Learn More about the CNOR Exam

Tips for Success

Being successful at passing the CNOR certification exam requires two things:

  1. Having a thorough and sound foundation of the knowledge and skills required for competent clinical practice.  Knowledge can be obtained through work experiences and independent learning, as well as through formal educational programs.The experiential knowledge component of the exam requires that an individual has a minimum of two years of work experience in perioperative nursing. Thus, the CNOR exam is based on what a nurse with two years of practice in the OR is expected to know. The exam assesses a combination of experiential and cognitive knowledge as together these form the foundation of competent clinical practice. 
  2. Understanding of the test-taking process. There is a definite skill in answering multiple-choice questions. Becoming familiar with techniques for responding to the multiple-choice questions will improve your chances of a successful performance on the CNOR exam. You may learn more about taking the CNOR exam by attending or listening to one of our complimentary webinars. You may also gain exposure to taking a multiple-choice test with one of some of our exam question simulation that are available in the CCI Store. 

CNOR Exam Subject Areas

The CNOR exam covers the following subject areas:

CNOR Exam Subject Areas % of Questions
1: Preoperative Patient Assessment and Diagnosis 12%
2: Perioperative Plan of Care 10%
3: Intraoperative Care 27%
4: Communication 10%
5: Transfer of Care 6%
6: Instrument Processing and Supply Management 9%
7: Emergency Situations 11%
8: Management of Personnel, Services, and Materials 6%
9: Professional Accountability 9%
Total 100%

CNOR Candidate Handbook

The CNOR Candidate Handbook contains important information about the CNOR exam including subject areas to be tested, sample questions, policies, and the Job Analysis.

CNOR Exam Development

A job analysis and test outline have been developed by CCI’s Test Specifications Committee, in cooperation with the CCI’s testing agency, Prometric. The job analysis describes the overall functions and responsibilities as well as the underlying knowledge and skills that are essential to ensure proficiency as a perioperative nurse. The CNOR Exam Subject Areas (above) is the result of this process. The exam items are developed by item writers and reviewed and validated by the Item Review Committee.

CNOR Exam Details

Important Details about the CNOR Exam

  • 200 multiple choice questions
  • 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete the exam
  • A knowledge-based exam which assesses the knowledge (what a nurse should know) and tasks (what a nurse should know how to do) of a perioperative nurse with two years of clinical practice
  • Computer-based test
  • Each question has four answer options
  • Only one answer is correct
  • No multiple answers, i.e. “A and C”; “A, C, and D”, “All of the Above”
  • Can “mark” and “review” questions to return to later
  • Allow one minute per question
  • Answer all questions
  • Complete the entire exam.  The CNOR exam will continue even if you have reached a passing score
  • Current passing score is 620


  • 15 minute tutorial on how to take the CNOR exam is offered at the testing center 
  • Provides instructions on how to navigate through the exam
  • No previous computer experience is required

Post Exam Survey

  • Short survey follows the exam
  • Answers to these questions do not affect exam results


  • You will receive a pass/no pass result at the end of the exam and survey
  • Current passing score is 620
  • Score is based on the number of correctly answered questions

Watch the "What to Expect" video and learn what your experience will be like at the Prometric testing site.

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How to Schedule Your CNOR Exam

You will take the CNOR exam at a Prometric testing facility. Prometric is a leading professional testing company with secure locations nationwide. As seat times quickly fill up, we recommend that you schedule your testing date, time and location as soon as you receive your authorization to test email from CCI.

  1. Visit www.prometric.com/cci
  2. Select “Schedule My Test”
  3. Select your state
  4. Enter your Eligibility ID (include the letters and dashes)
  5. Enter the first four letters of your last name
  6. Enter your zip code
  7. Select desired testing center
  8. Select time
  9. Continue process through the receipt of your confirmation #

Testing is available Monday through Saturday, except holidays, at hundreds of locations nationwide.

CNOR Exam Scoring

Individual scores are based on the number of correct answers. The passing score was established via a systematic procedure known as the Cut-Score Study that employs the judgment of a representative group of CNORs from across the country with the assistance of staff from Prometric. This group recommended a standard of what a minimally competent CNOR needs to know about the tested content to obtain a passing score. The decision regarding the passing score was made by CCI and was transferred through use of statistical procedures to the exam you were administered.

Security Measures

Several security measures are enforced before and during the test administration to ensure the integrity of the CNOR exam. Be aware that you will be observed at all times while taking the examination. This observation may include direct observation by test center staff, as well as video recording of your testing session. Examinations cannot be viewed, copied, or studied by any individuals. Copying or retaining test questions or transmitting the test questions in any form to other individuals, organizations, or study groups will result in forfeiting your right to have your examination scored and may result in civil prosecution and disciplinary action by CCI.

Download the CNOR Certification Handbook