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Research in Nursing Exam FAQ

CEM: ECE: Research in Nursing Exam FAQ

What is the Research in Nursing Exam?

The exam tests for knowledge and understanding of the research process and the ability to apply this information to the critiquing of a research study. The content consists of the following major categories: foundations of research, quantitative research, qualitative research, and critique of a research study. The first three content categories are tested using 80 multiple-choice questions. The last content category, critique of a research study, is tested using one (1) four-part free response question. A knowledge and understanding of statistics is assumed.

What is the passing rate for this exam?


Since this exam has a written component, when should I expect to get my final grade?

It takes approximately 45 days after the written test for you to receive the final grade, but it can take longer if the exam was taken at an internal location.

Who grades the free response question?

The Excelsior College nursing faculty under the direction of the assessment staff grades the exam.

Is there a practice exam for this exam?

Yes, you can register for the practice exam at the same time that you are registering for the actual exam. The practice exam set consists of two different 50-item tests and the cost is $35.00.

How do you focus on science when reading an article without getting caught up in the story?

You actually do get caught up in the study. If the study is interesting, you are likely to get excited about the research process.  You then look at the article in relation to the science of research. This means that you are looking for the components of research, such as the research question, variables, hypothesis, and trying to figure out how the pieces of the science support the story.

What is the average time it takes to prepare for this exam?

It is suggested that you take at least two to three months to prepare for this exam.

Where can I find the content guide to study for this exam?

The content guide can be downloaded. You can find the content guide for a particular exam on its detail page with other specific exam information or on the Exam Content Guides and Documentation page.

What is the best way to prepare for this exam?

Use the content outline in the content guide to guide you in reading the required books. As you read, take notes and then study those notes. Make sure you understand the broad concepts as outlined in the guide, then think about the ways to apply the concepts to use with your knowledge of practice, and application in community-based practice. Learning the broad concepts and ways they are applied are more beneficial than trying to memorize individual facts or data.

If you are an Excelsior College student, log in and go to the Research in Nursing examination preparation page in the Excelsior College Library. This page contains links to full-text journal articles that will supplement your required readings in the LoBiondo-Wood and Haber text.

 What books are required to prep for this exam?

The recommended book is Essentials of Nursing Research: Appraising evidence for nurse practice (7th ed.) by D. Polit & C.T. Beck and the Study Guide to Accompany Essentials of Nursing Research: Appraising evidence for nurse practice (7th ed.) by D. Polit & C.T. Beck. There are also suggested journal articles for foundations of research, quantitative research, qualitative research and critique of research study.

Should I read the journal articles?

Use the articles for the subject matter that you are having difficulty understanding. Many times articles simplify a complex topic or present it in case study format.

Can I use study material that has not been provided by Excelsior College in preparing for this exam?

It is not advisable to use study material not recommended or developed by Excelsior College (from sources such as Rue, Moore, College Network) when preparing for the written exam. It is possible to use a different textbook to assist you in obtaining a better understanding of the material.

Is one area of the exam content weighted heavier than another?

No, but each content area within the exam is covered based on an assigned percentage. This information can be found on page 6 of the content guide for this exam.

Do you think completing the questions at the end of the chapter will help?

Everything you can do to broaden your knowledge base and get more comfortable answering questions is useful.

Do you recommend taking the online course or this exam?

The decision between an exam and a course is very personal and may depend on your timeframe for completion, including your personal and work responsibilities.

What is the best way to write the research critique?

It is best to write a response to each directive in a separate paragraph which keeps both you and the reader on track.

What is the expected length of the critique?

There is not a specified length for the narrative response.  Your response for each directive needs to be written to demonstrate knowledge of the concepts that the directives and criteria refer to by writing a response reflecting accurate application of the concepts in regard to your critique of the particular article.

Does the grading criteria include spelling or strictly the content?

Your spelling capabilities will not be graded though your response should be written in complete sentences.

Can I take a statistics exam or course concurrently with this exam?

Yes, you can take these concurrently.

What is the difference between quantitative and qualitative research?

A quantitative study involves collecting and collating numeric or statistical data. Qualitative studies involve feelings and attitudes and is often best expressed by obtaining data through interview or survey.

Can you explain an easy way for me to differentiate between conceptual framework and a research problem?

The conceptual framework is the theory.  For instance, in the study that looks at activity in girls, the theory used is Pender's theory of health promotion.  The problem is what the researchers intend to study.

What is the difference between quasi-experimental and experimental research?

An experimental design has three groups of subjects - randomized sample, control group and intervention. The quasi-experimental design either does not require that you have a randomized sample or a control group.

What is the difference between validity and reliability?

Validity and reliability generally are used in relation to the instruments. Validity means that the instrument tests what it is supposed to test each time it is used. Reliability relates to does it consistently measure the same thing each time.

Is there a simple way to analyze the statistical part of a study?

There are different kinds of statistics that are used depending on the study being conducted. For example, if you want to test the difference between two variables you would perform a t-test. The ANOVA and MANOVA assist the researcher in determining a statistical significance or p level.

What is the difference between type I and type II errors?

A type I error is when the null hypothesis is rejected and the null hypothesis is correct.  Type I errors can be avoided by using p values of .05 or lower.  Type II erros occur when the null hypothesis is accepted which results in a false-negative finding.

What is "power"?

Power relates to the number of subjects in a study needed to be able to detect relationships that exist among variables.
What is a primary research study?

It is only primary if it is either research or theory created by the author.

Can I contact Excelsior College if I have questions or concerns about this exam?

Yes, if you have any questions or concerns about the Management in Nursing exam, please email us.


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