March 2016

RPN exam goes electronic

Starting in May 2016, anyone applying to become a Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) in Ontario will write their entry exam on a computer.

The Canadian Practical Nurse Registration Exam (CPNRE) will be written at proctored test centres. The questions are exactly the same as would appear on a paper-based test. During the exam, writers will be able to move back and forth between questions or go back to change answers to previous questions. Also, exam writers will be asked to pick a preferred language before the exam begins but they can switch between English and French to view the questions in the other language.

Similar to the paper-based exam, candidates still have up to three opportunities to pass the computer-based exam.

The College has produced two webcasts, one for applicants and one for educators. The webcasts outline:

  • what is – and isn’t – changing with the exam

  • the benefits of computer-based testing

  • the process for registering to write the exam

  • materials to help applicants prepare for the exam.

You will also find frequently asked questions and 2016 testing dates in the CPNRE section of the College’s website.

How the exam will be administered
The CPNRE will be administered as a computer-based test, which should not be confused with a computer-adaptive test.

A computer-adaptive test is a method for administering exams that adapts to each exam writer’s ability – the level of difficulty of each question the writer receives depends on how well they performed in the previous question, and writers cannot skip questions.  

A computer-based test is best described as a paper-and-pencil style exam that is administered on a computer. The questions do not change based on the writer's performance.

Anyone who wants to register as an RPN in Ontario must pass the CPNRE. It tests the nursing knowledge, skill and judgment that applicants need when they first begin their nursing careers.

For general information about registration exams, visit the College’s Examinations page.

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