What does the Registered Psychiatric Nurse of Canada Exam (RPNCE) Test?

The object is to test Entry-Level Competencies  - knowledge, skills, judgement. For more information about the content, see the Examination Content Blueprint

Can I Work While Waiting to Write the RPNCE?
Yes, a candidate may work if they hold a Provisional Permit.

Do I have to write the next available exam date after I have been assessed as eligible?
Yes, if you hold a provisional permit

How many times can I write the exam?
Candidates have three (3) attempts to write the RPNCE. The RPNCE is offered three (3) times per year January, May and October

Will the test be completed by pencil and paper or by computer?
The RPNCE is a computer-based exam.


Do I still apply to the Registered Psychiatric Nurse (RPN) regulatory authority in my province of study to write the exam?

Yes, candidates will apply to the College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of Alberta (CRPNA) for eligibility to write the RPNCE. Once eligibility to write has been determined by CRPNA, we will forward the information to the exam company.

Can I apply to write the RPNCE if I haven’t graduated from my nursing program yet?
Yes, students in the final term of a psychiatric nursing education program are eligible to apply for the exam when they have started, or are about to start, the final practicum of the program.

What if I'm late in applying?
Applications received after the deadline will not be accepted for that writing.

What if I require a testing accommodation?
Reasonable testing accommodations will be provided to any candidate who has an identified or special need. A candidate that requires a testing accommodation must submit a request in writing,
along with the required supporting documentation completed by a qualified health professional (e.g. a physician or psychologist) to certify that a testing accommodation is required. Candidates must apply
for a testing accommodation at least twelve (12) weeks prior to the exam date.

Can I write the RPNCE in another province?
Yes. Testing centers for the RPNCE are available across the Western provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.


Can I choose where I write the RPNCE?

Yes. Testing centers for the RPNCE are available across the Western provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. While efforts will be made to schedule exam writers in their preferred writing location, venues are subject to availability and are not guaranteed. Meazure Learning will make efforts to schedule exam writers in their preferred writing location.

Can I change my exam location?

No. Once your exam date and location has been confirmed it cannot be changed.


Is there a prep or study guide available?

Yes. The Registered Psychiatric Nurse Regulators of Canada (RPNRC) has released the following tools to help candidates prepare:

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.


Is it possible to withdraw from the exam?
Candidates that need to withdraw from the exam are required to contact CRPNA as soon as possible. Written requests for withdrawal will be accepted and reviewed up to 15 business days prior to writing the RPNCE. Candidates that withdraw less than 15 business days before the exam date will forfeit the exam fee.


Is there anything I should know about the day of the examination?
Candidates will receive an exam appointment confirmation email from Meazure Learning outlining the details of the exam appointment. Be sure to read it carefully as it contains the username that is required to login to write the RPNCE.

If I’m late for the exam, will I still be able to write?
Candidates are expected to arrive 30 minutes prior to the exam appointment time. Late arrivals will be accepted up to 30 minutes after the exam appointment time. No additional time will be provided to late arrivals
Candidates who do not arrive at the exam appointment on time, or candidates who arrive more than 30 minutes late for the appointment time will not be eligible to write the exam and will forfeit the exam fees. 

Will an online calculator be provided?
Yes. An on-screen calculator will be available for use throughout the exam.

How long is the exam?
Candidates have four (4) hours to write the exam.

Will breaks be provided?
No scheduled breaks are planned, however, unscheduled bio breaks can be taken as required, at the discretion of the invigilator. Any unscheduled breaks taken during the exam will be included in the four-hour exam time, no extra time will be provided.



When do the results come out?
Exam results are released within four (4) weeks of the exam to the exam to the candidates jurisdiction. CRPNA will notify candidates of the exam results by email. Results will be as pass or fail. Candidates that are unsuccessful, will also receive a performance summary.

If I fail the exam can I continue to work on my Provisional Permit?
A provisional permit is valid for six (6) months. After the first unsuccessful attempt of the examination, the candidate will be contacted to discuss options.

Can I dispute the result?
Borderline exams are automatically re-scored by hand. A candidate who would like to request a re-score of the exam must do so within twelve (12) weeks after the exam day.
The charge for re-scoring is 10% of the examination fee and typically takes three (3) weeks after the request has been approved. To request a re-score, candidates must submit a written request to [email protected]



Do exam questions have more than one correct answer, and how is this correct answer determined?
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.  The exam is the end result of many test development activities that take place throughout a two-year period. Registered Psychiatric Nurses, RPN educators and RPN administrators from across Canada create and evaluate the exam questions with assistance from Meazure Learning test consultants, who ensure that the RPNCE meets the blueprint guidelines and specifications.  Each question on the exam is supported by two references. Most of these references have been published within the past five years. The purpose of the references is twofold: (1) to indicate that the correct answer within each question has authoritative support from at least two experts in the field and (2) to provide a source for further reading and review. Every attempt has been made to use references that are up-to-date, accessible and accepted within the nursing community.

Does each question have equal weight on the exam?
Each exam question has the same value: one mark. A candidates score on the exam is calculated as the number of questions that they answered correctly. In this process, each question is worth one, and only one, mark.
Are there any questions that you must answer correctly to pass the exam?
The answer to this question is “no”. 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 set in reference to the content and the difficulty of the test questions. The pass mark is NOT set using a norm-referenced approach such as “bell curving”. The pass mark is set by a panel of content experts from across Canada. These content experts work closely with entry-level Registered Psychiatric Nurses, and include educators, experienced practitioners and administrators. The pass mark is set at a level that represents the performance expected of a competent entry-level psychiatric nurse. The panel of content experts reviews each exam question and produces ratings based on a common understanding of a competent entry-level psychiatric nurse.

In addition to these ratings, a variety of relevant data (for example, information on the preparation of new graduates, data on results from previously administered exam) are carefully considered to ensure that the pass mark that candidates must achieve on the exam is valid and fair. Based on this information, an appropriate pass mark is set. Also, to ensure fairness, the different versions of the exam are equated so that all candidates have to meet the same standard regardless of the version of the exam. For each form of the RPNCE, the pass mark is the same across writing centres and across the four western provinces.