Certified Pediatric Nurse Exam

The Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN) exam is a credential offered by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) that identifies the knowledge and expertise of pediatric nurses.

Eligibility for the CPN

To sit for the CPN exam, you need to have a current, unrestricted Registered Nurse license, and:

  • 1,800 hours of pediatric clinical experience in the past 24 months, or
  • Five years as a pediatric nurse, and 3,000 hours in pediatric nursing in the last five years with a minimum of 1,000 hours within the past 24 months.

Any hours earned in a pediatric nursing residency program count toward the clinical requirement.

Registration, cost, and location for the CPN

Apply to sit for the CPN exam at the PNCB website. Your application includes providing the required documentation and submitting the required registration fee. The cost for the CPN exam is $255.00 for Society of Pediatric Nurses (SPN) members and $300.00 for non-members. The registration fee includes a $100.00 non-refundable application fee. Payments are accepted by Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, and electronic check.

When your registration is approved, PNCB emails and mails your Approval and Scheduling Notice. Print the eligibility letter you receive and follow the directions to register for your exam. You have 90 days from the day your application is approved to schedule your exam with a Prometric Testing Center. The exam is delivered at over 300 locations nationwide by appointment only. Exams are offered year-round, Monday through Friday, and Saturday appointments may be available at some test centers.

What is on the CPN

The Certified Public Nurse exam tests your ability to apply your knowledge and use your critical thinking skills in situations presented in the exam. The test consists of 175 computer-delivered multiple-choice questions. 25 of the 175 questions are not scored and are distributed throughout the exam. You have three hours to complete the exam.

The CPN exam consists of three content areas:

  • Assessment – 38% of the exam, 57 questions

Your knowledge of physical and psychosocial pediatric patient assessment is examined.

  • Health Promotion – 14% of the exam, 21 questions

This content area examines your ability to identify the factors that influence health, provide guidance and education, and refer appropriately to community resources.

  • Management – 48% of the exam, 72 questions

In the management content area, your skills, abilities, and knowledge of acute and chronic illness, psychosocial and behavioral development, palliative and end of life care, and professional responsibilities are assessed.

Questions may address a specific clinical problem within a content area, and the appropriate answers will focus on your ability to identify and implement correct procedures and interventions.

How to prepare for Test Day

On the day of your exam, arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment time. Provide two forms of current identification, with at least one a government-issued id with a current photograph. Leave belongings at home or in your car. All test supplies are provided.

After you have completed the pre-test activities, you are escorted to your testing station. You are given an opportunity to take a 15-minute computer tutorial before beginning your exam. Once your test has begun, your time continues until you run out of time or submit your answers for scoring. Answer all questions to the best of your ability; there is no penalty for unanswered questions or incorrect responses.

Scoring on the CPN

At the conclusion of your exam, the test proctor provides you unofficial pass or fail results of your exam. In two to three weeks after the test, your official results are mailed to you. Your official score report includes details of your performance in each content area.

You receive one point for each correct response (raw score). Your raw score is converted to an approved scaled score, and your scaled score becomes your official score. The scale score is on a scale of 200 (no correct answers) to 800 (all answers correct) with 400 the required passing point.

If you need to retake the exam, you must wait until you receive your official score report. Once it is received, you may reapply.

How Can I Prepare for the CPN Exam

Obtaining the Certified Pediatric Nurse credential can increase your advancement opportunities, and the credential recognizes your continued professional growth by obtaining skills and knowledge above that of a Registered Nurse. Do not let one 175-question test waylay your career goals.

How Can I Prepare for the Pediatric 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!


Last Updated: April 15, 2020