CGFNS Certification Program®

What is the CGFNS Certification Program®?

The CGFNS Certification Program® has three parts:

  1. A credentials evaluation of secondary education, nursing education, and nursing license
  2. The CGFNS Qualifying Exam®
  3. Demonstration of passing one of the accepted English language proficiency examinations

Who enrolls in the CGFNS Certification Program®?

The CGFNS Certification Program® is designed for first-level, general nurses educated outside the United States who wish to practice nursing in the United States.  A first-level, general nurse (as defined by the International Council of Nurses) may also be referred to as a registered nurse (RN) or a professional nurse.

Second-level nurses are not eligible to be licensed as registered nurses in the United States and therefore, do not meet the requirements to enroll in the CGFNS Certification Program®.

What are the benefits of the CGFNS Certification Program®?

  • The CGFNS Certification Program® is either required or accepted by approximately two-thirds of the State Boards of Nursing as a criterion for approval to take the NCLEX-RN® exam. The NCLEX-RN® exam is a requirement for licensure in the United States and Canada.
  • The CGFNS Qualifying Exam® component of the Certification Program satisfies the examination requirement of the VisaScreen®: Visa Credentials Assessment for immigration.

Certification Program Required Documents

Secondary School Information

Applicants must submit a photocopy of their secondary school diploma or external exam certificate for the highest level of secondary education they attained. Secondary school (high school) is the school attended between elementary school (primary school) and university, usually offering general, technical, vocational, or college-preparatory courses.

* This requirement is waived if the applicant completed secondary education more than 10 years ago.

License / Registration / Diploma Information

Applicants are required to have a current unrestricted license in their country of education. The license verification must be sent directly to CGFNS from the licensing body.

If that license has expired, the applicant must request that the licensing authority from which they have an active license provide verification of that license directly to CGFNS.

Note: Any relevant documents received and validated by CGFNS within the past three years may be used to satisfy these requirements.

Professional Education Information

Applicants must request their nursing school to provide CGFNS with a full academic record or transcript from each educational institution attended for the profession being evaluated. CGFNS defines a full academic transcript as a record of an applicant’s courses taken along with clock hours for the clinical hours that the applicant received for each course.

These documents must be in English or must be translated by an official registered translator. CGFNS can translate documents for an additional fee. CGFNS will not accept translations sent directly by applicants.

Passport-style photograph

All applicants are required to upload a passport-style photograph with a white or off-white background to CGFNS Connect.

The CGFNS Qualifying Exam®

Status Update on CGFNS Qualifying Exam®: We are continuing to administer the CGFNS Qualifying Exam® however, some of our exam sites may be closed due to COVID-19. Those not able to take the exam due to travel restrictions or the closure of an exam site should please contact CGFNS Support.

Choosing Your Examination Date

The CGFNS Qualifying Exam® is delivered at Kryterion testing centers during four annual one-week testing windows. The testing windows for 2022 are as follows:

  • March 14-18, 2022
  • July 11-15, 2022
  • September 5-9, 2022
  • November 7-11, 2022

Once the credentials evaluation is complete and all other requirements have been met, an Authorization to Test (ATT) notification letter is sent via email to the applicant. The ATT provides the applicant with their approved testing windows and a link to schedule their testing appointment. Applicants are only permitted to schedule one testing appointment in either the first or second testing window.

Changing Your Exam Date or Location

Applicants may change their exam date or cancel their exam appointment at least 72 hours before the scheduled exam appointment. All changes or cancellations must be completed via Webassessor.

If an applicant does not appear for their scheduled exam appointment or does not cancel at least 72 hours in advance, they will forfeit the eligibility provided through the ATT. The applicant will be required to pay a re-examination fee before they can schedule another testing appointment.

*If your test center location has been changed to read “COVID-19 Placeholder Center,” your original test center is closed due to COVID-19. Please access Webassessor to reschedule your testing appointment here.

Topic Areas included on the Qualifying Exam (Topic %):

  • Safe, Effective Care Environment (26-38%)
    • Management of care (17–23%)
    • Safety and infection control (9–15%)
  • Health Promotion and Maintenance (6–12%)
  • Psychosocial Integrity (6–12%)
  • Physiological Integrity (38-62%)
    • Basic care and comfort (6–12%)
    • Reduction of risk potential (12–18%)
    • Pharmacological and parenteral therapies (9–15%)
    • Physiological adaptation (11–17%)

Preparing for the Qualifying Exam

CP Study Guide

  • Each approved candidate receives a copy of the CP Study Guide
  • Provides a general overview of the exam and the topics covered on the exam.
  • Includes a list of resources to review to prepare for the exam.
  • Contains sample test questions with rationales.

CGFNS Self-Assessment

  • Two examinations available for purchase
  • Exams are taken over the internet at home.
  • Applicants can select the pacing for the exam; it can be taken using the same timing as the Qualifying Exam or can be self-paced (untimed).
  • Helps candidates to become familiar with the question formats and the examination interface prior to exam day.
  • Each test form contains questions that were previously used on the Qualifying Exam.
  • Candidates receive a score report that provides performance information on each of the topic areas.
  • Performance Interpretation Guidelines are provided to assist candidates to identify relative strengths and weaknesses.

Format of the Qualifying Exam

  • The CGFNS Qualifying Exam® is a computer-based examination delivered through the Kryterion testing network.
  • Each examination consists of 165 multiple-choice items (150 scored questions/15 unscored pretest questions).
  • Three hours of testing time is allotted for the exam.

Score Reporting

Approximately 10 business days after the last day of the testing window, diagnostic profile reports will be made available to applicants. The diagnostic profile report contains feedback based on the total test score and sub-scores for each of the main topic areas covered on the exam.

English Language Proficiency Requirement

CGFNS International requires evidence of English-language competency for both spoken and written English as demonstrated through passing scores on one of the accepted ELP examinations:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language, Internet-Based Test (TOEFL® iBT)
  • Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC®)
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

* CGFNS does NOT currently accept the at-home versions of English Language Proficiency exams.

English Language Proficiency Passing Scores

Exemption from the English Language Proficiency Requirement

To be exempt from taking an English language proficiency examination, applicants must meet the following requirements:

English must have been the language of instruction, including the language of the textbooks;


Entry-level nursing education was completed in one of the following countries:

  • Australia
  • Barbados
  • Canada (except Quebec, the only schools approved for exemption are: McGill University, Dawson College, Vanier College, John Abbott College, and Heritage College)
  • Ireland
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • South Africa
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Certification Program Certificates

CGFNS Certification Program® certificates are awarded to individuals who meet all of the requirements described above. Certificates are mailed directly to the applicant. Applicants are required to request a certification verification letter that will be sent to the licensing board to which they are applying for licensure.

Applicants are responsible for ensuring that CGFNS has their recent address on file. Copies of certificates and certification verification letters are available to all applicants at an additional cost.


CGFNS Certification Program® Frequently Asked Questions

Certification Program & Qualifying Exam