Tips for Retaking a Test

If you didn’t pass the certification test as planned, it’s okay to be disappointed. Take a little time to let your feelings settle before rushing to take the test again. You’ve been successful before – you passed your RN licensure exam – we want you to be successful again. 

When you are ready to think about retesting, review the test prep tips below. You can also talk to an ONCC Certification Programs Manager for advice on how to prepare for your next test attempt. To speak with a Programs Manager, email or call us at 877-769-ONCC (6622).


Review your test results report.

Focus your study on areas where you didn’t score well. If there are multiple subject areas with weaker scores, allow yourself enough time to learn about these topics before you apply to test again. If you didn’t score especially high or low in any areas, focus on the more heavily weighted subject areas. Scoring well in areas that comprise a larger portion of the test may help you do better overall.

Use the test content outline

The outline lists the major subject areas and subtopics that will be on the test. Be honest about the areas you don’t know well. Study your weakest areas first, including the subtopics on the outline.

Try different study methods.

If you mainly read resources when studying consider recording yourself reading key passages and listening to the recordings. If you highlighted books, try making flashcards.

Consider a study partner/group.

Check with colleagues from your workplace or ONS/APHON chapter. Consider studying with nurses from different practice settings, such as inpatient, outpatient, radiation, etc., to get a broad perspective.

Review a few resources.

The test covers a broad body of knowledge, not the content of one book or course. Use the credential’s Reference List to select some resources.

Focus on the “meat and potatoes” in questions and answers.

Get to the heart of what the question is asking and think back to textbook answers more than real-life experiences.

Study first, then apply.

Apply to retest when you feel ready to take the test.

Review these additional tips and strategies to help you test with confidence.

Frequently Asked Questions

To protect the integrity of the exam, ONCC cannot release test items and answers to anyone. If ONCC were to share test items and answers with candidates, the items could no longer be used on future tests. Test candidates who see the items would have an unfair advantage over candidates who do not see the items.

Your score is determined by the total number of items answered correctly. Learn more about passing scores.

You can apply to retest online, following the same method you used when you previously applied. Read below to see if you need to wait before reapplying. 

Candidates who fail an ONCC examination on the first attempt may apply for a retest but may not take the same examination more than once during a 90-day test eligibility period . Candidates who fail an ONCC examination on the second attempt may apply for a retest but may not take the same examination more than once during a 90-day test eligibility period. 

Candidates who fail the test on a third attempt must wait one year before taking the test again if the three failed attempts occurred during a three-year (36 month) period. If the three failures occurred over more than three years (36 months), the candidate may apply to retest, but may not take the same test more than one time during a 90-day test eligibility period.