In every high-level profession, there’s a licensing exam. Doctors have to take Board exams and Lawyers must pass the Bar.

The same is true for those wanting to be nurses. They need to pass the CNL exam. This exam is the Certified Nurse Leader test and almost no one will hire you without a passing score.

You can pass in two categories – marginal and proficient. Obviously, the more question you get right the better your score will be.

But how to do assure you’ll pass with flying colors? We’ve got your exam study and tips guide below.

Exam Information

First off, you’ll have to pay to take the exam. If you have grown kids or remember back to when you took the SAT, it’s the same thing.

The CNL exam is around $350 at the time of this writing. If you have to retake it, the cost goes down to $250. This cost doesn’t include preparation materials or getting to the exam etc.

It’s not a short exam either. It’s three controlled hours of supervised test taking. It’s challenging, so don’t try to squeeze in the exam before or between shifts. Take a whole day off on the day of the test.

If you can, take a day off the day before the test so you can relax and brush up.

Test Scoring

The test has around 150 questions, but not all of them count towards your score. Like any other structured exam, they always throw in a few experimental questions they may use in the following years.

Your score, once you get your results back, will be between 150 and 500. You’ll need at least a 350 score to pass.

Along with the numbered scores, success is divided into percentages. It’s a harsh scale when you compare it to traditional grading.

If you get 69% or less of questions correct, you fail the exam. If you get a 70% – 76% correct, a traditional C, you’re deemed marginal.

Proficient is any percent of answers correct above 77% and you pass. No rewards or extra points are given for higher than average passing scores.

So, when compared to traditional school, you need at least a C+ to pass the CNL exam. Doable, right?

Yes, but not easy peasy. Check out our tips for passing below.

Tips for Passing the CNL Exam

We, at Online CNL Degrees want you to pass with flying colors. Not just lightly flapping in the breeze colors. That’s why we provide the highest quality CNL online training out there.

Along with going through our course, here’s what else you can do to pass the exam.

1. Get Good Sleep

Some of these tips will seem general and that’s because they are. Getting a good night’s sleep before any big test is one of the best things you can do for your brain.

A rested brain is less anxious, thinks clearer, and works more efficiently.

Don’t take any sleeping medications to help you fall asleep unless you’re very familiar with how they work. If you know you lie awake before you finally drift off, go to bed earlier to counteract that.

You can even go as far as to calculate your sleep cycles so you wake up at the best possible time.

2. Review, Review, Review

How do you learn? Some people really love flashcards, while others need to write and rewrite things out. Do whatever works best for you, even if someone else thinks its silly.

Make yourself a cheat sheet. No, you won’t be able to take it into the test, but you’ll get more familiar with it each time you look at it.

3. Always Read Directions

So many test takers rush through the test and make little mistakes. That’s easily avoidable. Make sure you read the question and know what they’re asking before you try to answer it.

If it helps, underline or circle parts of long questions as you read.

4. Don’t Over Complicate

The CNL exam is one of those tests that gets harder as you go on. If you’re on question 4 of a section, don’t over-think it. It’s not trying to trick you.

However, question 21 may be written to confuse you. If you don’t mind working out of order, answer the harder questions first and go back to the easy ones as you have time.

5. Double Check

When you take the NCLEX you don’t get to see your past answers or questions. With the CNL exam, you do. You should never have “extra” time at the end of a section.

Extra time, to you, does not exist. Go back and re-read questions you had trouble with. Make sure your test bubbles match your answers.

6. Pay Attention to Grammar

No, this test isn’t checking your punctuation use, but they do give you tiny clues. If a question is written in past tense but is asking for what you would do in the future, the answer won’t be past tense.

The test makers aren’t evil. They’re just checking to make sure you’re paying attention.

7. Go With Your Gut

Someone once told us “Don’t change a multiple choice answer unless a fairy comes and bops you on the head and tells you to”. Your gut is probably right unless you realize you misread the question.

8. Answer Everything

Don’t leave a bubble unfilled. Yes, it’s unlikely you’ll guess the right answer each time, but you have a 25% chance.

9. Use POE

The process of elimination is as much your friend now as it was in school. Cross out silly sounding answers or those that are too extreme.

10. Avoid Extremes

Finally, as we hinted to in the last point, the answer is almost never something extreme. If something says “always” or “never”, avoid it.

How many exceptions are there in medicine? You do this unless a patient has this? Unless the answer is obvious like you should ____ hit a patient (never) – avoid the extremes.

Passing Your CNL Exam

With these tips, a good study program, and a good background education, you’ll be fine on test day. Remember to get enough sleep, bring a snack, and stay calm.

You can always take the CNL exam again if needed so don’t sweat it.

Need some help? We’re here for you. Check out our resources page here.