REx-PN: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the REx-PN™?

The Regulatory Exam – Practical Nurse (REx-PN™) is an entry-to-practice exam for those applying to become a Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) in Ontario or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) in British Columbia. It tests for knowledge, skills and judgment nurses need at the beginning of their careers.

Why do we have a registration exam?

A registration exam, such as the REx-PN™, tests whether the writer has the knowledge, skills and judgment to provide safe care at the beginning of their careers. Completing and passing a registration exam is a requirement to register with CNO and BCCNP. As provincial regulators of the nursing profession, CNO and BCCNP are accountable for ensuring that only those who demonstrate the ability to apply nursing knowledge and provide safe care are able to practice.

When will the REx-PN™ be implemented?

The new exam will be implemented January 4, 2022. We established this timing with nursing education programs in Ontario and British Columbia to give educators time to include the revised entry-to-practice competencies in their curriculum and support students in preparing for the REx-PN™.

How do the Canadian Entry-to-Practice (ETP) competencies relate to the items that will be on the exam?

The REx-PN™ is based on data collected from an analysis of RPN/LPN practice conducted in early 2019, and which will be repeated every five years. In addition, revised national entry-to-practice competencies were mapped to the practice analysis to ensure the competencies essential for safe nursing practice are included on the exam.

Prior to writing the REx-PN™, Practical Nursing students will have completed an educational program designed to teach them the knowledge, skills and judgment to prepare them to enter the nursing profession. Nursing candidates’ academic preparation provides a starting point for them to practice in a variety of settings. In complement, the REx-PN™ is developed to assess whether practical nursing candidates possess the minimal entry-level competence to provide safe and effective care.

What will the REx-PN™ test?

The REx-PN™ will not test all competencies that are taught during a Practical Nursing program; this is true for past exams as well. Rather, the exam will focus on testing entry-level competencies that are essential to providing safe care at the beginning of the candidates’ RPN/LPN careers.

Are you developing a new exam or using the NCLEX-PN?

The REx-PN™ is a new exam being developed by CNO and BCCNP.  Candidates will not be writing the NCLEX-PN.

How will the exam be translated into French?

To meet the needs of French-speaking Canadian REx-PN™ candidates, we will offer the exam in French. A third party will translate questions following best practice and recommended standards. Following this forward translation, a Canadian Translation Panel made up of French-speaking Canadian nurses will review each translated item for accuracy and contextual equivalency. This method, referred to as a mixed-method, process-oriented approach, is supported in the literature as a preferred method for ensuring construct equivalence in health-care measurement instruments.

What format will the new exam take?

The exam format will be Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT). Using CAT, the system determines the level of difficulty of the question it presents to the writer based on how well they responded to the preceding question. For example, if a writer responded correctly to a question of medium difficulty, the next question presented will be slightly more difficult. A candidate must achieve a certain ability level on the exam to pass.

Will you be testing the exam before it is implemented?

We are working with Practical Nursing programs in Ontario and B.C. to pretest the exam items with student volunteers who are preparing to graduate in 2020 and 2021. The results will be used to determine the difficulty level for each item, which is a critical feature of a CAT exam. In addition, items may be flagged that need to be revised and retested or possibly removed from the item bank. Once the new exam has been implemented in 2022, all new items that are developed will be pretested on the REx-PN™.

Will there be REx-PN™ resources for students?

Yes, we are working on ensuring there are resources for students, including:

  • REx-PN™ Tutorial
  • REx-PN™ Candidate Bulletin
  • Test plan, in English and French
  • Computerized Adaptive Test (CAT) educational video and presentations
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
  • One practice exam, in English and French

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Page last reviewed September 19, 2019