FAQs: Computer-based testing
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 graduate psychiatric nurse (GPN) 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 eligible for the exam.
Do I have to write the next available exam date after I have been assessed as eligible?
No, you do not have to write at the next available exam date. RPNAS bylaws require that all candidates are allowed a total of three attempts to pass the examinations within two years of their graduation date.
How many times can I write the exam?
You can attempt the RPNCE three times.
Applying for eligibility to write the exam
Do I still apply to the RPN regulatory authority 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 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 RPNAS on time (eight weeks before the examination date).
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 RPNAS at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What if I’m late in applying?
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 review the information about making an accommodation request under the New Graduate Information webpage. It can take up to 12 weeks for RPNAS 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 British Columbia, 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 authority 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.
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 answered 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.
Is it possible to withdraw from the exam?
If you need to withdraw from the exam, please contact RPNAS 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 RPNAS 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.
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 RPNAS. 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 graduate psychiatric nurse (GPN) if I fail the exam?
If you are unsuccessful on an exam attempt, you will receive an email from RPNAS outlining next steps about your GPN registration. Additional documentation may be required such as Employer Reference(s) and Criminal Record Checks (CRCs).
Should applicants not be successful on their third attempt of the RPNCE, a GPN registration is cancelled effective immediately.
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 RPNAS to request a rescore.
How many times can I write the exam?
You can take the exam three times. RPNAS does not permit review courses or a 4th writing attempt.
Are provinces in Canada be moving to a computer-based RPNCE?
Yes. RPN regulators in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are implementing computer-based testing in 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 British Columbia, 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 RPNAS. 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.