Frequently Asked Questions about the RPNC exam

WHAT DOES THE RPNC EXAMINATION TEST?
The object is to test Entry Level Competencies and knowledge. For more information about the content, see the Examination Content Blueprint

CAN I APPLY TO WRITE THE RPNC EXAMINATION IF I AM STILL IN MY PSYCHIATRIC NURSING EDUCATION PROGRAM?

Yes, a student who is in their final term of the psychiatric nursing education program and who has started or is about to start the final practicum of the program can apply for the first sitting of the exam following their program completion.  Please refer to the Exam Dates and Fees for critical time lines when applying to write the RPNC examination.

CAN I WRITE THE EXAM IN ANOTHER PROVINCE?
If you graduated from a psychiatric nursing education program in Alberta, you can request to write the exam in British Columbia, Saskatchewan or Manitoba.  You can do so by indicating this on the exam application form you submit to CRPNA.  Your request will be forwarded to the other jurisdiction and will be subject to their approval.

CAN I WORK WHILE WAITING TO WRITE THE RPNC EXAMINATION?
Yes, if you have Temporary registration.  This registration is available for those who have met all the requirements of Practicing registration except passing the exam and who have applied for the paid to write the next scheduled RPNCE.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT ON THE DAY OF THE EXAM?
The Entry Into the Exam Room Policy sets out specific criteria for what can be brought into the examination room and types of clothing allowed.  There are no exceptions to this policy.  You will be required to show photo ID and this ID should be the one used on your exam application.  Allow plenty of time to arrive at the designated writing center (at least 45 minutes before start of exam) as you will be required to check-in.  If you are late and the examination is in progress you may not be allowed to enter the room and you will be required to apply to write the next sitting of the exam and will be required to speak with the Registrar or Deputy Registrar of the CRPNA if you hold a Temporary Practice permit.

WHEN CAN I FIND OUT IF I PASSED?
The results are released within 4 to 6 weeks following the writing of the examination.  The results are either a P for Pass or F for Failure.  If someone receives an F, they will also receive an exam profile that shows the areas where an individual was not successful.

Legislation (the Health Professions Act and the RPN Regulation) sets out that an individual has three attempts to pass the exam before they are required to take another approved program in psychiatric nursing prior to being allowed to write the exam again.

CAN I CONTINUE TO WORK IF I FAIL THE EXAMINATION?
A Temporary Practice permit is valid for six months, after the first failure of the examination; a candidate must meet with the Deputy Registrar/Registrar to discuss options.

DO EXAM QUESTIONS HAVE MORE THAN ONE 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 DECIDED AND DOES EACH ANSWER HAVE EQUAL WEIGHT?
RPN Subject Matter Experts from across Canada create and evaluate the exam questions with assistance from YAS test consultants.  They ensure that the RPNCE meets the Exam Blueprint Content 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.  The purpose of the reference are 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 course for further reading and review.  Every attempt has been made to use references that are up-to-date, accessible and accepted within the psychiatric nursing community.  Each exam question has the same value: one mark.

HOW IS THE PASS MARK SET FOR EACH EXAM?
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 not set using a norm-referenced approach such as "bell curving".  For each form of the RPNCE, the pass mark is the same across writing centers and across the four Western provinces.

CAN I DISPUTE THE RESULT?
Scores are not provided to candidates.  If you have passed, this is all you will learn.  If you have failed, you will be given an assessment of the areas you were weak in.  Borderline exams are automatically re-scored by hand.  You may also apply to have your examination hand scored if you notify the CRPNA up to 11 weeks after the examination and pay a fee equal to 10% of the examination fee.




Frequently Asked Questions About Scoring

DO EXAM QUESTIONS HAVE MORE THAN ONE CORRECT ANSWER, AND HOW IS THE 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 clinicians and RPN administrators from across Canada create and evaluate the exam questions with assistance from YAS 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. Your score on the exam is calculated as the number of questions that you 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 TH 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.