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Note: This is a revised version of the Nursing Registration Exams Report 2021, dated May 17, 2022. The original report was published on March 21, 2022. This version includes revised data for Laurentian University RN exam writers, which affected the program’s English and French pass rates, as well as the pass rates for French-language RN programs. There were no changes to the overall and Ontario-educated RN pass rates. We strive to ensure rigor when sharing data with our stakeholders and have updated the report to reflect the most accurate data. CNO apologizes for any inconvenience.
The College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) is the governing body for nurses in Ontario, Canada. Our purpose is to protect the public by promoting safe nursing practice.
CNO sets the requirements for becoming a nurse in Ontario and the standards of practice that nurses must meet to maintain that designation. Only a person with a valid certificate of registration from CNO can practice as a nurse in Ontario and use the protected titles: nurse, Registered Nurse (RN), Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) or Nurse Practitioner (NP).
CNO publishes annual statistics reports to provide data for stakeholders about the nurses it registers. CNO continually enhances its reports based on stakeholder feedback. To find out more about CNO’s statistical resources or to sign up for its statistics announcements, please visit www.cno.org/stats.
Most applicants who register with CNO must successfully complete two examinations: a registration examination and a jurisprudence examination. The registration exam tests whether the writer has the knowledge, skill and judgment to provide safe care during their first year of practice. The jurisprudence exam tests the writer’s knowledge of nursing and health care legislation in Ontario.
This report only includes the results of the registration examinations for applicants to CNO.
Three types of applicants require successful completion of a registration examination when applying to CNO:
Applicants complete the following Council-approved2 registration exams:
RN applicants complete the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).3
RPN applicants complete the Canadian Practical Nurse Registration Examination (CPNRE).
NP applicants complete a registration exam for the NP specialty they are applying to: Adult, Paediatrics or Primary Health Care.
NP applicants have three attempts to write their registration exam.
In 2021, the following NP registration exams were available to Ontario applicants:4
Location of nursing education is the province or country where an applicant’s education took place. This report groups locations into the following: Ontario; other Canadian provinces or territories; and international.
Ontario: This group is for applicants who applied to CNO after completing an approved Ontario nursing program.
Other Canadian provinces or territories: This group is for applicants who applied to CNO after completing a nursing program in a Canadian province or territory other than Ontario.
International: This group is for applicants who applied to CNO after completing a nursing program outside of Canada.
This report provides pass rate statistics, separated by attempt number. An attempt pass rate is the percentage of applicants who passed the exam on that given attempt of the exam. A first-attempt pass rate is the percentage of applicants who passed the exam on their first attempt. A year-end pass rate is the percentage of applicants who wrote the exam for the first time during that year and passed the exam by the end of that year.
Sections RN exam pass rates by attempt, RPN exam pass rates by attempt and NP exam pass rates by attempt show attempt pass rates regardless of the year in which the applicant wrote the exam for the first time, while sections First-attempt pass rates for French-language RN programs in Ontario, First-attempt pass rates for French-language RPN programs in Ontario and First-attempt pass rates for French-language NP programs in Ontario show first-attempt pass rates only. Sections First-attempt and year-end pass rates of RN applicants by Ontario university, program and collaborative partner, First-attempt and year-end pass rates of RPN applicants by Ontario college, program and campus and First-attempt and year-end pass rates of NP applicants by specialty and Ontario university show first-attempt and year-end pass rates for applicants who wrote the exam for the first time during the indicated year.
In 2021, 7,631 Registered Nurse (RN) applicants to CNO wrote the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) at least once.
Two Ontario universities offer RN programs in French: Laurentian University and University of Ottawa.
Exam writers can choose to write their registration exam in either English or French and can change their choice on subsequent attempts.
The table below shows 2018-2021 first-attempt pass rates for applicants from French-language RN programs in Ontario and the languages in which the applicants wrote their exams.
In Ontario, 15 universities offer RN nursing programs. Some universities offer more than one nursing program and some offer nursing programs in collaboration with a college. The table below shows Ontario RN applicants’ first-attempt pass rates by university, program and collaborative partner for 2018-2021. It also shows year-end pass rates for Ontario RN applicants whose first attempt was during that year.
The following RN program types are available in Ontario:
Full: Direct entry
A program for students who meet standard admission criteria. They complete a structured nursing curriculum in its entirety and attain an academic credential (a university degree or CAAT diploma).
Compressed: Second-level entry
A program for students who meet admission criteria based on pre-determined university credits. They complete a shorter curriculum than the direct-entry full program and attain an academic credential (a university degree or CAAT diploma).
Specified: Pre-health related
A program for students who meet admission criteria based on pre-determined health-related credentials. They complete a specific nursing curriculum and attain an academic credential (a university degree, CAAT diploma or NP specialty certificate).