CCNA Exam & Valley Review Honest Information for Passing!

  1. I have spent the past 3 weeks waiting for my exam results (Certifcation Exam for CRNA's) completely anxiety ridden because I took ALL 170 questions - and certain I failed. I GOOGLEd any and all keywords that would lead me to information that would prove me wrong - that I had not failed & the statistics for "going the distance" and passing . Each time I searched, I would get this site! Much of the information was from 2006 & 2007..... some from 2008.

    Well...... the waiting is over and I PASSED!

    So, I figured it was my obligation to help others by sharing some real & updated information:typing.

    First - the CCNA has changed some aspects of the certification exam. For example; EVERYONE takes a minimum of 100 questions and a maximum of 170 (30 random "pre test" questions still exist - these are questions being tested for future testing) and the way the test are scored/weighted have changed as well. All of this information is in the handbook from the CCNA. So, when you read blogs that say, I only took 90 questions etc... those are old and do not pertain to current testing parameters.

    Second - FIVE of my classmates took all 170 questions and we all passsed!!! So, I have to believe that the current statistics that estimate approximately 69% of the people who get all questions pass and the remainder slightly skewed (just my opinion). Several of my classmates answered quetions in the 140, 130 and 115 range and all passed. So the message here? DON'T LISTEN TO THE GUESSES/BLOGS THAT STATE PEOPLE WHO RECEIVED A CERTAIN NUMBER DIDN'T PASS. ALWAYS BET ON YOURSELF!!!

    Third - I took Valley Review in March of 2007 (graduated in December 2008 & took exam on December 24, 2008) and believe that Valley Review is an EXCELLENT course & is a SUPERB way to keep your studying ORGANIZED and complete. VALLEY is NOT meant to give you answers that will be on the exam RATHER the content of questions that you might encounter and how to give the best educated answer!

    The course was long BUT the instuctors are EXPERIENCED and know what they are doing. Use VALLEY to do just what is it meant to do... REVIEW the material you should already know. There were many topics that I did not have rock solid in my brain & Valley material helped me to re teach myself several important concepts that were on the exam

    I STRONLY SUGGEST PURCHASING THE MATERIAL NOW & USE IT TO STUDY FOR YOUR EXAMS THROUGHOUT ANESTHESIA SCHOOL! It should NOT take the place of other text books RATHER supplement the material (especially those concepts you don't understand). Valley material is clear & concise (no I do not work for Valley or get paid by them - I would have been lost without their material and am very grateful they do what they do)! PS - Morgan & Mikhail is a must for board review! Almost anything in "Key Concepts" and in bold were in some shape or form on the exam!!!!

    Good Luck to all of you making your way through school - it's a long haul! I would be happy to answer any questions or offer support just as people have done for me. Hang in there, study hard BUT take breaks along the way, enjoy this time & and remember to alwasy represent our profession positively

  2. Visit LadyCRNA profile page

    About LadyCRNA

    Joined: Jan '09; Posts: 5; Likes: 14


  3. by   SWTNES
    Congrats!!!!! Thanks so much for sharing this information. I plan to be in your position in the future. Good luck in your new career!
  4. by   Ivan Palma
    Did you also use the practice exams from Prodigy Anesthesia or Core Concepts? If so, how did your actual exam compare with the practice exams from those companies?
  5. by   LadyCRNA
    I did not use the other practice exams that you mentioned.... The only other practice exams I took were from a Barash Review book and Anesthesia: A comprehensive review by Hall & Chantigian (I used these books mostly for board prep exams we took during our last semester of course work.

    I am serious when I say, if you go through all of the Valley material; Sweat Book & the Memory Master & understand the concepts AND Morgan & Mikhail (key concepts - all highlighted areas) you will do great!

    Valley was & is an excellent way to stay organized and focused. I cannot comment on the other material because I did not use it.

    The actual exam was NOT verbatim from any practice books - it was very similar in content. Which reaffirms my point.... there are only so many ways to ask the same question... so if you know the material and understand it, you will do fine. Nothing is asked with straight answers..... you have to understand concepts to put it all together. For example - they don't just ask, "What pulmonary function decreases in the geriatric patient?" and give a direct answer..... the answer would be more complex such as all of the values (volumes) that equal a capacity. That is just an example of why and how to know your concepts.

    I hope this helps......

    Nagelhout was another book I used for review (although many of the answers were incorrect) it gave a good way to break down catagories and things to focus on. Does that help?

    Let me know if you have any other questions.
    Good Luck!
  6. by   clcm13
    I just took the exam and went the distance (170 questions). I wasn't one of the lucky ones to pass. This was my second time taking it and its getting very hard to stay positive. I did valley and read baby miller. I was so close. If you have any additional information on how to pass, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks
  7. by   RNNJ
    I just took my boards on thursday. I got the whole 170 questions. Boy was that long? Both my friends that got 170 questions passed!!! I have no idea how I did. And it wasn't the questions that bothered me, it was the answers. I am still perplexed and don't really know how I did. I say t myself "you did fine, just trust yourself. There were a lot of questions that you knew that you knew". And then another minute I say "there were a lot of questions that I don't know if I answered correctly." So one never knows until that bloody envelope comes!!! But thanks for the encouraging words about the 170 questions and the high likelihood of passing! That made me feel good for another minute. Then I had a friend who got 103 questions and felt he did horrible and did not pass!!!I swore that he had passed but no luck. Again, wait and see I guess.
  8. by   one_crna
    Quote from LadyCRNA
    Second - FIVE of my classmates took all 170 questions and we all passsed!!! So, I have to believe that the current statistics that estimate approximately 69% of the people who get all questions pass and the remainder slightly skewed (just my opinion). Several of my classmates answered quetions in the 140, 130 and 115 range and all passed.
    How can the statistic be skewed? It is from the CCNA based on the actual data. The truth is that if you are passing free and clear you will get 100 questions (likewise completely failing, you will get 100 questions). Almost everyone in my class got 100 questions and we all passed. A program where nearly everyone gets significantly more than the minimum questions may reflect on the quality of their preparation.

    It also sounds to me like more programs are having problems with an increase in failures over the past year or so (read: I believe the exam is more difficult in '08/09 than it was previously).
  9. by   NurseKitten
    Thank you SO MUCH for this info. I have 18 months left, but I just got Morgan & Mikhail the other day...and LOVE IT! Glad to know it's what I need to be using.
  10. by   armyicurn
    Thanks for sharing this info. I've just learned I have been selected for school. I will be sending you a PM shortly...

  11. by   AnesthesiaSlider
    A note on Prodigy's "PACES" program:

    It is a great idea and a lot of work has been put in to it. But not enough hard work.

    It looks good, and you'll like the way it works. Questions are good and rationals are given with references. The tools for analyzing your performance are a great idea. But read on...

    After the first couple of tests you'll notice that what started out as a few tolerable typos has become a pattern of mistakes. Questions will be keyed incorrectly (as evidenced by the rational stated in the answer) many times. Solid references are sharing space with secondary sources. One question was referenced to a source from 1997. Another answer's sole reference is a Wikipedia article (no joke). Several times the live score tracker on the side of the screen has said something ridiculous like "7 out of 5 correct."

    But to me, these obvious errors aren't as problematic as some of the more subtle errors in the tests. For example, a question asks about changes in the arterial waveform at the dorsalis pedis. The answer is keyed as "increase in systolic pressure," and the reference is given as M&M p. 119. You go to that page and sure enough, that's what it says. But another option in the test was "decrease in diastolic pressure." One would deduce that this answer is wrong since it wasn't a multiple response question. But with a careful reading of the reference you might notice that M&M doesn't say anything about the diastolic pressure. However, Barash states (in the caption to figure 30-17 on p. 877) that although SBP is increased, DBP and MAP are both decreased. So PACES is incorrect, but if you didn't know that it was wrong you could very well move along to the next question thinking "ok, systolic increased, diastolic not decreased, says so in M&M, got it!"

    Other issues:

    -Drag/drop questions don't function correctly in the Mac version

    -800 questions is questionable: several questions come up over and over again with only small changes to the questions/answers. Had the exact word for word question twice in a row in one test. There are 6 exams (always the same) with 100 questions each. I'm not sure where those other 200 questions are.

    -If you save an exam, it saves your score. But when you load the saved exam you start from the 1st question, so you answer the same questions more than once. In other words, it totally screws up the scoring system.

    So yeah, it is good for getting you to think about different subjects/topics. But the key is so screwed up that it is useless for analyzing your knowledge. Most of you are type A, details-oriented people, so the spelling and grammar will drive you nuts. You cannot trust Prodigy's answers, so if you're unsure you have to look it up yourself. It's absolutely not worth $200.

    I should add that I emailed Prodigy about my complaints, and got an email back in about 48 hours saying they would consider my issues and get back to me shortly. That was three months ago.
    An updated version (2.9) of the software came out this month. None of my issues had been fixed (except that they updated many references to reflect the most current edition - the 1997 reference and the Wikipedia article are still there). They claim that they updated the content to reflect the 2010 candidate manual, but they haven't removed or changed questions about non-testable drugs, etc.
    These guys are making money with this half-baked product, so they have no motivation to fix it. They don't give refunds, so unless you have money to burn I'd look elsewhere. Maybe if their sales go down these guys will make an attempt to fix their reputation by fixing their product.

    Like I said, it's a great idea.
  12. by   prodigyanesthesia

    I read your review a month ago. Then I read it again.

    Then I printed it out and taped it to the wall next to my computer...and got to work.

    I determined that I would make certain that no one would ever be able to make such statements about anything I produce again. Given the speed at which I was trying to grow the program and keep up with the changes in the CCNA exam, typos and errors crept in. So, I got a Six-Sigma quality improvement workbook and Microsoft's guide to automated software testing and pulled up question #1 in PACES.

    I scoured through each and every question, noting what type of errors were present, fixing them and documenting how they occurred as I worked. By question 875, I had corrected every error I could find and had written a program that would run 14 separate scanners through the program, searching for and identifying potential errors. The scanners work like little robots, sifting through data, checking spelling, running regression analyses, correlating data items against one another, and reporting every bit of it back to me.

    If you aren't familiar with Six-Sigma, it was a quality improvement system developed by Motorola in 1986 that postulated that errors in production (whether it's cell phones, cars, or software) could be reduced to less than 3.4 per million opportunities. In this business, those opportunities represent lines of code and lines of anesthesia content. (For those interested, I currently contend with about 1.5 million).

    After a solid month of scrutiny, data analysis, debugging, and re-writing, I reached this goal with PACES version 3.1 (available at

    This version represents the absolute state of the art in nurse anesthesia board exam simulation...and I'm just getting started. See, I had been running this business for the past five years in the middle of the night after I had already worked a full day as an anesthetist. Your statements about the software losing credibility rang true, but despite that possibility, the business actually grew to the point that two days ago, I stopped working as an anesthetist and began full-time development of the program.

    Prodigy Anesthesia is coming out of the gate strong with this version of PACES and every single day I will make it more challenging, more informative, and more intelligent in the way it teaches anesthesia. There's a lot of incredible developments coming and it's going to be happening much faster now.

    Your review stung when I first read it, but it was essentially true. There was no denying that. However, your review also motivated me to produce something incredible and institute measures to make certain those problems never arose again.

    I thank you for your candid review. It was exactly what I needed to guide me in making PACES what it is now.

    Peter Stallo
    Prodigy Anesthesia
  13. by   nike0777
    Did you like Barash Review book or Hall review book better?