This information is for candidates who are preparing to write the Registered Psychiatric Nurses of Canada Examination (RPNCE). This exam is developed with and maintained by Assessment Strategies Inc., which provides registration exams for regulatory bodies across Canada.
As well as the ’frequently asked questions’ below, please take a look at our ‘Examination’ Registration Requirement document.
Questions – The RPNCE Exam
+ What is the RPNCE?
Anyone wishing to practice as a Registered Psychiatric Nurse in Canada must first pass the Registered Psychiatric Nurses of Canada Examination (RPNCE). The RPNCE is a multiple-choice, paper and pencil exam of approximately 200 questions designed to test the entry-level competence and safety-to-practice of new graduates and international applicants seeking registration as an RPN.
+ What does the RPNCE test?
The object is to test entry-level competencies and knowledge. For more information about the content, see the Exam Content Blueprint on our website.
+ What is the cost of the exam?
As of May 2017, the fee to write the exam is $661.50. This is subject to increase. The cost is the same across all provinces (except for taxes).
+ Do exam questions have more than one correct answer?
A multiple-choice question is constructed so that only someone who has mastered the subject matter will select the correct answer; to that person, only one option will appear to be the correct answer. To someone who lacks a firm grasp of the subject matter, all options may look plausible.
+ How is the correct answer determined?
RPN Subject Matter Experts from across Canada create and evaluate the exam questions with assistance from ASI test consultants. They ensure that the RPNCE meets the Blueprint guidelines, and is valid and reliable.
The correct answer to each question on the exam is supported by references from two expert sources in the field. Every attempt has been made to use references that are up-to-date, accessible and accepted within the psychiatric nursing community.
+ Does each question have equal weight on the exam?
Each exam question has the same value: one mark. Your score on the exam is calculated as the number of questions that you answered correctly.
+ Are there any questions that you must answer correctly to pass the exam?
There are no critical questions that a candidate must answer correctly to receive a passing score on the RPNCE. Each exam question has the same value: one mark.
+ How is the pass mark for the exam set?
The pass mark is determined by the content and the difficulty of the test questions included in each exam. The pass mark is set at a level that represents the performance expected of a competent entry-level psychiatric nurse. It is set by a panel of Subject Matter Experts from across Canada who work closely with entry-level Registered Psychiatric Nurses, and include educators, experienced practitioners and administrators. The pass mark is not set using a norm-referenced approach such as “bell curving.” For each form of the RPNCE, the pass mark is the same across writing centres and across the four western provinces.
+ Is there a Prep Guide available?
At this time there is no RPNRC sanctioned prep guide. We are aware that a fraudulent prep guide is being sold online at http://www.rpncestudyguide.com/ for $299.99 (or $199.99 on sale) with “all of the answers to the RPNCE” and “questions and answers sourced from actual previous RPNCE exams”.
The RPNCE is the property of the Registered Psychiatric Nurse Regulators of Canada (RPNRC), which is composed of the four Registered Psychiatric Nurse regulatory authorities for British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The RPNRC currently does not have any online or paper prep guide or practice tests for the RPNCE, nor has RPNRC endorsed a prep guide put out by another group.
Please use extreme caution in purchasing any prep guide that promises to prepare you for the RPNCE. Please contact the College if you need more information.
Questions – Applying for the RPNCE
+ Who can apply to write the RPNCE?
To be eligible to write the RPNCE, as well as paying the required fees, you must meet the requirements set out in the following Registration Requirement documents:
- English Proficiency
- Continuing Competence: Part B (Practice Hours)
+ Can I apply to write the RPNCE if I haven’t completed my program?
Yes, if (a) you are scheduled to complete your program prior to the exam, and (b) your school advises us prior to the exam date that you that have completed the requirements of the program.
+ How do I apply to write the exam?
Complete the application found at the following link, and submit it to CRPNBC:
+ What are the deadlines?
The RPNCE is offered three times a year on the third Wednesday in January, May and October. You may only apply for the next scheduled exam, not for one further in the future.
|Application for disability/special needs accommodation||11 weeks before exam|
|Application to write in another province||7 weeks before exam|
|Application to write RPNCE||7 weeks before exam|
|Withdrawals without 20% fee||4 weeks before exam|
|Late application deadline with 20% fee||2-4 weeks before exam|
|Compassionate withdrawal request||12 days after exam|
|Hand scoring request||11 weeks after exam|
Upcoming exam dates and deadlines can be found here: Registration Examination Dates and Deadlines.
+ What if I am late in applying?
You can apply up to 2 weeks prior to the exam. There is an additional late fee of 20%. Applications will not be accepted within two weeks of the exam.
+ What if I require a testing accommodation?
If you have a documented disability or special need that requires a testing accommodation, please contact CRPNBC immediately to request an application form. You will be asked to submit documentation completed by a qualified health professional (e.g. a physician or psychologist) to certify that you require the accommodation. The deadline for the application is 11 weeks before the exam date.
+ Can I write the RPNCE in another jurisdiction?
If you graduated from a psychiatric nursing education program in B.C., you can request to write the exam in Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba. You can do so by indicating this on the application form you submit to CRPNBC. Your request will be forwarded to the other jurisdiction and will be subject to their approval.
+ What if I have to withdraw from the scheduled exam?
Withdrawals for any reason are permitted without any cost if you notify the CRPNBC office up to 4 weeks before the exam date. After the 4 week deadline, there is a withdrawal fee of 20% of the exam fee unless the fee is waived on compassionate grounds. Requests for compassionate withdrawal must be made to CRPNBC no later than 12 days after the exam date. Refunds are at the sole discretion of CRPNBC.
+ Can I work while waiting to write the RPNCE?
Yes, if you have Interim registration. This registration is available is for those who have met all the requirements of Practicing registration except passing the exam and who have applied for and paid to write the next scheduled RPNCE. For more information about Interim registration go to our Interim registration webpage and see our `Interim Registration` Registration Requirement document.
Questions – The Day of the Exam
+ Where does the exam take place?
The exam on October 18, 2017 will take place in the Grand Ballroom at the Executive Hotel & Conference Centre (Burnaby) located at 4201 Lougheed Highway, Burnaby, BC V5C 3Y6
This venue is situated close to both Gilmore and Brentwood Sky Train stations. You can plan your journey on the TransLink website. If you are driving, please note there is parking at the hotel but this may be limited. Please research your parking options and ensure you leave plenty of time to park your vehicle.
Please also bear in mind that if you are travelling on the morning of the exam, you may hit ‘rush hour’, so please leave plenty of time.
If you are intending to stay at the Executive Hotel the night before the exam, please contact [email protected], and we will be able to provide instructions as to how you can book a room at the corporate rate (which is around $130 for a deluxe room).
+ What time does registration for the exam begin on the day?
Registration for the exam opens at 8:00 a.m. and closes at 8:45 a.m. Please plan on arriving by 8:00 a.m. to allow plenty of time to sign in and find your seat. Instructions to candidates about the exam begin at 8:45 am.
+ What time does the exam start and end?
The exam begins promptly at 9:00 a.m. and ends at 1:00 p.m. You will not be permitted to leave the examination room within the first hour of the exam, but may leave at any time thereafter.
+ What identification do I need to bring to the exam?
You will be required to present identification to gain entrance to the exam. Please ensure you bring the same two (2) pieces of identification that you submitted with your exam application.
Your ID must be current on the day you are due to write the exam. Expired IDs will not be accepted. If your ID changes or is updated (for example if you update your driver’s license between the date you apply for the exam and the date you write it), it is your responsibility to provide the College with your new ID no later than two working days before the date of the exam.
+ Can I eat during the exam?
You are not permitted to have food at your exam table, aside from throat lozenges. However, if you know you will require a snack during the exam you may bring one with you in your bag, which will be stored in a designated area. An invigilator will accompany you to your bag and then outside of the exam room to consume your snack.
+ What else should I bring with me to the exam?
You do not require any special equipment. CRPNBC will provide the necessary supplies such as pencils, erasers and pencil sharpeners. Please review the following information for the expectations on exam day, including what to wear:
Questions – After the Exam
+ When do the results come out?
The exam results are released within 4 weeks of writing the exam. You will receive your result by email.
+ What if I fail the exam?
You may attempt the RPNCE a maximum of three times. If you have not successfully passed the exam after three attempts, you will need to complete an approved psychiatric nursing refresher program before any further attempts. If you have been unsuccessful in two attempts, we strongly encourage you to prepare for your third and final attempt by completing further studies.
You must pass the exam within a timeframe such that you can continue to meet the requirements set out in the Registration Requirement document ‘Continuing Competence Part B (Practice Hours’.
+ Can I dispute the result?
Scores are not provided to candidates. If you have passed, you will be advised that you have been successful. If you have failed, you will be provided with an Exam Performance Profile which will give a general idea of your performance broken down in different content categories from the exam. Borderline exams are automatically re-scored by hand. You may also apply to have your exam hand scored if you notify CRPNBC up to 11 weeks after the exam and pay a fee equal to 20% of the exam fee.
The following are suggestions for resources that may assist you when preparing for this registration exam:
Addictions and Mental Health. 2015. Ralph, I.; www.igrpublications.com
Canadian Fundamentals of Nursing. 2014. Potter, P. & Perry, A. Elsevier Canada
Fundamentals of Canadian Nursing: Concepts, Process, and Practice. 2014. Kozier, B., Erb, G., Berman, A., et al. Pearson Canada Inc.
Medical English Clear & Simple: A Practice-Based Approach to English for ESL Healthcare Professionals. 2010. Hull, M. Philadelphia: E.A. Davis & Company
Psychotropic Agents. 2014. Ralph, I. www.igrpublications.com
Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing for Canadian Practice. 2015. Austin, W. & Boyd, M. Wolters Kluwer
Varcarolis’ Canadian Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing. Halter, M.J. 2014. Elsevier Canada
If you have any questions regarding the exam or exam process, please email: [email protected]