Ambulatory Care Nurse Exam

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The Ambulatory Care Nurse exam (ACN) is conducted by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association. The exam is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies and the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification.

Function of the Test

Ambulatory Care Study Guide

The ACN is designed to certify nurses with a current, active RN license within the United States or an equivalent license in other countries. With the Ambulatory Care certification, nurses are able to specialize and provide care to patients that enter medical care centers in an ambulatory setting. [1]

Qualifications to Take the Test

Ambulatory Care Flashcards

The applicant must be a Registered Nurse, have either an Associate Degree or a diploma from an accredited 2-year RN program, have worked at least 2 years full-time as an ambulatory care nurse with 2,000 hours in the past 3 years, as well as have at least 30 hours of continuing education in ambulatory care nursing.

Test Administration

The ACN exam has two testing formats depending upon whether the nurse takes the exam before June 4, 2014 and after June 8, 2014. [2] The testing is available year round and candidates may schedule a test date during a 90 day window at a time and location that best suits them. [3]

Testing Fees

  • For non-members of the ANA, certification fees are $395.
  • For ANA members, certification fees are $270.
  • For members of the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing, certification fees are $340.


If the candidate does not pass the initial exam, he or she may take the test again after 60 days. He or she may not test more than 3 times in a period of 12 months. [4]

Test Format

Sections of the ACN Test
ACN Test Subject Areas # of Questions Percentage
Clinical Practice 80 53.33%
Professional Issues and Communication 33 22.00%
Management of Clinical Environment 21 14.00%
Education 16 10.67%
Total 150 100%

Test Environment

On the day of the Ambulatory Care Nurse Exam, each candidate must show up at least fifteen minutes early, and bring an acceptable ID. This includes a Driver's License, a State Identification, a Passport, or a U.S. Military Identification. Paper, snacks, drinks, and electronics are not allowed in the testing room. The Exam periods last around four hours. To help test takers familiarize themselves with the exam, there will be a thirty minute tutorial, which is included in the four hours.[5]

Test Structure

The Ambulatory Care Nurse Exam is made up of 150 questions that consist of four domains: Clinical Practice, Professional Issues and Communication, Management of Clinical Environment, and Education. There are also 25 unscored, pretest questions that are mixed in. Each test-taker will be given three and a half hours to complete all 175 questions of their exam.[6]

Test Content

  • Sample Ambulatory Care Nurse Exam Questions:
  1. What would be the most appropriate order of importance for information an adult client shares when coming to a clinic visit?
    A. past medical history, past surgical history, medications, allergies, and insurance information
    B. current demographics, current insurance, complaint, medical history, and surgical history
    C. current medications, allergies, past medical history, and past surgical history
    D. current complaint, past 24–48 hours leading up to complaint, medications, allergies, and past medical history
  2. The nurse in the ambulatory care setting is triaging a teen with fever, sore throat, and rash. Which statement correctly demonstrates a clear understanding of treatment planning and implementation?
    A. The nurse refers the teen to the nearest emergency room for treatment and follow-up.
    B. The nurse calls a parent for consent to triage the teen, triages and places him in a private room, and prepares him for a throat culture.
    C. The nurse triages the teen and sends him to the waiting room.
    D. The nurse instructs the teen to make an appointment with a family physician.
  3. What types of documentation would be appropriate for telephone encounters with a client or facility?
    A. telephone log, spiral notebook, or a note in the client chart
    B. Telephone encounters do not need documentation if the nurse is following a facility’s protocol.
    C. both a and b
    D. neither a nor b
  4. Ambulatory care is constantly changing and adapting with rapid responses to high volumes of patients in short amounts of time. What is the responsibility of the nursing leader in the ambulatory care setting?
    A. The nurse leader has no specific role but goes with the flow so clients are cared for.
    B. The nurse leader interprets the situation and works with others to creatively respond for the same goal.
    C. The nurse looks to higher management for leadership and has no individual responsibility for leadership.
    D. Leadership is not important in the ambulatory care setting as long as the clients get the care they need without waiting.
  5. Who can sign consents for an infant when the mother of the infant is 14 years old?
    A. The mother of the infant may sign the consent in most states.
    B. The maternal grandmother would have to sign consents for the infant.
    C. The maternal grandfather would have to sign consents for the infant.
    D. A court-appointed guardian would need to sign consents until the mother is 18.
  6. The nurse is instructing the patient on the use of inhalers for her asthma. What should the nurse include in the patient education?
    A. Teach the patient that asthma is not a serious illness.
    B. There is no order in which inhalers should be taken.
    C. Asthma can be managed, but compliance is essential.
    D. Thrush is common, and there is no way to prevent it.

More free Ambulatory Care practice test questions.


The ACN exam consists of 175 multiple choice questions, 25 of those questions being experimental. The test has a maximum time limit of 3.5 hours. For the exam that is effective during the present up to June 4, 2014, there are five sections: [7]

Recent/Future Developments

The exam format will change on June 9, 2014 in order to transform from a five-section exam to a four-section exam. The new format also includes questions that have been updated by the American Nurses Credentialing Center and Resident Nurses whom have Ambulatory Care Nursing Certification

Answers to Sample Questions

1:D; 2:B; 3:C; 4:B; 5:A; 6:C;


  1. ^ Ambulatory Care Nurse Exam Review March 4, 2014
  2. ^ Ambulatory Care Nursing Test Content Outlines (TCO) March 4, 2014
  3. ^ Ambulatory Care Nursing Exam March 4, 2014
  4. ^ Retesting March 4, 2014
  5. ^ The Day of the Exam 17 June 2014
  6. ^ Test Content Outline 17 June 2014
  7. ^ Ambulatory Care Nursing Board Certification Test Content Outline Effective May 7, 2012 February 9, 2011