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CEN Exam – A Comprehensive Guide to Passing the Exam


CEN Exam: A Comprehensive Guide to Passing the Examination.

CEN Exam: The Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) exam is an assessment of your knowledge in the area of emergency nursing. Find out what you need to pass the CEN exam, including study tips and practice exams.

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CEN Exam

The Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) exam can be intimidating, especially for those who don’t have previous experience in the ED. Here’s a story of how one nurse passed the CEN exam and her thoughts on why

The CEN Exam

The CEN exam is designed to measure your knowledge in the area of emergency nursing. It’s a three hour computer adaptive test designed to provide a comprehensive picture of your knowledge.

The exam covers nursing science, nursing practice, and emergency nursing. The exam also features multiple choice questions, situational, and fluency testing.

Following the passing of the CEN exam, you’ll receive your CEN certification and a CEN pin. There is an option to retake the exam after passing, but you will have to complete a revised version to successfully complete the course.

Section 2: Study Tips for Passing the CEN Exam

Exam day is almost here, but there’s still time to prepare. Here are some tips on how to prepare for the CEN exam.

Pass the CEN Exam With These Study Tips

You’ve completed your Advanced Paramedic Nursing course, passed the state certification and now you’re finally ready to prepare for the Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) exam.

While the CEN exam is a lot of information to cover, your emergency room experience and your time spent shadowing nurses will serve you well when you take the exam.

The Certified Emergency Nurse certification is awarded to individuals who have achieved a minimum of 60 credit hours in an approved program.

An ideal course of study for the CEN is a total of 100 credit hours. This is referred to as the “gold standard” of an Emergency Nursing program. The entry requirements for your school will determine which course of study you will follow, but the goal is to complete the course in no more than 2 years.

Pass the CEN Exam With Practice Exams

There are three ways to prepare for the CEN exam:

Practice, practice, practice. Practice with live simulations of the CEN exam.

Practice with live simulations of the CEN exam. Study for the test on your own. Use study guides, practice exams, and a complete curriculum to prepare for the CEN exam.

Use study guides, practice exams, and a complete curriculum to prepare for the CEN exam. Learn from someone who has taken the CEN exam. Your educator or reference will be able to answer any questions about the exam.

Practice, Practice, Practice

You may think that since you have already worked in an emergency department, you know all there is to know about emergencies. However, that isn’t necessarily true.

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Pass the CEN Exam With a Study Group

I had been working with a group of my co-workers who had prior certifications, one of them had attended an EVACAC course and another had attended the ACCN nursing exams. The third was a recent graduate of the Emergency Nurse-Midwifery Program. We were a great study group, meeting once a week for several hours to review past exams, discuss the future and practice.

However, one of us was the first to decide to take the CEN exam, leaving us with the prospect of three of us passing and only one of us passing on our own. I felt alone and was overwhelmed by the amount of material that I had to study.

I wanted to give up. I didn’t know if I could pass this exam. My fears were especially heightened by two very specific scenarios. First, I was terrified of working under a physician.

Pass the CEN Exam with a Coach

One of my patients at a teaching hospital was in the ambulance in cardiac arrest. Fortunately, it was an out-of-service ambulance, so I had the driver pull over so we could set up a temporary stop on the road in front of the hospital.

At the time of this event, I was part of a graduate internship at a rural teaching hospital, and I had just finished a CEN trauma course. The patient was losing significant amounts of blood, and my plan was to take her out and perform an external defibrillator on her to stimulate her heart.

The patient’s husband was a nurse at the hospital, so he was there to help me out. He went on to tell me that his wife was a Licensed Practical Nurse and that she was also an emergency room nurse.

Pass the CEN Exam by Practicing Your Time Management Skills

Exam Topics

The objective of the CEN exam is to measure your skills in emergency nursing. The CEN exam covers several areas, including high-acuity, critical-incidence care, computerized pharmacology, ACLS, burns, pediatrics, obstetrics, adult-birthing, pediatric emergency care, and more.

An emphasis is placed on skills that are needed to successfully handle a critical-incident scenario. So don’t just study on these topics—you’ll need to be an expert on each of them.

Gauge Your Competency in the Exams

An important part of passing the CEN exam is to understand your competency level. While you will be tested on each of the general subjects, you can prepare yourself for specific areas, such as adult and pediatric care.

The CEN exam is a comprehensive exam to demonstrate your knowledge in the area of emergency nursing. The exam focuses on several different areas of emergency nursing. Each section covers a different topic such as infection control, trauma, cardiovascular care, etc. Your score on the CEN exam reflects how well you can understand, analyze, and apply the concepts you learn to practice the emergency nursing profession.


Exam Registration Questions

  • How do I apply for a BCEN exam?

The exam application is only available online via your BCEN Account. Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to submit an exam application.

  • Will I get a discount on my exam for being a member of my professional association?

Yes, the fee is $230 for professional association members and $370 for non-members.

  • I received a complimentary certification certificate; can I use this certificate to apply online?

Yes, the certification gift certificate will include a complimentary voucher number. This can be entered during checkout at the end of your application and will cover the cost of the exam fee. Please contact a BCEN Candidate Experience Specialist at +1-877-302-BCEN (2236), or by email to bcen@bcen.org for any questions.

  • Are BCEN exams offered internationally?

Yes, BCEN exams are offered at PSI testing centers worldwide.

  • Are BCEN exams offered in other languages?

BCEN exams are only available in English regardless of what country it is offered in.

  • What is the cost of the exam?

The cost varies depending on membership status and certification status. View all fees.

  • When can I schedule my exam appointment?

You can schedule your exam appointment with BCEN’s test delivery provider, PSI, immediately after your online application is processed along with payment in full. You will receive an exam eligibility email that contains important information on your 90-day testing window and how to schedule your exam appointment with PSI. We strongly recommend that you decide on the date you want to sit for the exam and promptly schedule that date with PSI.

  • When will I receive my exam eligibility e-mail?

Your exam eligibility email will be sent immediately after your online application and payment in full are received and processed.

  • If you complete your online application along with a credit card or ECheck/ACH payment then your application is processed immediately. An eligibility email will be sent out immediately.
  • If you complete your online application, but mail in a check payment, please allow up to 4 weeks for processing. An eligibility email will be sent once your payment is received and processed.
  • From what email address will the eligibility email be sent?

The eligibility email will be sent from bcen@bcen.org. In order to ensure receipt of your eligibility email, add bcen@bcen.org to your safe/trusted senders list for your email account.

  • I have not received my eligibility email; what should I do?

First check your e-mail spam folder. If you are unable to locate the e-mail, contact a BCEN Candidate Experience Specialist within 2 business days of the processed application and payment. Note: If your payment was mailed, please allow up to 4 weeks for processing.

  • Is it necessary to schedule an exam appointment?

Yes. You must have a scheduled exam appointment with PSI to sit for your exam regardless of whether you choose to test in a center or via Live Remote Proctoring; walk-ins without a scheduled appointment are not allowed. You must schedule and sit for the exam within your 90-day test window. We strongly recommend that you decide on the date you want to sit for the exam and promptly schedule that date with PSI. 

  • Can I schedule an appointment without the exam eligibility email?

Yes, you can schedule your exam immediately after the application has been completed in full, including payment. Simply go to your BCEN Dashboard and click on “Schedule Exam” or “Exam Authorized” next to the appropriate certification logo on the left-hand side of your screen.  You must schedule and sit for your exam within your 90-day testing window. We strongly recommend that you decide the date you want to sit for the exam and promptly schedule that date with PSI. 

  • May I contact PSI directly to schedule my exam appointment without submitting an application?

No. PSI cannot schedule an exam appointment for you until the exam application process has been completed by BCEN. Immediately following the processing of your online exam application along with payment in full, an eligibility email is sent to you with instructions on how to schedule your exam.

  • Can I reschedule my exam?

Yes. If you are within your 90-day testing window AND still have at least 48 hours before the exam (based on the time zone of the testing center where you have an exam scheduled or the location of live remote proctoring), you will be able to reschedule with PSI with no reschedule/cancellation fees.

You can contact PSI at 833-518-7459.

When rescheduling, you must pick a new exam time that also falls within your 90-day window.

Candidates who fail to reschedule/cancel within these guidelines, or do not appear for their scheduled exam time, will forfeit the full testing fee. Fees are applicable for new testing windows.

We strongly recommend scheduling your new test day promptly, as test center seat or Live Remote Proctoring availability is on a first-come, first-served basis.

  • What happens if I missed my scheduled examination?

If you fail to report to a scheduled examination appointment you will forfeit all paid fees. A new application and payment are required to re-apply for eligibility to sit for an exam.

  • How many times can I take the exam?

Unlimited testing is allowed if you are unsuccessful; however, you are required to wait 90 days before re-testing. You may submit a re-test exam application online via your BCEN Account after the 90-day waiting period is over.

  • If I decide not to sit for the exam, can I receive a refund?

A written request for a refund of the exam fee needs to be submitted to BCEN before an exam appointment is scheduled with our test delivery provider, PSI, and before the close of your 90-day testing window as outlined in the eligibility e-mail. You may email the refund request to bcen@bcen.org. Once an exam appointment has been scheduled, refund requests will not be accepted. Recertification fees are non-refundable.

Exam Administration Questions

  • How and where is the exam administered?

Exams are delivered by computer at PSI Testing Centers, or at home via Live Remote Proctoring (LRP).

Search for PSI Testing Centers here or learn more about LRP here.

  • Can I take the computerized exam at home?

BCEN is proud to offer Live Remote Proctoring (LRP) through our partners in test delivery, PSI Exams.

Live Remote Proctoring is a method of exam delivery where, instead of physically visiting a testing center location, you can launch the exam online via computer at a secure location of your choice. The exam is recorded and proctored remotely in real time. Exams delivered by LRP are the same as those delivered in a test center and have the same level of exam security.

  • How much time is allowed to complete the exam?

Total seat time for the exam is 180 minutes (3 hours). You will have 5 practice exam questions that are meant to familiarize you with the functionality of the exam. The timer begins counting when your exam begins.

  • Can I earn college credit by achieving my CEN credential?

Yes, you can earn three nursing elective credits toward your Bachelor of Science degree from Excelsior College. A verification of your certification will need to be sent to Excelsior College. You can do this by Publishing your Credentials.

To publish your credential, log into your BCEN Account, click on ‘Publish Credentials’ and follow the steps listed. The email address to use is ITCERTIFICATIONS@EXCELSIOR.EDU and in the message area, please include your DOB (date of birth), last 4 digits of your SS#.

  • Will I receive continuing education (CE) credit for sitting, or for passing, the exam?

No, you do not receive CEs for sitting for the exam, or for passing the exam.

  • How do I receive informational material on BCEN exams for my hospital or healthcare facility?

You may email a BCEN Candidate Experience Specialist at bcen@bcen.org for brochures/flyers on our exams. In the email please list how many brochures/flyers you may need and the address on where to send the informational material. If you have any questions, you may also contact BCEN at +1-877-302-BCEN (2236).

Exam Scoring Questions

  • How many questions/items are on the exams?

The CEN exam consists of 175 items (150 scored and 25 unscored pretest items).

  • How are the exams scored?

Your exam score is based on your performance on the exam, i.e., based on the number of exam items answered correctly (raw score).

  • How many items do I need to answer correctly to pass my exam?

For CEN: of the 150 scored items, candidates must answer 106 items correctly to achieve a passing score.

Please note:  The passing score is not based on a curve; it is based upon your individual performance on the exam.

Please note: The passing score can change every few years based upon the results of a job analysis (or role delineation study).  The job analysis surveys thousands of nurses in each specialty area to determine the knowledge and skills needed for the particular specialty area.  The passing score is established by a systematic procedure that employs the judgement of nurse experts representing each specialty practice area from around the country as well as the assistance of BCEN’s test development vendor.  The final determination of the passing score is approved by the BCEN Board of Directors.

Test Accommodations Questions

  • How do I request a test accommodation?

If test accommodations are needed, please answer ‘Yes’ to the Test Accommodation question in your application. From within the application, download the Test Accommodation form; upon completion, upload the form into the application.

BCEN will review the completed form and approve any standard or non-standard accommodation(s) deemed appropriate.

If you require accommodations other than extra time, you will need to complete this additional form from our exam delivery provider, PSI. Upon completion, PSI will reach out via phone call or email to assist in scheduling your exam. Contact PSI at 800-367-1565 x6750 or examaccommodations@psionline.com for assistance.

For more information, please contact a BCEN Candidate Experience Specialist at +1-877-302-BCEN (2236), or by e-mail at bcen@bcen.org.

Other Questions

  • How Can I Use My New BCEN Credential?

When you successfully complete the certification exam or recertification you may use the certification credential. This credential may be used only as long as a current certification status is maintained.

Review BCEN’s full trademark and credential usage policy.

  • Can I Use the BCEN Trademarks and Logos?

BCEN has developed and maintains significant intellectual property, including various trademarks used by BCEN or used by individuals who have successfully passed BCEN requirements to be a credential holder. Learn more.

  • How Will My Credit Card Information Be Protected?

BCEN understands that privacy online is important to our candidates, especially when conducting business. Our policy outlines the steps BCEN takes to ensure privacy with respect to the use of credit card information. Learn more.

  • How Can Others Verify My Certification?

BCEN® makes credential verification available to certificants and to employers/third parties via online services. These services share meaningful information about certification status and reduce the potential for fraud and misuse of BCEN certification credentials. Credential Verifications are primary-sourced verification emails that can only be requested by the certificant.

BCEN certification holders: Sign in to your BCEN Account, hover over the My Account box, select Certification Verification Request and enter an email address to receive the verification.  Credential verification emails are sent to the certificate holder with a copy sent directly to the email address entered in the request.

Third Parties: Contact the BCEN certification holder to ask them to request the Credential Verification email from their BCEN account.

BCEN staff cannot verify certification status via phone or email.

If you have any questions concerning CEN Exam, please feel free to use the comment box below and ask us your question. We will be very pleased to answer you.

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