Exam Candidate FAQs

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August 18, 2023

Exam Candidate FAQs

Here are some commonly asked questions that PNCB receives. These questions are also found on each exam’s full FAQ webpages: CPN, CPNP-PC, CPNP-AC, and PMHS. Download a PDF here.  

Review this resource along with your exam’s content outline (or test blueprint) found on www.pncb.org, and the PNCB Exam Candidate Handbook, which contains information about your test day including ID requirements, rules, on-screen features when navigating the exam, and more.

Will I see pictures or graphics on my exam?

Yes, you may see pictures (images) or graphics on your exam, although they may not be a part of every exam form in use at any given time.  Images and graphics are used when they will be helpful in presenting information for the test-taker, such as tables to provide patient data (e.g., vital signs, laboratory results, growth charts) or a radiographic image, such as for questions in the CPNP-PC or CPNP-AC exams. The use of images and graphics are based on the recommendations of our volunteer item writers and exam committees. Tip! PNCB Practice Tests are written with the same style and structure used for writing actual certification exam questions. This means they are a good representation of what candidates will encounter; you will find images and tables in our practice tests.

Do questions containing lab values have reference ranges?

There may be a rare exception, but largely, no—reference ranges are not typically provided in exam questions. When a question contains laboratory values, PNCB, and the volunteer item writers and exam committee members have confirmed that normal or abnormal results would be apparent to a knowledgeable, prepared exam candidate.

National guidelines change periodically; how will I know what to study?

Study the most recent guidelines relevant to your credentialing exam. PNCB maintains awareness of when new or updated guidelines are published by national organizations (e.g., CDC, AAP) and recognizes that practice guidelines are subject to change more frequently than some other foundational information. Therefore, questions on any exam represent core principles about the topic. PNCB regularly reviews our exam questions to identify and review content potentially affected by updates in guidelines.

Do I need to memorize vaccine schedules?

No, candidates are not expected to memorize vaccine schedules as PNCB and its committees of volunteer item writers recognize how often immunization schedules change. However, candidates are expected to have knowledge about core principles about immunology, safe vaccine use, or well-known vaccines for certain age groups. 

Will there be questions about COVID on the exam?

For any infectious disease, questions are only included on the exam if supported within current textbook references approved for the exam or a national consensus guideline.

Should I know every medication name in brand and generic form?

Exam-takers should know common, generic medication names applicable to pediatric practice. Many brand-name medications, while still commonly discussed in practice, are no longer available under proprietary patent so are only produced under the generic formulation. When medication names are needed or cited in an examination question, PNCB may provide both the generic and brand names when appropriate. All brand and generic names referenced are correct and available to the best of our knowledge at the time of the publication of the examination form. 


Every question on a PNCB exam that counts towards a candidate’s score undergoes rigorous review before it is used on an exam as a scored question. After being written by a volunteer item writer, questions are reviewed, edited, and approved by the Exam Committee and other panels of volunteers, and then placed on an exam as an unscored question. Statistics on all unscored questions are reviewed before advancing as a scored question.  Learn more about the rigorous test development process here.

Faces of Certification

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

Tyneisha Orr, CPNP-PC Children's Hospital & Medical Center Omaha, NE
Amairani Jimenez, CPN Tripler Army Medical Center Honolulu, Hawaii
Gia Nguyen, CPNP-AC St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Arlington, VA
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