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Pass Excelsior College Nursing Exams

Updated on June 25, 2012

Lose Your Fear of Excelsior Nursing Exams!

Hello! My name is Judy. I am currently a student at Excelsior College out of Albany New York. I am enrolled in their ADN program pursuing their LVN to RN bridge program! For some students, it is a challenging and sometimes scary task to take on a self-paced program, especially a nursing program. A lot of people quit and others creep along the way, paralyzed with fear and self -doubt. Well, I am here to help!

After I enrolled into the program, I completed 6 of their nursing exams and the online, self-paced Information Literacy class in LESS than 2 months! Now, I had a newborn, at the time, AND a 3 year old. I was also breastfeeding and for those mom's out there who have breast fed, you understand the extra challenges that come with that! I also, was not working at the time, so as not to disillusion anyone about my situation.

I am here to encourage other students to let them know it CAN be done. I am here to share my study tips on how I was able to get through so quickly!

I can not, of course, comment on anything in the exams themselves and will not disclose private, copyright information about their program, but will offer some simple strategies that will hopefully increase your test taking time and move you through the program at a faster rate.

First of all, I have to stress, REALLY stress, how important it is to go ahead and pay for and take their practice exams for every examination you must take. They are worth their weight in GOLD, believe you me. Each time I was ready to move onto the next exam, the very FIRST thing I did was take their practice exam for the corresponding test I had paid for. I have never understood the point of studying information that is the Wrong information or the Wrong way to do things or Wrong answer! I do not waste time CONFUSING myself. I need to know the right way of doing things from the very start! Especially, in nursing. We are dealing with people's lives here and there is no room for second guessing yourself or knowing the WRONG way to do something.

When I take the practice exams, I did not use them to test my knowledge and see if I was ready to take the test. That is what the school recommends you do. What I did, was use the material, to study. For each question, there were 4 possible answers. After you take the practice exam, you can review the exam and they tell you which one was the right answer and give you rationales for the other 3 answers. Now, here is where I took it to the next level.

Google, my friends, is your BEST friend! We are in the day and age of technology, so I used it! Believe you me! After I had finished the practice exams, I would open another browser window and use google to search the right answers and all of the remaining 3 answers, for EACH question.

Any word, disease, disorder, whatever it may be...that I was NOT whole heartedly familiar with, I googled it. I looked for pictures, video's, definitions ( great from wikipedia and reports, study's, WHATEVER I COULD FIND that would give me that mental picture in my brain. I did this for every thing covered in those practice exams. It's a numbers game really. If there were, say, 250 questions. Each with 4 possible answers, and you studied all 4 answers, then you just learned potentially 1,000 things by this method.

The ONLY other study material I used was Lisa Arend's full set of cd's for the nursing exams, including FCCA and CPNE study cd. You can find her notes on E-bay. Her notes are thorough with a full variety of practice quizzes and practice tests, notes, bullets, slideshows, final reviews and more.

On the down side, she does use frequent abbreviation of certain terms such as diagnosis or treatment and it is hard to understand her notes sometimes. I usually really focused on her final reveiws and looked over her notes as best as I could. I did look at her practice quizzes and tests. They are SUPER cheap and a lot of info on them.

On the day of the test, I would make sure and take my time reading the questions and really try to find out WHAT EXACTLY they were wanting to know from me in the question! Know what they are asking in the question. Sometimes the questions would have patient information such as age and demographic information, but really only wanted to know if you knew what disorder they had, that they mentioned at the end of the question! Know what it is they are asking you on the questions! Sometimes, it's not about looking at it as a potential patient care scenario, sometimes it's specifically , "do you know what this disorder is" question.

Last but not least, I really pushed myself. When I would pay for an exam, I would take the practice exam and see if it was material that I could adequately learn in 5 or so days. It almost, always, was. I would only study at night. I usually started around midnight or 1 am and would stay up until 4:30am. Straight, to the point studying. I would NOT go onto the next thing on the page until I had enough information from google in my head, that no matter what.....I could remember that specific thing come hell or high water. It's about creating enough images in your mind, enough links in your mind, that will allow you to be able to retrieve the information easily. This means, when you get through the material only need to REVIEW before you test. None of this, reading over and over and over again, pounding your head against the paper trying to remember all of it!

That my dear friends, is how I studied, and I hope that it helps someone out there achieve completion of these exams sooner. I can not make any guarantees that it will help you, but I am in high hope's that it does. I am a night nurse and have been for the majority of my career. A strong cup of coffee and determination were my best friend's during this process.. Best of luck studying! Know that there IS a light at the end of the tunnel and it is so worth it when you get there. You can do it!

Other recommended help aids

More help

If your looking for tips and encouragement, I recommend you join a forum of other Excelsior nursing students. It is a forum on Yahoo called "freehelpexcelsiorstudents". There are a lot of things you can learn as well as students experiences with CPNE, CPNE workshops, passing examinations, other useful study material, ect. There are some Excelsior grad's who still post occasionally, as well as the nurses that hold the workshops. Priceless connections and information there.

Practice workshops to help you get ready for Clinical ( CPNE) 200% money back guarantee to pass the CPNE. I signed up for Sheri Taylor's online workshop for 2 months and then took an Excelsior workshop in Grapevine. Both had valuable information to help prepare me for the CPNE.

lisa arends

Lisa Arends nursing concepts on ebay at

or ( her personal store website)

Reader Feedback

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    • profile image

      ann mundy 14 months ago

      How to complete course in less than two months

    • profile image

      KatieDid&Will 19 months ago

      the other poster is right, don't get the Lisa arends cds they are so old and full of typos so that you almost can't follow and she won't answer questions. Study group 101 is only $10.00 and I've been using them only. I've hardly opened a book so far. Also always get the practice exams because they really help you figure out wear your weak.

    • profile image

      Judy 2 years ago

      I am locked out of this page now as I can not remember the email address I used to sign up with it, lol ! Please find me on facebook or email me at ~ I am still working with my RN and so glad that I did Excelsior~ If you want it bad enough, you can do it!

    • profile image

      Judy Unekwe 2 years ago

      Ok, so I dont use this old email anymore guys. I have been working as an RN since 2012 Now, in CVICU.. ICU.. ER.. HOuse Supervisor... its just been incredible. I still help students when I can, so any questions please email me at or find me on facebook under JudyHolladyUnekwe Good Luck Everyone!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Need advice for excelsior nursing program. i have to to the pre-req but would like some insights of how to do this. I am will but need to hear from someone who is in the progam. Thanks

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thank you so much for taking your time to post your success. Sometimes it takes reading posts or encouraging stories like yours to help keep me motivated and positive! Congrats on your success:)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hi, i take my cpne this weekend in naples, fl. I read on your blackboard post that you changed your wound at the last min and i'm intrested to find out more on how you did it. i attended the excelsior workshop where they show you how to do the parachute technique but i'm EXTREMELY frustrated with it and I just don't think it's going to work for me. I need to find an alternative ASAP. thank you for any help in advance.


    • profile image

      debra-sandlin-5 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Susette RN,

      I graduated from excelsior in 2010 with an ADN and I am looking to do the RN to Masters program. Any tips on the best classes to take? I need 1 more humanities, 2 math (1 has to be statistics, did you do that as exam or course?) and the 12 electives.

    • fightforlife profile image

      fightforlife 5 years ago

      UPDATE: I JUST PASSED MY CPNE AT LUBBOCK 6-22-24! I am so excited! It can be done- My official graduation date is August 17th 2012- What a journey, but you guys can do it! I may make out a Squidoo lens just for those taking the CPNE to help student's prepare :) Will work on that one in bit, just resting now :) Good luck Excelsior Student's!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I completed my ADN with Excelsior College, back in 1999 , when they were still Regents, I became an RN in less than a year.

      I received all my study guide as well as a practice practical, which was a five day traing session, from a group called Chancellors in Indiana, they are still in the business of helping Excelsior students graduate.

      I am presently finishing my BS also, then on to Master in Nursing.

      I understand Excelsiors is tough, but if you do everything's they instruct you to do you should be ok.

      I think there great, I have a great job and I earn a tremendous living.

      But I worked my butt off for my degree, is was not easy, do not think it is.

      I have never had a problem with staff, communication with any one, they have been more than helpful to me.

      It is not fair to blame the institution, realize Excelsior is a college for Independent studies.

      they only instruct you on how to get through, they can not do the work for you. The failure rate first time through is 65% or higher, so that means you need to study your butt off to get through, which is what I did.

      For folks who have failed the CPNE, try Chancellors they will instruct you on everything you need to perform as a graduate nurse, not a student nurse.

      Also they have the study guides.

      Good luck

    • fightforlife profile image

      fightforlife 6 years ago

      UPDATE: Hey guys, I am waiting for my CPNE date. To get ready for the CPNE there are a few workshops out there that will help to you get prepared. I am going to do Sheri Taylor's online workshop at - You have the option of going and doing her live workshop that teaches you and offers simulation lab practicum's ect. She also prepares you for any care plan's you need and offers feedback to help critique the ones you submit to her. Her workshop is in Atlanta Georgia, or she offers online. The other one is Lynn Fredericks and another good one up north. To find Lynn directly and more information join the "freehelpexcelsior" forum group on yahoo. It is free, just post and ask for her or ask questions, someone, or Lynn herself will respond. That forum group is PRICELESS!!! I'll post after I pass clinicals! Good luck studying!

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      agamb10 6 years ago

      Lisa I just registered for excelsior and I am going to go full force for the next 1.5 years I have given myself. YOUR INFORMATION is sooooo HELPFUL. Is there anyway you can also let me know if the actual study guides that the school offers helped? Thanks again!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I used StudyGroup101 and passed all my exams. I'm waiting on CPNE. is much better then Lisa Arends notes and have more practice questions with rationales and they are printable - Lisa doesn't let you print most of her material. SG101 is more professional and up to date and they included every area from the content guides- unlike TCN and Rue! Best of all they are actually cheaper than Lisa's! They are also on eBay - just search 'studygroup101' and click to see all the items. I purchased a few books on eBay & Amazon for a lot less than Excelsior's bookstore but I didn't really need them all that much - Google!!