January 2020

New RPN exam on target for January 2022 launch

Starting January 2022, those applying to CNO to become a Registered Practical Nurse will have to pass a new registration exam: the Regulatory Exam – Practical Nurse (REx-PN).

The new exam will test Canadian entry-to-practice competencies and will be based on current RPN practice. It will be focused on patient safety, and will ensure that all RPNs have the knowledge, skill and judgment needed to begin practice.

At the December meeting, Council approved that there will be no limits on the number of attempts a writer can take to pass the REx-PN. Council made this decision based on the exam’s security features and its format. The exam will use what is known as Computerized Adaptive Testing, where  — in order to pass — the exam writer must sustain a predetermined level of difficulty to show their ability. Each person who writes the exam has a different set of questions. In addition, the software system behind the REx-PN knows when someone is rewriting the exam and generates a new set of questions for them each time, so there is no risk they will pass because they’ve memorized answers to questions they’ve seen before. Writers will have to wait 60 days between attempts.

Writing and reviewing of the exam questions is well underway. This work is being done by experienced nurse volunteers from Ontario and B.C. who educate nursing students in clinical settings or who work directly with entry-level nurses and are familiar with entry-level nursing practice. In addition, we’re working with Practical Nursing education programs in Ontario and B.C. to pretest the exam questions with student volunteers who are preparing to graduate in 2020 and 2021.

We’re collaborating with the British Columbia College of Nursing Professionals (BCCNP) on this exam, and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) is helping us to develop it. Our use of the current entry-to-practice exam — the Canadian Practical Nurse Registration Examination (CPNRE) — will end on December 31, 2021.

Read more about the REx-PN.

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