CEN Test Breakdown

Welcome to this overview of the Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) exam!

If you need help studying for the CEN exam or just want some more information about what it’s is like, you’ve come to the right place.

Exam Eligibility

Before you can register to take the CEN exam, you’ll need to ensure that you hold a current, unrestricted RN license in the US, Canada, or Australia.

If you got your degree or license in another country, you may still be eligible! The Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN) will use the International Credential Evaluation service and their partner, CGFNS International, to check your eligibility status.

Take note that having two years of emergency nursing experience is recommended but not strictly required.

What’s on the CEN Exam?

Questions: 175
Time limit: 3 hours

First, let’s talk about the questions on the CEN exam. There are 175 multiple-choice questions total, but only 150 of the questions will count toward your score. Why is that?

Unscored Questions
The 25 unscored questions on the CEN exam are called “pretest” questions. These are added to the exam to determine if they’re good enough questions to add to future versions of the test.

The trick is that you won’t have any way of knowing which questions are scored and which ones are pretest. They will appear just like the scored questions throughout the test.

The time limit for the exam is 3 hours. There aren’t any scheduled breaks, but you’re free to take up to two 10-minute restroom breaks as needed.

The exam is divided into the 10 sections listed below:

  1. Cardiovascular Emergencies (19 questions)
  2. Respiratory Emergencies (18 questions)
  3. Neurological Emergencies (18 questions)
  4. Gastrointestinal, Genitourinary, Gynecology, and Obstetrical (18 questions)
  5. Mental Health Emergencies (11 questions)
  6. Medical Emergencies (14 questions)
  7. Musculoskeletal and Wound Emergencies (13 questions)
  8. Maxillofacial and Ocular Emergencies (11 questions)
  9. Environment and Toxicology Emergencies, and Communicable Diseases (14 questions)
  10. Professional Issues (14 questions)

How to Register

The first thing you’ll need to do is create a BCEN account via their website. Then, you can use this account to select “CEN” as your certification and create a new application.

When you submit your application, you’ll also need to submit the exam fee (which can take up to 4 weeks to process, so be sure to give yourself plenty of buffer).

Table of CEN test fees

Once your payment is processed, you’ll receive an email from BCEN confirming your eligibility and giving you information about scheduling your exam date. You’ll have 90 days after your application is approved to schedule your testing appointment.

CEN Study Guide and Flashcards

Get practice questions, detailed study lessons, and complex subjects broken down into easily understandable concepts.

Study Guide

Exam Scores

The scoring method for the CEN exam is a raw score directly based on your performance.

For example, if you get 115 questions right, your score will be 115 (crazy, I know!). A passing score is a score of 106, so you must answer at least 71% of the questions correctly to pass.

You should receive your score report the day you complete the exam.

Retaking the Exam

In the unlikely event you fail the exam, you can retake it again! And again! And again! You can retake the CEN as many times as you want. You must wait until at least 90 days after the initial testing date, and you may still need to pay to take it again, but you can retake it over and over again until you pass.

Here’s some good news: if your retest is within a year of your initial exam, you get a $180 discount!

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Online CEN Prep Course

If you want to be fully prepared, Mometrix offers an online CEN prep course. The course is designed to provide you with any and every resource you might want while studying. The CEN course includes:

  • Review Lessons Covering Every Topic
  • 1,200+ CEN Practice Questions
  • More than 1,000 Digital Flashcards
  • Over 90 Instructional Videos
  • Money-back Guarantee
  • Free Mobile Access
  • and More!

The CEN prep course is designed to help any learner get everything they need to prepare for their CEN exam. Click below to check it out!



How hard is the CEN exam?


The CEN exam is a moderately difficult exam, but nothing you can’t pass with a good amount of studying beforehand.


How much is the CEN exam?


The default testing fee is $380.


How many questions are on the CEN exam?


The exam contains 175 multiple-choice questions.


What is the time limit for the CEN exam?


The exam is timed at 3 hours.


What is the passing score for the CEN exam?


You’ll need a score of 106 to pass the exam.