About the Exam

About the Exam

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The CNL Certification Exam is a computer-based three-hour exam. The exam items reflect the CNL Job Analysis Study conducted by CNC and Schroeder Measurement Technologies, Inc.

To maintain the quality of the CNL Certification Exam administration process, CNC’s Board of Commissioners annually reviews feedback from examinees, faculty, and the testing agency.


The CNL exam cut score (also known as the passing score) refers the number of scored questions that must be answered correctly on the exam to achieve CNL certification. The cut score is not a percentage but a raw number that may change over time as an exam is updated based on exam forms being periodically changed and equated for difficulty or based results of a recent CNL job analysis.

The cut score should not be confused with the pass rate, which is the percentage of candidates who successfully pass the CNL exam.

Effective April 25, 2016, below is the current cut score for the CNL exam:

  • Total Number of Items on the Exam - 140
  • Number of Scored Items on the Exam - 130
  • Cut Score (Passing Score) - 89


Question? Contact CNC’s Staff at cnl@aacn.nche.edu.