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Exam Tips for Nurses

You are a trained nurse outside the U.S. and you wish to work in the U.S. as a registered nurse. This is when you need a Visa Screen Certificate from the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (commonly known as CGFNS).

This certification has three components:

  1. Review of the applicant's credentials, that is, you have graduated from an approved school of nursing which included 2 years of general nursing training and you are a first level registered nurse in your country. Note that if you are a specialized nurse but without being licensed as a general nurse, you are deemed not eligible.
  2. Pass the CGFNS qualifying exams, that is, you need to meet the CGFNS requirements criteria, take the one -day qualifying exams and pass it.
  3. Pass English language exams, that is, you need to pass this exam if you are from a country in which English is not the primary language.

The CGFNS qualifying exam tests 'your knowledge and understanding of nursing as it is taught and practiced in the United States today, using objective, multiple-choice and alternate-item type questions designed by experts to help predict your likelihood of passing the NCLEX-RN. The Internet-based exam is a combined, single test that takes approximately three hours', according to the official CGFNS International website.

The CGFNS exam consists of a two-part nursing section and an English language section and is among the highly competitive qualifying examinations in its field. So, if you are a nurse looking to take this exam, here are some exam tips that you might find useful.

  1. Eligibility for the new Internet-based CGFNS Qualifying Exam:
    • 'Once you have been approved, you will receive an Authorization to Test notification. You may schedule one day during the five-day test window in one of the two months you are authorized to take the exam. For example, if you are approved by 31 January, your five-day test windows are in March and July, so you may pick one day from one of those months'.
    • You can register for one exam only. 'If you select more than one test window, more than one location, or more than one date and time, your exam registration will be cancelled upon review and you will be required to re-register for a single selection'.
    • If you need to change your exam date, a 72-hour notice (before the scheduled exam) has to given.
  2. Structure and rules of the exam:
    • The nursing sections consist of multiplechoice questions of Nursing Part I 150 Questions and Nursing Part II 121 questions.
    • Since the exam is based on patient needs, it covers the clinical nursing practice such as child care nursing, mother/infant care nursing, mental health nursing, medical and surgical nursing and other traditional nursing practice areas.
    • The exam covers four subject areas, namely, safe and effective care environment, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, and physiological integrity. Topics to review for the examination include: Medical nursing care of the adult, surgical nursing care of the adult, maternal and infant nursing, nursing care of children, psychiatric and mental health nursing, and the nursing process and patient needs that are taught in the United States.
    • There is negative marking for every wrong answer, so do not attempt the question unless you are sure of the answer. Checking more than one answer per question will also fetch negative marking.
    • Answers have to be marked clearly in separate answer sheet.
  3. How to prepare for the exam:
    • Remember that the questions do not test just your theoretical knowledge alone but tests your practical experience as well.
    • While answering a question the best bet would be to select the answer that identifies the 'safest approach,' which may not be fastest or the best in some cases. For example, if a patient monitor starts malfunctioning, you would first need to solve the patient's problems before getting someone to fix the equipment.
    • Read the questions very carefully; watch out for the words like 'always', 'except' and 'not'.
    • Repetition is the most effective way of learning. You will be given a CGFNS test guide when you enroll for the test. Work through practice test modules again and again.
    • Prepare smart- not hard. Be categorical and organized in your study. Don't study in a haphazard way.
    • Focus more on the subject areas you are weak in. Remember, you have to be very thorough with your preparation.
  4. Other important tips for CGFNS exam:
  • Get a good night's sleep before the exam day.
  • Arrive at the test center well before time.
  • Double check your test ID prior to the exam.
  • Read through and understand the question in detail before attempting it.
  • Stay away from negative discussions about the exam before the exam begins.
  • Timing is very important. Time your answers. It is helpful to bring a watch to the exam.
  • Group study may not be suitable for this type of exam. Study alone. Needless to say, study in a distraction-free environment.
CGFNS test is within the reach of anyone who is seriously interested in thorough preparation. So prepare a good strategy for learning and effectively use repetition to your advantage.


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