How to Pass the CCRN Exam

Instructor: Jessica Munk
By successfully completing the CCRN, you will gain confidence in your ability to provide care in your area of specialty, and you will prove to your patients, employers and colleagues that you are dedicated to providing the best possible care. Find out about the exam content and where you can find practice questions and tests with this article. Also, explore review courses and additional tips to help you pass.

Familiarize Yourself With the Exam

To pass the CCRN, you must first know what you will be tested on. Each CCRN exam contains 150 multiple-choice questions, and you will have three hours to complete each exam. The CCRN Test Plan, which can be found in the CCRN Handbook at, will give you a detailed outline of the topics tested on the exam you choose to take.

All three exams contain two major components: Clinical Judgment and Professional Caring and Ethical Practice. Each of these components is further broken down into subcategories, and the Test Plan lists detailed information about the subcategories, as well as a percentage of questions on the exam that will be on that particular subcategory.

Complete Practice Questions and a Self-Assessment Exam

Practice question books are available for purchase, and you may be able to find free practice questions and exams online. You can also find free practice questions in the CCRN Handbook.

You can purchase a self-assessment exam (SAE) on the The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) website. This exam allows you to practice taking the exam under simulated real-world conditions, because you will take this exam on your computer through your Internet browser. The SAE only contains 60 questions, but you can view rationales for the answer choices of each question. The SAE will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses as you prepare for the actual exam.

Take a Review Course

Taking a review course will help you build confidence in your test-taking abilities as well as help you review clinical-specific content. The AACN website offers online neonatal, adult and pediatric courses to help you pass the CCRN Exam. In addition to the online review courses offered by the AACN, the AACN's website provides links to review courses in the US. You can search review courses by date or by state. You can also find local AACN chapters that you can then contact to see if that chapter offers a review course. Further, you can ask whether your local college or university offers a review course. offers many courses that can help you prepare for the CCRN Exam. Take a course in critical care nursing to learn more about critical care nursing essentials and more specific topics, such as pediatric critical care. Brush up on your body system knowledge with lessons on the nervous and endocrine systems, the respiratory system and the cardiovascular system. Use these courses to test your knowledge and practice taking topic exams.

Utilize Additional Resources

A few other resources exist to help you pass the CCRN Exam. Consider joining a study group or talking to people who have already successfully taken the exam. If you need additional study material, the CCRN Handbook provides a bibliography of the materials that the actual exam writers used to confirm their answers. Finally, in the unfortunate situation where you have to retake the exam, you can study your score report to identify topics that you are both comfortable with and topics that you need to improve on.

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