Are you preparing for the CEN exams but don’t know what to do? Do you find the preparatory phase of the CEN exam cumbersome? Don’t worry; we have you covered. This guide provides all the details you’ll need to get started on your preparation. It also provides preparatory tips. The CEN exam is quite difficult for so many people. It takes smart preparation to get yourself fully prepared for it. But the tips in this article are proven to help, so we recommend total commitment to them.
What to Expect on the CEN Exam?
The CEN exam tests your knowledge and ability as an emergency nurse. The BCEN reviews the CEN exam periodically; however, some aspects have been constant throughout the years. The CEN is a multi-choice computer-based exam with 175 CEN exam questions that candidates are tasked to complete within three hours.
The exam is divided into eight categories (and you can always find the complete content outline with topics to cover on the BCEN website).
- Cardiovascular Emergencies – 20 Questions
- Respiratory Emergencies – 16 Questions
- Neurological Emergencies – 16 Questions
- Gastrointestinal, Genitourinary, Gynecology and Obstetrical Emergencies – 21 Questions
- Psychosocial and Medical Emergencies – 25 Questions
- Maxillofacial, Ocular, Orthopedic, and Wound Emergencies – 21 Questions
- Environment and Toxicology Emergencies and Communicable Diseases – 15 Questions
- Professional Issues (Nurse, Patient, System, and Triage) – 16 Questions
You can expect the CEN exam to test your knowledge encompassing all nursing science and practice areas. The exams will test your critical thinking ability and reasoning with scenario-based questions. Understanding context is essential when dealing with scenario-based questions. Always think of the best option for the patient in each scenario.
Even though the exam has extensive material to cover, the questions are pretty straightforward, and you don’t have to worry about trick questions or SATA. Also, you can bookmark questions you want to come back to later. Lastly, your results are available immediately after the exams.
How Long Should You Study for the CEN?
One of the most popular questions that always pop up when preparing for the CEN is “how hard is the CEN?” Another question is, “how long should studying take?” Two main factors determine how long you should study for the CEN exam; (I) Your learning capacity and (II)Your experience as an emergency nurse. People with a long memory, attention span, and processing speed will spend fewer hours studying than people who process slowly.
Suppose you have little experience in the emergency department. In that case, you will need to study for extended periods to grasp the critical concepts in emergency nursing. That means at least one hour of study daily for 2-3 months with suitable study materials and tips. However, someone with experience will not need to study for that long. Emergency nursing experience will help you understand questions that might otherwise seem abstract without real-life experience.
What is the Passing Score for the CEN Exam?
The CEN exam has 175 questions that are scored over 150. However, 25 of the questions are unscored. The number of questions you answer correctly determines your score. The CEN passing score is 106 correct answers out of 150 questions. The CEN exam pass rate is around 75% of total test-takers.
The 25 unscored questions do not affect your score, whether you answer them correctly or not. They serve as a reference for determining the effectiveness of future exam questions. The BCEN does not indicate which questions are unscored, so we recommend giving all questions your best shot, even if you don’t know the answer. Any questions you leave unanswered will be marked as incorrect, affecting your score, so you are allowed to guess.
What Happens if You Fail the CEN?
Balancing personal life, career, and taking exams are pretty challenging, and they can take a toll on your performance. There are several options available for you if you fail the CEN. You are eligible to attempt the exams an unlimited number of times. If you fail, you will have to wait 90 days before reapplying to retake the exams. The second option is to remember not to feel defeated if you fail the exams. It is essential to learn how to study for the CEN exam, and the tips and strategies in this post will help you score better in the next exam.
Preparing for the Exam: 7 Study Tips for the CEN Exam
Most people get frightened about the exam before having a chance to attempt it because of the frightening tales surrounding the CEN exam. However, adequately preparing yourself will boost your confidence and take care of nerves and anxiety. Here are some tips on how to study for the CEN exams.
Take practice tests to determine your areas of weakness.
Being comfortable with the testing process is vital for success. Practice tests are one of the most incredible CEN exam tips you can employ to improve your chances of passing. It will help familiarize you with the structure and format of the actual exams. Several studies also show that practice tests improve retention and increase average scores. Practice tests mimic the design of the real exam, making it seem more natural.
Besides familiarizing yourself with the exam format, practice tests will help you determine your weak areas. Since you would get individual scores according to each category, you will be able to see the areas you need improvement. The ENA study guide provides practice questions that should be sufficient. However, the BCEN offers practice questions if you feel you need further practice and can afford it. The advantage of taking the BCEN practice tests is that it comes from the same organization responsible for the CEN.
Create a study plan
Since you will be balancing work and other commitments alongside studying for the CEN exam, creating a study plan will help you organize your schedule. A study plan will help you see if you are allocating enough study time. On your calendar, fill out the weekly activities you will typically be involved in during the week. You will see any free time you can fill out with your study goals. There’s a complete content outline of the exams’ topics on the BCEN website. Remember to set aside enough time for your weak areas. You don’t always have to fill in long hours of studying (sometimes, even a quick 30-minute study is adequate).
Staying committed to your study plan is also essential. Sometimes it can be mentally draining to stick to your study plan. Therefore, you can take short breaks between studying to rest and refresh your mind. Also, learning one topic for extended periods can become dull and monotonous. To stay on course, you can switch between topics periodically to keep your mind engaged.
Take advantage of a study group.
A study group has proven to be effective for some people. Suppose you don’t find group study distracting; you can take advantage of a study group to enjoy some of its benefits. If you are one to procrastinate, then a study group will help you with accountability. Since you have to meet with group members at a specific time and day, you cannot postpone studying. Secondly, a study group will help you fill in knowledge gaps and gain perspective. Some topics you find difficult to understand can be straightforward for some of your study partners, and they can help you clarify any questions. And since you also have to contribute, it will encourage you to study more.
Lastly, interacting with your study partners will help hone your “people” skills. Communication skills are essential in emergency nursing and help you navigate complex relationships with patients, families, and co-workers.
Use memory aids
As you read, you will discover critical concepts you need to memorize. Create flashcards of the crucial ideas. Sometimes, you may get a window of free time to use for studying while on the bus, waiting for an appointment, etc. Flashcards are convenient and portable, and you can use them to learn whenever you get any window of time. Mnemonics are also crucial in nursing because it helps with the retention of acronyms and abbreviations.
Use the appropriate resources.
Textbooks are an excellent resource for studying. There’s a clear outline of the topics that the exams will cover on the BCEN website, and you can find these topics in your nursing textbooks. A CEN Study guide is comprehensive, with test-taking strategies, practice questions with answer explanations, and complete information on every topic relevant to the CEN exam. Study guides like the ENA study guide are an excellent resource. You can also check the BCEN website for a list of valuable textbooks and other resources.
Know your learning style
Everyone has a learning method that’s more effective for them. Understanding your learning style will help you to develop a suitable study plan. Some people are auditory learners; that is, they learn from listening. Auditory learners will benefit from an interactive study group, reading aloud and recording their points.
Visual learners learn better with sight and benefit from diagrams, charts, etc. They can highlight the main points with a highlighter pen and use color-coded flashcards. The kinesthetic learner is more of a “hands-on” learner. They learn better from doing and will benefit greatly from a working experience as an emergency nurse before taking the exam. Another technique for the kinesthetic learner is to take notes while studying. Taking notes helps them be active and improve the learning process.
Note, however, that the trick is to combine these learning styles when studying. You can capitalize on your preferred style while augmenting with the other two techniques to fill in any gaps.
The last thing you should consider when preparing for the CEN is your study pace. It would be counterintuitive to wait a few days for the exams before studying. Cramming will do you no good when seating for the CEN exam. Understanding context and prioritization, and long-term memory is vital in emergency nursing. Cramming will put too much information in your brain too fast that your brain will not be able to handle, causing you to forget.
Wrapping Things Up: How to Study for CEN Exam?
Emergency nursing is a rewarding profession. It feels good to be able to save lives and provide care when it is most needed. But one major huddle between you and your dream profession is the exams you’ll need to pass. One of such exams that qualifies you to practice as an emergency nurse in the United States is the CEN.
Fortunately, this exam is not as difficult as many fear, as there’s a 73% pass rate. But that doesn’t take away the need for preparation. You’ll need adequate physical and mental preparations before the exam date to do well in it. We’ve provided helpful tips in this article to walk you through the preparatory phase of the exams.