Inpatient Obstetric Nursing Certification

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The NCC Credential in Inpatient Obstetric Nursing certification exam (RNC-OB exam) is administered by the National Certification Corporation (NCC), a non-profit organization founded in 1975 to provide credentialing programs for nurses, physicians, and other health care professionals.[1]

Function of the Test

RNC-OB Study Guide

The RNC-OB examination is a certification examination which registered nurses in the US or Canada take in order to receive the NCC Credential in Inpatient Obstetric Nursing.[2] Candidates must have a current RN license in the US or Canada as well as at least 24 months and 2,000 hours of cumulative specialty experience (direct patient care, education, administration, or research) as an RN. Candidates must also have been employed in the specialty at some point in the previous 24 months.[2]

Since the NCC's founding in 1975, it has awarded its Inpatient Obstetric Nurse certification to over 46,000 healthcare professionals.[1] Approximately 2,000 candidates took the RNC-OB examination in 2013.[3] The NCC reported that 81% of candidates passed their NCC certification or subspecialty examinations in 2007, but the NCC did not break that number down by type of examination.[4]

Test Administration

RNC-OB Flashcards

The RNC-OB examination is primarily administered at Applied Measurement Professional (AMP) test centers, though individual organizations may administer the examination through special arrangement with NCC.[5] The examination costs $325 to take, which includes a $50 non-refundable application fee and a $275 testing fee.[2] Both a digital version and a pencil-and-paper version of the examination exist. The digital version of the examination may be taken by appointment at an AMP test center, whereas the paper-and-pencil version of the examination is offered only on certain dates at certain specific test centers.[2] The listing of upcoming pencil-and-paper testing dates and locations is available on the NCC's website.[6]

Both the digital and pencil-and-paper test versions work in largely the same way: unlike in many computerized examinations, the test-taker is free to skip questions and return to them later, and there is a three-hour time limit for both versions of the examination. However, the computerized examination features a randomized ordering of questions so that no two test takers see the questions in the same order.[5]

There is no limit to the number of times a candidate may retake the examination. However, candidates must wait at least 90 days before submitting an application to retake the examination, and candidates must pay all applicable fees every time they take the examination. Candidates may only attempt the RNC-OB examination twice per calendar year.[5]

Testing accommodations for candidates with disabilities may be offered as needed. Candidates are encouraged to contact the NCC directly regarding possible accommodations before submitting an application to take the RNC-OB examination.[5]

Test Format

Sections of the ION Test
ION Test Subject Areas Percentage
Maternal Factors Affecting The Fetus and Newborn 10-15%
Fetal Assessment 15-25%
Labor And Delivery 25-30%
Obstetric Complications 15-25%
Postpartum 5-10%
Newborn 5-10%%
Professional Issues Less than 2%
Total 100%

Test Environment

Candidates must arrive at the testing center before the time on their admission card. The admission ticket is required in order to take the exam, along with two forms of identification, one of which must be a photo identification. There is no scheduled break, so each candidate must finish before the three hours is up. Test takers may leave once they finish the exam.[7]

Test Structure

The Inpatient Obstetric Nursing Exam is offered both on pencil and paper or on the computer. There are 175 multiple choice questions, which includes 25 unscored, pretest questions. The exam consists of six major topic areas: Maternal Factors Affecting the Fetus and Newborn; Fetal Assessment; Labor and Delivery; Obstetric Complications; Maternal and Newborn; and Professional Issues. The test allows three hours to complete all 175 questions. There are no breaks scheduled.[8]

Sample Questions

More free RNC-OB practice test questions.


The RNC-OB examination consists of 175 test questions. 150 questions count toward the candidate's score, whereas 25 questions are pretest items which are being assessed for inclusion on future versions of the RNC-OB examination.[5] The questions of the examination are divided into several subject areas:

Distribution of content on the RNC-OB exam[5]
Domain  % of examination
Maternal Factors Affecting
The Fetus and Newborn
Fetal Assessment 15-25%
Labor and Delivery 25-30%
Obstetric Complications 15-25%
Postpartum 5-10%
Newborn 5-10%
Professional Issues <2%

There is no single "passing score" on the RNC-OB determined by raw score. Instead, there is a minimum ability level which candidates must demonstrate in order to pass the examination. Every test item on the RNC-OB has a difficulty level. Answering easy questions correctly only increases a candidate's ability score marginally, while answering difficult questions correctly increases a candidate's ability score significantly. As such, candidates who take a more difficult form of the examination may need to answer fewer questions correctly in order to pass the examination compared to candidates who take a relatively easier form of the examination.[5]

There is no penalty for guessing. NCC encourages test-takers to answer every test item and leave nothing blank.[5]

A preliminary score report is provided immediately after the examination, but the official verified results may take up to 21 days to arrive in the mail.[5] There is no percentage or standard score given on the score report. Rather, score reports inform candidates of their pass/fail status and provide basic feedback on candidates' performance on each of the content areas of the examination. Candidates are informed whether their performance on a given content area was very weak, weak, average, strong, or very strong.[5]


  1. ^ a b About NCC 26 March 2014
  2. ^ a b c d NCC Credential in Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB) 26 March 2014
  3. ^ NCC Annual Review 2013 26 March 2014
  4. ^ NCC News Winter 2008 26 March 2014
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j 2014 Candidate Guide: Inpatient Obstetric Nursing 26 March 2014
  6. ^ NCC: Upcoming Pencil/Paper Sites 26 March 2014
  7. ^ TEAS Test Breakdown 19 June 2014
  8. ^ TEAS Test Breakdown 19 June 2014

External Links