Adult CCRN Certification Review

The Adult CCRN exam is developed and maintained by the AACN or American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. This is taken by nurses seeking specialty certification in direct care to acutely/critically ill adults. This exam is used to measure candidates for licensure into the field, as it holds a standard of excellence and professionalism that all CCRNs must possess.

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Who is Eligible?

To be eligible to sit for the CCRN exam you must currently hold an unrestricted registered nursing or RN license and meet one of the following requirements:

  • Have at least 1750 hours of practice as an RN or APRN in direct care of acutely/critically ill patients in the past two years. 875 of those hours must have been completed in the past year. Or
  • Have at least five years of experience as an RN or APRN with at least 2000 hours of direct care for acutely/critically ill patients. 144 of those hours must have been completed in the last year.

There is a fee of $235 for AACN members and $340 for non-members. This payment is due at the time of application. Applications can be done online or on paper and sent through the mail.

When and Where is it Taken?

Once your application has been processed and approved, AACN will send you an email notification through PSI/AMP, a testing service firm. This will include your invitation to schedule your exam, your exam ID number, and the dates of your 90-day testing window in which you must schedule and take your exam.

The exam can be scheduled Monday through Friday at 9 am or 1:30 pm year-round. Saturday appointments are also available at most locations.

PSI/AMP has more than 300 testing locations scattered throughout the U.S. Choose the one that is most convenient for you.

It recommended that you register as early as possible as seating and space may be limited and is filled on a first come, first served basis.

Special accommodations are available upon request for those who may not be able to test under normal conditions or may need to bring certain medications with them. Please make this request during your registration or as early as possible to ensure approval before your test date.

You can reschedule or cancel your exam appointment for any reason up until the last 48 hours before your original exam without penalty. Otherwise, you will forfeit any fees paid and will be considered a no-show.

What Should I bring?

PSI/AMP requires that you arrive at least 15 minutes early for your exam appointment. This will give you time to complete the check-in process before the exam begins. If you do not arrive on time or are late, you will not be allowed to test and will have to reschedule, forfeiting all fees.

You will need to bring two forms of identification with you to the testing site. These must be current and valid and include your full name as it appears on your application and your signature. One of these forms must be a primary or photo ID and include a recent and recognizable photo.

Aside from your wallet and keys, no personal items are allowed in the testing area. This includes:

  • Cell phones
  • Food and drinks
  • Calculators
  • Pencils, paper, and study materials
  • Watches and jewelry
  • Outerwear such as hats and jackets

These items may be able to be stored in a designated locker as provides. However, these are not be accessed during the exam, and you will be dismissed with your scored voided if you are found with them on your person.

What is Covered?

This exam is made of 150 multiple choice questions. Of those, 25 are not scored. These are classified as pretest questions that are unidentified and scattered throughout the exam. you will be given three hours to complete the entire exam.

Below is a brief outline of the main sections of the exam and what they cover:

Clinical Judgement (80%)

Recognize and assess the following body systems, managing their needs and symptoms accordingly: Cardiovascular, pulmonary, endocrine/hematology/gastrointestinal/renal/integumentary, musculoskeletal/neurology/psychosocial

Professional Caring and Ethical Practice (20%)

Advocacy/moral agency, caring practices, response to diversity, facilitation of learning, collaboration, systems thinking, and clinical inquiry

How is it Scored?

You will be given a score report at the completion of your exam at the testing site. This will include your pass/fail status, your overall score, and a breakdown of your performance on each main area of the exam.

The passing score is predetermined based on the difficulty of the questions contained in your exam. Since there are several different versions of the exam, there are also several different passing scores possible.

For those who took a paper and pencil exam, your score will be sent to you within 3-4 weeks after your appointment.

Passing candidates will receive their official wall certificate within 3-4 weeks after your exam. This certification will grant you three years of credentials. Renewal of your certification can be completed by retaking the exam or by completing the Continuing Education Recognition Point or CERP program.

Those who do not pass are given the opportunity to retake it if you would like. You will need to reregister and pay a retesting fee of $170 for an AACN member and $275 for non-members.

How Can I Prepare for the Adult CCRN Test?

We believe that different learning styles require different tools for success. We have compiled a list of the best study guides, flashcards, and practice tests that we’ve found on the market. Some of these guides have review videos, for you visual learners out there. Others have practice tests, which have been proven to increase student scores by a whole letter grade (in some cases more than that)!

Top Study Guides: 

High Quality Flashcards: 

Best Online Course: 


Last Updated: October 7, 2021