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Saturday, March 21, 2015

9 Tips for the Clinical Nurse Leader Exam

Clinical nurse leader, boards, nurse, nursing school, grad school, study tips, test strategies, multiple choice questions

9 Kick-Ass for the CNL Exam

So I've let myself get talked into taking the CNL exam in a few weeks. As I've been studying I've been keeping track of tips to help me pass this exam. There are a few ways that this test differs from NCLEX, so you'll need to keep that in mind. A CNL and an RN are different roles, therefore the test questions are going to be a bit different. You'll need to think in a different way than you've thought before. 

In an NCLEX world, you're never leaving the patient. You have that nursing process down pat. In a CNL world, you're going to guide the RN to deliver the best patient care that he/she can. It's weird because you have to take a different approach to these questions. 

{Also I feel like I may mess myself up when I sit for NCLEX. Why of why did I agree to this? Haha. Do I hate myself this much that I'm missing out on a beautiful day outside to sit inside and read. Perhaps I'll go chill on the rooftop.}

Anyways, without further ado, here are my kick-ass tips!

Kick-Ass CNL Test-Taking Tips

As I said, there are a couple ways that the CNL exam differs from the NCLEX exam:

The CNL exam questions start out easy and proceed to being harder so
  1. If you're at the beginning of the test and you think you have a tricky question, you're probably just reading too much into it.
  2. Look for grammatical clues. If the question is asked in present-tense and 3 answers are in past-tense it's probably not one of those answers. (To me this was shocking to read as a tip. Do they not proof read this exam? My mother would flip out. English major.)
  3. The CNL exam also differs in that you can go back to look at previous questions, vs the sudden death challenge of NCLEX questions.
  4. Because you can review questions, I think it's wise to go over the test one more time before submitting it (if you have time leftover). You might catch a word that you missed, such as "what would you do FIRST". I swear. Those get me every time.
  5. Go with your gut. Chances are what you thought first as the right answer, is probably the right answer. Then you start second guessing yourself. Don't. Follow your gut.
  6. The correct answer is often either the longest or shortest answer. Not always, but usually.
  7. Avoid answers with absolutes. "None. Always. Never. All." Instead pick answers that say "Most. Often."
  8. Use process of elimination. If there is something ridiculous, or something that you know for sure is not the correct choice then automatically scratch through that choice. Now you've gone from a 25% chance of getting it right due to guessing, to a 33% chance.
  9. Never "do nothing". It's asking a question so there should be a response that the CNL should have in that situation. 

CNL Exam vs. NCLEX

Like I mentioned earlier, this is a CNL exam and not the NCLEX exam, so answering these questions are slightly different. You're not the patient's nurse. YOU ARE NOT THE NURSE. So you most likely won't be giving any care to the patient. And this goes against so much of our training and mindset. That's how we miss points though. In this role you are a leader, a mentor, a resource for the nurse. You advise, but you do not "do". 

Granted in real life things are different but just like there is a NCLEX hospital there is also a CNL hospital. The test and real life are different. But you need to pass this test before you can do those things in real life. 

The CNL exam has a time of 3 full hours. 

There are 150 questions on the CNL exam. Only 130 count- the other 20 are just questions being tested for possibly being future questions. 


Ok, I really, REALLY, would love some feedback from the readers: 

Have you heard of the Clinical Nurse Leader before?

Do you work with a CNL? or have seen one in clinical?

What roles do these CNLs have in your organization?

Texas and the VA seem to be on board with CNLs. I'm in an area that isn't. But I'm probably going to be moving, that's why I'm looking into CNL certification. Plus I actually do believe that the role can vastly improve our healthcare systems. We just need more evidence to support this role which means more places need to give us an opportunity to perform as a CNL. 


Thanks guys keep it up! You're working so hard to become something new in healthcare.

The first new nursing role in 35 years. Whoo Hoo! How is that for being a trendsetter!? 

Please leave a comment with your feedback to the discussion questions or anything at all about clinical nurse leaders. I would love to hear what those out there in the nursing world thought about this position.



1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    I am so happy of founding this tips!!! I am currently in my second year in a CNL program and hopefully I'll take my exam in may/jun. So, I am trying to really take all in and start preparing,so when the time comes I will be "prepared". I just can say that this is a program that is giving me the opportunity to be a nurse/leader in this country. Now my question is since my native language is not English, even though I have learned to speak, read and write in the last 5 years, do you think that it could be to much of the challenge for me and therefore I need to SUPER study? and how should I start? was the white paper part of the exam too?
    thank you,