About Exams

About the Exams

Exam candidates should thoroughly read and understand the Certification Candidate Handbook before preparing for and registering for an exam.

Certification RegistrationHow to use Learning BuilderGeneral Testing Overview (Video)

Research Basis for CPAN® and CAPA® Exams

Role Delineation Study: The Foundation for CPAN and CAPA Examination Blueprints

The CPAN and CAPA certification programs are each based on the results of a Role Delineation Study (RDS) or Study of Practice and industry standards mandate that such studies be conducted every five years.

The latest Role Delineation Study was conducted from 2020–2021, resulting in some updates to the test blueprints.

Composition of the Exams

Candidates are tested on their ability to recall facts or understand principles, to relate two or more facts to a situation or analyze a group of facts and to synthesize information and evaluate situations, in order to choose a correct course of action.

Each CPAN and CAPA certification examination consists of 185 questions with 140 scored multiple-choice questions plus 45 unscored pretest questions. Candidates may take up to three hours to complete the examinations.

Each examination question has been verified for accuracy, currency and reliability and referenced to a source published within the past five years. The exam as a whole is also reviewed for bias and sensitivity to ensure fairness. Examination questions are written by practicing perianesthesia nurses who are also CPAN or CAPA certified.

Exam Scoring

When you finish the exam, or after the three-hour time limit has lapsed, you will receive your final, official Score Report that indicates whether or not you passed. To view your Score Report online, log back into the account you used to apply for the exam and select the option to view your Score Report.

In order to pass the examination, candidates must obtain a total scale score of 450 or higher. For individuals who pass an examination, the score report will simply indicate the words, “you have passed.” No numerical scale score values will be reported.

In order to give individuals who fail an examination feedback about their performance, scale score values will be reported in each of the three domains in addition to their total scale score on the score report. Due to the need to maintain test security, examination questions and answers will not be released to candidates.

Passing Score

The scale range for the CPAN® and CAPA® examination is 200 to 800, with 450 set as the passing point. Although all examination forms are based on the same test blueprint and are carefully constructed to have similar difficulty levels, slight differences in difficulty are unavoidable. To ensure that candidates who take an easier or more difficult form of the examination do not have an advantage or disadvantage, a statistical process called equating is used to adjust for the difficulty level of the form. For example, candidates who take a slightly more difficult form may need to answer 105 questions correctly in order to pass whereas candidates who take a slightly easier form may need to answer 108 questions correctly to pass. Although the raw score passing point (the number of questions a candidate needs to answer correctly) may change to account for the difficulty of the form, the scale score passing point is always set at the same point on the scale, i.e., 450. Since raw scores usually differ from one form to the next, many certifying bodies use scale scores so that the passing point can be provided to candidates prior to the examination.

Setting the Passing Point

The passing point was determined by a passing point study using the modified-Angoff method. The Angoff method is a commonly used criterion-referenced passing point methodology in the credentialing industry. For each examination, a panel of CPAN or CAPA content experts independently rated each question on the examination in terms of how many minimally qualified candidates will answer each question correctly. These ratings were then used to determine the passing point by averaging the panel’s ratings for each question and summing the averages across panel members.

Retaking the Examination

Candidates who fail the examination may re-apply for the examination during the next available examination administration window but may not apply for the examination during the same examination administration window in which they failed. If a candidate has purchased the Test Assured option and has failed the examination after the first attempt, the candidate may re-take the exam at no additional charge one time within the next 12 months. ABPANC does not limit the number of times a candidate may retake the certification examination. Fees and application procedures for those retaking the examination remain the same as those for first-time applicants.

Certification Exam Pass Rates

CPAN and CAPA Examination Pass Rates
Spring 2023 63% 58%
Fall 2022 63% 65%
Spring 2022 57% 69%
Fall 2021 65% 70%
Spring 2021 62% 71%
Fall 2020 68% 81%
Spring 2020 74% 78%
Fall 2019 63% 76%
Spring 2019 80% 84%

Certification Activities

# Tested # Pass # Fail # Tested # Pass # Fail
Spring 2023 575 336 239 661 419 242
Fall 2022 549 356 193 626 391 235
Spring 2022 402 276 126 550 311 239
Fall 2021 444 309 135 544 354 190

Certified as of August 9, 2023:
CAPA = 5,025
CPAN = 6,767
Dual Certified = 928