CNOR Test Breakdown

The CNOR exam, or Certified Nurse Operating Room exam, is an exam that has been developed by Thomson Prometric and the Competency and Credentialing Institute (CCI). CCI is a leader in the credentialing of operating room nurses. The CNOR exam is administered by Prometric at locations throughout the United States and Canada, and internationally as well. The CNOR exam is a computer-based examination.

There are several requirements that one must have before applying to take the CNOR examination. The candidate must have at least two years and 2400 hours of experience as an operating room nurse, must currently be employed (either full-time or part-time) as an operating room nurse, and must be currently licensed as a registered nurse. Specific details about these requirements can be found online on the CCI website.

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Once these eligibility requirements have been met, the application to take the CNOR exam can be completed. The exam can be completed online on the CCI website, downloaded from the CCI website, or requested from CCI directly by filling out an online request form. All fees must also be paid at the time of application, and the specific fees are outline on the CCI website. Application deadlines must also be followed, and these can also be found online.

Once the application has been accepted, a confirmation packet will be sent to all applicants in the mail. This packet will be received approximately two weeks after CCI receives the initial application. About a month before the specified testing window, Prometric will send all applicants an authorization to test (ATT) letter. This letter contains an authorization number as well as a phone number for Prometric and a website address that can be used to schedule testing appointments.

Prometric, either over the phone or online, will give the applicant the testing dates and times that are available to them. The applicant can select the test date and time that best suits their needs. It is recommended to contact Prometric, either by phone or online, as soon as possible after the ATT letter is received. This will give test-takers a better choice of available testing dates and times.

The CNOR exam is a computer-based test that is given at Prometric testing centers. The test consists of 200 multiple choice questions. Out of these 200 questions, 15 questions will not be scored. Test-takers have four hours to complete the examination, and they must complete the entire test within the four hour time limit. There is also an optional, 30 minute pre-exam computer tutorial.

The exam consists of questions based on two nursing domains, patient care management (90%) and management of materials, personnel, and services (10%). Further breakdown of the test questions is as follows:

  • preoperative patient care management (9%)
  • intraoperative patient care management (76.5%)
  • postoperative patient care management (4.5%)
  • preoperative management of materials, personnel, and services (1%)
  • intraoperative management of materials, personnel, and services (8.5%)
  • postoperative management of materials, personnel, and services (0.5%).

Further details on what is covered on the exam can be found online on the CCI website.

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One’s raw score on the CNOR exam is based on the number of questions on the exam answered correctly. For this reason, it is advantageous to answer all presented questions during the allotted time, even if one is not sure of the correct answer. Because there are different forms of the CNOR exam, a process known as equating is used to convert the raw scores into scaled scores. These scaled scores take into account differences in the levels of difficulty among multiple exam versions.

A passing scaled score on the CNOR exam is 620. Note that a passing raw score can vary depending on the particular version of the test. The passing score was determined through a Cut-Score Study that used the staff of Prometric along with the judgment of a group of CNORs. The minimum passing score represents the minimum level of competence for a CNOR. Once completing the exam, a test-taker is given a preliminary pass/fail designation.

If one has failed the exam, a scaled score will also be given, and the test-taker will be told how far their scaled score is away from the passing scaled score of 620. If one passes the exam, they are not given a scaled score. Instead, they are told that they passed the exam upon its completion, and they will receive a packet of information and a congratulations letter in the mail from CCI.

Prior to the examination, there are several ways in which to prepare. Familiarization with the test content and breakdown is very useful. Studying the necessary content, and even forming study groups with other test-takers, is also useful. On test day, taking advantage of the pre-exam tutorial is useful. This tutorial shows test-takers how to select their answers, as well as how to mark questions that one may want to return to later in the test.

During the exam, pacing oneself is crucial. All test items must be answered during the allotted time of four hours. Not answering items can adversely affect the test score. Even if the correct answer for a particular test item is not known, it is best to make a guess. Questions can also be marked using the computer, so that they can be revisited later. This can be useful for questions that are difficult, or for questions where the test-taker is going back and forth between two possible correct answers.

The CNOR exam is offered by the Competency & Credentialing Institute.