CPC Assessment Research Study

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The NBCRNA is conducting a research study on its Continued Professional Certification (CPC) Assessment. The study will evaluate different types of testing environments and determine how these different environments could help achieve the goals of the CPC Program in a way that is fair and reliable for all certificants.

The call for volunteers closed as of 11:59 p.m. CDT on March 14, 2018. Thank you to all who expressed interest in participating. Updates on this project will be available on this page in the coming months.

Participating in the study? View the video below for important information regarding the assessment.


Video: CPC Assessment Research Participants: Study Introduction

The NBCRNA wants to introduce you to some exciting work underway to evaluate fair and reliable options for administration of the Continued Professional Certification Assessment or CPCA. This video will give you an overview of the testing conditions, the assessment content and will provide some guidance on preparing for the assessment. Visit nbcrna.com/CPCBeta for more information.

See More at our Youtube channel!

Beta Research Project FAQs


  • Q Why should I participate? What are the benefits to me?

    By evaluating options for the CPC Assessment, participants will be contributing to the advancement of the CRNA profession and help inform the NBCRNA Board’s decisions.

    Those CRNAs who participate will be able to take the CPC Assessment for free - this represents a savings of several hundred dollars for you. Also, participants will be allowed to take the performance standard assessment prior to its release to the larger CRNA profession. If you meet the performance standard, this attempt will count towards your CPC compliance. If you do not meet the performance standard, then you will need to take the CPC Assessment once more between 2020/2021 and 2024/2025. 
  • Q Will there be any compensation or honorarium for participation?

    Participants will not have to pay for the assessment (which all others will have to do), but will not receive compensation for travel-related expenses to take the assessment.  Also, there is no honorarium for participation and no CE credits will be awarded.
  • Q If I do participate what do I have to do?

    Participants will complete a baseline questionnaire, followed by taking the CPC Assessment. After the assessment, you will be asked to complete a survey about the testing conditions, use of resources, and provide insights on the questions.


  • Q What is the criteria for participation?

    The following conditions will serve as inclusion criteria for this study (all conditions must be met): 
    1. Persons currently holding full unrestricted certification as nurse anesthetists (holding the CRNA credential), with an unrestricted RN license 
    2. Participation in NBCRNA's CPC Program (currently initially certified or recertified)
    3. Meet the eligibility criteria for the CPC Assessment
    4. Willingness to be randomly assigned to one of the six testing conditions – same test, just different conditions for administration
    5. Willingness to sign the consent/participation agreement 
    6. Ability to travel to the testing center (for those assigned to test center conditions) 
    7. Ability to access Mac/PC with 1 GB of RAM or higher, internet connection of at least 5mbps, webcam with 640x480 video pixel resolution, microphone and speakers attached to the computer, Flash player version 7 or higher (for those assigned to remote proctoring conditions) 
  • Q Why would I be excluded from this research study?

    You would be excluded if you
    • do not meet all the inclusion criteria listed above
    • apply after enough volunteer participants have been identified
    • serve on the NBCRNA Board

Assessment Details

  • Q What are the 6 different testing conditions?

    Below is a description of the six different testing conditions and the instructions that will be given to participants:  

    1. Closed book with in-person proctoring: Certificants in this group will take the CPC exam in an NBCRNA -approved testing center. You will not be allowed to bring any resources (i.e., textbooks). 

    2. Open book (e-book resources provided by NBCRNA) with in-person proctoring: 
    a. Participants in this group will take the exam in an NBCRNA-approved testing center. 
    b. Participants will be provided access for up to 30 days prior to the exam to 35% of an electronic Miller's Anesthesia, 8th Edition (Miller RD et al.) and Nurse Anesthesia, 6th edition (Nagelhout J, Elisha S) to familiarize yourself with navigating the e-books.
    c. You will not be able to copy or download content from the e-books.
    d. During the actual CPC exam, these two resource e-books will be made available in full in PDF format.
    e. You may refer to the e-books as much as you like during the exam.

    3. Open book (own hard copy resources) with in-person proctoring: 
    a. Participants in this group will take the exam in an NBCRNA-approved testing center. 
    b. Participants will be allowed to bring up to two of the following resource books to the testing center during the exam: Miller's Anesthesia; Nurse Anesthesia; Clinical Anesthesia; Stoelting's Anesthesia and Co-Existing Disease; A Practical Approach to Anesthesia Equipment; Clinical Anesthesia Procedures of the Massachusetts General Hospital; Handbook of Clinical Anesthesia; Handbook of Nurse Anesthesia; Clinical Anesthesiology. 
    c. Participants may refer to these books at any time during the exam. 
    d. Participants may use any edition of these books. 

    4. Closed book with remote proctoring: 
    a. Participants in this group will take the exam in their home or office with remote proctoring provided by the testing vendor. 
    b. Participants will be required to have internet access and a computer with a camera that the proctor will use to observe you during the exam. 
    c. The vendor may require you to install additional software. 
    d. Participants will not be allowed to use any resources (i.e., textbooks or e-books) during the exam. 

    5. Open book (e-book resources provided by NBCRNA) with remote proctoring: Participants in this group will be provided the same access to NBCRNA-provided resources as provided for group (2) under remote proctoring conditions. 

    6. Open book (own hard copy resources) with remote proctoring: Certificants in this group will be allowed to use the same resources as group (3) under remote proctoring conditions. 
  • Q What is the Assessment format?

    The CPCA is a 150-question computer-based test that participants will have up to four hours to complete. The questions are multiple choice or multi-select (more than one correct answer).

    The CPC Assessment will assess knowledge in the four core domains of nurse anesthesia practice. The domains and the corresponding weighted percentages on the CPC Assessment are as follows: 
    • Airway Management (34%) 
    • Applied Clinical Pharmacology (24%) 
    • Human Physiology and Pathophysiology (24%)  
    • Anesthesia Technology and Equipment (18%) 
  • Q What is the NBCRNA approved list of anesthesia textbooks for use with Open Book testing?

    Miller's Anesthesia (Miller RD et al);  
    Nurse Anesthesia
    (Nagelhout JJ, Elisha S);
    Clinical Anesthesia
    (Barash et al);
    Stoelting's Anesthesia and Co-Existing Disease
    (Hines RL, Marschall KE);
    A Practical Approach to Anesthesia Equipment
    (Dorsch JA, Dorsch SE);
    Clinical Anesthesia Procedures of the Massachusetts General Hospital
    (Pino RM);
    Handbook of Clinical Anesthesia
    (Barash et al);
    Handbook of Anesthesia
    (Nagelhout JJ, Plaus K);
    Morgan and Mikhail's Clinical Anesthesiology
    (Butterworth JF, Mackey DC, Wasnick JD). 

    Any edition of these texts is allowed. The resources in the open book groups were selected because they are the most commonly used textbooks/handbooks reportedly used by CRNAs in a recent survey by NBCRNA (unpublished work). Participants will not be charged to access the e-books.
  • Q For participants testing with in-person proctoring (at a test center), where are the Castle Worldwide testing centers located?

    Castle Worldwide has test center locations throughout the US. The list of testing center locations can be found here.

    Participants will make an appointment at the test center of their choice during a two-week window. A confirmation email with the address and driving directions to the testing site, instructions regarding arrival time, and what to bring, will be sent from Castle Worldwide. A link will be sent to a practice exam that demonstrates Castle Worldwide’s online testing software, PASS. 
  • Q For participants testing with remote proctoring. What are the computer hardware and software requirements for this test?

    Mac/PC with 1 GB of RAM or higher, internet connection of at least 5mbps, webcam with 640x480 video pixel resolution, microphone and speakers attached to the computer, Flash player version 7 or higher.
  • Q Can I make a special request for a specific test condition?

    No, the study design requires random assignment of individual to testing conditions.
  • Q What if I’m sick or have an emergency the day of the test?

    Participants will receive instructions concerning canceling or rescheduling an appointment after they make their testing appointment. Instructions will differ based on the testing condition - in-person proctoring versus remote proctoring.  
  • Q Do I have to use the resources available if I am assigned to those groups?

    No, the resources are available, however you are not required to utilize them.
  • Q How do I prepare for this assessment?

    To prepare you may utilize any of the following suggestions:
    • Utilize the detailed content outline for the assessment, which can be found here.  You can use this to guide your study.
    • Use your own resource and reference books.
    • Review the NBCRNA’s two CPC practice assessments online, both available here.
  • Q I read a news release that said that NBCRNA was considering options other than an assessment for the CPC program. Is this still the case?

    The CPC Program is designed to be modified based on evidence. That is why we are conducting this research using different experimental conditions for the performance standards assessment. Moving beyond the performance standards assessment, NBCRNA is exploring alternative methods that meet the same goals and rigor of a traditional summative assessment. NBCRNA will continue to keep the CRNA community informed as it explores more longitudinal and formative approaches, as well as innovative assessments based in emerging technology such as simulation. Read more here.


  • Q What are the actual dates of notification and testing?

    Alpha Phase 

    • If chosen, notification will be sent by March 23, 2018
    • A “Notice to Schedule” will be sent in the beginning of April 
    • Schedule the test between May 7-20, 2018

    Beta Phase 

    • If chosen, notification will be sent by July 31, 2018
    • A “Notice to Schedule” will be sent in the beginning of August
    • Schedule the test in one of three two-week September/October windows (Beta).
  • Q When will I get my results?

    Results will be available in December 2018. This is a new assessment, and best practices require collection of enough candidate results before scores are issued.
  • Q What will my score report look like?

    You will receive an overall score report that will indicate if you have met the performance standard.
  • Q What does it mean if I don’t meet the performance standard?

    Failure to meet the performance standard will have no effect on your certification status.  However, for the purposes of the beta exam, if you fail to meet the performance standard, you will need to take the CPC Assessment when it officially rolls out in 2020/2021.


  • Q What is the level of confidentiality?

    Data will be kept confidential and de-identified; specific information about name, contact information, ID numbers will be stripped from your record.

    Each participant will be given a unique subject identifier in place of their name once the data has been exported from the vendor to the researcher. 

    No identifying information will be utilized in presentations and publications.  
  • Q Who will my test scores be shared with?

    The data generated may be used in future research and may be accessed by the Institutional Review Board that approved this study for quality assurance and auditing purposes.  Your name with associated test score will not be shared with anyone, only the data will be used for the purposes of this research study.