Cardiac Vascular Nursing Exam

This is a board certification exam for all those seeking credentials as an RN-BC with a specialty in Cardiac/Vascular. The exam will evaluate your skills and knowledge in this area and determine if you have the abilities of entry-level nurses in this field. A passing completion of it will reward you with an ANCC board certification and the credentials: Registered Nurse-Board Certified (RN-BC).

Who is Eligible?

To be eligible for this exam you must:

  • Have a current and unrestricted RN license
  • Have at least two years of experience as a full-time RN
  • Have at least 2000 hours of clinical practice in cardiac-vascular nursing within the last three years
  • Have at least 30 hours of continuing education in cardiac-vascular nursing within the last three years

There is an exam fee of $295 for the American Nursing Association (ANA) members and $395 for non-members. Discounts are available from several other nursing associations as well. The price of this exam includes a $140 non-refundable administrative fee.

When and Where is it Taken?

After your application has been approved, you will receive an Authorization to Test notice. You will then have 90 days to schedule and take this exam. Testing is offered through Prometric, a professional testing firm, on computers only. This exam can be scheduled year-round at locations scattered throughout the U.S.

Choose a time, date and location that is convenient for you. However, it is recommended that you register early as seating is limited at some locations and is filled on a first come, first served basis.

Special testing accommodations will be available to those with disabilities or who cannot test under normal conditions. You may make this request by submitting the proper paperwork to ANCC.

Should you need to reschedule or cancel your exam appointment, you may do so by contacting Prometric. This should be done no later than two days before their original exam or you will forfeit your testing fee.

What Should I Bring?

It is essential that you arrive at least 15 minutes early for your scheduled exam to make sure you have time to complete a required check-in process. Those who arrive late will not be allowed to test that day and will have to reregister and submit another payment.

The above-mentioned check-in process will need you to present at least one valid and current form of identification. This must include your full name as it appears on your application, your signature, and a recent and recognizable photo. If your ID contains missing or incorrect information, you may be asked to show another one or be turned away and not allowed to test.

All other personal belongings are strictly prohibited in the testing area and must be kept in a designated area during the exam. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Cell phones
  • Food and drinks
  • Watches, jewelry, and outerwear
  • Calculators
  • Pencils, paper, and study materials

If these items are found on your person, you will be immediately dismissed and your scores voided.

You will be provided with a dry-erase marker and board to make notes or figure calculations.

What is Covered?

This exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions. Of those only 125 are scored. The other 25 are unidentified pretest questions that are scattered throughout the exam and do not count towards your score.

Below is a brief description of each major area of the exam, including the number of questions and its overall weight.

Assessment and Diagnosis (31 questions/25%)

This section will test your ability to conduct comprehensive clinical interviews, perform systematic cardiac-vascular assessments, obtaining and interpreting relevant data, producing individualized diagnoses, and identifying crisis situations.

Planning and Implementation (44 questions/35%)

In this section, you have to show competency in evidence-based practice guidelines, scope and standard of practice, legal and ethical considerations, procedures, surgeries, pharmacologic therapies, non-pharmacologic and complementary therapies, and risk-reduction measures.

Evaluation and Modification (28 questions/22%)

This section will ask about your knowledge in expected outcomes and drug interactions.

Patient and Community Education (22 questions/18%)

Here, your knowledge will be tested on cardiac-vascular risk factors and education topics, chronic disease management, self management strategies, and community resources.

You will be given three hours to complete the exam. There is no penalty for guessing, and you are encouraged to answer all questions to the best of your ability.

How is it Scored?

Your score report will include your pass or fail status and a diagnostic report of your performance if you fail. This will be available to you at the testing center after you finish your exam.

Your scores are calculated by taking your raw score (number of correctly answered questions) and converting it to a scaled score based on the difficulty of those questions. Scores are scaled with a maximum of 500. You must receive at least a 350 to be considered passing.

If you fail the exam, you will be allowed to apply to retest after 60 days. You are not allowed to retake the exam more than three times in a 12-month period. The retesting fee is $270.

Passing candidates will receive their certificate and ANCC pin through the mail about four weeks after your exam. An official letter from ANCC stating the dates of your five-year certificate period will also be included.

How Can I Prepare for the Cardiac Vascular Nurse 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