About Exams

Research Basis for Exams

Role Delineation Study: The Foundation for CPAN and CAPA Examination Blueprints

The CPAN and CAPA certification programs are each based on the results of a Role Delineation Study (RDS) or Study of Practice and industry standards mandate that such studies be conducted every five years. In 2000, such a study reconceptualized the model on which the CPAN and CAPA examination blueprints were based. Click here for a copy of the article that describes this landmark study.

The latest Role Delineation Study was conducted from 2015–2016, resulting in some updates to the test blueprints. Click here for a more in-depth Report describing this study process.

Composition of the Exams

Each CPAN and CAPA certification examination consists of 175 questions with 140 scored multiple-choice questions plus 35 unscored pretest questions. Candidates may take up to three hours to complete the examinations.

Candidates are tested on their ability to recall facts or understand principles, to relate two or more facts to a situation or analyze a group of facts and to synthesize information and evaluate situations, in order to choose a correct course of action.

Each examination question has been verified for accuracy, currency and reliability and referenced to a source published within the past five years. Examination questions are written by practicing perianesthesia nurses who are also CPAN or CAPA certified.

Should you take the CPAN or CAPA examination?

Read more about the difference between the CPAN and CAPA exams and determine which exam best meets the needs of the patients you care for.

Examination Scoring

When you finish the exam, or after the three hour time limit has lapsed, you will receive your final, official Score Report that indicates whether or not you passed. In addition to a Score Report, passing candidates will receive a Wall Certificate and Wallet ID Card from ABPANC. The Wall Certificate and Wallet ID Card will be sent to the primary mailing address provided in the application, so make sure that you update your address if it has changed. Under no circumstances will scores or pass/fail information be released over the phone, via email or Internet, or by fax. To view your Score Report online, log back into the account you used to apply for the exam and select the option to view your Score Report. You will need the email address and password you selected when you submitted your application in order to view the report.

The score report provides information on whether the candidate passed or failed the examination. In order to pass the examination, candidates must obtain a total scale score of 450 or higher. See the following section on “Scoring” for more information. For individuals who pass an examination, the score report will simply indicate the words, “you have passed.” No numerical scale score values will be reported.

In order to give individuals who fail an examination feedback about their performance, scale score values will be reported in each of the four domains in addition to their total scale score on the score report. Due to the need to maintain test security, examination questions and answers will not be released to candidates.

Scoring of Examinations

The scale range for the CPAN® and CAPA® examination is 200 to 800, with 450 set as the passing point. Different scales are often used to transform and report scores on an examination — these are commonly called scale scores. The reason for using scale scores instead of raw scores (the number of questions a candidate answers correctly) is to make scoring comparable from one examination form to the next.

Although all examination forms are based on the same test blueprint and are carefully constructed to have similar difficulty levels, slight differences in difficulty are unavoidable. To ensure that candidates who take an easier or more difficult form of the examination do not have an advantage or disadvantage, a statistical process called equating is used to adjust for the difficulty level of the form. For example, candidates who take a slightly more difficult form may need to answer 105 questions correctly in order to pass whereas candidates who take a slightly easier form may need to answer 108 questions correctly to pass. Although the raw score passing point (the number of questions a candidate needs to answer correctly) may change to account for the difficulty of the form, the scale score passing point is always set at the same point on the scale, i.e., 450. Since raw scores usually differ from one form to the next, many certifying bodies use scale scores so that the passing point can be provided to candidates prior to the examination.

Setting the Passing Point

The passing point was determined by a passing point study using the modified-Angoff method. The Angoff method is a commonly used criterion-referenced passing point methodology in the credentialing industry. For each examination, a panel of CPAN or CAPA content experts independently rated each question on the examination in terms of how many minimally qualified candidates will answer each question correctly. These ratings were then used to determine the passing point by averaging the panel’s ratings for each question and summing the averages across panel members.

Retaking the Examination

Candidates who fail the examination may re-apply for the examination during the next available examination administration window, but may not apply for the examination during the same examination administration window in which they failed. ABPANC does not limit the number of times a candidate may retake the certification examination. Fees and application procedures for those retaking the examination remain the same as those for first-time applicants. Unsuccessful candidates will be granted a one-time only discount on the examination fee of $50 if they retake the examination within the next 12 months (within the next two administration periods).

Unsuccessful candidates who use the discount are not eligible for a withdrawal or rollover to a subsequent examination. Instructions on how to apply the discount will be provided in the score report that is mailed to the candidate.