Critical Care Nursing Board Review Questions

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“This is a great source of CCRN questions to prepare for the exam. Questions are challenging, but the rationales are great. Everything had references too! Thanks for a good qbank.”

Anita Fetzick

gold key Key Nursing Features


Critical Care Nursing Board Review Topics Covered:

  • Cardiovascular
  • Neurology
  • Hematology
  • Endocrine
  • Pulmonary
  • Renal
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Multisystem
  • Synergy
  • Neurology - Cases
  • Endocrine - Cases
  • Pulmonary - Cases
  • Cardiovascular - Cases
  • Renal - Cases
  • Synergy - Cases
  • Hematology - Cases

Leading Faculty Authors

  • Ed Park, MSN, CCNS, CCRN-CMC-CSC, Certified Cardiovascular / Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Krista Schroeder, CCRN, PhD, Columbia School of Nursing

About the AACN CCRN (Adult) Certification Exam

As outlined by the AACN, this exam is for "nurses who provide direct care to acutely/critically ill adult patients regardless of their physical location. Nurses interested in this certification may work in areas such as intensive care units, cardiac care units, combined ICU/CCUs, medical/surgical ICUs, trauma units or critical care transport/flight."

What categories are tested on the CCRN (Adult) Certification Exam?

According to the AACN Adult CCRN Test Plan, the following categories will be on the exam:

Clinical Judgment 80%

  • Cardiovascular 18%
  • Pulmonary 17%
  • Endocrine/Hematology/Gastrointestinal/Renal/Integumentary 20%
  • Musculoskeletal/Neurology/Psychosocial 13%
  • Multisystem 14%

Professional Caring & Ethical Practice 20%

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

Note that the BoardVitals content covers the topics on the exam in the percentages as presented by the examination blueprint. We do not use remembrances but try to teach to the topics that are most relevant on the examination.

What to expect on the CCRN Exam?

The CCRN (Adult) Exam is particularly challenging. There are about 12,000 test takers per year and the CCRN pass rate is only about 71%. The exam itself is 150 questions, with 25 of the questions being questions that don’t count towards your test score. These are sample questions that may be used on future examinations, but that have to be vetted first.

Note that some of these ‘test questions’ that aren’t counted can be fairly outside of the normal test questions, so be prepared to see an odd question. Some students feel constrained for time at 1.2 minutes per question, so if there is a single particularly difficult question, it may be best to move on and focus on other topics.

Note that in our question bank, the recommended setting is 60 minutes for every 50 questions to simulate true exam conditions (as well as the computer environment likely to be encountered on the exam).

From the AACN website:

The majority of the exam is age-specific for the adult, pediatric or neonatal patient population, while a portion of the exam covers content that may address any age across the life span.

Note that in order to be eligible for the exam, most nurses will meet the total time option: Practice as an RN or APRN for 1,750 hours of direct care of acute/critically ill patients, with 875 of those hours accrued in the last year. Many nurses meet this requirement by default as that is approximately 21 weeks per year of critical/acute bedside care.

The University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing Continuing Nursing Education is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.

This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation (ANCC) through the joint-providership of the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing Continuing Nursing Education (provider) and BoardVitals.

This activity is provided for a maximum of 35.0 contact hours under ANCC criteria.