Certification Exams .... Harder than NCLEX?

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    So I had my annual review yesterday. My first year as an RN is over! And I got a pay raise! Must be doing something right :-)

    Anyway, my nurse manager wants me to persue certification as a progressive care (step down) nurse (PCCN exam) Has anyone ever taken this exam? I guess it's similar to the CCRN exams for ICU nurses. Did you find it easier or harder than the NCLEX, or about the same?
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    I've taken the OCN exam, for oncology, and thought it was harder than NCLEX. It's appropriate for those exams to be harder, though. NCLEX is an exam to see if you're safe to begin as an entry-level nurse. Specialized certification exams are there after you have already been working in a specialty for awhile and want to progress to more of an expert in that field. NCLEX covers a broad range of topics. Certification exams are focused. I thought the exam was very difficult, but I did pass.
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    Did my M/S cert exam in Feb. I thought it was more difficult than NCLEX. For starters, the computer doesn't shut down. You have to answer all 150 questions (for my exam. Some more/less questions). It was also much more indepth.

    I took a 14 week course to help prepare. My employer paid for the course, so that was nice. Some say you don't need it, but I really enjoyed the program. I learned a lot and it helped me focus on what might be on the exam.
    You certainly need experience to help answer some of the more difficult questions.
    I'm proud of my certification. I worked hard for it.

    Good luck and keep us posted!
    Last edit by tokmom on May 11, '12
    not.done.yet likes this.
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    The m/s certification exam is what the NCLEX ought to be. Yes, it is more challenging, no it is no hard.
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    I took my CNOR exam two years ago and thought that it was far more difficult than the NCLEX. I studied for months prior and am thankful that I had some quiet time the week prior to really focus. There are lots of technical questions, medication questions and few critical thinking questions. About 3/4 of the way through it, I was sure that I had failed it, so was surprised to see the end result was a preliminary pass.

    Study hard-it's a good feeling to have that certification under your belt. Good luck!
    ebear and tokmom like this.
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    The ANCC psych/mental health exam was definitely harder/more challenging than NCLEX because it digs deeper than the NCLEX questions did. I think this could be said for any speciality certification exam...so you really need to know your specialty well, as well as have direct experience in that specialty.

    I wanted to throw up the entire day of the test. Immediately after the test I found out I passed, but I still wanted to throw up. I'm now aiming for my CARN certification so I expect another day of nausea r/t stress in the near future
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    David Woodruff prep stuff is great. Used it for M/S certification. He's got a progressive care program as well.
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    [QUOTE=Meriwhen;6474508]The ANCC psych/mental health exam was definitely harder/more challenging than NCLEX because it digs deeper than the NCLEX questions did. I think this could be said for any speciality certification exam...so you really need to know your specialty well, as well as have direct experience in that specialty.

    I wanted to throw up the entire day of the test. Immediately after the test I found out I passed, but I still wanted to throw up. I'm now aiming for my CARN certification so I expect another day of nausea r/t stress in the near future [/QUOTE

    Your post made me giggle. OMG, I can so relate. I think I ate a box of pepto and a handful of immodium. I was so happy to see the word pass and know it was behind me. I too thought I failed. Everyone I that I talk to who has taken the test has said the same thing.

    Again, like you, I'm thinking of becoming certified in another area. I guess I like to be traumatized.
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    I took and passed the PCCN last summer. I work in an acute care cardiothoracic unit/stepdown. I thought the exam was somewhat harder because it assumes you know stuff, whereas the NCLEX would ask you straight up questions. The PCCN is 50% cardiac/pulmonary. There were also lots of questions on kidney failure/ABG's/pancreatitis/acute CVAs etc.

    The DVD review from AACN was very very good. David Woodruffs stuff was also. I used the newish review book by Aherns to do practise questions on every system. It was very helpful as it also included an indepth review of that system in the chapter before the questions.

    You can also pay 40$ on the AACN website to take a practise test for PCCN. I strongly advise you do that as some of those questions showed up on my exam WORD FOR WORD.

    Good luck.
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    I think that the big difference is that a certification exam pertains to just one subject. And multiple questions on one subject is sometimes more difficult. NCLEX was hard, no doubt about it, but it was multiple questions in a number of subject areas, which for some is easier.

    Good luck and keep us posted!!


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