Welcome, students! This page is dedicated to your needs and interests as you continue your training to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) by providing resources to help you on your path to certification. To begin your career as a CRNA, student need to take and pass the National Certification Examination (NCE), sometimes referred to as “the boards.” 

Students can take the NCE at any point after completing a multi-year educational program at one of the nation’s 137 accredited Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs. The NCE may be taken up to four times following the completion of a nurse anesthesia education program. The NCE is designed to measure the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for entry-level nurse anesthesia practitioners. It is a variable-length, computerized adaptive test with 100-170 questions and a maximum of three hours allowed to complete it. Questions can take the form of multiple-choice, calculations, drag and drop, hotspot, and graphics/videos. Learn more about the question types in the NCE Handbook.

Before taking the NCE, NBCRNA recommends taking the Self-Evaluation Examination (SEE). Most nurse anesthesia programs incorporate the use of the SEE in their programs. This voluntary self-examination has three objectives:

  1. Provide information to students about progress in their nurse anesthesia education program.
  2. Provide information to program administrators on how well their programs are preparing students with the knowledge they need for anesthesia practice.
  3. Prepare students for the NCE experience.

The SEE is a 240-question computerized adaptive examination consisting of multiple-choice, multiple-correct responses, short answer/calculations, drag and drop, and hotspot questions. It serves as an important foundation in preparation for the NCE. Learn more about what the SEE entails in the SEE Handbook.

The NBCRNA has developed an exam tutorial with the purpose of helping examinees with interactive examples of the five question formats contained within the NCE and SEE. This tutorial contains a total of 20 sample items that depict generally how the questions will look in the exam administration software, as well as basic instructions for responding to each question type, and can be taken an unlimited number of times.

Exam Expectations

  • Q What are some examples of improper exam-related behaviors?

    • Attempting to have someone other than yourself take the exam under your name, or taking the exam for someone else under their name. Hiring a “ringer” (more knowledgeable person) or a “proxy” to sit for the examination in one’s place.
    • Retention or possession of exam materials:
      • Having an electronic device in the test center that can take pictures, video, audio, or record or transmit typed text or copy files
        • Forgetting to take off your smartwatch
        • Having a USB drive in your pocket
      • Having printed copies, pictures, handwritten notes, files, or other representations of exam content, inside or outside the test center
      • Memorizing content that is on an exam to later record or share it
    • Sharing exam materials:
      • Talking to examinees, faculty, students, or test prep/review course personnel about what is or is not on the exam or what is more or less important to study based on exam experience

        - "There was much more about ____ on the test than I expected."

        - "There was this question about ____ that really confused me. How would/did you answer?"

        - "You should review the diagram of ____. One question was just like that."

        - "Why do we spend so much time studying ____ when it's not on the exam?"

        - "I teach this aspect of the curriculum in my course, but it's not really covered on the boards."


          • Posting social media, email, or discussion board messages about experience of question materials on the exam


        - "I was really glad I took ____ test prep course because the questions were almost identical to the real thing."

        - "Does anybody want to get together to make an exam study guide? I can remember a few questions, and if we put our heads together..."

        - "This was a terrible test. For instance, this question about ____ didn't make any sense..."

          • Contributing actual test materials to a prep course with or without compensation
        • Attempting to obtain actual exam materials or inside information:
          • Attending a course or purchasing materials that claim to include actual test content
          • Asking someone who has taken an exam for information about it

        - "I feel like I'm a little weak on ____. Were there many questions about that?"

        • Answering test questions on the basis of anything other than one's own knowledge and judgement
          • Using notes brought into the test center
          • Looking at another person's exam
          • Asking a proctor or another examinee for answer information
          • Any prohibited communication while taking the exam
  • Q What are examples of permitted exam-related behaviors?

    • Exchanging general information about the test center environment or rules


      - "Are you allowed to take a break during the test?"

      - "There was a little bit of a delay to get seated at the center."

      - "My ID said Christopher and my registration said Chris, so I couldn't test."


    • Sharing basic, public information about question types on the exam


      - "There are 150 multiple-choice questions: there aren't any alternative format questions like hotspots on the test."


    • Discussing information published by the NBCRNA already


      - "The content outline says that 30% of the test is devoted to basic science."


    • Making general comments about your exam performance


    - "I thought the exam was very challenging, but I think I passed. I had plenty of time."

  • Q What are penalties for improper exam-related behavior?

    • Penalties include but are not limited to:
      • loss of eligibility to take any NBCRNA exam, including SEE, NCE, and NSPM, now or in the future
      • invalidation of exam results
      • revocation of certification
      • assessment of monetary damages
      • legal liability
  • Q What should I do if I witness behavior I think may be improper?

    If you see any behavior related to NBCRNA exams that you think may be improper, you are obligated to report it. The NBCRNA uses a third-party reporting service known as The Network. You can remain anonymous if you choose, and no direct contact with NBCRNA staff is required.


    Online Reporting:


    Phone reporting: 844-703-1790


Effective July 1, 2022, the NCE and SEE exam delivery will be restricted to the Pearson VUE, Pearson Professional Centers (PPCs).  

Learn more here.