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 General

What does the RPNCE Test?

The 4-hour examination has approximately 200 multiple choice questions. The object is to test entry-level competencies​ and knowledge. For more information about the content, see ​the Examination Content Blueprint.

Can I work while waiting to write the RPNCE?

Yes, if you have provisional registration. Graduate registration is available to those who meet all of the requirements for registration as a psychiatric nurse except for passing the examination. You must have applied for and be waiting to write the next scheduled examination.

Do I have to write the next available exam date after I have been assessed as eligible?

Yes.

How many times can I write the exam?

You can attempt the RPNCE three times. If you are not successful on your third attempt, you will need to complete an approved psychiatric nursing refresher program before any further attempts.

Applying for eligibility to write the exam

Do I still apply to the RPN regulatory body in my province of study to write the exam?

Yes. You will continue to apply to write the exam through the regulatory body. Once we have determined your eligibility to write the exam, you will be able to schedule to write the exam in available testing centres.

Can I apply to write the RPNCE if I haven’t graduated from my nursing program yet?

Yes, if you are in the final term of a psychiatric nursing education program and you have started, or are about to start, the final practicum of the program. However, you will need to meet the other requirements for registration including submitting your application, payment, and required documents to BCCNM on time (eight weeks before the examination date).

At the conclusion of your practicum, your educational institution will submit proof that you have completed the program. If you are unable to complete your practicum, you can request to withdraw from the examination. If you request a withdrawal less than 10 days before the exam date, you will forfeit your exam fee. If you need to request a withdrawal, contact BCCNM at exams@bccnm.ca.

What if I apply late?

If you do not meet the application deadline, you will not be able to write that sitting of the RPNCE. You will have to wait to apply for the next available exam date.

What if I require a testing accommodation?

If you have a documented disability or special need that requires a testing accommodation, please contact BCCNM as soon as possible to learn more about the request for accommodations process. It can take up to 12 weeks for BCCNM to assess an accommodation request, so it is important that you apply early. You will be asked to submit documentation completed by a qualified health professional (e.g. a physician or psychologist) to certify that you require the accommodation.

Can I write the RPNCE in another province?

Yes. The RPNCE is available to be written in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. You will be asked for your preferred exam writing location when you pay your exam fee to the exam provider, Meazure Learning. Even if you wish to write the RPNCE in another province, please apply for registration with the regulatory body in the province where your education program is located.

Please note: While efforts will be made to schedule exam writers in their preferred writing location, venues are subject to availability and are not guaranteed. If your preferred location is not available, Meazure Learning will work with you to determine an appropriate location.​​​

Testing location

Can I choose where I write the RPNCE?

You will select a preferred exam location when you pay your exam fee to Meazure Learning. Efforts will be made to accommodate your preference, but venues are subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed. If your preferred location is not available, Meazure Learning will work with you to determine an appropriate location.

Can I change my exam location?

No. Your exam date and location cannot be changed once it has been booked by Meazure Learning.

Preparing for the RPNCE

Will the test be completed by pencil and paper or by computer?

In May 2022, the RPNCE will transition to a computer-based exam. Learn more about computer-based testing below.

Is there a prep or study guide available?

The Registered Psychiatric Nurse Regulators of Canada (RPNRC) has released tools to help candidates prepare for the RPNCE:

Important: Please use extreme caution in purchasing any third-party prep guide or practice test that promises to prepare you for the RPNCE, other than the official RPNRC tools linked above.

Do questions have more than one correct answer?

A multiple-choice question is constructed so that only someone who has mastered the subject matter will select the correct answer; to that person, only one option will appear to be the correct answer. To someone who lacks a firm grasp of the subject matter, all options may look plausible.

How is the correct answer determined?

RPN subject matter experts from across Canada create and evaluate the exam questions with assistance from test consultants. They ensure that the RPNCE meets the Blueprint guidelines and is valid and reliable.

The correct answer to each question on the exam is supported by references from two expert sources in the field. Every attempt has been made to use references that are up-to-date, accessible, and accepted within the psychiatric nursing community.

Does each question have equal weight on the exam?

Each exam question has the same value: one mark. Your score on the exam is calculated as the number of questions that you answer correctly.

Are there any questions that you must answer correctly to pass the exam?

There are no critical questions that a candidate must answer correctly to receive a passing score on the RPNCE. Each exam question has the same value: one mark.

How is the pass mark for the exam set?

The pass mark is determined by the content and the difficulty of the test questions included in each exam. The pass mark is set at a level that represents the performance expected of a competent entry-level psychiatric nurse. It is set by a panel of subject matter experts from across Canada who work closely with entry-level registered psychiatric nurses and include educators, experienced practitioners, and administrators. The pass mark is the same across writing centres and across the four western provinces.

Withdrawals

Is it possible to withdraw from the exam?

If you need to withdraw from the exam, please contact BCCNM as soon as possible. If you choose to withdraw less than 10 days before the exam date, you will forfeit your exam fee. If you choose to write the exam at a later date, you will be required to pay the exam fee again.

Day of the exam

Is there anything I should know about the day of the examination?

Your exam booking confirmation email will include all the necessary information you must have to write the exam, so be sure to read it carefully.

If I’m late for the exam, will I still be able to write?

You will be admitted to the exam up to 30 minutes after the start of the exam, but you will not receive any additional time. If you arrive 30 minutes after the exam starts, you will not be permitted to write the exam and will forfeit your exam fee. Please contact BCCNM for next steps.

Will an online calculator be provided?

Yes, an on-screen calculator will be available for use throughout the exam.

How long is the exam?

You have up to four hours to write the exam.

Will breaks be provided?

No scheduled breaks are planned, but unscheduled breaks can be taken as required, at the discretion of the invigilator. Any unscheduled breaks you take during the exam will be included in your four-hour exam time; no extra time will be provided.

Exam results

When do the results come out?

Exam results are released within three weeks of writing the exam. You will receive your test result by email from BCCNM. Your result will be listed as pass or fail, rather than a score or mark. If you fail, you will also receive an exam profile that summarizes your performance.

Can I continue to work as a provisional registrant if I fail the exam?

You can continue to practice as a provisional registrant if you fail on your first exam attempt. If you fail the exam a second time, your provisional registration will expire six to eight weeks after your exam date.

Can I dispute the result?

Scores are not provided to candidates. Borderline exams are automatically re-scored. You may apply to have your examination rescored up to 12 weeks after exam day. Please contact BCCNM to request a rescore.

How many times can I write the exam?

You can take the exam three times within four years of graduation from an approved psychiatric nursing program (or, for international applicants, within two years of approval to write the examination).

Computer-based testing

Are provinces in Canada moving to a computer-based RPNCE?

Yes. RPN regulators in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba are implementing computer-based testing effective May 2022.

Will the exam change to computer-adaptive testing like the NCLEX-RN?

No. The content of the exam will continue to be multiple choice and questions will follow the existing test blueprint. Exam writers will just answer the questions on a computer rather than using a pencil and paper.

Where will the testing centres be located?

Testing centres will be available in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Exact locations will be subject to availability for each exam sitting. You will be asked for your preferred exam location when you pay your exam fee.

Note: While efforts will be made to schedule exam writers in their preferred writing location, venues are subject to availability and are not guaranteed. If your preferred location is not available, Meazure Learning will work with you to determine an appropriate location.

Will it still be possible to apply for accommodations once the exam shifts to computer-based testing?

Yes. Applicants will continue to request accommodations from BCCNM. If approved, the accommodations will be available the testing centre assigned.

Will online proctoring be offered as an option for writing the RPNCE?

Not at this time. Online proctoring may be considered as a method to deliver the RPNCE in the future.​​​​​​​

Each BCCNM designation has its own set of Standards of Practice.

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