Clinical Nurse Leader Practice Test

Prepare for your test with realistic questions.

The Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) exam is administered by the Commission on Nurse Certification (CNC) to assess the knowledge and skills of prospective clinical nurse leaders.

Click “Start Test” above to take a free CNL practice test, and check out our premium-quality CNL test prep resources by clicking the links below!

Clinical Nurse Leader Exam Eligibility

To be eligible for this exam, you must be a graduate of an accredited CNL master’s or post-master’s program or be in your last term of said program.

Clinical Nurse Leader Exam Outline

The CNL exam contains 140 multiple-choice questions, and you will be given a 3-hour time limit.

The exam is split into three domains.

I. Nursing Leadership (32%)

The questions in this domain assess your knowledge and skills pertaining to the following:

  • Ethics
  • Horizontal Leadership
  • Lateral Integration of Care Services
  • Patient Assessment
  • Healthcare Advocacy
  • Implementation of the CNL Role

II. Clinical Outcomes Management (23%)

The questions in this domain assess your knowledge and skills pertaining to the following:

  • Illness/Disease Management
  • Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and Injury Reduction/Prevention Management
  • Healthcare Policy

III. Care Environment Management (45%)

The questions in this domain assess your knowledge and skills pertaining to the following:

  • Interprofessional Communication and Collaboration Skills
  • Knowledge Management
  • Healthcare Systems/Organizations
  • Team Coordination
  • Healthcare Finance and Economics
  • Healthcare Informatics
  • Quality Improvement and Safety
  • Evidence-Based Practice

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Clinical Nurse Leader Exam Registration

To register for the CNL exam, you must submit an application online via the CNC website. Your application must include proof-of-eligibility documents as well as the $425 exam fee.

Once your application is approved, you will receive a confirmation email with further information on how to schedule an exam appointment with Prometric.

Test Day

You should arrive about 30 minutes early to the testing center, which will allow enough time for the check-in process. This process involves checking your ID and signing a confidentiality form.

Once you are checked in, you will be asked to place all personal or prohibited items in a secure locker outside the testing area, and you will be given a piece of scratch paper and two pencils to take notes with during the exam.

Once you are ready, the proctor will lead you to the testing station and provide a brief introduction to the testing system before the exam begins.

How the Clinical Nurse Leader Exam is Scored

You CNL exam score is determined using a scaled scoring system. This system takes the number of questions you answered correctly (your raw score) and converts it to a numerical score on a scale from 150 to 500. The minimum scaled score you need to pass is 350.

You will receive a score report before you leave the testing center.

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How many questions are on the CNL exam?


There are 140 multiple-choice questions on the exam.


How long is the CNL exam?


The time limit for the exam is 3 hours.


What is the passing score for the CNL exam?


To pass the exam, you must achieve a scaled score of at least 350.


How much does the CNL exam cost?


The examination fee is $425.

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.


by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: December 29, 2023