CPNE® Preparation

Testing Tips

Feeling comfortable and confident in performing nursing skills is critical to your success in the Clinical Performance in Nursing Examination (CPNE). Proven learning strategies, practice, and stress management will raise your comfort and confidence levels.

The CPNE Study Guide covers all these topics, and more, in detail.  Enrolled nursing students can find a PDF of the most recent edition of the Study Guide by visiting their My Details page.

Learning Strategies

Here are some effective strategies used by successful CPNE candidates:

  • Use the self-assessment for the CPNE tool in the appendix of the Study Guide.
  • Study each area of care in depth - don't try to do everything at once.
  • Memorize the critical elements in the Study Guide so you can recite them as easily as your own phone number, even under the stress of taking the exam.
  • Integrate your study into your clinical practice or ask for help in setting up simulations.
  • Picture yourself as successful.
  • Consider CPNE-specific resources including our online conferences and workshops and study materials.
  • Connect with other CPNE candidates in the CPNE chat in MyExcelsior Community.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Practice your nursing skills with the critical elements in mind until the performance of the critical elements becomes second nature.

  • Familiarize yourself with appropriate hospital equipment, including IV pumps, IV minibags, IV syringe infusers, diaper weight scales, pulse oximeters, feeding pumps, digital and tympanic thermometers, and blood pressure equipment.
  • Identify skills weaknesses and consider using reference materials such as the Smith and Duell Clinical Nursing Skills: Basic to Advanced Skills or the current Taylor's Clinical Nursing Skills Nursing Process Approach. A useful calculations book is the Curren and Munday Math for Meds, Dosages and Solutions.
  • Practice writing nursing care plans using the sample form in the CPNE Study Guide. Use case studies from nursing textbooks or your work situation as the basis for writing these care plans and practice writing them so you can complete this activity within 20 minutes.
  • Prepare mock patient care situations using copies of the blank form in the Study Guide and practice performing the critical elements as you would during the examination.

Stress Management

Don't underestimate the negative effects stress can have on your CPNE preparation and performance. While effective learning strategies and practice are important, effective stress management should also play a part in your CPNE preparation. Find detailed information about stress factors and effective strategies for dealing with them in the CPNE Study Guide.

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