Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Questions frequently asked by applicants and NCSNs are listed below and are posted here for your convenience. Additional questions may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- NCSN Exam Application Questions
- NBCSN Examination Questions
- Liaison Questions
- Recertification Questions
- List of Acceptable Degrees
Questions regarding the Application for the NCSN Exam
What specific documentation do I need to provide to apply for the NCSN Exam?
In order to apply to take the Nationally Certified School Nurse Exam you need the following documentation which must be uploaded to your account in a .pdf, .jpeg, .tif, or .png, format.
- Submit a copy of your current RN license in one of the United States.
- This documentation must show that your license is current and show the expiration date. If your state no longer provides paper copies of your license you may show a screenshot of your state’s license verification page for your license. If you have trouble with uploading your documentation, please contact us at email@example.com.
- If your state no longer provides a printed copy of your RN license, you can provide a copy of your online license verification. Many times your state nursing board will allow you to verify your license on their website. Many states use the following website for license verification: https://www.
- Submit a copy of your transcript (may be unofficial or computer downloaded) indicating that your baccalaureate degree is in nursing or an acceptable school health related degree (list of acceptable degrees).
- If your degree is not in nursing or an acceptable school health related degree, you must submit documentation of an additional 6 credits in any combination of the following areas:
- Management of primary health care problems of children and/ or adolescents
- Health assessment of children and/or adolescents
- Public health/community health/epidemiology
- You must provide the transcript and you may be asked for a course description if the title of the course does not clearly indicate that it falls within one of the above areas.
- Submit documentation of at least 1,000 hours of clinical practice that have been worked within the three years prior to taking the exam. This should be a letter from your employer on letterhead that indicates dates and hours of employment.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or need help.
Questions regarding the examination
What should I know about selecting materials to prepare for the exam?
There are a lot of study guides out there using NBCSN in the title promising great things and guaranteeing results. The National Board for Certification of School Nurses (NBCSN) does not endorse any particular resource or study guide. Just because a product says NBCSN that does not mean that it was developed or endorsed by NBCSN.
NBCSN is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Nursing Specialty Certification (ABSNC). As an accredited certification board our staff and subject matter experts, volunteer NCSNs who help develop and review the exams, cannot develop any preparation materials for the certification exam. We can develop sample questions which provide information about the structure and format of the questions that would be on the exam and that can be placed on our website. We can also develop practice tests, the purpose of which is to familiarize candidates with the exam experience. Practice exams may provide a score that equals number correct, but not pass/fail status, diagnostic information or a prediction of performance or success. We are now looking into other types of test prep materials that we can provide.
NBCSN cannot develop preparatory examinations which provide information on the knowledge, skills, or abilities of a candidate as they relate to the certification for which they are preparing. These products can provide information on performance to indicate readiness or a prediction of success.
It is important that school nurses understand that while a preparatory product may use “NBCSN” or “NCSN” in its title, it is not necessarily developed by the National Board for Certification of School Nurses. Right now the only preparation materials NCSN is associated with are the 2 practice exams available on our website and the current 2019 Certification Review Course offered at the NASN preconference in Denver.
There is a list of resources on the NBCSN website which provides a list of materials that may be helpful for school nurses to use to prepare for the exam. Using those resources does not guarantee success but they are resources that are relevant to school nursing, many are used in the exam development, and they can be helpful in preparation. Our statistics show that candidates who participate in small study groups are most successful.
Please note that the suggestions above are not exhaustive, and review will not guarantee success for every candidate. The NBCSN does not publish or endorse any specific study guide or program.
Why does it take so long to find out if I passed my NCSN exam?
Because of the number of candidates who sit for the NBCSN exam, the testing company cannot “pre-equate” the test questions. This means the “cut score” (i.e., passing score) cannot be determined until all of the candidates have taken the exam throughout the entire testing window.
Questions that did not perform as expected are analyzed and a determination is made as to how a particular question will be handled in regard to scoring. All of those questions are reviewed by a group (usually 5) of subject matter experts (SMEs) during a formal “problem item notification” (PIN) meeting with a test development specialist from the testing company. SMEs are nationally certified school nurses who have passed the NCSN exam and who have volunteered for the opportunity. NBCSN works very hard to get a panel of school nurses who have diverse educational, clinical, and geographical backgrounds and who have practiced for a number of years and are certified.
Questions that come up during the PIN call might be handled in a number of ways.
- A question may be discarded, either to be archived (no longer to be used) or to be rewritten to go back into the new question or a pretest category. In that case, the question would not be counted for or against a candidate. The situations where this might happen are:
- a question for which candidates chose two choices almost equally as often;
- a question for which high performers did poorly and low performers did well; and
- a question for which very few chose the correct answer.
- In some cases, the panel looks at question that has been chosen for review and determines that it is, in fact, appropriate and it will not be changed.
Once the fate of the questions being reviewed has been determined, the “cut score” (i.e., passing score) is set and score reports can then be produced and sent to candidates.
**The entire review and scoring process takes roughly 8 weeks and can only start after the close of the testing window.
It is actually in an exam candidate’s favor that questions are “post-equated” and that some questions are not counted against them.
If you are an NCSN and are interested in participating in a test development activity, please go to our website at https://www.nbcsn.org/nbcsn-volunteers to learn more about upcoming activities.
Will candidates be able to get immediate scoring in the future?
If there comes a time when the pool of candidates taking the exam at any given time is large enough that the questions can be pre-equated, NBCSN will look into providing immediate scoring.
Do I have to be working full time to be eligible to take the exam?
Please visit Examination Page of the website to access all of the current information about eligibility requirements to take the exam.
I am interested in taking the examination to become an NCSN. Is there a class available to prepare for the exam?
There are no review classes or written preparation materials for the exam that are supported or approved by the NBCSN.
Data provided by school nurses sitting for the NCSN exam indicate that small group study where school nurses informally join together to study and review the content outlined in the exam brochure is a successful mode of preparation.
Although not endorsed by NBCSN, many NASN affiliate organizations have study groups and review courses to assist school nurses prepare for the examination; some colleges offer online and graduate courses related to school nurse preparation and content; and the National Association of School Nurses publishes a manual, School Nursing Certification Review, available through its book store.
What is the exam pass rate?
Please refer to the the exam statistics.
Questions regarding liaisons
Can you give me contact information for the NBCSN liaisons?
You can find your state liaison on the liaison page of this site.
I am interested in becoming a liaison, what is the next step?
We allow a maximum of two state liaisons per state. Please fill out an application to become a state liaison from the Forms & Applications page and return to the board office. The Vice President reviews your application. You are required to submit an annual report which can also be downloaded from the Forms & Applications page. For further information please visit the Liaison page.
Questions regarding recertification
What type of continuing education credits are acceptable for re-certification?
Please visit the recertification page of the website to access all of the current information about acceptable continuing education credits.
What specific documentation do I need to provide for my NCSN recertification application?
As of October 2018, there is no documentation required for you to apply for recertification unless you are audited.
After January 1, 2019 documentation for your current RN license, your work history and all continuing education hours will be required before you can submit your application for recertification.
All documentation must be uploaded to your account in a .pdf, .jpeg, .tif, or .png, format.
You don’t need to submit documentation of your current license until you submit your application. This documentation must show that your license is current and show the expiration date. If your state no longer provides paper copies of your license you may show a screenshot of your state’s license verification page for your license. If you have trouble with uploading your documentation, please contact us at email@example.com.
You can submit work hours annually or when you are changing employers if you choose. If you do change employers, you will need documentation on their letterhead and it will be easier to get at the time.
Continuing Education Activities
NASN Membership cards should be uploaded annually.
You will find it much easier to upload documentation of your continuing education activities as you earn them rather than to try to do it all at once at the end of 5 years.
Documentation of your continuing education hours must include the name of the approved accreditation or certification body. Organizations such as hospitals, state nursing associations etc., may work with approved/accredited providers to provide continuing education programs and should note the collaboration and the provider/accreditation name on certificates. Please see Recertification Procedures on our website for specific details about providers, activity types, and approved providers.
It is the responsibility of the candidate to maintain active/current address and contact information with the NBCSN. Deadlines missed due to forwarded and lost mail are the responsibility of the candidate and may incur late fees or forfeited recertification status.
How do I contact someone if I have questions or concerns, or am having a problem with my application?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.