Pediatric CCRN Exam

The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) offers the Pediatric Critical Care Nursing Certification (CCRN). The certification exam is for registered nurses who provide direct patient care to acutely/critically ill pediatric patients.


Candidates for the CCRN certification examination must meet eligibility requirements:

  • Hold an unrestricted, current RN or APRN license; and
  • Have 1,750 hours in direct care of acutely/critically ill pediatric patients in the last two years, with 875 hours obtained in the year prior to application; or
  • Have 2,000 hours in direct care of acutely/critically ill pediatric patients in the last five years, with 875 hours obtained in the year prior to application.

The application requires direct patient care experience verification.

Application method and cost

There are two methods to apply for the Pediatric CCRN exam – online and paper. Individuals use the online application method. Group registrations and candidates testing outside of the United States use the paper application.

The application fee is $235.00 for AACN members and $340.00 for non-members. The application is payable by Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover. AACN processes your online application on the same business day it is received.

When your application is received, AACN sends an email that confirms receipt of your application. If your application is approved, AACN’s testing service sends you an approval-to-test notification via U.S. Mail and email that identifies your testing window.

Scheduling the exam

Once you have received the approval-to-test notification, follow the directions to schedule your examination within the indicated testing window. The certification exam is offered two times a day, Monday through Friday at over 300 testing centers nationwide.

Test design

The exam assesses your integration of knowledge, skills, abilities, and experience delivering direct pediatric patient care and consists of 150 multiple-choice questions. The test contains questions covering clinical judgment (80%) and professional caring and ethical practice (20%) based on AACN’s Synergy Model for Patient Care.

The clinical judgment content has five sections:

  • Musculoskeletal/Neurology/Psychosocial (16% of questions)
  • Multi-system (14% of questions)
  • Cardiovascular (15% of questions)
  • Pulmonary (16% of questions)
  • Endocrine/Hematology/Gastrointestinal/Renal/Integumentary (19% of questions)

Professional caring and ethical practice consist of questions drawn from the following areas:

  • Advocacy/Moral agency
  • Caring practices
  • Response to diversity
  • Facilitation of learning
  • Collaboration
  • Systems thinking
  • Clinical inquiry

You have three hours to complete the computer-delivered exam.

Test Day

Do not be late for your appointment and leave your belongings at home or in your car. Two forms of valid, current identification are required to check in; with one being government-issued. After your identity is verified, you are directed to a testing station. Scratch paper is provided, and you are not allowed to bring anything with you to your testing carrel.

At your station, you can take a pre-test to gain familiarity with the delivery system. The time you spend on the pre-test does not count against your examination time. Once you have completed the pre-test, your exam begins.

Monitor your time, and do not spend too much time on each question. You can mark questions on the exam to return to once you have worked yourself through the exam. When you are finished, submit your test for scoring, return the materials provided, and collect your official score report before leaving the testing center.


Your official score is provided to you before you leave the testing center. The passing score is determined by a criterion-referenced standard that is based on the difficulty of the exam. Your score report indicates your status (pass/fail) and provides information on your performance in each area.

Successful candidates receive a certificate in the mail within four weeks of the 90-day window closing.

Candidates who did not pass are allowed to retake the exam up to four times in 12 months at a discounted rate.

How Can I Prepare for the Pediatric CCRN 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: July 26, 2019