How to Apply

The National Certification Examination for School Nurses is offered periodically. The exam is given in a computer-based format at testing centers across the United States.

In order to take the Certification Examination for School Nurses, you must file an application within the time frame designated for each exam. The Handbook for Candidates provides more comprehensive information about the examination.

Complete your online exam application.


Eligible candidates must

  1. Be currently licensed as a Registered Nurse in the United States.
  2. Have attained:
    1. A bachelor's degree or higher, in nursing or a health-related field relevant to school nursing, or the equivalent in other countries.
    2. Current certification by NBCSN as an NCSN.
    See the FAQ Section of this website for further information on acceptable health related fields.
  3. Meet the clinical practice requirements of a minimum of 1,000 hours* during the past three years (see definitions below).
  4. Complete and file the Application for the Certification Examination for School Nurses.
  5. Pay the required $350 fee.

*NBCSN recommends that candidates have approximately 4,000 hours of clinical practice experience in school nursing before taking the examination.

*Clinical Practice Requirements for Certification

Clinical Practice in school nursing means actively employed or contracted to provide a direct or indirect professional contribution to the health and education of students and their families in public or private school settings.

Direct clinical practice in school nursing is defined as involvement in the nursing process in a school setting where the nursing actions and judgments are focused on a particular student, family, school community, or group of students or their families where there is continuing professional responsibility and accountability for the outcomes of these actions.

Indirect clinical practice in school nursing is defined as involvement that:

  1. includes clinical supervision of school nurses, education and clinical supervision of baccalaureate/master's nursing students in school health, administration of school health services, research, consultation or other engagement in the field of school nursing that contributes to the specialty's body of knowledge or enhances the quality of school nursing practice;
  2. entails continuing professional responsibility and accountability for the outcomes of the involvement.

Not eligible as clinical practice in school nursing includes: substitute nursing in a school, except as a full time substitute working consecutive days for the required clinical practice hours; one-to-one nursing as the nurse's sole responsibility within a school; employment in the direct sales, marketing or distribution of school nursing-related products or services in pharmaceutical, technology or other school health-related industries; community health screenings; work in a camp setting; preceptorship/mentor; and jobs unrelated to school nursing.

Back to top

Exam Administration & Fees

The Certification Examination is administered for NBCSN by the Competency and Credentialing Institute (CCI).

Nonrefundable Application fee - $350.00

See the Handbook for Candidates for payment options.

Testing Centers

The Certification Examination for School Nurses will be tested periodically each year. You will not be able to select a testing center for your four-hour examination appointment until you have received an Eligibility Notice. Please note that hours and days of availability vary at different centers. Testing centers may differ in environments and security requirements. Applicants may contact Prometric prior to the examination if there are any questions or concerns regarding the testing center and to arrange another site if needed within the same testing window.

Back to top

Test Dates

The national exam for school nurses is held periodically throughout the year. It is offered at various locations throughout the country.  

The 2015 dates are as follows
Winter/Spring Testing Window:  February 22 - March 7
Summer Testing Window:  July 12 - August 1
Fall  Testing Window:  October 18 - October 31


The national exam for school nurses is a written computerized exam composed of a maximum of 250 multiple-choice, objective questions with a total testing time of four (4) hours.

For a complete Content Outline and Sample Questions, refer to our Handbook for Candidates.

The exam will be weighted in approximately the following manner:

  1. 27% Health Appraisal
  2. 28% Health Problems and Nursing Management
  3. 20% Health Promotion/Disease Prevention
  4. 13% Special Health Issues
  5. 12% Professional Issues

Back to top


Exam preparation is a unique process for each candidate. School nurses have formed study groups, attended school nurse curriculum workshops, and reviewed school nursing and related texts in preparation for the examination. The examination is national in scope and reflects the broad variety of student and community populations, specialty practice situations, and legal and current health issues that school nurses confront in everyday practice. Exam questions are chosen from a larger pool of questions which provides for enabling variation of exam content and undergo a rigorous process to ensure their validity, reliability and applicability to current school nursing practice.

Although there is no single study guide, the List of Resources included in the Handbook for Candidates may be helpful in preparing. Many of the resource publications can be found at the NASN bookstore. In addition, you will find Sample Questions in the handbook.

Download the Handbook

Online Practice Test for School Nurses

What is it?
The Online Practice Test for School Nurses is a practice test of 75 questions with a testing time of two hours taken over the Internet.

Why take it?
The Online Practice Test for School Nurses offers the experience of taking a computerized examination, the chance to review an example of the type of content included in the Certification Examination for School Nurses, and the opportunity to learn more about question format, style, and level of difficulty. After completing the online practice test, you will receive an instant score report showing test performance in each of the content areas.

How much is it?
The fee is $75 by credit card.

How do I apply?
Go to the online application and follow directions on how to create an account and pay online.

Technical specifications:
The Online Practice Test for School Nurses can be taken on any Internet-ready PC. It is not compatible with Macintosh computers. Internet Explorer 6.0 or higher is recommended for optimum performance. Pop-up windows must be allowed.

Please note:
Performance on the Online Practice Test for School Nurses may differ from actual performance on the Certification Examination for School Nurses. There is no guarantee that taking the online practice test will help you to prepare for or pass the Certification Examination for School Nurses.


An individual may appeal a failed examination due to technical issues, or a denial of recertification.

Appeals related to technical issues incurred during the examination process should be immediately addressed to Professional Testing Corporation for investigation of testing center and computer issues. All other appeals or challenges are to be submitted in writing, addressed to the NBCSN President within 30 days of the denial or receipt of the examination results, citing all of the reasons for the appeal or challenge.

The NBCSN President shall issue a decision on the matter in writing within 30 days of the receipt of the appeal or challenge. The individual will then have an additional 30 days to submit a written appeal to the NBCSN Board of Directors. The Board of Directors shall issue a written decision within 30 days from the receipt of the appeal. The decision of the NBCSN Board of Directors shall be final.

Disclaimer of Endorsement

NBCSN does not endorse or support any certification preparation program of study, course or study guide advertised to prepare school nurses to take the certification (NCSN) examination. Such programs, courses and guides are not affiliated with the National Board for Certification of School Nurses, Inc. (NBCSN), even if their materials and advertisements suggest otherwise. Representatives of these programs and courses have no involvement in the development, preparation, review or administration of the NCSN examination. They are neither sanctioned nor approved by the National Board for the Certification of School Nurses.

NBCSN does not sanction or recommend any commercial study guide, course or program of study

In addition, reference in this site to any specific commercial product, process, or service, or the use of any trade, firm or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public, and does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by NBCSN. While NBCSN strives to make the information on this website as timely and accurate as possible, NBCSN makes no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the contents of this site, and expressly disclaims liability for errors and omissions in the contents of this site.

Back to top