Nurse Executive Certification

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The Nurse Executive (NE-BC) certification grew out of the early certification programs of the American Nurses Association (ANA). The ANA began its national certification program in 1973,[1] and a certificate in Nursing Administration was instituted in 1979.[2] In 1991, the ANA's certification function was passed on to its newly-created subsidiary, the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), which currently administers all the certification programs and examinations.[1] In April 2008, the ANCC changed the name of the Nursing Administration certification (CNA-BC) to its current name of Nurse Executive (NE-BC).[2] In the same year, the ANCC implemented a new computer-based test for the NE-BC exam.[2]

The ANCC regularly conducts Role Delineation Studies in which practicing Nurse Executives are surveyed to determine what their typical responsibilities are and what knowledge, skills, and competencies are most relevant to successfully fulfilling those responsibilities. This information is used to make periodic major revisions to the NE-BC examination content outline. The most recent study was conducted in 2011, and the corresponding changes to the NE-BC content outline went into effect in 2013.[3][4]

Function of the Test

Nurse Executive Certification Study Guide

The NE-BC certification is a nationally-recognized credential which is intended for established career nurses who already have substantial experience in an administrative role. As such, it serves to affirm and recognize the skills and competencies of the candidate and enhance future career opportunities.

The eligibility criteria include holding a current, active RN license; holding a bachelor's or higher degree in nursing; having held a relevant full-time position (e.g., nurse manager, graduate-level instructor, or nursing management consultant) for at least two of the previous give years; and having either a master's degree or at least thirty hours of continuing education in nursing administration within the previous three years.[5]

In 2013, 986 candidates took the NE-BC exam, of whom 727 (73.7%) were successful.[6] As of 2013, there were over 5,400 nurses with current NE-BC certification.[6]

Test Administration

Nurse Executive Certification Flashcards

The NE-BC exam is a computer-based test offered at Prometric testing centers. The exam is offered year-round. Candidates have 3.5 hours to take the examination.[7]

The full cost to take the NE-BC exam is $395 for candidates who are not members of the ANA, while members of the ANA pay as low as $270 depending on available discounts.[7]

Unsuccessful candidates receive a diagnostic score report informing them whether they achieved "low," "medium," or "high" performance in each of the test content areas.[8] Candidates who wish to retake the exam must wait at least 60 days from the testing date before testing again and may only test three times in a 12-month period. Candidates must submit a retest application and meet eligibility requirements, including any requirements that may have changed or been added since their last application to take the exam.[8]

Candidates who require special accommodations for a disability must notify the ANCC directly by sending a healthcare professional's report which addresses several points, including the specific diagnosis, relevant medical history, date of most current evaluation, and the specific accommodations required. Candidates are encouraged to make the request as early as possible because the ANCC requires time to review the request and may need to ask for additional information.[8]

Test Format

Sections of the Nurse Exec Exam
Nurse Exec Exam Subject Areas # of Questions Percent
Structures and Processes 33 22%
Exemplary Professional Practice 69 46%
Transformational Leadership 35 23%
New Knowledge and Innovations 13 9%
Total 150 100%

Test Environment

The Nurse Executive Exam takes place at Prometric Testing Centers. There, test-takers are expected to arrive with identification for admission. The tests are computer based. Notes and other resources are prohibited during the test. Personal items are not allowed in the testing room. These include bags, snacks, drinks, watches, cell phones, and hats. There will be a locker provided for all personal items to be stored in.[9]

Test Structure

The Nurse Executive Exam is made up of 175 questions. 25 of which are uncored, pretest questions. All 150 scored questions are made up of four major domains of practice. They include: Structures of Processes; Exemplary Professional Practice; Transformational Leadership; and New Knowledge and Innovations. The time allotted to complete all 175 questions is 3.5 hours. [10]

Sample Questions

More free Nurse Executive Certification practice test questions.


The NE-BC exam comprises 175 questions, of which 150 are scored and 25 are pre-test items being assessed for inclusion on future versions of the exam.[4]

Guessing is not penalized on the NE-BC exam. Omitted answers and incorrect answers are treated the same way. The NE-BC exam is criterion-referenced, meaning that a panel of subject matter experts judges the difficulty of each individual test question and determines the score a minimally-qualified candidate would need to achieve in order to pass the test. The candidate's raw score is converted to a scaled score out of 500. The scaled score accounts for difficulty such that candidates who take a more difficult form of the exam are scored more leniently than candidates who take an easier form of the exam. The passing scaled score is 350.[8] In 2013, 73.7% of candidates passed the examination.[6]


  1. ^ a b ANCC: Content Expert Panel Member Handbook September 1 2014
  2. ^ a b c ANCC Updates Nursing Administration Certifications and Credentials September 1 2014
  3. ^ ANCC: 2011 Nurse Executive Role Delineation Study September 1 2013
  4. ^ a b ANCC: Nurse Executive Board Certification Examination Test Content Outline September 1 2014
  5. ^ ANCC: Nurse Executive Certification Eligibility Criteria September 1 2014
  6. ^ a b c ANCC: 2013 ANCC Certification Data September 1, 2013
  7. ^ a b ANCC: Nurse Executive September 1 2014
  8. ^ a b c d ANCC: General Testing and Renewal Handbook September 1 2014
  9. ^ Prometric Testing Center FAQ 14 July 2014
  10. ^ Nurse Credentialing 14 July 2014

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