Cardiac Medicine Certification (CMC) Exam

CMC is a specialty certification for nurses who work directly with acutely/critically ill adult cardiac patients. This exam, when passed, will prove that you have the skills and knowledge necessary to be successful in that profession.

Who is Eligible?

Applicants for the CMC Exam must have:

  • A current and unrestricted U.S. RN or APRN license
  • A current nationally accredited clinical nursing specialty certification
  • At least 1750 hours of direct care with acutely/critically ill patients as an RN/APRN within the last two years (875 of those within the last year and 875 in direct care of acutely/critically ill adult cardiac patients), or
  • At least 2000 hours of direct care with acutely/critically ill adult patients for five years (144 of those within the last year and 1000 in direct care of acutely/critically ill adult cardiac patients)

How do I Apply and Pay for the Exam?

Applications are can be completed online through the AACN website to register for the computer-based exam. An exam fee of $130 for AACN members and $215 for non-members can be paid online with debit or credit card. Testers also have the option to choose a paper and pencil exam. These applications will need to be printed and mailed, along with the exam fee and any required documentation, to the AACN.

When and Where is it Taken?

Once your application has been approved, you will be sent an Approval to Test postcard and email. This will include instructions on how to schedule an exam appointment through PSI/AMP testing centers. Your approval to Test is only good for 90 days; you must schedule and take your exam during this time period.

PSI/AMP has over 300 locations nationwide with exams available at a time and date of your choice. Space may be limited so you should plan on scheduling your exam as soon as possible.

Special accommodations are available to those who are disabled and may not be able to test under normal conditions. This request must be made during registration and will require supporting documentation.

You can reschedule or cancel your exam appointment by contacting PSI/AMP at least three business days before your original testing session. You may only reschedule once during your 90-day approval period.

What to Expect on Test Day?

Be sure to arrive on time for your appointment. Latecomers will not be allowed to enter or test that day, forfeiting all fees.

You will need to bring at least two forms of identification with you to take your exam. Your primary ID must be a government-issued photo ID containing your signature and full name as it appears on your application. Your secondary ID must have your signature and printed full name.

Personal items are not allowed in the testing center. This includes but is not limited to any study materials, purses/bags, outwear, food/drinks, cell phones/electrical devices. Please leave these in your vehicle or at home or risk being dismissed and your scores voided.

You will be provided with a scratch paper and a writing utensil for making notes at the testing center. These must be returned to the proctor at the end of the exam.

What Does the CMC Exam Cover?

The CMC Exam is made up of 90 multiple-choice questions. 75 of those are scored while the other 15 are unidentified pretest items that do not count towards your score. You will be given two hours to complete the entire exam.

The exam is broken into main sections.

  • Cardiovascular Patient Care Problems (43% of questions) – dysrhythmias, heart failure, acute coronary syndrome, other cardiac issues
  • Other Patient Care Problems (18% of questions) – problems dealing with the pulmonary, endocrine, neurology, hematology/immunology, and renal systems as well as behavior issues
  • Therapeutic Interventions (23% of questions) – therapy for cardiovascular, renal, pulmonary, and multisystem issues
  • Monitoring and Diagnostics (16% of questions) – diagnostics and monitoring techniques for the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems

You may return to previous questions. There is no penalty for guessing and it is suggested that you answer every question to the best of your ability.

What About My Scores?

You will be given access to your score report at the end of your computer-based exam. This will include a breakdown of your scores and your pass/fail status. Pencil and paper results will be mailed about 3-4 weeks after your exam.

For those that pass, you will be sent your wall certificate about 3-4 weeks after passing your exam. Your CMC credential is good for a three-year period before renewal is required.

Failing candidates can retake the exam up to four times per calendar year for a discounted price after application. After a 12-month period with no successful attempt at the exam, a new honor statement will be required.

How Can I Prepare for the CMC Exam?

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: August 1, 2019