2021 Edition

CEN Test Guide

The CEN Test Summary
What: An exam for nurses looking to reinforce special knowledge and experience in the field of emergency nursing.
Who: Individuals with licensure equivalent to an RN are eligible to take the CEN.
Where: The CEN exams is administered at Pearson Vue sites in major metropolitan areas across the United States.
When: The CEN is offered Monday-Friday, year-round.
How: The CEN exam tests individuals on knowledge and skills relevant to emergency care.
Type: 175 questions multiple choice questions
Why: CEN certification credits an individual with the special experience and knowledge required for emergency nursing.
Time: Three hours
Language: English
Preparation: Take practice tests and review text books.
Cost: There is a fee to take the test

The Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) exam, trademarked by the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN), tests an individual's understanding and skills in the field of emergency nursing. The purpose of CEN certification is to provide a means of measuring the attainment and application of emergency nursing knowledge that is necessary to function at a proficient level. CEN certification encourages continued education for emergency nurses and formally recognizes them for their ability to meet the requirements of the CEN exam.

In order to be eligible to take the CEN exam, a candidate is required to have a current, unrestricted nursing license or certificate equivalent to a registered nurse (RN) in the United States. Although not required, it is further recommended that an individual have at least two years experience in emergency room nursing.

Before being able to take the exam, one must first request an application from the BCEN. Upon approval from the BCEN, qualified applicants will receive a handbook and authorization letter, which will allow the individual to schedule an exam date.

CEN certification lasts for four years.

Test Content and Preparation

The CEN exam consists of 175 multiple choice questions, 150 of which are scored.  There are thirteen sections to the CEN exam:

  • Cardiovascular Emergencies
  • Obstetrical, Genitourinary, and Gynecological Emergencies
  • Gastrointestinal Emergencies
  • Maxillofacial and Ocular Emergencies
  • Orthopedic Emergencies and Wound Management
  • Neurological Emergencies
  • Psycho/Social
  • Respiratory Emergencies
  • Patient Care Management
  • Shock/Multi-System Trauma Emergencies
  • Substance Abuse/Toxicological and Environmental Emergencies
  • Medical Emergencies/Communicable Diseases
  • Professional Issues

A candidate needs a score of 70% to pass.

When preparing for the CEN, it is important that one be very familiar with test content.  Study guides, text books, practices tests and practice problems are useful resources to utilize. Also, prior to taking the CEN exam, an individual should be comfortable with computer orientation. Knowing how to answer questions electronically will help to eliminate any confusion with the CEN computer-based testing system.

Want additional help preparing for the CEN? Check out our CEN Directory to find helpful study aids.

CEN Practice Exam

Quality starts with who wrote the material.
Our practice exam writer
Macie Roetting, MSN, APRN, CEN
, has worked in the emergency room for over 10 years.  She has mentored many new nurses and is the trauma liaison in the emergency room.

Jennifer Hulsebus, RN, CEN
, has been a CEN for five years and a registered nurse for over fifteen years. She has worked in the emergency department in four hospitals.

Eileen Johnson, RN, MSN
, a former CEN, is a master’s prepared RN and medical writer. She had over 15 years of experience as a Certified Emergency Nurse and is a former item writer for the CEN exam.

A nurse who wishes to obtain the Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) credential must take and pass the CEN exam which is administered by the Board of Certification of Emergency Nursing (BCEN).

The CEN exam tests your ability to use the Nursing Process within the context of Emergency Nursing. Throughout the test, you can expect to see questions that will test your assessment, analysis, intervention and evaluation knowledge. The CEN exam is composed of 175 multiple choice questions and covers the following twelve areas:

  • Cardiovascular
  • Respiratory
  • Medical Emergencies and Infections
  • Neurological
  • Orthopedics and Wounds
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Genitourinary, Gynecological and Obstetrical
  • Environment and Toxicology
  • Professional issues
  • Shock
  • Maxillofacial and Ocular
  • Psychosocial