CPNE study help

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OK, truthfully I'm way off from my CPNE. I haven't even started :-)

I'm starting a new job as a unit secretary in a week! I went 3/4 of the way through a 2-year ASN 8 (yes, EIGHT) years ago. Money, divorce, all that was a problem. I continued with what was then Regents until I only had ONE exam and the clinical exam left, but had no idea how I would ever find the money to do the exam so I stopped.

I'm still qualified, and after a lot of lost sleep and talking with others decided to go the Excelsior route instead of starting with a local LPN program. They said I was still qualified and would be accepted, but encouraged me to go the LPN route first -- time and money could become a problem if I did. My A&P, chem, micro, psych are all still good. So I have almost all my non-nursing coursee, just have to retake the CLEP or their test for lifespan because the content changed from 8 years ago, have to take their English exam (they won't accept my CLEP) and maybe one other course, and hunt down the old content guide for the older SOC CLEP to help them decide whether or not it's good. I don't anticipate taking too long to finish the 7 written exams, though some of it is new material most is review and to my benefit I seem to have a knack for taking tests. I'm hoping experience as a unit secretary and constantly seeing what the others are doing/charting will help me out some, especially when it comes to the new drugs and their applications. More than that I was surprised to hear that the unit secretaries are actually asked to help in some of the patient care.

The CPNE of course scares me. It's been 8 years, though I 'remember' my clinicals vividly and have done some CNA and elder care work in the meantime. I can't tell you the last time I picked up a stethescope! For someone like me, I'm sure that the hands-on clinics will be necessary. I see that Excelsior has one 2 day and one 1 day... that doesn't seem like enough.

I don't intend to use anything but excelsior materials for the most part, but was wondering if anyone had input on the Chancellor's workshop. It's 5 days, it is priced separately so I am gathering it is available separately. What have others done to pass the CPNE -- or is everyone else here already an LPN/LVN? I've heard mentioned online skills simulations but haven't found any links. Does anyone have some good links for this? I want to start early on, I have every *intention* of finishing up in 8-12 months (though I am prepared to let it take longer, in the past I just reviewed for maybe an hour a night 4-5 nights before testing and did fine. I find a lot more retention when studying just before drifting off to sleep!) and don't want to lose any time in preparing for this part of the exam.

Any hints on studying and preparing for clinicals when it's been a while since you've used your skills would be greatly appreciated. The overwhelming consensus among nurses I spoke to in deciding how much better I'd be if I went the LPN route first was that most of the skills used were learned on the job, not in school. Is that true? I still know how to wash my hands, make a bed, turn and bathe a patient, take vitals, and the memories of my first IM shot have not faded in the slightest (though I don't remember all the ones I did after that). I still give shots to my dogs! But there's a huge gap here. Eight years is a long time.

OK I'll stop rambling -- any recommendations?

Specializes in Mental Health, MI/CD, Neurology.

Wow, you sure are determined to do this, aren't you? Ain't no stoppin' you---- GOOD FOR YOU! :)

The EC workshop is actually 2 days plus 1 day. They count them as 2 separate workshops, but most people chose to do them both (plus you get a $75 discount for doing both). The 1 day is always held the day after the 2 day, so it's 3 days total. The 1 day is just a chance to work on your skills and be critiqued by EC staff, which can either be a horrible, scary thing or a wonderful opportunity to get some feedback. If you're prepared when you go, it'll be a fantastic experience and give you confidence for your CPNE.

Have you been to any of the other online message boards? If not let me know and I can post the links. There are a ton. I know at least one has a section with people's CPNE experiences posted in it for all to read. Get familiar with it now so it won't be as foreign and frightening when your time comes.

I have the sociology CLEP study guide, if you end up having to retake the course. If you need it I'll give it to you for free because you're such a hard worker, and well---- free things are just cool, aren't they? :chuckle

Keep up the great work!!!!

Specializes in Child/Adolescent Mental Health.


Welcome to the board. You definitely sound motivated to get finished this time. Why do you have to retake your exams? Do the courses expire? Anyway, I hear being a unit secretary is a great way to get exposure to a clinical setting. When I spoke to a recruiter at our local hospital she told me many nursing students start out that way. It is something I have thought about doing as well. Is EC giving you a hard time about accepting your older credits?. It seems to me that they should have a copy of their own sociology exam:eek:

I was wondering about the workshops myself. I wonder how popular they are. Spazzy, any thoughts on this?

Good luck and keep us posted.

mona b

Specializes in Mental Health, MI/CD, Neurology.

I did a lot of research on the different workshops (3rd party vs. EC) and what attendees thought of them. I did searches on the boards of old posts regarding workshops and e-mailed people who went to them. I had heard wonderful things about both the EC and Chancellor workshops. There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to attend one, being that my LPN experience included a neuro. clinic and psych., and my CNA experience was all nursing home. I chose to go to EC's workshop, just because I felt better getting the info. right from the source of the CPNE.

Sure people can pass their CPNE without attending a workshop, but I just wanted the extra insurance policy. :) Not one person I spoke with or who posted about their workshop had anything negative to say about it. My only complaint about EC's is that there were people there who didn't have a clue as to what was giong on--- they thought the workshop was going to teach them HOW to perform the CPNE, when actually it is a time to perfect your skills, be critiqued, and put your plan into action--- the plan you had been working on during your months of studying. Since some people weren't ready, the workshop went slower than I had wanted and there wasn't time for more mock patient care situations. I actually complained about this to the instructors, and they just kind of nodded knowingly. But all in all it was wonderful and I would do it again in a second.

The week after I went to mine, a friend went to Chancellor's. She said it was great, and very nice having 5 days to practice up on everything. This is a good workshop for people who have never ambulated a patient, given a bedbath, etc. But there was some incorrect info. which was conveyed at this workshop, and if it were me, I wouldn't want to spend my time between the workshop and the CPNE trying to figure out what was accurate and what wasn't, and then trying to correct the incorrect material for my own information. For this reason I'm glad I chose EC.

Plus I got to go to California. :cool: A paramedic in my workshop and I ended up working together. We helped each other out. IVs were my weakness, and he could do them blindfolded, whereas he had never done an IM or SubQ injection and I do them in my sleep. During our off time we went out and ate Greek food at a local dive on the pier, gobbled down cheesecake and drank beer, and sat in the front row at a comedy club where Kevin Nealon was playing--- and he actually talked to us during his act! We were soooooooo excited----talk about a couple of giddy little schoolgirls after that! LOL


146 Posts

I guess I need to figure out how this board works, as far as posting replies to replies, because I only see one place to add to the replies! My first research project.

Mona, my old Human Development CLEP exam doesn't count because back then it only covered up through adolescence. Now it is Lifespan, and it is required. They aren't sure about the Sociology because my college gave 6 credits for it, for two different sociology courses. As far as we can tell from the current writeups none of the tests should qualify for that many credits and being so long ago I'm not really sure what it is I took. My psych101 class transfers, and they don't care about how old my A&P classes are OR the fact that they were only 3 credit -- those are something I'd have to repeat if I went back through the community college.

I can't imagine passing the CPNE wihtout workshops UNLESS you are an LPN or currently working in some clinical setting. I kinda slide in under the other qualification, and was surprised they still said I'd be eligible even though it's been 8 years. Well, OK, only 6 since working as a nurses aide so I haven't been TOTALLY out of it but I'm still nervous. My mother today informed me that the nurses at the nursing home where dad is said that doing it my way is a very bad idea since it's been so long. But I"m going to do it anyway... if I feel inadequately trained a year from now I'll go ahead and go through a program... who knows maybe in my new job somewhere down the line they'll let me see some stuff. Trying not to let the doom and gloom crowd make me start doubting my decision.

Spazzy Nurse, I really appeciate the vote of confidence. I'm going to need all the support I can get! I doubt I'll have to repeat the sociology, I just need to somehow track down which test I took and find out how to get an 8-year old content description on it. But if I do, I do, and will keep your offer in mind.

I'd appreciate any and all links I can get my hands on! I've notified the community college that I'm declining their acceptance for this year anyway, and now it's time to start getting busy! I just need that first paycheck now so I can start paying for exams.

For the workshops, I just might do them all. But I'll start with the Excelsior ones and see whether or not I feel as though I've been sleeping for the past 8 years or whether I really remember things as clearly as I think I do.

Thanks again


Specializes in Child/Adolescent Mental Health.


You go girl:D It's good to hear from other nontraditional EC nursing students. Not everyone is an LPN in the EC program. I think you can pull off the clinicals if you practice, practice, practice. I am still waiting to hear from EC regarding admission to the program. In the meantime I am studying A&P and not liking it very much. I think you will find that alot of people will try to talk down learning nursing independently. Some people just can't see doing things any way but their way, don't listen to anything negative. You can do it if you really apply yourself. Don't forget that this board is here for support, and if you want, you can pm me.

mona b

Sarah, RNBScN

477 Posts

What does CPNE stand for?


Specializes in Child/Adolescent Mental Health.

Hi Sarah,

CPNE stands for Clinical Performance in Nursing Examination.

mona b


139 Posts

Originally posted by mona b

I think you will find that alot of people will try to talk down learning nursing independently.

I attended the EC CPNE workshop prior to my exam. I had been studying and practicing for months before that. I too had a few unprepared "students" in my workshop which I feel took away from those who were prepared to fine tune their skills and clarify any issues R/T the exam. I actually had unprepared students on my weekend (both of who were NOT successful). In the lobby the AM of the test one student stated loudly, "Im gonna FAIL" I stayed far away from her that W/E !!!

To get the most out of workshop you need to be pretty much ready for the exam, know the content of the exam, have the critical elements memorized, and know how to write the care plans.

To top it off a blinding snowstorm hit Albany and the 2 day workshop was condensed into one day. They offered us the "skills" workshop for a discount but off the record told my study buddy and myself that we really didnt need it. We were both LPN's for many years and had really really prepared for the exam. We were READY :D

It was a shot of confidence to hear from "them" that I was ready.

I wound up passing without repeating either a lab or a PCS. I did have a workshop of my own set up at home, I confiscated supplies and practiced the lab stations repeatedly until I could do them in almost a robot like state !!! At the IVPB station the instructor said he thought I made record time in hanging that med ;)

I wouldnt want to do THAT exam more than once so I was very glad to pass it the first time. Be prepared would be my best advice practice practice and practice. We did practice PCS's online and sent them to each other for reveiw. Know how to right and revise care plans.

Most of all tune out the nay-sayers, my coworkers talked behind my back that it wasnt a "real" degree. Dont feed into negativity at all there is no room for it :cool: Its not an easy exam but doable with right practice, prep and stress management !!

I would say to take the EC workshop over a third party one only because you can have all your questions clarified right then and there from the horses mouth so to speak.........

PM or EM ([email protected])

me if you need any help or have any questions.


EC grad 2001 :nurse:


146 Posts

8 years out of clinical experience, I can't see how I can practice a lot of these things without the workshops. I NEED the workshops to help me prepare for the exam, and am fully prepared to take both the EC AND a 3rd party workshop, maybe the 3rd party first...

I will definitely be relying on this board heavily for support. I got the impression I will also have support from my nurse manager, but I haven't even started my job yet so how far that support will extend remains to be seen. I just hope I get to see some things on the job, even though I can't have the chance to practice them.

Specializes in LTC.

I'm glad I found this thread. I'm an LPN student thinking about continuing with Excelsior to go for RN. But a guy in my class said the clinical exam has a 90% fail rate. Is that true? I've been trying to find info on the best way to prepare.

Specializes in Mental Health, MI/CD, Neurology.

Nooooo no no no no. 90% of people don't fail the CPNE, unless something has recently changed that I haven't heard about. The pass rate fluctuates in the 60%'s. That's what it was when I first started a few years back and to my knowledge it hasn't changed. I would call the admissions office at EC and they can answer all of your questions for you. Here's their web address:


Their main number is at the bottom of the page. Call it and it'll give you options for which office you'd like.

Best way to prepare? Keep plugging away with your LPN stuff, and pay close attention to anything dealing "the nursing process" because it's all over the place in EC's program and the NCLEX.

Good luck in your schooling!


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