Adult Gerontology CNS Practice Test

The Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist board certification (AGCNS-BC) exam assesses your entry-level clinical skills and knowledge of clinical nurse specialists, focusing on delivering wellness through acute care to adult and older adult populations.  The Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification (ABSNC) accredits the examination.


There are eligibility requirements to sit for the AGCNS-BC exam. The requirements include:

  • An active, current Registered Nurse (RN) license
    or the recognized equivalent
  • Master’s, Postgraduate, or Doctoral degree from
    an accredited adult-gerontology clinical nurse specialist program
  • Graduate-level courses including advanced
    physiology/pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, and advanced
  • Continuing education with content in health
    promotion and maintenance, and differential diagnosis and disease management

Candidates who have completed eligibility requirements before degree conferral may apply to sit for the examination.

Current test format

Effective 14 March 2019, the certification exam became a three and a half-hour computer-delivered test consisting of 175 multiple-choice questions.

Test design

The certification exam effective 14 March 2019 will assess your skills and knowledge in Assessment and Diagnosis (28% of the exam), Planning and Implementation (44% of the exam), and Evaluation (28% of the exam).

The three domains consist of questions developed to identify and assess your knowledge and skills in direct patient care and nursing organizational systems, with secondary classification questions related to body systems, drug agents, and age group forming the knowledge base of questions as applicable.

Knowledge and skills assessed with both certification examinations

The domains in both exams assess your knowledge of normal age-related changes, pathophysiology, detriments of health (individual and environmental), abuse and neglect, nursing theories, pharmacotherapeutics, polypharmacy, substance use disorders, roles of family and caregivers, end-of-life and palliative care, adult learning theories, information, technology, change management, educational initiatives, standards of health care, patient and system outcomes, research methodologies, statistical analysis, compliance, and quality and process improvement.

Additionally in both examinations, your skills in the following are examined: assessments, diagnostic testing, differential diagnoses, ethical health care, interventions, complementary and alternative therapies, education, coaching, advocacy, coordination, health promotion, evidence-based practice, nursing and health care advocacy, responses to interventions, care plan modification, organization and systems leadership, health care business and finance, and professional development.

Each question has four possible answers and only one correct answer. Question prompts consist of information presented in a situational format where you must use your knowledge and experience to answer the question with the appropriate answer. This format allows you to apply your identification, application, and reasoning skills to demonstrate competency.

Registration, cost, and location

After you have confirmed your eligibility to test, you may apply online to take the exam. The registration fee for the AGCNS-BC exam is $295.00 for American Nurses Association members, $340.00 for American Association of Nurse Practitioners, Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association (GAPNA), and National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) members. The registration fee for candidates who are not members of any of the listed organizations is $395.00. Acceptable payment methods include credit card, debit card, personal check, and other payment methods.

Once you have applied and your registration fee has been accepted, you need to submit your education verification documents by following the instructions you receive. Failure to do so could void your registration, and your fees will not be returned.

Once you have your authorization to test notice, you have 90 days to schedule your examination with Prometric. Test centers are located worldwide, and appointments are offered Monday through Saturday at most centers.

Test Day

Allow yourself enough time before your appointment to find parking and complete pre-test activities. Leave personal belongings in your vehicle or at home; supplies needed for the exam are provided to you by the testing center.

Before you begin your exam, you will familiarize yourself with the computer-delivery method. Once you have completed the tutorial, your test begins. If time remains at the conclusion, review your answers before submitting for scoring. Do not leave blank responses; there is no penalty for incorrect answers.

Exam results

The testing center provides on-site results. When completed, a score report is generated and given to you. The report will indicate your pass or fail status. If you do not pass the exam, your report will include information for each content area.

You receive one point for each correct answer, and this becomes your raw score. Your raw score is then converted to a scaled score ranging from 0 to 500. A scaled passing score is 350.

Approximately four weeks after you successfully pass the exam, you will receive your certificate and ANCC pin. Certification is valid for five years.

Prepare for your AGCNS-BC certification examination

In 2017, 263 candidates took the AGCNS-BC examination, and 208 received a passing score. The certification, recognized in every state and territory, is an essential step in your career progression. For that reason, do not leave anything to chance.

How Can I Prepare for the Adult Gerontology CNS Test?

That’s a great question.  We’ve broken down the answer into three parts.

  1. Do yourself a favor and study.  Do not walk in unprepared. We have recommended prep materials below, but that only helps if you actually try.  Plus, studying is actually proven to be the best antidote to test anxiety.
  2. Take care of yourself.  Make sure you’re eating well, exercising, and sleeping.  All of these things are scientifically linked to brain performance.  If you take care of your body, you’ll be helping your grades.
  3. Get a study guide or set of flashcards.  Some people study better a certain way. Find your study strengths and make the most of them.  We’ve tried to make it easy for you by tracking down the best study guide and flashcard set for your exam.  Below you’ll see links to both!

Study Guide



Last Updated: June 21, 2021