Why Take the CNE Exam?

Certified Nurse Educators play an important role in the process of educating aspiring nurses. Relying on hands-on experience and expertise, academic nurse educators prepare curriculum, teach lectures, engage in lab and clinical work, and inspire nursing students to provide the best patient care possible. Becoming a Certified Nurse Educator means you have taken the next step in your career and want to strengthen your skills and knowledge in the pursuit of excellence. Becoming a Certified Nurse Educator, or CNE, demonstrates your professionalism, highlights your education and expertise, and positions you to serve as a role model and leader. CNE certification distinguishes academic nursing education as an advanced area of practice within the professional nursing field, promotes excellence, and allows academic nurse educators to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and abilities. By seeking certification as a nurse educator, you contribute to your own professional development, as well as the professional development of other nurses. Ultimately, CNE certification strengthens educators, nursing students, and the core competencies of nursing education.


Before taking the CNE examination, you will want to ensure you meet the eligibility requirements set forth by the National League for Nursing, or NLN. If becoming a Certified Nurse Educator is your goal, it is likely you are already well on your way toward meeting the eligibility criteria, if you have not already done so. There are two eligibility options for the exam. For both options, the first step is to ensure you have active, unencumbered, registered nurse licensure in the country in which you live and work. This means your licensure must be current, active, and not limited by any type of disciplinary procedure, reprimand, censure, or other related issue. Because the standards for CNE certification are high, none of these criteria can be waived.

For the first eligibility option, called Option A, you must possess a master’s degree or doctoral degree in nursing with a nursing education emphasis; a master’s degree or doctoral degree in nursing and post-graduate certificate in nursing education; or a master’s degree or doctoral degree in nursing with nine or more credit hours of graduate-level courses. These courses can be in curriculum development, evaluation, instructional design, adult learning, teaching, technology, or other related areas. For the second eligibility option, called Option B, you must possess a master’s degree or doctoral degree in nursing with a major or emphasis in something other than nursing education, along with two or more years of employment in a nursing program in an educational institution, occurring within the past five years.

Exam Content and Structure

Any exam can seem daunting, so understanding the structure of the exam and weight of each section can help you feel more prepared and comfortable on exam day. The NLN provides an official blueprint of the exam on their website. The key areas of competency are: facilitation of learning; facilitation of learner development and socialization; use of assessment and evaluation strategies; participation in curriculum design and evaluation of program outcomes; pursuit of systematic self-evaluation and improvement in the academic nurse educator role; and engagement in scholarship, service, and leadership.

The first section of the exam is designed to measure your facilitation of learning. This means you will be tested on your knowledge of teaching strategies, educational theory, evidence-based practices, and other related areas. The weight of this section is 22%, so it is important to ensure you can demonstrate proficiency in each area.

The second section of the exam is designed to assess your ability to facilitate students’ development and socialization. This section is weighted at 14% and includes discussions of learning styles and needs, cultural and economic diversity, previous nursing education, and constructive peer and self-evaluation.

The third section of the exam is weighted at 17% and is designed to examine your ability to use assessment and evaluation strategies. This means you will be focusing on nursing program standards and policies, such as admission, progression, and graduation. You will need to demonstrate your ability to advise others with regard to evaluation data and criteria.

The fourth section of the exam, also weighted at 17%, is designed to evaluate your participation in curriculum design and program outcomes. This section will explore your ability to select appropriate learning activities, clinical experiences, and evaluation strategies.

The fifth section is weighted at 9% and is designed to examine the role of systematic self-evaluation in the nurse educator role. You must demonstrate your commitment to lifelong learning, as well as your engagement in activities that promote your leadership role, including membership in professional organizations.

The sixth section is weighted at 21%, which makes it the second highest weight in the exam. This section examines your engagement in scholarship, service, and leadership by looking at your role as a change agent and leader. This section will discuss your participation in efforts to address health care and educational needs institutionally, locally, and regionally.

Test Preparation

One of the best means of ensuring you do well on your Certified Nurse Educator exam is to prepare. In addition to the test blueprint you can find on the NLN website, Mometrix Test Preparation offers a comprehensive Certified Nurse Educator Exam guide: Certified Nurse Educator Exam Secrets. This guide is unlike any other in that you get actual CNE test questions that help measure your foundation of knowledge and skills. This guide was written by exam experts who understand firsthand how to successfully beat the CNE exam and get the best score you can get. The Mometrix test researchers have discovered the secret keys of the exam and are able to impart exactly how simple it can be to reduce your stress and pass the CNE. This guide was designed to teach you the test, not the material. This makes a difference! You know the material; now you just need to understand the exam itself. With the Certified Nurse Educator Exam Secrets guide, you are that much closer to becoming a Certified Nurse Educator.

Certified Nurse Educator Practice Test

1. When evaluating literature, which of the following categories indicates that the data have supporting evidence from other studies and a good theoretical basis and are strongly recommended for implementation?

  1. Category IA
  2. Category IB
  3. Category II
  4. Category III

2. When writing measurable course objectives, which of the following items should be identified first?

  1. Time frame
  2. Outcomes
  3. Assessment tools
  4. Audience

3. Dropout rates for a particular nursing school show that men dropped out at twice the rate of women during the first semester. The most effective solution to this problem is to

  1. raise entry requirements for male students.
  2. focus on male health issues during the first semester.
  3. establish a mentoring program for male nurses.
  4. refer male students for tutoring assistance.

4. As part of a clinical evaluation, the nurse educator compares each student's performance to the performance of other students to arrive at a ranking among the students, according to skill level. This type of evaluation is

  1. criterion-referenced.
  2. norm-referenced.
  3. formative.
  4. summative.

5. A horizontal structure of authority often leads to

  1. instability.
  2. decreased accountability.
  3. increased accountability
  4. performance stagnation.

Answers and Explanations

  1. B: Category 1B is the correct answer. An inclusive list of the categories follows:
    • Category IA: well supported by evidence from experimental, clinical, or epidemiologic studies and strongly recommended for implementation
    • Category IB: supporting evidence from some studies, good theoretical basis, and strongly recommended for implementation
    • Category IC: required by state or federal regulations or an industry standard
    • Category II: supported by suggestive clinical or epidemiologic studies, has a theoretical basis, and is suggested for implementation
    • Category III: supported by descriptive studies and may be useful
    • Category IV: obtained from expert opinion or authorities only
    • Unresolved: no recommendation because of a lack of consensus or evidence

  2. D: A first step is to identify who needs to change in some way, such as the educator, students, patients, teams, or the class as a whole. The desired outcome must be clearly outlined. The methods of assessing outcomes including tools, surveys, data, demonstrations, must be clear. Criteria determining the level of proficiency (i.e., the success or failure) should be delineated. The time frame needed to achieve objectives should be stated.

  3. C: Establishing a mentoring program with male nurses is likely the most effective solution to the high dropout rate for men because this provides role models and resources. Entering a field dominated by the opposite gender can be intimidating, and some students may benefit from talking to someone who has gone through the same experience. Establishing different entry requirements would be unfair, and simply referring students for tutoring or changing the class focus may not resolve the underlying issues.

  4. B: A norm-referenced evaluation compares each student's performance to the performance of other students to arrive at a ranking of students, according to skill level. Criterion-referenced evaluation focuses on students meeting prescribed criteria, such as demonstrating a particular skill. Formative evaluation provides feedback over the course of clinical experience to help students improve their skills. Summative evaluation is usually done at the completion of clinical experience or a prescribed period to evaluate the progress the student has made; grades are usually assigned.

  5. C: A horizontal structure of authority, such as that with teams that have the authority to make decisions, often results in increased accountability because members feel important to the organization and take more ownership of their roles. A rigid hierarchical structure in which those at the top of the structure impose their decisions on others, often with little or no discussion, may stifle innovation and change, and discontent may lead to instability as resentment builds.

CNE test blueprint and breakdown


Last Updated: 04/18/2018

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