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Med Surg Certification: ANCC vs. MSNCB


ANCC vs MSNCB: Which to Take for Med-Surg Certification  header

When attempting to get Medical-Surgical Nursing certification, there are two primary credentialing bodies: the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board (MSNCB). These two organizations provide tests that certify you for the job, ensuring that you have the knowledge and skillset required to provide safe, effective care for patients. In an effort to help you decide which set of tests to take, Exam Edge has compiled a list of differences between the two exam families.

Founded in 2006, Exam Edge is a leading online voice in test preparation. We offer a range of practice exams to help you on your path toward Med-Surg certification. Whether you choose the ANCC exams or the MSNCB tests, practice exams offer a way to get an accurate view of how you'd do on the real test. This allows you to refine your study habits, focus on problematic or difficult subjects, and get a better score when it comes time for the true exam. Read on to decide which path you'll take for your credentials, then purchase a set of practice exams from Exam Edge!

What to Expect on ANCC Med-Surg Certification Exams

Let's start with the first group of certification tests. The ANCC medical surgical certification exam has 150 scored questions on a range of topics relevant to the work of nurses in the surgical setting. These include subjects like assessment and diagnosis, the evaluation of planning/implementation/outcomes, and the professional role of the Med-Surg nurse. With a maximum score of 500 possible, you must get at least a 350 to pass the exam.

The test is rigorous and takes up to three and a half hours to complete. Though the best way to approach the exam is by preparing with our practice tests, you should also take into account several tips.

For example, study not for memorization only, but for true learning. Remember, the importance of the test is that it ensures those who pass have what it takes to provide care for patients in need. Don't approach the test solely as another quiz to be passed, but as preparation for a career. Thus, you'll need to truly understand and internalize the information rather than storing it in short-term memory just for the test.

What to Expect on MSNCB Med-Surg Certification Exams

The Med-Surg certification exam from MSNCB is organized differently. Its questions are divided into topics related to the body's different systems, including:

  • Gastrointestinal
  • Pulmonary
  • Cardiovascular
  • Diabetes
  • GU
  • Renal
  • Reproductive
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Neuro
  • Hematological
  • Immuno

Integumentary. Instead of 150 questions, this exam has 125.

MSNCB medical-surgical nursing certification exams take up to four hours to complete. Instead of 150 questions, this exam has 125. The pacing of the MSNCB is less stringent than the ANCC version — still, both tests are comprehensive and require you to be at the top of your game to pass. For the MSNCB exam, you'll need to score at least 71%, which equates to a score of 95.

Which Certification Is Right for You?

The MSNCB official website offers a strong insight into the pros and cons of each type of certification. Both credentials are valid for five years, and both require at least two years of experience as a Registered Nurse before you can take the exam. However, there are some differences that could factor into your decision.

For starters, the ANCC version, which results in a designation as a Registered Nurse-Board Certified (RNBC), is slightly more expensive. It also requires you to have clocked at least 30 contact hours per three years of work. These more rigorous requirements signal a slightly more prestigious credential.

However, that may not be entirely accurate. The MSNCB version, which results in a designation as a Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse (CMSRN), has the advantage of being endorsed by the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses.

In short, the ANCC exams are a great choice for generalized credentials and have widespread appeal. The MSNCB exams are more specialized. This can be good in the sense of providing a sense of exclusivity (and thus desirability on the job market), but it's also good to have the flexibility that the ANCC test provides. You'll need to determine your future career desires before deciding which pathway to take for your Med-Surg certification.

How to Prepare for Your Exams

Before you take your Med-Surg nursing certification exam, you'll want to put in the work to get the highest possible score. Online study guides and group study sessions with other nurses can help wire your brain for success. However, we believe that the best way to prepare for the test is to take plenty of practice exams ahead of time.

At Exam Edge, our practice tests mimic the real deal by having the same number of questions and the same subject matter distribution. You can take the practice test in timed or untimed versions. For example, you might use the untimed version to simply get a stress-free feel of the test, study for a while, and take a timed version to better simulate test conditions. With our real-time feedback on incorrect answers, you can hone your study habits to focus on the exact areas you need to strengthen. After a few practice exams, we're confident that you will ace your Med-Surg certification test!

Purchase a set of practice exams today to get started. If you'd like to see how our questions and tests are structured, you can also download a free selection of sample questions. And as always, you can check out our blog for more nursing certification exam tips and tricks!