Registered Psychiatric Nurses, Partnering with People
The Registered Psychiatric Nurses of Canada Examination (RPNCE) is offered in all Canadian psychiatric nursing jurisdictions. Anyone wishing to practice as a Registered Psychiatric Nurse must first pass the RPNCE. The RPNCE is a multiple-choice, paper and pencil examination that has been designed to test the entry-level competence and safety-to-practice of new graduates and international applicants who are seeking registration as a Registered Psychiatric Nurse. This new, one-day examination replaces the former two-day examination. It will be overseen by Canada’s Testing Company, Assessment Strategies Inc., which currently develops and maintains over 120 national and provincial tests, including national licensure examinations.
The fee to write the examination is currently $619 (subject to change without notice).
To write the RPNCE for the first time, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:
Internationally Educated Psychiatrics Nurses
Once the RPNAS notifies you that you are eligible to write the examination, you must write the exam within two (2) years. If you do not write the exam within the first year of that two-year period, you will have to resubmit a Resume, Criminal Record Check, Confirmation of Registration and Employment References.
Important: After two (2) years have passed, you must restart the application process from the beginning, directly through the National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS)
Effective August 12, 2014, all internationally educated nurses who want to register with the RPNAS must first apply directly through the National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS), a national online application service developed by the nursing regulatory bodies across Canada
Visit http://www.nnas.ca for more information.
Note: Late applications will not be accepted. You may only apply for the next scheduled examination, not for one further in the future.
Timeline in Relation to Examination
|Application for accommodation||
12 weeks before
|Application to write in another jurisdiction||
10 weeks before
|Application to write RPNCE||
8 weeks before
|Withdrawals without charge||
5 weeks before
|Compassionate withdrawal request||
12 days after
|Exam results released||
4 weeks after
|Hand scoring request||
11 weeks after
Yes. If you are in the final term of a psychiatric nursing education program in Canada; you have started, or are about to start, the final practicum of the program; and your school advises us that they can provide confirmation of graduation at least 7 weeks prior to the exam date. The risk is that if you are unable to complete your practicum or should the confirmation of graduation not be provided in time, you may be subject to a 10% withdrawal fee plus a $50 administration fee (subject to change without notice).
However, you will need to meet the other requirements for registration, including submitting your application, payment and required documents to the RPNAS on time (8 weeks before the examination date).
Requirements for Eligibility include:
If you have a documented disability or special need that requires a testing accommodation, please contact the RPNAS immediately to obtain information and forms to apply for accommodation. The deadline for application is 12 weeks before the examination date. You will need to submit documentation completed by a qualified health professional (e.g., physician or psychologist) to certify that you require the accommodation.
Withdrawals for any reason are permitted without any cost if you notify the RPNAS office up to 5 weeks before the examination date.
After the 5-week deadline, there is a withdrawal fee of 10% of the examination fee plus a $50 administration fee ( change without notice) unless the fee is waived on compassionate grounds (e.g., serious illness, death or an act of God). Compassionate withdrawals must meet the criteria in the ASI Withdrawal Policy and the decision will be in the sole discretion of the RPNAS. Requests for compassionate withdrawal must be made to the RPNAS no later than 12 days after the examination date.
If you wish to write the examination in another psychiatric nursing jurisdiction (British Columbia, Alberta or Manitoba), you need to apply to the RPNAS at least 10 weeks before the examination date and include a letter of request with your application. Your request will be forwarded to the other jurisdiction and will be subject to their approval.
The examination has between 230-250 multiple choice questions divided between two books (one book for the morning and one book for the afternoon). The object is to text entry-level competencies and knowledge.
See the below summary chart:
|Competency framework categories and weightings|| Psychopathology: 25-35%General Medical-Surgical Nursing: 20-30%
Treatment Modalities: 10-20%
Older Adults: 8-17%
Professional and Ethical Practice: 3-12%
Child and Adolescent: 3-8%
Co-Occurring Conditions: 3-7%
|Examination length and format||230-250 questions (2 books/115-125 questions each)|
|Item presentation||Independent items: 55-75%Case-based items: 25-45%|
|Cognitive level||Knowledge/Comprehension: Maximum of 20%Application: 55-75%Critical Thinking: 15-35%|
|Patient age||Examination questions will reflect health situations relevant to all phases of life.|
|Culture||Questions included measure awareness, sensitivity and respect for different cultural values, beliefs and practices, without introducing stereotypes.|
|Diversity||In the development of the RPNCE, the patient is viewed holistically. The patient health situations presented reflect a cross-section of health problems, mental health problems and mental illnesses.|
|Work environment||It is recognized that psychiatric nursing is practised in a variety of settings. For the purposes of this exam, the health-care environment is specified only when it is required for clarity or in order to provide guidance to the examinee.|
In Saskatchewan, the RPNCE is administered in Regina, SK and is offered three times a year in January, May and October. You will be notified prior to the examination date with venue information.
Allow plenty of travel time and arrive at least 20 minutes before the start time so you are not rushed during check-in. You must bring government photo ID like a driver’s license or passport. For information on what to wear and what you can and cannot bring, see the Entry Into Exam Room Policy on our website www.rpnas.com.
Yes, if you have Interim Registration. This registration is available is for those who have met all the requirements of Practicing registration except passing the examination and who (a) have a job offer and (b) have applied to write the next scheduled RPNCE. These Interim registrations are subject to the following conditions:
Results can be expected 6-8 weeks from the writing date and the result will be shown as a Pass of Fail report. Results will be released via letter mail only. Exam results will never be released via telephone or email.
You have 3 chances to write the examination within 4 years of graduation from an approved psychiatric nursing program (or, for international applicants, within 2 years of approval to write the examination). After the first failure, there is no barrier to writing the examination a second time except for the time limit. After the second failure, you must first take an approved remediation course before you will be permitted to write the exam a third time. After the third failure, you may not write again until you have completed an approved psychiatric nursing re-entry program.
Scores are not provided to candidates. If you passed, this is all you will learn. If you have failed, you will be given an assessment of the areas you were weak in. Boderline exams are automatically re-scored by hand. You may also apply to have your examination handscored if you notify the RPNAS up to 11 weeks after the examination and pay a fee equal to 10% of the exam fee.
Please contact our office at 306-586-5617, or email [email protected]
A multiple-choice question is constructed so that only someone who has mastered the subject matter will select the correct answer; to that person, only one option will appear to be the correct answer. To
someone who lacks a firm grasp of the subject matter, all options may look plausible.
The exam is the end result of many test development activities that take place throughout a two-year period. Registered psychiatric nurses, clinicians and administrators from across Canada create and
evaluate the exam questions with assistance from ASI test consultants, who ensure that the RPNCE meets the Blueprint guidelines and specifications.
Each question on the exam is supported by two references. Most of these references have been published within the past five years. The purpose of the references is twofold: (1) to indicate that the correct answer within each question has authoritative support from at least two experts in the field and (2) to provide a source for further reading and review. Every attempt has been made to use references that are up-to-date, accessible and accepted within the nursing community.
Each exam question has the same value: one mark. Your score on the exam is calculated as the number of questions that you answered correctly. In this process, each question is worth one, and only one mark.
The answer to this question is “no”. There are no critical questions that a candidate must answer correctly to receive a passing score on the RPNCE. Each exam question has the same value: one mark.
The pass mark is set in reference to the content and the difficulty of the test questions. The pass mark is NOT set using a norm-referenced approach such as “bell curving”. The pass mark is set by a panel of
content experts from across Canada. These content experts work closely with entry-level Registered Psychiatric Nurses, and include educators, experienced practitioners and administrators. The pass mark is set at a level that represents the performance expected of a competent entry-level psychiatric nurse.
The panel of content experts reviews each exam question and produces ratings based on a common understanding of a competent entry-level practical nurse. In addition to these ratings, a variety of relevant data (for example, information on the preparation of new graduates, data on results from previously administered exam) are carefully considered to ensure that the pass mark that candidates must achieve on the exam is valid and fair. Based on this information, an appropriate pass mark is set. Also, to ensure fairness, the different versions of the exam are equated so that all candidates have to meet the same standard regardless of the version of the exam.
For each form of the RPNCE, the pass mark is the same across writing centres and across the four western provinces.