ccrn test question

CCRN Test Question Topics That Appear on Every Exam

The CCRN exam doesn’t necessarily play favorites, but certain CCRN Test question and subjects always show up on the exam. Why? Because they are important! The questions on the exam are usually very relevant to what you will encounter in your own practice. Remember, while the test is there to assess your knowledge and see if you are worthy of certification, it is also there to help you learn and become the best CCRN nurse out there. Here’s a look at some subjects that will surely take up a CCRN test question (or two) on your exam.

The CCRN Test Plan

The AACN gives out a CCRN test plan that nurses can follow as they prepare for the exam. The exam mostly consists of clinical questions, but it will also ask questions about nursing leadership, ethics, diversity, and advocacy. Here is a breakdown of the exam contents per the AACN Exam Handbook:

Clinical Judgement (80%)

  • Cardiovascular system (17%)

  • Respiratory (15%)

  • Endocrine/Hematological/Gastrointestinal/Renal/Integumentary (20%)

  • Musculoskeletal/Neurological/Psychological (14%)

  • Multisystem (14%)

Professional Caring and Ethical Practice (20%)

  • This section covers topics like advocacy, caring practices, diversity, facilitation of learning, collaboration, and systems thinking.

Please visit the AACN website to access the CCRN Exam Handbook to see a more detailed guide of the subject covered.

What are common questions on the exam?

When you look at the CCRN test plan, you will see there are so many different areas covered under each category. For example, under the Multisystem category, you will see one of the subjects is shock states. You will need to study each shock state thoroughly so that you know the pathophysiology, the medical treatment, your nursing actions, and other potential adverse outcomes.

ccrn test question

Obviously, you will want to study everything they mention on the CCRN test plan because it is all fair game. But when you are studying, there are a few areas you will really want to hone in on, including:

  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Diabetes insipidus
  • ARDS
  • Hemodynamic parameters (like SVR and cardiac output)
  • Renal impairment

Even looking at those topics, you probably can see how much you will need to know just to cover the basics of these categories.

How will questions be asked?

Just like the NCLEX, questions will be worded in a variety of ways. While they are not there to throw you off intentionally, many questions will aim to make you think, and you may have to use some deductive reasoning to arrive at the correct answer.

Some questions will be relatively straightforward, such as “What does a positive Trousseau sign indicate?” whereas others may be a little more involved and may give a patient scenario. For example: 

“A patient presents with tachypnea and labored breathing and is admitted for acute respiratory failure. The Chest X-ray reveals bilateral pulmonary congestion. The nurse auscultates a loud systolic murmur at the apical area. After a PA catheter is inserted, large prominent V waves are present during the PAOP reading. Which of the following should the nurse suspect?

The test writers are very interested in seeing if you know what your nursing actions should be in specific scenarios. Yet, our nursing actions must be based on what is going on behind the scenes in the patient’s body, so we have to understand what is going on physiologically before taking the appropriate action. 

ccrn test question

Tips for answering questions on the exam

  • When you read a new question, identify keywords that will help guide your thinking.


  • Make sure you understand the problem or what the CCRN test question is asking.


  • Look for clues within the question. If there is something that makes a lightbulb go on, write it down on your scrap paper.


  • After reading the CCRN test question, see if you can arrive at the answer before looking at the answer choices below. This strategy is crucial because it can help you arrive at the solution first before second-guessing yourself with other possibilities listed. As you may remember from other board exams like the NCLEX, there are few, if any, freebie answers. Instead, each answer is there to test you to see if you really know your stuff.
  • If you are struggling to arrive at an answer, echo the question out loud (or, in this case, mouthing it silently to yourself) and try to come up with the answer “verbally” in your head.

  • Cross off answers that you know are not correct to help narrow down the remaining possibilities.

  • Approach each question with a clean slate. If the last question threw you off, let it go and get ready for your next question. 

  • If you do not know an answer to a question, go back to the basics of what you know about nursing with little mnemonics that you have memorized, like “Airway, Breathing, Circulation. 

How to prepare for the CCRN exam

ccrn test question

We know that a big part of studying for any exam involves reviewing content, memorizing specific facts, and applying your knowledge. One of the best ways to test yourself before the actual test is to take practice test questions. Indeed, we find that the more questions you do, the more confident you will feel on test day. 

If you want to increase your odds of passing the first time you take the CCRN exam, you will want to do as many test questions as you can get your hands on. This strategy alone helps you learn how questions are asked and can make you confident in what you already know and where you need to keep studying. It can also give you practice on approaching questions where you don’t know the answer

At Critical Care Academy, we believe practice makes perfect when it comes to exam questions. So, our online review course offers numerous quizzes, test questions, and even a mock final exam so you can see how prepared you really are for test day. In addition, our video modules tell you exactly what you need to know and how you can think about complex topics. Furthermore, our content is available anytime, so you can return to information as needed to help clarify topics.

Believe it or not, answering CCRN test questions is fun, and the more you do, the easier they will become.

Enroll in Critical Care Academy today to access plenty of

test questions to help you gear up for the big day.