CPNP-AC Exam FAQs

Answers to common questions about the exam

CPNP-AC 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 & Application

I graduated from a PNCB Recognized Program. What are the 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 Doctorate of Nursing Practice 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 program is not on the list of PNCB's recognized PNP programs, how can it be included?

Have your Program Director contact PNCB at programresources@pncb.org for information.

May I mail or email my transcript personally?

No. All transcripts must be sent directly to PNCB from the Registrar's office of the educational institution or by a transcript service such as National Student Clearinghouse or Parchment. Electronic transcripts are now accepted. Please see the transcripts webpage for details.

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

Please refer to the transcripts page to review detailed transcript requirements.

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 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.

Primary Care vs. Acute Care Roles

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

No. Only graduates of a primary care or dual (acute care/primary care) program may sit for the primary 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 (primary care) focus of the formal educational program and the certification exam. For more information, please see NONPF's Statement on Acute Care and Primary Care Certified Nurse Practitioner Practice (2012)

Preparing & Studying

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

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. PNCB offers online Acute Care Practice Tests that can help you become familiar with the presentation and structure of actual CPNP exam questions. 

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 Special Exam Accommodations Form, 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 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?

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

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 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

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 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

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

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

What circumstances would cause me to forfeit the exam fee?

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

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

Verification of Certification

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

Verification of certification is available 24/7 to all state boards of nursing. A Board can verify or re-verify information on demand and as many times as needed.

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?

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 & Certifications

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