Certification Integrity ⎯ What AACN Certification Corp. Does

Added to Collection

Seek and Maintain Certification Exam Accreditation

  • AACN Certification Corporation creates exams with accreditation standards as a guide. Accreditation of our exams is obtained through the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certifications (ABSNC) or the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).

Assure Exams are Psychometrically Sound and Legally Defensible 

  • Conduct periodic studies of practice to make sure exams are evidence-based. 

  • Select qualified, clinically current, RN item writers who hold the appropriate credential for the exam for which they are writing. Item writers represent the diversity of target practitioners for the exam.

  • Train item writers on how to eliminate unintended cues and bias when writing exam items.

  • Validate all items with at least one current textbook that is widely available to candidates.

  • Approve all items at 100-percent consensus with a national panel of content experts - RNs who hold an appropriate credential. Panelists agree that each item tests the correct knowledge area and relates to specific content on the Test Plan. The panel ensures there is only one correct answer and all distractors are plausible but factually incorrect. Panelists have different experiential levels, including recent certification - so they understand the experience of target practitioners for the exam.

  • Use the Angoff method to rate item difficulty based on target practitioners to help ensure we equate different test forms for difficulty. 

  • Pretest items to determine how well target practitioners will perform on the exam.

  • Work with our testing service, PSI, to continuously analyze all exams.

  • Review all exam candidate comments and feedback from their testing experience.

  • Automatically recheck candidates' exam scores if they do not pass by one point.  

Assure Confidentiality and Honor Statements are Signed

  • All certification and customer care staff sign confidentiality agreements. 

  • All volunteers involved in exam development sign confidentiality agreements. 

  • All candidates sign honor statements agreeing that they:

    • understand the importance of ethical standards 

    • will act in a manner congruent with the ANA Code of Ethics for Nurses

    • will keep exam content confidential. 

Make Exam Information Available to the Public

  • Exam handbooks contain detailed content outlines (Test Plans), percentage weightings and exam bibliographies listing textbooks used by item writers to validate correct answers.

Audit New and Renewing Candidates

  • A certain percentage of new and renewing certificants are audited on a random basis to verify clinical hours, RN or APRN license status and continuing education (CE/CERP) requirements.

Deliberate Using an Internal Review Panel

  • An internal review panel decides on outlier situations that may result in requests for additional information, audits or recommendations for alternate status options or revocation of certification.

  • If the panel does not reach an agreement, we turn to an external Appeals Panel and/or the Board of Directors for review and decisions.

Monitor Use of Credentials

  • Maintain an internal policy, where we investigate allegations of inappropriate use of credentials and decide if we need to take action. If you report an allegation, please note that we do not report back to you regarding the case, and we keep your name and communication confidential.

  • Consult with those who may be using a credential inappropriately, such as CCRN, CMC (it should be CCRN-CMC, separated by a dash).

  • Determine potential action regarding those who use a credential but do not meet the eligibility requirements.

  • Mail a certified cease and desist letter, as a legal warning, to those identified as using a credential inappropriately.

Upholding the Value of Certification — What AACN Certification Corp. Does Not Do

  • We differentiate between a national certification exam and a teaching tool and do not:

    • Discuss item-specific exam content with candidates.

    • Provide feedback to candidates about items they answered incorrectly. 

    • Provide rationale for correct or incorrect answers.

    • Use active exam items as samples in handbooks or practice exams.

  • AACN Certification Corporation does not plan or offer exam review courses. Exam information is made available to the public in our exam handbooks, which are accessible online at no charge.

  • To limit exam item exposure, we do not allow nurses who fail an exam to test more than 4 times in a 12-month period.

  • We do not allow certified nurses (e.g., those who teach review courses) to take an exam at any time other than their next scheduled renewal time.

  • We do not allow nurses who hold Inactive, Retired or Alumnus status to use these designations on their name badge or on the credential line of their business card or resume. (Those who hold Alumnus status may use the title (e.g., "Alumnus CCRN") below their name on a business card or resume and in professional social media profiles such as LinkedIn.)