Pain Management Nursing Practice Test

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The ANCC Pain Management Nursing exam assesses the knowledge and skills that registered nurses must have in the pain management specialty.

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Pain Management Nursing Exam Eligibility

To be eligible for this exam, you must hold a current RN license in the US (or another country’s legally recognized equivalent). You must also meet the following requirements:

  • You must have at least 2 years of full-time experience as a registered nurse
  • You must have at least 2,000 hours of clinical pain management practice within the last 3 years
  • You must have completed at least 30 hours of continuing education in pain management nursing within the last 3 years

Pain Management Nursing Exam Outline

The ANCC Pain Management Nursing exam contains 150 multiple-choice questions, 25 of which are unscored, and you will be given a time limit of 3 hours.

The exam is split into three content domains, which are designed to cover the various competencies and points of knowledge that a registered nurse in the pain management specialty should possess.

pain management nursing exam outline

I. Fundamentals of Pain (55 scored questions)

The questions in this domain are grouped into two sections.

A. Science of Pain

  • Nociceptive and neuropathic pain
  • Acute, chronic, and persistent pain
  • Pain management models and theories
  • Physiologic mechanisms of pain
  • Etiology of pain
  • Pain diagnoses and syndromes
  • Physiological and psychological effects of uncontrolled pain

B. Assessment

  • Pain descriptors and characteristics
  • Pain history
  • Pain assessment techniques, scales, and tools
  • Quality-of-life and functional ability
  • Coping mechanisms and support systems
  • Monitoring and reassessment of pain and functional status
  • Potential barriers to pain management
  • Risk assessment of substance use

II. Interventions (53 scored questions)

The questions in this domain are grouped into three sections.

A. Plan of Care

  • Patient-centered plan of care and treatment goals
  • Multimodal pain management strategies
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration

B. Pharmacological Treatment

  • Opioid analgesics
  • Non-opioid analgesics
  • Adjuvant medications
  • Herbs and supplements
  • Routes of administration
  • Medication safety and misuse
  • Medication conversion and equivalence
  • Side effect prevention and management

C. Non-pharmacological Treatment

  • Physical treatment modalities
  • Cognitive and behavioral treatment modalities
  • Complementary and integrative therapies
  • Safety considerations and potential complications

III. Professional Practice (17 scored questions)

The questions in this domain are grouped into two sections.

A. Education and Advocacy

  • Patient, caregiver, and family education
  • Therapeutic communication techniques
  • Cultural and other demographic considerations

B. Ethics and Regulatory Principles

  • Scope, standards, guidelines, and ethics
  • Crisis and emergency response

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Pain Management Nursing Exam Registration

Registering for and scheduling your Pain Management Nursing exam can be done online. The cost of the examination is $395 for all candidates who are not ANCC members. Active ANCC members will only have to pay $295 to register for the exam.

Once you have registered, you will receive information on how to schedule your examination appointment.

Test Day

On test day, you should arrive at the testing center about 30 minutes before the exam is scheduled to begin. Once you arrive, you will be asked to provide two forms of identification, one of which must contain your photo and signature. If your ID is invalid, you will not be permitted to take the examination.

Personal items are not allowed in the testing area, so you will be asked to leave them in a secured locker before the exam begins.

Once the check-in process is complete, you will be led to your testing station and given a short tutorial on the testing system before beginning your exam.

How the Pain Management Nursing Exam is Scored

The scores for the ANCC Pain Management Nursing exam are calculated using a criterion-based scoring system. This means that a panel of ANCC subject-matter experts has evaluated the questions and determined a passing score. The passing score is set using the modified-Angoff method, which means that your score is based solely on your performance, without any input from the performance of other test-takers.

Your score is reported on a scale of 1 to 500, and you must get a score of at least 350 to pass the exam.

You will be able to see your preliminary scores as soon as you complete the exam, and your final score report will be made available via your ANCC account.

Retaking the Pain Management Nursing Exam

If you fail the exam, you may retake it after a 60-day waiting period. After the waiting period, you must resubmit an application and the retest fee of $270.

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How many questions are on the Pain Management Nursing exam?


There are 150 questions on the exam.


How long is the Pain Management Nursing exam?


The time limit for the exam is 3 hours.


What is the passing score for the Pain Management Nursing exam?


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


How much does the Pain Management Nursing exam cost?


The examination fee is $295 for ANCC members and $395 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.


by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: February 6, 2024