Canadian Practical Nurse Registration Examination (CPNRE) Computer- Based Examination

Before you can become a Registered Practical Nurse in Ontario, you must successfully complete the Canadian Practical Nurse Registration Examination (CPNRE). This national examination measures the competencies required of nurses at the beginning of their nursing career in Ontario.

Practical nurse educators, clinicians and administrators from across Canada develop the exam with assistance from Yardstick Assessment Strategies Inc., which ensures the CPNRE meets industry-accepted standards. Provincial and territorial regulatory authorities administer the exam within their jurisdictions and determine writing eligibility.

The CPNRE consists of 165 to 170 objective multiple-choice questions to answer over a four-hour period.

You have three chances to successfully complete the CPNRE. See Repeat Attempts to learn what happens if you reach the maximum number of tries. 

Examination window

Deadline to apply

November 18 to December 8, 2019 November 27, 2019
January 27 to February 16, 2020 February 07, 2020
June 8 to June 28, 2020 June 16, 2020
September 7 to September 27, 2020 September 15, 2020
November 9 to November 29, 2020 November 17, 2020


  • Only one exam window (the window with the nearest dates) is open for scheduling at any time.
  • A candidate who cancels or fails to attend a scheduled writing of an examination will be charged a cancellation fee of $73.45. 

Project to update RPN competencies and exam

We’re working with nine other provincial/territorial regulators of practical nurses in Canada to develop a consistent national approach to the entry-level competencies of RPNs. The competencies will be finalized spring 2019, at which time CNO will work with PN programs to integrate new content into curriculum. These changes will not impact the current cohort of RPN students. For the latest on this project, please visit: Updating RPN competencies and exam

Page last reviewed November 21, 2019