Preparing to take the CCHP-RN Exam
Considering becoming a CCHP-RN? You are on your way to obtaining a credential that recognizes your knowledge of the specialty practice of correctional nursing. Every valuable goal requires planning and preparation for success. Preparing to sit for a certification exam is a rigorous cognitive development program much as preparing for a running marathon is an intensive physical conditioning program. They both require determination, sacrifice and focus.
Those who study exam performance have found that success involves three components of differing proportions. As expected, the majority of success is determined by your specialty practice knowledge base. However, a significant portion of success is determined by your test-taking skills and personal characteristics. Consider all three factors in your preparation plan.
Knowledge Base (60% to 70%)
Start with the content outline. The CCHP-RN Candidate Handbook includes information on how many questions are dedicated to each area. The content outline shows:
- Clinical Management of Inmate-Patients (45% – 50%)
- Promotion of Safe and Secure Health Care Environment (5% – 10%)
- Health Promotion and Maintenance (8% – 12%)
- Professional Roles and Responsibilities (30% – 35%)
Perform a self-evaluation of your starting knowledge against this outline. You may have differing levels of understanding and experience based on your correctional career. For example, you may have many years of experience with a male population and need more in-depth study of female conditions. Once you have a list of areas for study, map out a plan based on the number of weeks to the exam date. Take into account your work, family and community obligations in creating your study plan. Also consider your most productive time of day and whether you prefer small frequent study periods or large blocks of time.
Your preferred learning style is also important when creating a study plan. Some people learn more quickly by hearing information while others like to read. Practice recall of information while performing repetitive household tasks. For example, mentally review recently studied material while gardening or preparing meals. Quality, not quantity, is of importance for exam preparation. Concentrate on the most important facts for the issue at hand. A study group can also be helpful and motivating. You may want to join with several other nurses at your facility and meet regularly to work through test materials.
Focus preparations on decision-making instead of fact reciting. Certification exams are written at the application level. Rather than test your knowledge of specific facts, questions will focus on applying facts to a clinical situation resulting in an appropriate care decision or action. Therefore, prepare by learning principles and patterns for application.
Test-Taking Skills (25% to 30%)
Knowledge and expertise go a long way toward exam success but can be thwarted by poor test-taking habits. Spend some time becoming adept at answering four-option multiple choice questions. Although there are no CCHP-RN practice tests yet available, you can locate other clinical practice tests to help develop skill. Here are helpful hints to improve your abilities.
• Identify the key words in the question; don’t jump to conclusions.
• Time yourself to avoid spending too much time on any one question. Return to difficult ones.
• Read the full question before looking at the answer options.
• Eliminate answers you know are incorrect.
• Don’t assume or add any information not given.
• Select the best of the viable, available options using logic.
Personal Issues (10% to 15%)
Your reaction to tests can also affect your success. Can you see yourself in any of the test-taking personality types listed here? Test reaction patterns develop over our lifetime through positive and negative educational experiences. By determining your tendencies, you can begin to modify them to improve your potential for exam success.
Nursing certification is an admirable goal, one worth your preparation time and effort. Map out a plan that considers these three factors in exam performance and you will reach the finish line.
Once You’re Ready