Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) Exam

 Prepare for the CEN with our Study Guide.

In order to take the Certified Emergency Nurse Exam, you must have a valid RN license in the United States, or one of the United States’ territories. It is recommended that you also have at least 2 years’ experience in the emergency department.

The CEN Exam is a computer-based test that consists of a total of 175 questions. Of these questions, only 150 are scored. You will have 3 hours to complete the exam.

If you require special testing accommodations for conditions that are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you are allowed to make this request in writing. If requesting special accommodations, you must do so before scheduling your exam.

Extended test time, additional breaks, or extended breaks, permission to eat food or drink a beverage because of the medical condition, or take medication related to the condition, are some of the accommodations that can be provided.

What topics and sub-topics are covered on this exam? How many questions are there for each topic?

  • Cardiovascular Emergencies – 20
  • Respiratory Emergencies – 16
  • Neurological Emergencies – 16
  • Gastrointestinal, Genitourinary, Gynecology, and Obstetrical Emergencies – 21
  • Psychosocial and Medical Emergencies – 25
  • Maxillofacial, Ocular, Orthopedic and Wounds Emergencies – 21
  • Environment and Toxicology Emergencies, and Communicable Diseases – 15
  • Professional Issues – 16

Cardiovascular Emergencies

The Cardiovascular Emergencies topic will address sub-topics such as acute coronary syndrome, aneurysm and dissection, cardiopulmonary arrest, dysrhythmias, endocarditis, heart failure, hypertension, pericardial tamponade, trauma, and shock.

Respiratory Emergencies

The Respiratory Emergencies topic will address sub-topics such as asthma, COPD, Inhalation injuries, obstruction, pleural effusion, pneumothorax, pulmonary edema, pulmonary embolus, and respiratory distress syndrome.

Neurological Emergencies

The Neurological Emergencies topic will address sub-topics such as Alzheimer’s, Guillain-Barre syndrome, meningitis, seizure disorders, spinal cord injuries, shunt dysfunctions, and TIA.

Gastrointestinal, Genitourinary, Gynecology, and Obstetrical Emergencies

The Gastrointestinal, Genitourinary, Gynecology, and Obstetrical Emergencies topic will address sub-topics such as cholecystitis, esophagitis, hernia, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, priapism, renal calculi, testicular torsion, vaginal bleeding & dysfunction, ovarian cyst, abruptio placenta, ectopic pregnancy, hyperemesis gravidarum, neonatal resuscitation, and preterm labor.

Psychosocial and Medical Emergencies

The Psychosocial and Medical Emergencies topic will cover sub-topics such as anxiety, panic, bipolar disorder, depression, psychosis, homicidal and suicidal ideation, blood dyscrasias, electrolyte/fluid imbalance, sepsis, and septic shock.

Maxillofacial, Ocular, Orthopedic and Wound Emergencies

The Maxillofacial, Ocular, Orthopedic and Wound Emergencies topic will address sub-topics such as dental conditions, facial nerve disorders, ruptured tympanic membrane, TMJ, glaucoma, retinal artery occlusion, retinal detachment, compartment syndrome, costochondritis, joint effusion, low back pain, missile injuries, injection injuries, and puncture wounds.

Environment and Toxicology Emergencies, and Communicable Diseases

The Environment and Toxicology Emergencies, and Communicable Diseases topic will address sub-topics such as chemical exposure, electrical injuries, parasite and fungal infestations, vector borne illnesses, carbon monoxide, cyanide, withdrawal syndrome, herpes zoster, mononucleosis, and tuberculosis.

Professional Issues

The Professional Issues topic will address sub-topics such as ethical dilemmas, evidence-based practice, and research, as they relate to nurses. Patient discharge planning, end-of-life issues, patient safety, pain management and procedural sedation will be assessed, as well as HIPAA, patient consent for treatment, risk management, and triage.

What is the most convenient way to apply for the exam?

Apply and pay for your exam online, using a credit card. Once you’ve applied, you will receive an email that gives you your 90-day testing window, and instructions on how to schedule your exam. You can schedule your exam online or over the phone.

What is the cost of taking this exam?

The initial cost of taking the exam is $370. If you require a re-take of the exam, the cost will be $340.

What are the testing dates and locations?

There are various test centers and dates to choose from, worldwide. As you are scheduling your exam, find the location at which you would like to take the exam, and select the date that is convenient for you.

What should I do the day of the exam?

Report to the testing center at least 30 minutes early. Arriving more than 15 minutes late can prevent you from being admitted to the testing area.

Bring two sources of identification. Ensure that one includes your name, signature, and photo, while the other has your name and signature. Your identification MUST be issued in the country in which you are testing.

Once you’ve submitted your identification, your photograph will be taken, as part of the check-in procedures.

You are prevented from bringing items such as cell phone, writing utensils, and books into the testing area. If you bring these items with you to the test center, you will be asked to store them in a designated area, and will not have access to them during the exam.

You are allowed to take breaks during the exam, but there are no specific breaks built-in to the exam, so any breaks you take, will take away from the time you have to complete the exam.

What happens after I take the exam?

Once you have completed the exam, you will meet with a member of the test center staff, who will give you your score report. The report will indicate whether you have passed or failed the exam.

If you passed the exam, you will receive a certificate and wallet card within 15 days.

What is the minimum passing score on this exam?


What happens if I don’t pass the exam?

You may schedule to re-take the exam as many times as necessary to pass, but must adhere to a 90-day waiting period before each attempt to take the exam.