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BCEN(r) Test-Taking Tips by PDB Nurse Education, LLC

1. Check under FAQ’s for exam information.

2. Schedule your exam at the best time of day for you, morning, or afternoon. Night-shifters please do not work all night then take the exam at 8:00am. The testing center is warm, and several nurses have fallen asleep during the exam.

3. All questions are multiple-choice, there are NO “all of the above” or “select all that apply”.

4. Twenty-five questions on the exam do not count. The 25 questions can be anywhere on exam, but tend to be earlier, so if you see something not in my material, just make the best educated choice. BCEN is assessing the emergency nurse’s knowledge and they need an honest assessment.

5. Do NOT tell others when you are testing. It adds additional stress for you.

6. Do NOT cram the night before, you cannot test at your best when your brain is tired.

7. Get a good night’s sleep and eat a healthy breakfast/lunch prior to exam, but do not overhydrate.

8. Arrive at center early with your two forms of identification. If you wear glasses, take an extra pair.

9. Approach exam with CONDIDENCE! Visualize the win! Control your anxiety, practice deep breathing and visualization. Ignore self-defeated thoughts! Write your name as “Pam Bartley, CEN” on the dry-erase board provided by center.

10. Read each question carefully considering “What is the question really asking?”

11. Look for “key words” like priority, initial, or best. Eliminate the incorrect answer(s), then ask yourself again, “What is the question really asking?”

12. Do NOT read into the question. All information needed is in the scenario.

13. Do NOT be misled by the close-to-correct choice that often precedes the correct answer.

14. Do NOT dismiss an option because it seems too obvious. If you are well-prepared for the exam, some of the questions will appear straightforward.

15. Do NOT be taken in by unfamiliar words in the question. If you have studied for the exam, few words should be unfamiliar.

16. Do NOT assume an answer is correct because it seems to make sense, or you have observed the action in your nursing practice. Let evidence-based practice guide your response.

17. Be alert to questions that say INCORRECT, EXCEPT, NOT correct. Read the four choices for which answer does not fit.

18. If you do not see an answer that you believe is correct, reread the question to ensure you have understood it correctly.

19. When in doubt, go with your first response. Do not overthink it and DO NOT change answers unless you misinterpreted the question.

20. Do NOT get immobilized by a question! Answer it the best you can and move on. Let it go!

21. Pam says, “You Can Do It!” E-mail me at if you have questions.

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