Clinical Performance in Nursing Examination (CPNE®)


Description: The CPNE is a skill-based assessment designed to measure a student's ability to demonstrate the expected behaviors and skills of a beginning-level associate-prepared nurse. The exam evaluates a student's application of the nursing process and nursing-practice technical components in the care of adults and children who are experiencing potential, actual, and/or recurring health problems requiring maintenance and restorative interventions. Critical thinking, diagnostic reasoning, use of knowledge from nursing and related disciplines, effectiveness of interventions, and standards of care are measured in this exam. The CPNE provides the following:

  • 1:1 evaluation by a master's or doctorly prepared clinical examiner who was trained to administer the examination
  • Actual or simulated clinical situations that serve as the basis for the examination
  • A carefully controlled and monitored examination experience that ensures a fair and objective assessment of your knowledge and skill

Required for: All students enrolled in the Excelsior College associate degree in nursing program.

Critical Elements: Critical elements are single, discrete, observable behaviors you must perform to meet the standard of acceptability for the Sections (simulation laboratory stations, clinical decision making, planning phase and evaluation phase) or Areas of Care being tested. Review a full outline of the CPNE sections and areas of care covered.

Technical Standards: The CPNE tests a student's application of the nursing process and technical components for nursing practice in the care of adults and children in the acute care setting. Therefore the nursing student must be able to perform the following:

  • Assess, perceive, and understand the condition of assigned patients.
  • See, hear, smell, touch, and detect subtle changes in colors.
  • Communicate (verbally and in writing) with English speaking patients and/or family members/significant others as well as members of the health care team, including nurses, physicians, support staff, and faculty.
  • Read and understand documents written in English.
  • Perform diagnostic and therapeutic functions necessary for the provision of general care and emergency treatment to the hospital patient.
  • Stand, sit, move, and tolerate the required physical exertion necessary to meet the demands of providing safe clinical care.
  • Solve problems involving measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis, and synthesis.
  • Perform nursing skills in the face of stressful conditions, exposure to infectious agents, and blood-borne pathogens.

Eligibility: In order to take the CPNE you must be currently enrolled in the Excelsior College associate degree in nursing program and have successfully completed all of the following:

  • At least 21 of the 31 required general education credits
  • The required nursing theory examinations
  • The Focused Clinical Competencies Assessment® (FCCA®)

Learn more about the Nursing Theory and FCCA exams.

Once you become CPNE-eligible you will receive a CPNE study guide, and you may then apply for your exam.

Exam Fee: The CPNE fee is located in the Associate degrees on the Fee and Tuition page.

Fee shown is for the exam only. Other associated expenses such as books and study resources, or travel, lodging, or providing any required documentation or background checks, are additional. Payment plans are available.

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888-647-2388 ext. 21


Excelsior College Test Administration
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Albany, NY 12203-5159

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