Adult CCRN Practice Test

The Adult Critical Care Nurses Certification (CCRN), administered by the American association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), is a way for nurses to provide tangible proof of their skill and expertise in caring for acutely/critically ill adult patients.

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To be eligible to take the Adult CCRN exam, you must hold a current RN or APRN license and complete ONE of the following requirements:

  • You must have spent at least 1,750 hours directly caring for critically ill adult patients within the last two years.
  • You must have spent at least 2,000 hours directly caring for critically ill adult patients within the last five years.

Exam Outline Review

The Adult CCRN exam contains 150 multiple-choice questions, 25 of which are unscored, and you will be given a 3-hour time limit. The 25 unscored questions are used by the test administrators to evaluate questions for future exams.

The exam is entirely based on the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) Synergy Model for Patient Care, so you need to be familiar with this framework and procedures.

This exam is split into two sections:

Clinical Judgment (80%)

The questions in this section assess your knowledge of various aspects of the systems of the human body.

  • Cardiovascular (17%)
  • Respiratory (15%)
  • Endocrine/Hematology/Gastrointestinal/Renal/Integumentary (20%)
  • Musculoskeletal/Neurological/Psychosocial (14%)
  • Multisystem (14%)

Professional Caring and Ethical Practice (20%)

The questions in this section assess your knowledge of various aspects of the professional caring process and ethical practices.

  • Advocacy/Moral Agency
  • Caring Practices
  • Response to Diversity
  • Facilitation of Learning
  • Collaboration
  • Systems Thinking
  • Clinical Inquiry

exam outline for the Adult CCRN exam, which contains 150 multiple-choice questions and has a time limit of 3 hours

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To apply for the exam, visit the AACN website and click “Get Certified.” You will be asked to fill out an application and an honor statement, as well as pay the application fee. The fee is $250 for AACN members and $365 for non-members.

Once your application is approved, you will be able to register, choose your testing method (in-person or remote), and schedule your exam.

Test Day

In-person Testing

You should arrive at the testing center 15-30 minutes earlier than the scheduled exam time. If you arrive later than 15 minutes after the scheduled appointment time, you will not be able to take the exam. Once you arrive, you will need to show a valid, government-issued photo ID (military IDs are not accepted). If your ID is invalid or you forget to bring it, you will not be able to take the exam.

Before the exam begins, you will be asked to leave all personal items in your car, such as your cell phone, books, papers, notes, food, jacket, and hat. You will then be asked for your AACN customer number, and a digital photograph of you will be taken, which will appear on the computer screen throughout your testing session. You will also be given a practice exam to help you familiarize yourself with the computer system.

Once the practice exam is complete, the real exam will begin. You are permitted to take breaks during the exam, but the timer will not be stopped.

Live Remote Proctoring

You should log into your AACN account between 15 and 30 minutes before your exam is scheduled to begin, and the proctor will guide you through the check-in process. You will not be allowed to wear headphones, and you must ensure that your testing area is free from electronics, food, your cell phone, notes, and reference materials.

How the Exam is Scored

The Adult CCRN exam is scored using a modified version of the Angoff method. This means that AACN panelists are given information such as test results and other panelists’ rating results to determine the cut score. The cut score is a raw number that is based on how the AACN panelists established the difficulty ratings for each question.

To pass the exam, you will need to achieve a cut score of 83.

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How to Study for the Adult CCRN Exam

How to Study Effectively

Your success on Adult CCRN test day depends not only on how many hours you put into preparing but also on whether you prepared the right way. It’s good to check along the way to see whether your studying is paying off. One of the most effective ways to do this is by taking Adult CCRN practice tests to evaluate your progress. Practice tests are useful because they show exactly where you need to improve. Every time you take a free Adult CCRN exam practice test, pay special attention to these three groups of questions:

  • The questions you got wrong
  • The ones you had to guess on, even if you guessed right
  • The ones you found difficult or slow to work through

This will show you exactly what your weak areas are and where you need to devote more study time. Ask yourself why each of these questions gave you trouble. Was it because you didn’t understand the material? Was it because you didn’t remember the vocabulary? Do you need more repetitions on this type of question to build speed and confidence? Dig into those questions and figure out how you can strengthen your weak areas as you go back to review the material.

Answer Explanations

Additionally, many Adult CCRN practice tests have a section explaining the answer choices. It can be tempting to read the explanation and think that you now have a good understanding of the concept. However, an explanation likely only covers part of the question’s broader context. Even if the explanation makes sense, go back and investigate every concept related to the question until you’re positive you have a thorough understanding.

Comprehend Each Topic

As you go along, keep in mind that the Adult CCRN practice test is just that: practice. Memorizing these questions and answers will not be very helpful on the actual test because it is unlikely to have any of the same exact questions. If you only know the right answers to the sample questions, you won’t be prepared for the real thing. Study the concepts until you understand them fully, and then you’ll be able to answer any question that shows up on the test.

Strategy for Adult CCRN Practice

When you’re ready to start taking practice tests, follow this strategy:

  • Remove Limitations. Take the first test with no time constraints and with your notes and Adult CCRN study guide handy. Take your time and focus on applying the strategies you’ve learned.
  • Time Yourself. Take the second practice test “open book” as well, but set a timer and practice pacing yourself to finish in time.
  • Simulate Test Day. Take any other practice tests as if it were test day. Set a timer and put away your study materials. Sit at a table or desk in a quiet room, imagine yourself at the testing center, and answer questions as quickly and accurately as possible.
  • Keep Practicing. Keep taking practice tests on a regular basis until you run out of practice tests or it’s time for the actual test. Your mind will be ready for the schedule and stress of test day, and you’ll be able to focus on recalling the material you’ve learned.

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Online CCRN Adult Prep Course

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

  • Review Lessons Covering Every Topic
  • 900+ CCRN Adult Practice Questions
  • Over 80 Instructional Videos
  • More than 500 Electronic Flashcards
  • Money-back Guarantee
  • Free Mobile Access
  • and More!

The CCRN Adult Prep Course is designed to help any learner get everything they need to prepare for their CCRN exam. Click below to check it out!


What is a CCRN?

CCRN is a certification for nurses who care for patients who are critically ill due to an extensive injury, life-threatening disease, or surgery. CCRN does not stand for “Critical Care Registered Nurse.”

How many questions are on the Adult CCRN exam?

There are 150 multiple-choice questions on the exam.

How long is the Adult CCRN exam?

The time limit for this exam is 3 hours.

What is the passing score for the Adult CCRN exam?

To pass the exam, you will need a minimum cut score of 83.

How much does the Adult CCRN exam cost?

The exam fee is $250 for AACN members and $365 for non-members.

By Kate Nockunas

Kate has been Mometrix’s Nursing and Medical Editor for over four years. She has a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Vanderbilt University, a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Marymount University, and a master’s degree in Education from Johns Hopkins. Kate is a critical care registered nurse who still works occasionally in the ICU and PACU.

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by Mometrix Test Preparation | This Page Last Updated: February 9, 2023