Certified Nephrology Nurse (CNN) Exam

As you prepare to take the Certified Nephrology Nurse (CNNTM) exam, we’ve assembled information to support your efforts. As you read on, you’ll see details on exam registration, testing fees, payment methods, items to bring on the day of the test, plus an overview of the types of questions you can expect to be faced with when you take the exam.

What is the CNN Exam?

The CNN exam, from the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission, provides an important, standardized method of ensuring consistent, high-quality care for patients, regardless of their location.

Who is Eligible to Take the CNN?

There are several prerequisites required prior to taking the CNN exam.

First, have a valid, full, unrestricted registered nurse license that’s applicable to the United States or its territories.

Second, you need at least 3,000 hours of experience directly related to nephrology nursing as a registered nurse. This experience can come in a number of areas, including in patient education, staff education, cased management, clinical setting, management/charge role, clinical outcomes/quality improvement/compliance/quality assurance, research or consulting role. Also, this experience must come within three years before you apply for the CNN exam.

Third, have an undergraduate degree or a master’s degree related to nursing.

Fourth, complete 30 hours of approved continuing education that is directly tied to nephrology nursing. In addition, this requirement must be fulfilled within the three-year timeframe before your exam application.



  • The exam fee is $350.


  • Once you register for the exam, you’ll get more information about available testing times and locations.

When to Arrive

  • Be sure to arrive 30 minutes prior to your scheduled exam time.

Test Duration:

  • You’ll be given a total of three hours to finish the test.

CNN [Certified Nephrology Nurse] Exam Practice Test

What to Bring:

  • You’ll need one form of government-issued identification with you that shows your photo, name and signature. Acceptable types of identification include driver’s license, state ID card with photo, passport, military ID card with photo.
  • Your full name on your ID must exactly match your name as it appears on your exam registration materials.

What Not to Bring:

  • Phones and any type of electronic device
  • Any kind of personal items, such as bags, purses, etc.

What to Expect During Your Exam:

  • Format/Number of Questions: This is a computer-based exam consisting of 150 questions. 
  • Exam Content Areas
  • The CNN exam includes five content areas. Here’s an overview of each of these areas, including the approximate percentage each area represents as part of the total test.
  • Content Area 1: Concepts of Kidney Disease (35%) — Assesses your knowledge in confirming normal kidney function, as well as conditions and complications that are pathologic. Topics include chronic kidney disease progression monitoring, residual kidney function preservation, side effects of medications and lifestyle adjustments to control blood pressure.
  • Content Area 2: Hemodialysis (30%) — This portion looks at technical and physiologic concepts, along with elements of water treatment, infection control, medication administration and vascular access monitoring. This section covers fluid volume status, dialysis access care, home dialysis therapy, and home care support.
  • Content Area 3: Peritoneal Dialysis (20%) — Reviews capabilities related to performing, managing and teaching therapy and complications. This portion covers peritoneal dialysis complications, treatment implementation, and phone-based care and support.
  • Content Area 4: Transplant (10%) — This section assesses knowledge and experience in the areas of pre-transplant preparation, postoperative care and follow-up care, including donor and recipient suitability, post-transplant complications and effective long-term care.
  • Content Area 5: Acute Therapies (5%) — Looks at concepts such as CRRT, SLEDD and apheresis therapies, including CRRT treatment initiation, monitoring and discontinuance, plus CRRT complication assessment.

Test Objectives

During the course of the exam, several key objectives are assessed and included in the course of the descriptions.

These objectives include recognizing pathologic complications and processes, choosing appropriate interventions, applying technical and physiologic principles, selecting the right learning and teaching approaches for patients and their family members, choosing medication administration actions, recognizing the value of interdisciplinary care, choosing the right sociocultural and psychological interventions, infection control and promoting optimal outcomes.

Exam Scoring: You’ll receive your test score and your pass/fail result immediately upon completion of the exam.

How to Prepare for the Certified Nephrology 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: July 31, 2019