structuring a CPN Review Course/Independent Study:

Lippincott Review: Pediatric Nursing
By Mary E. Muscari
Publisher: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

Pediatric Nursing Certification Review
By Janice Selekman and Louise Jakubik
Publisher: Society of Pediatric Nurses (www.pedsnurses.org)

Straight A's in Pediatric Nursing
By Springhouse 
Publisher: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

For Pediatric Nursing Procedures:

Pediatric Nursing Procedures
By Vicky R. Bowden and Cindy Smith Greenberg

For Pediatric Medications:

Pediatric & Neonatal Dosage Handbook

For Anticipatory Guidance/Developmental Focus:

Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children in Maternal & Child Health and Adolescents
Edited by Joseph F. Hagan Jr., Judith S. Shaw and Paula Duncan

CPN Practice Tests offer in-depth rationale for right answers to enhance critical thinking. Score reports can help you focus studies.

Three out of four CPN Practice Test users would recommend it to a colleague planning to test, and 85% say CPN Practice Tests will be useful in their practice.

The cost is $35 per module. You receive unlimited attempts of 50 questions for 150 days.

Looking for more exposure to CPN exam topics?  PNCB also offers a CPN practice test drill containing 100 multiple-choice questions (answers only, no rationales). The cost is $50.

PNCB's Test-taking Strategies resource is a free PowerPoint developed to help you learn exam preparation tips, strategies for answering multiple-choice exam questions, and techniques to manage test anxiety. Not a study or a review course.

Other possible preparation support from third parties that are well-respected in the pediatric nursing community are listed here.

PNCB does not provide its own review course for the CPN exam as this would be a conflict of interest.

What review course should I take? Which books are the best? Do you offer a review course?

We hear these questions often and can't conduct an actual review course because this would be a conflict of interest. We also can't endorse a specific review course or book, but we do recommend you consider the following when selecting a course or title:

  1. How are the instructors or authors prepared? Do they have rigorous academic credentials? Do they hold the credential you seek? What about their practice experience?
  2. Are the topics covered consistent with the exam's content outline?
  3. Do the books offer practice questions after each chapter?
  4. Does the course offer testimonials? If so, evaluate the comments offered by your peers.
  5. Does the review course ask for feedback? Do they post survey results on their website?
  6. Talk to others who have taken a specific review course. Were they satisfied?

You may also want to check your membership organization website for books that are recommended. We hope this gives you an idea of things to look for as you make your decisions.

Sample Questions

1. A typically developing 18 month old would be expected to

A. point at objects to indicate wants.

B. use alternate footing to climb stairs.

C. speak in phrases of two or three words.

D. turn doorknobs or unscrew lids independently.

2. A 12 year old who is dying is MOST likely to exhibit which of the following behaviors?

A. cling to close family members

B. display a tough, nonchalant attitude

C. ask specific questions about death-related rituals

D. express guilt that death is a result of prior thoughts or actions

3. Which of the following assessments is the MOST reliable indicator of adequate fluid replacement in an adolescent with extensive burns?

A. hourly urinary output of 15 mL

B. blood pressure stable at 102/58

C. capillary refill less than 2 seconds

D. respiratory rate of 60 breaths per minute

4. Which of the following is the MOST appropriate anticipatory guidance regarding television and media viewing for young children?

A. language development is enhanced by watching media

B. monitoring the quality of children's program viewing is imperative

C. media sources are a negative influence on the health of young children

D. animated video characters are effective in teaching nutritious eating habits

5. Which of the following is an urgent concern for a child in acute renal failure with a potassium level of 8 mEq/L?

A. cardiac arrhythmias

B. cerebral edema

C. intracranial hemorrhage

D. seizures

Answers and References:


1. Answer: A

  • Hockenberry MJ, Wilson D. Wong’s Nursing Care of Infants and Children. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2019.

2. Answer: C

  • Bowden, VR, Greenberg, CS. Pediatric Nursing Procedures. 4th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer; 2016.

3. Answer: C

  • Hockenberry MJ, Wilson D. Wong’s Nursing Care of Infants and Children. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2019.

4. Answer: B

  • Hockenberry MJ, Wilson D. Wong’s Nursing Care of Infants and Children. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2019.

5. Answer: A

  • Hockenberry MJ, Wilson D. Wong’s Nursing Care of Infants and Children. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2019.

Faces of Certification

PNCB-certified nursing professionals work in a variety of roles and settings throughout the US and beyond. Share your photo today!

Tonya Brooks, CPNP-PC Sniffles & Giggles Waxahachie, TX
Jose Ramirez, CPN Doctors Hospital at Renaissance Edinburg, TX
Shacarah Fordjour, CPNP-PC, PMHS Penn Medicine Plainsboro, NJ
View more Faces of Certification