CPN Exam FAQs

Answers to common questions about the exam

CPNs at Children's of Alabama

CPN Exam FAQs

Find the answers to common questions below. If you don't see your question here, use search at top right or email exam@pncb.org for assistance.

Exam Eligibility Requirements

Is a BSN required?

No. Education requirements for RNs who work in a pediatric nursing specialty are a Diploma, Associate's, Baccalaureate or Master's degree in nursing.

How much pediatric nursing experience is needed?

You must provide documentation of a minimum total of 1800 hours as an RN in a pediatric nursing specialty within the past 24 months or a minimum of 5 years as an RN in pediatric nursing and 3,000 hours in pediatric nursing within the last 5 years with a minimum of 1000 hours within the past 24 months on the online application. Pediatric nursing experience must have taken place in US or Canadian facilities. However, if you possess an active, current unencumbered US RN license, international practice experience is accepted. Practice hour requirements must be met at time of application. Pediatric nursing experience includes direct patient care and/or indirect care such as teaching, administration, clinical research, or consultation in pediatric nursing.

I'm an LPN. Am I eligible to take the Exam?

When we developed the Certified Pediatric Nurse Exam, we undertook an extensive role delineation study that specifically looked at the kinds of tasks RNs perform. LPN and RN roles are different and training for each is different. LPNs and RNs are also not viewed the same under state nurse practice acts. This information guided our development of this exam, and the RN license is a requirement to sit for the exam. We hope that LPNs working in pediatric settings will consider us should they become RNs in the future.

Which eligibility pathway should I select on my exam application?

Most applicants will use PNCB's long-standing option of 1800 hours of pediatric clinical RN experience completed in the past 24 months. 

Only use PNCB's alternate pathway if you cannot meet 1,800 hours of recent experience (i.e., within the past 24 months). Perhaps you experienced a major life event or a period of unemployment. This eligibility pathway is for the nurse with at least 5 years of pediatric RN experience over the course of his/her career; those 5 years do not need to be consecutive. However, this applicant must have 3,000 hours as an RN in pediatric nursing within the past 5 years, 1,000 of which were completed in the past 24 months. This component of the pathway is to show recent experience. 

Can my LPN experience count toward hours needed for exam eligibility?

No. When calculating hours/time toward eligibility requirements, only RN pediatric nursing experience can count. This is because the role delineation study upon which the exam's questions are based reflects RN practice. Per accreditation standards, board exam content must be congruent with these studies.

Preparing & Studying

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

The PNCB does not provide, endorse, or encourage specific review courses or materials, but we can suggest questions for you to consider when making your choices. Do take time to see the CPN Study Resources webpage and become familiar with the CPN Content Outline.

*Content 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.

Also on the exam resources webpage, find a CPN Reference List of texts for possible study. If you'd like to become familiar with the structure and presentation of the exam, our online CPN Practice Tests may help.

Benefits of Certification

What are the benefits of being a Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN®)?

The Certified Pediatric Nurse exam provides registered nurses a special mechanism for recognition of knowledge and practice excellence in pediatric nursing. Recognition as a CPN® has fostered career growth, provided opportunities for clinical leadership and contributed to the continuing education of registered nurses. For more about the benefits of certification, click here.

Recertification Requirements

Once I am a CPN®, what are the recertification requirements?

CPNs® maintain national certification through annual required participation in the PNCB Recertification Program.

  • Annual recertification enrollment is required
  • Annual recertification enrollment begins approximately 1 year or more from initial certification: Learn more>>
  • Annual recertification program activities/requirements will be managed in 7-year tracking cycles
  • Recert enrollment is from October 1 - December 31 annually
  • Complete and current RN license information must be provided

The Application Process

How do I document my clinical practice hours when applying?

Your online application will require you to attest that you've completed this requirement, which is subject to audit.

Do I need to submit my transcript to the PNCB?

No, transcripts are not needed for application.

What is the scheduling process for testing?

After your application is reviewed and once you receive notification of eligibility from PNCB, you can make your appointment to sit for the exam. The "letter of eligibility" will indicate your 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 my exam eligibility?

Once the PNCB receives your application, notification of eligibility will be emailed and mailed to you. Determination of eligibility will be completed within a timely manner following receipt of all required materials.

Taking the Exam

Do I need computer knowledge to take the exam?

No. Computer knowledge is not required to take a computer-based exam. 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. 

If you'd like exposure to a simulation of the computer-based testing experience, our CPN Exam Practice Test learning activity can help you become familiar with the presentation of exam questions.

How long is the exam?

The exam includes 175 multiple-choice questions. Total testing time is 3 hours.

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

Probably. However, in order to obtain a desired time and place within your testing period, an appointment must be made as soon as possible. Many other groups use Prometric for testing. Waiting to make your appointment may jeopardize your scheduling needs.

How are disability-related needs and special accommodations managed?

In order to facilitate disability-related needs, we work with Prometric to arrange specific accommodations. Please call our office at 1-888-641-2767 for a "Request for Special Exam Accommodations" or click here to print a PDF version, then complete and mail it to the PNCB office.

Can I see which questions I did not answer correctly?

No, because certification exams are secure, and important efforts are made to ensure that security, some of which you noticed at the testing center. This security is a requirement for exam accreditation. While we understand that people want to learn from their mistakes, releasing questions (with or without answers) exposes exam questions that are still in use on exams. Once those questions are shared outside of the secure exam environment, the security and integrity of the exam is compromised. However, if you are unsuccessful on the exam, your report will offer information about strengths and weaknesses in topic areas that may be helpful to considering future study needs.  

Exam Scoring and Re-Examination

When will I receive my exam results?

Computer-based exam pass/fail results are received following the exam, and official results are mailed within 3 weeks after your testing day. No results are given over the telephone or email.

Can I take the exam again if unsuccessful? If so, how soon can I apply to re-examine?

Unsuccessful candidates may repeat the certification exam provided they meet the PNCB's eligibility criteria at the time they apply for re-examination. Application for re-examination may be made once scores are finalized and you have received your official results in the mail. An online application form and your re-application fee are needed to reapply. No other documentation is needed.

Exam Policies & Procedures

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

For procedures and policies on any of the above, please refer to the current candidate handbook appropriate for your exam: 

Computer-based Testing Handbook

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

For procedures and policies on any of the above, please refer to the current candidate handbook appropriate for your exam: 

Computer-based Testing Handbook

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

For procedures and policies on any of the above, please refer to the current candidate handbook appropriate for your exam: 

Computer-based Testing Handbook

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

For procedures and policies on any of the above, please refer to the current candidate handbook appropriate for your exam: 

Computer-based Testing Handbook

What circumstances would cause me to forfeit the exam fee?

For procedures and policies on any of the above, please refer to the current candidate handbook appropriate for your exam: 

Computer-based Testing Handbook

Name Changes

What if my name has changed?

Documentation of name change is needed if the name on the exam application and/or exam eligibility notification is different than the first and last names on your two forms of acceptable identification. Complete our Name Change Attestation Form. The form and supporting documentation must be mailed, emailed to exam@pncb.org or faxed (1-301-330-1504) to our office at least 5 business days before your exam appointment.

Duplicate Lapel Pins & Certificates

How can I order a lapel pin or replacement wall certificate?

Request your free lapel pin or order a new certificate 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!

Dorothy Chinnock, CPNP-PC Northern Valley Indian Health Chico, CA
Raulin Feria, CPN Huntington Memorial Hospital Pasadena, CA
Latasha Ivey, CPN Sibley Heart Center Cardiology Atlanta, GA
View more Faces of Certification