General CCRN Information

Nurses caring for critical and acutely ill patients may choose to earn a CCRN certification. A CCRN certification proves that a nurse has the clinical knowledge and abilities needed to provide the best patient care possible. Nurses working with critical or acutely ill patients in intensive care units, trauma units, cardiac care units, medical or surgical intensive care units, or flight transport are eligible to earn this specialized certification.

The AACN Certification Corporation administers three types of CCRN certification exams: the CCRN Adult Exam, CCRN Neonatal Exam, and the CCRN Pediatric Exam. You must specialize in caring for these patients in order to sit for the exam. Since 1976, over 60,000 critical care and acute care nurses have earned these certifications.

The CCRN exams are built on practice studies. AACN conducts surveys with critical care and acute care nurses around the country to identify the knowledge, key skills, and abilities necessary to perform their job. The nurses are also asked to rank these factors by significance and frequency of use on the job. The CCRN exam is then built to test your knowledge in these key areas. The medical field is constantly changing. Surveys are conducted every few years, in order to update the exams.

Each exam consists of 150 multiple choice questions. Only 125 of these questions will count towards your overall score. The other 25 questions will not be scored, but may be used on future tests. The CCRN exam is a timed test. You will be given three hours to complete the exam.

Each CCRN exam will be broken into two types of questions. The majority of the questions (80%) will test a nurse’s clinical knowledge and judgment. These questions will be age specific. If you are taking the CCRN Adult Exam, you will only be asked questions related to adults. The same will be true with the neonatal and pediatric exam. The remainder of the test (20%) will test your knowledge of ethics and professional caring. This portion of the test will not be age specific. Ethics and professional caring is the same, regardless of the age of the patient.

Once you pass the exam, you will earn a CCRN certification. However, this certification is only valid for three years. A CCRN certification tests your competence in critical and acute care. Your competence should be measured every few years to ensure you are providing the best nursing care. You can renew your certification through the Continuing Education Recognition Point Program (CERP) or by taking a CCRN exam.