Certified Dialysis Nurse Exam

The Certified Dialysis
Nurse (CDN) Exam is offered to Registered Nurses who specialize in dialysis and
the care of persons with CKG stage 5.

It’s given to test the
knowledge a candidate must have in order to provide safe care to patients who
are receiving dialysis treatment.

Person wearing headphones sitting at a desk with a laptop, smartphone, and notebook. Text on the image advertises a 20% discount on an online CDN course with the code CDN20, offered by Mometrix.

Online CDN Prep Course

If you want to be fully prepared, Mometrix offers an online CDN Prep Course. The course is designed to provide you with any and every resource you might want while studying. The CDN Course includes:

  • Review Lessons Covering Every Topic
  • 600+ CDN Practice Questions
  • More than 450 Digital Flashcards
  • Money-back Guarantee
  • Free Mobile Access
  • and More!

The CDN Prep Course is designed to help any learner get everything they need to prepare for their CDN exam. Click below to check it out!

Who gives the CDN exam?

The CDN Exam is given by the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission (NNCC) and is one of the six exams offered by them.

I want to take the exam, but I don’t know the eligibility requirements?

In order to be eligible to take the CDN Exam, candidates from the U.S. and U.S. territories must:

  • Have a license as a Registered Nurse that is current, unrestricted, and from the United States, or its territories.
  • You will need to have a minimum of 2,000 hours as a registered Nephrology nurse, caring for patients that require dialysis, or educating/supervising staff who care for patients that require dialysis. This experience must take place within the 2 years prior to submitting your application.
  • You will have also completed 20 contact hours of continuing education in nephrology nursing from approved providers. This experience will have to take place within the 2 years prior to submitting your application.

How do I register for the CDN Exam?

To register for the CDN Exam, you will need to:

  • Download the application from the NNCC website: www.nncc-exam.org.
    • After downloading the application, you must fill out each section, making sure to include the last four digits of your social security number as well as all required signatures.
  • You must attach copies of your nephrology contact hours. The copies must be clear and total 20 contact hours.
  • Attach proof of your current RN license.
    • The expiration date must be visible and clear.
    • If you don’t have a copy of your RN license, you may attach a letter, or printout from your state board of nursing verifying your licensure. This letter/printout must contain your verification number and expiration date.
  • Mail the application and verification letter, or RN license, along with your payment to the NNCC.

*Important: Processing takes up to four weeks, after which you will receive either an examination permit with instructions to schedule your exam, or an incomplete application letter. If you receive an incomplete application letter, you will be instructed to send additional information.

How much does it cost to take the CDN Exam?

The price of the exam is different for partner members and non-partner members:

Non-Partner Members:

Exam fee: $350

Exam retake fee: $200

Partner Members:

Exam fee: $300

Exam retake fee: $175

Talk to me about test day. What will it be like?

So, for test day, you definitely want to arrive early – at least 30 minutes. You will need to have a valid, government-issued ID, as well as your exam permit. Nothing is allowed in the exam room with you, so it’s best to leave personal items home.

Although some locations offer a place to store your personal belongings, don’t just assume that your testing site will.  

Before the exam, you are required to give the exam proctor your photo ID, which will be returned to you upon completion of the exam. Your picture will also be taken, and you will need to sign a roster, along with a few other documents.

How long is the CDN Exam?

You will be given four hours to complete the exam. There are 200 multiple choice questions, and you may choose to either take a paper and pencil exam or a computer-based exam.

What is the passing score for the exam?

In order to pass the CDN Exam, you will need to get at least 140 questions correct out of the 200 questions given.

Will I lose points for guessing if I don’t know the answer to a question?

What’s good about the CDN Exam is that there is no penalty for guessing. If you don’t know the answer to a question, you should definitely make an educated guess.

When can I expect my exam results? Will they come in the mail?

If you take a computer-based exam, you will receive your score report immediately upon completion. If you take a paper and pencil exam, you can expect your results in 4-6 weeks.

What will I be tested on?

The CDN Exam is broken up into two parts: Content and Objectives.

The content portion is broken down into four sections:

  • Concepts of Kidney Disease (28%)
  • Hemodialysis (54%)
  • Peritoneal Dialysis (14%)
  • Transplant and Acute Therapies (4%)

Nine Objective areas:

  • Pathophysiology/Complications (20%)
  • Interventions (19%)
  • Physical/Technical Principles (20%)
  • Teaching (6%)
  • Medications (12%)
  • Interdisciplinary Team (6%)
  • Psychosocial (3%)
  • Infection Control (12%)
  • Professional Practice (2%)

*Important: There are three types of questions on the exam:

  • Recall of Knowledge
  • Comprehension
  • Application of Knowledge

What do I do if I fail the exam? Can I retake it?

If you fail the exam, you have one opportunity to retake it within the year at a reduced rate. You will have to fill out a re-take application.

How Can I Prepare for the CDN 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: March 8, 2024