AACN's national office will be closed for a summer pause from July 15-19, 2024.

Revised PCCN Certification Exam Launches Feb. 6, 2024

Nov 21, 2023

Added to Collection

On Feb. 6, 2024, AACN Certification Corporation will launch an updated exam for our progressive care certification (PCCN®) program, ensuring the continued relevance and integrity of this specialty credential.

The PCCN certification program provides two eligibility pathways:

  • Direct Care is for progressive care nurses providing direct care to acutely ill adult patients who are moderately stable with an elevated risk of instability.
  • Knowledge Professional is for those nurses whose non-direct care practice influences patients, nurses and/or organizations to have a positive impact on the care delivered to acutely ill adult patients.

Updated Study of Practice

AACN Certification Corporation regularly conducts national studies of practice, also known as practice analyses, to update and refresh certification test plans. These studies ensure that our exams are based on evidence and the content of each exam is tied directly to relevant practice.

The most recent study of progressive care nursing practice was completed in 2022, resulting in changes to the test plan and exam.

The updated PCCN Test Plan includes new topics across all clinical judgment content areas (e.g., takotsubo cardiomyopathy, pulmonary fibrosis, diabetes insipidus, traumatic brain injury, compartment syndrome, pandemic management).

With an increase in test plan content and the rise in patient complexity, the exam length was increased to cover these items. Changes to the exam include an increase in the overall number of items and the time allotted for testing. The revised PCCN exam will include 150 items to be completed in three hours, while the current exam includes 125 items to be completed in 2½ hours.

New Resources

Following is a link to the updated test plan that goes into effect for PCCN exams taken on and after Feb. 6, 2024, along with additional resources being revised based on the 2022 study of practice.

PCCN Test Plan – This detailed outline shows the content and percentage weight that provide the structure of the exam. The test plan is based on a national study of practice, goes through a consensus process involving numerous subject matter experts, is analyzed by our PSI psychometrician, and is ultimately approved by the AACN Certification Corporation board of directors.

PCCN Exam Bibliography – The bibliography includes a list of the references/resources the item writers and exam developers used to validate the correct answers for each exam question.

Study of Practice Executive Summary – This brief report provides the purpose, process, response rate, and outcomes and analysis of the national study of practice, as well as the exam development process.

Additional Resources

PCCN Practice Exam & Questions – This subscription-based product is designed to meet your individual learning needs through an easy-to-use digital platform, placing randomized practice questions and exams at your fingertips for anytime, anywhere access. This tool, which can help gauge your level of knowledge, identify your strengths and uncover areas for further study, will be revised in late November 2023 to align with the updated PCCN Test Plan.

Online Review Course – The AACN progressive care certification review course, presented by national experts, will be revised in January 2024 to align with the updated PCCN Test Plan.