Passed the CEN! Yay! Some thoughts



I just passed the CEN, first try. I've been an ER nurse for about 1.75 years now. I don't feel like I ever got great training, so I had to teach myself a lot.

Some thoughts

-Mark Boswell Youtube lectures are awesome and free. I listened to all of them, and took notes in a google doc about everything he said. In some ways it's kind of nice that you don't have the powerpoints in front of you because you have to write everything down. I reviewed my notes a day before the test and that helped tremendously. The lectures don't cover everything but they give you a pretty good start. The Toxocology lecture was definitely helpful.

A little lacking on ortho maybe and that's a weak point of mine too. I need to catch up on that.

-The ENA CEN review book is really good and kind of necessary. 5 book tests and 2 online tests. I did all of those tests and then carefully reviewed the answers and rationales. It definitely showed me stuff I was missing.

-I also paid for the Jeff Solheim videos which are online. There's like 7 of them. The topics are pretty sparse, but the electrolyte stuff was really worth knowing well and I'm glad I did them. Apparently he has a taped lecture series but I could never find it.

-I also got a used, somewhat outdated copy of the Lippincot Q&A Certification review in Emergency Nursing. I got the 2005 edition on Amazon used very cheap. There are definitely a few outdated things in it but generally it was totally useable. The questions are HARD and that helped. I never finished the whole book but it was worth buying.

I looked up a lot of stuff on youtube. There's a lot of good ER videos. Larry Melnick is some ER doctor who puts up a lot of live videos in the ER, some of them were helpful. Looking up things like placement for a needle decompression and other things that I've read about but never seen.

-Be prepared to really hunt out an answer. For me the questions on the test were simpler as far as the knowledge required relative to the review book but took a little more figuring out, the answer wasn't obvious, you had to use your knowledge of the situation to piece together the answer. So I'd just be prepared for that. There were no major curve balls though.

-The test is long, long, long. Just get ready for that.

Anyway, good luck! It was totally worth doing. At this point I'm more clear about what I don't know than what I learned but it was helpful for illuminating that.

And a special thanks to Mark Boswell. I appreciate your generosity very much.


151 Posts

Congratulations! I will keep these resources in mind in the future if I take the CEN.

Definitely book making this! Thank you!

Posting from my phone, ease forgive my fat thumbs! :)

Specializes in ER, progressive care. Has 7 years experience.

Congratulations! And I'm definitely bookmarking this for future reference when I get to that point of taking the CEN :D

Specializes in Emergency. Has 21 years experience.

Congrats! Yeah , that was a long test.

sserrn, BSN

141 Posts

Specializes in Emergency, Med/Surg, Vascular Access. Has 12 years experience.

I just passed Tuesday for the first time!! Same amount of experience as you! Went to a review class by Mark Boswell in January and also watched Jeff Solheim's review on MedEd (which is where you will find his AWESOME series).

I bought the NEW lippincott q&a book and do not recommend it. As far as practice questions I recommend only the ENA ones. And I did ALL of them over 4 months.

And as a final assessment I strongly recommend the official BCEN CEN practice exam, bc I made the EXACT same score on it as I did on the real thing.

Good luck, everybody!! It's very doable!! Can't wait for my little badge thingy, which I hope they will send!?! :-)


413 Posts

Specializes in Emergency Nursing. Has 5 years experience.

Congratulations! How long did you study before taking the test? I have the ENA practice tests book and am just getting started.

Editorial Team / Moderator

Lunah, MSN, RN

33 Articles; 13,741 Posts

Specializes in EMS, ED, Trauma, CNE, CEN, CPEN, TCRN. Has 15 years experience.
Good luck, everybody!! It's very doable!! Can't wait for my little badge thingy, which I hope they will send!?! :-)

You will get a little embroidered CEN thingy with an adhesive back -- it will stick on a badge -- along with your certificate and wallet card. :) Congrats!!!!! Now start working on those 100 hours of CEUs so you never have to test again! LOL


37 Posts

To answer the question: I studied off and on for several months but I really wasn't doing too much of anything for the first couple. I crammed it the last month or so (quite unpleasant but that's kind of how I work).

Like any of these tests, I think you need to study for the test as much as anything else. The questions in the ENA review book are generally fairly similar to the kind of questions you'll see, so generally I would expect questions at that level of detail and knowledge. You don't need to study deeper than that. The nice thing about Mark Boswell's youtube lectures was that he gave just a little more than you needed to know, so it set you up pretty well.

Oddly enough I was getting 68-72s on all my practice tests (barely passing-passing is a 70), but I got an 86 on the actual test. Seems like most people get closer to their practice test grades. I'm a pretty good test taker, I think, but a pretty poor studier.


54 Posts

I passed too! Took it today, July 25th, and got 108/150.... which is not really the best, but passing!

I used only two tools, Mark Boswells youtube videos, which were great, and the ENA exam practice questions, many of which were very similar to the actual test.

The hardest parts I thought were on electrolyte type things, what causes hypo/hyper everything, and s/s of basically all those conditions.

Good Luck everyone!

Thanks Mark Boswell, you are a great aide to CEN test takers world (USA) wide!

Is the CEN only for US practice?


Anna Flaxis, BSN, RN

3 Articles; 2,816 Posts

Has 16 years experience.

I did the same as the above poster. Just watched the Boswell videos and used the CEN exam prep book. That was enough.


1 Article; 2,636 Posts

Specializes in ER. Has 15 years experience.

good to know! I have an August test date! Finally! It has taken me years of being in this field to finally take it. More out of curiosity and having another certification for management to get off my back about education stuff will be nice. =)