The Aptitude for Practical Nursing Exam is offered by the Psychological Services Bureau (PSB). The exam is given to assess a test-taker’s knowledge and is one of the factors that determine whether they will be accepted into the healthcare program they are applying to.

How do I register for the exam?

You will need to register for the exam through the school you are applying to. To begin with, you will have to file an “attempt to apply” with the school. After that a school advisor will walk you through the next step, which is scheduling your exam.

How is the Aptitude for Practical Nursing Exam formatted?

The exam is either computer-based or paper and pencil, depending on your preference. It consists of 360 questions and is broken up into 5 tests and three subtests:

  • Academic Aptitude – (90 questions)
    • Verbal Subtest (30 questions) – This section will be almost exclusively vocabulary.
    • Arithmetic Subtest (30 questions) – This section is made up of math questions up to an eighth-grade level. You will need to be able to calculate sums, products, and differences rapidly in your head.
    • Nonverbal Subtest (30 questions) – This subtest is similar to an IQ test in that it requires you to find the differences between pictured objects, and mentally manipulate shapes.
  • Spelling – (50 questions)
    • This subtest covers your written expression and communication skills.
  • Information in the natural sciences – (90 questions)
    • This subtest tests your knowledge in biology, chemistry, health and safety at the elementary school level.
  • Judgment and comprehension in practical nursing situations – (40 questions)
    • You are required to answer questions that deal with ethical and practical issues that may come up in the workplace.
  • Vocational Adjustment Index – (90 questions)
    • This section is a little more personal in that it deals with your personal feelings, opinions and behaviors that would otherwise be acceptable in any other situation, but not acceptable for a prospective nurse.

What will I need to have with me on the day of the exam?

On the day of your exam, you will want to have a valid, government-issued photo ID. You should also bring with you at least two #2 pencils, regardless of whether you’re taking a pencil and paper exam or a computer exam.

Will I be able to use a calculator for the arithmetic section of the exam?

Unfortunately, you will not be able to use a calculator. You will need to utilize pencil and paper to work out arithmetic problems.

How long will I have to take the exam?

You will be given a total of one hour and forty-five minutes to complete the exam.

How is the exam scored?

What makes this exam different from other exams is that its an aptitude exam. This means that there is no minimum score. However, you should try to do the best you can because it demonstrates your potential for success in the nursing program you’re going into.

The exam is scored based off of how many questions you answer correctly, so even if you don’t know the answer to a question you won’t lose points for guessing.

You will receive both your raw score and your percentile rank, which is how well you did compared to other test takers.

How Can I Prepare for the PSB-PN 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 
  4. tracking down the best study guide and flashcard set for your exam.  Below you’ll see 
  5. links to both!

Study Guide



Last Updated: December 13, 2019