You did it! You finally completed all your studies and papers, and you are ready to take on the world as a neonatal nurse practitioner. The only thing standing in your way to add those beautiful initials after your name is a test. One little exam. The National Certification Corporation (NCC) exam.

But before the panic begins to ensue, here are the best ways to prepare for the NCC exam.


1. Plan to Study

Graduating from school does not mean that study time is over. In fact, it is time to buckle down and get serious about reviewing the core concepts you learned over the last several months. Some nurse practitioners recommend that you study for three to six months prior to taking the licensing exam.


2. Purchase a Study Guide

Instead of just pulling out your old textbooks and school notes, it may be helpful to purchase a study guide that specifically relates to neonatal nursing care and how the test flows. Here are three books that may be helpful to you:


3. Prepare Mentally Too

Mental preparation is more than just knowing the principles and being able to answer the questions correctly; it is the positive mindset that can help you overcome the test jitters. Princeton Review encourages you to not pull an all-nighter the night before. Make sure you get 9-10 hours of sleep before your exam. Another great tip is to practice deep breathing and concentrating on your breath while you are studying to help calm you during the test.


One tip: instead of trying to sit the three hours of the exam without moving, purposely get up mid-test and use the restroom and grab a sip of water. Why? This will help to increase the blood flow to all of your body. This simple act can help to refresh your body and soul, and most importantly your mind too. *Hint* It’s also a great tip to overcome stressful work days.


4. Carefully Set Up the Exam

Taking the NCC exam is not similar to taking an exam in school; you don’t get to bring your lucky pencil or commiserate with your fellow classmates beforehand. It is more similar to how it was when you took your NCLEX exam to receive your nursing license, which is a designated testing site with an appointment.


To take the test, first, you must prove to the NCC that you are allowed to sit for the exam. The NCC summarizes HERE on how to take the exam, but here are the highlights.

  • Fill out the application completely
  • Have the necessary paperwork and transcripts to be attached
  • Review the NNP Candidate Guide
  • Pay the fees associated with the exam
  • Wait for approval; this can take up to four weeks
  • Schedule your exam


5. Take the Test

The day is finally here! You have studied and applied, and now you are ready to take the test. Although you may be very excited, it is important not to mess up this next step. Each testing site has its own rules; so read them very carefully as breaking one of the rules may get you kicked out of the testing site.

  • Dress simply and be comfortably clothed as the test can take up to three hours – no bulky scarves, large jewelry or big watches.
  • Arrive 30 minutes early to complete testing center paperwork.
  • Leave your belongings, cell phone, and smartwatches (if applicable) in the vehicle.
  • Keys and small items will be locked and stored away at the site.
  • Bring your identification (passport or drivers license) and testing confirmation with you.
  • A digital scan may be performed to verify your identity.
  • Smile for the camera! – you will be monitored for the entire exam.
  • Results are usually generated very soon after testing, but you cannot apply for state licensure until you receive the formal letter of passing the exam.


And there you go! The five steps you need to prepare and take the NCC exam. We here at ENSEARCH are cheering you on for a great test day as you prepare to start your new career as a neonatal nurse practitioner!


What steps did you use to apply and take your NCC exam? Do you have a lucky pre-test ritual?
We’d love to hear your comments!