CGFNS Certification Program®

What is the CGFNS Certification Program®?

The CGFNS Certification Program® has three components that applicants must satisfy:

  1. A credentials evaluation assessment of secondary school education (high school), verification of registered nursing licensure and completion of a registered nursing program.
  2. The CGFNS Qualifying Exam®.
  3. Evidence of passing one of the approved English Language Proficiency examinations

Who enrolls in the CGFNS Certification Program®?

The CGFNS Certification Program® is designed for first-level, general nurses educated outside of 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).

Second-level (Practical) nurses are not eligible to be licensed as Registered Nurses in the U.S. 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 required by approximately two-thirds of the State Boards of Nursing as a criterion for approval to take the NCLEX-RN® exam, which is a requirement for licensure in the United States and Canada. If a state board of nursing requires evidence of passing the CGFNS Qualifying Exam®, then you will need to purchase a Certification Program Verification letter. See Fee Schedule.
  • Passing the CGFNS Qualifying Exam® will satisfy the Nursing Knowledge 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 waived only if the applicant completed secondary education more than 10 years ago.

Licenses / Registrations / Diplomas

CGFNS validates and authenticates all licenses, registrations, and diplomas obtained by an applicant for the CGFNS Certification Program®. Applicants are required to have a current unrestricted registered nursing license in their country of education. The registered nursing license verification must be sent directly to CGFNS from the licensing body in the country of education. Additionally, CGFNS and state boards of nursing require license validations to be current (the signature of the validation authority must be dated within the last three years).

If that registered nursing 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.

Professional nursing education information

A complete academic record or transcript directly from each educational institution attended for the nursing profession being evaluated.

These documents must be in English and translated by the educational institution(s) that the applicant has attended/completed. If the educational institution(s) is unable to provide an English translation, then CGFNS can translate the documents for an additional fee.

Passport-style photograph

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

Your photograph must be:



SQUARE (51mm X 51mm)


  • Sized such that the head is between 1″ (25mm) and 1 3/8″ (35mm) from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head.
  • Taken within the last 6 months to reflect your current appearance
  • Taken in front of a plain white or off-white background
  • Taken in full-face view directly facing the camera
  • With a neutral facial expression and both eyes open
  • Taken in clothing that you normally wear on a daily basis:
    • Uniforms should not be worn in your photo, except religious clothing that is worn daily.
    • Do not wear a hat or head covering that obscures the hair or hairline, unless worn daily for a religious purpose. Your full face must be visible, and the head covering must not cast any shadows on your face.
    • Headphones, wireless hands-free devices or similar items are not acceptable in your photo.
    • If you normally wear prescription glasses, a hearing device or similar articles, they may be worn for your photo.
    • Dark glasses or non-prescription glasses with tinted lenses are not acceptable unless you need them for medical reasons (a medical certificate may be required)
    • Glare on glasses is not acceptable in your photo. Glare can be avoided with a slight downward tilt of the glasses or by removing the glasses or by turning off the camera flash.

Source: U.S. Department of State

The CGFNS 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.

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 2024 are as follows:

  • March 11-15, 2024
  • July 8-12, 2024
  • September 9-13, 2024
  • November 11-15, 2024

Once your order is complete and you have submitted payment, an Authorization to Test (ATT) notification letter is sent via email to the applicant. The ATT provides the applicant with their approved testing window and a link to schedule their testing appointment.

Changing your exam date or location

Applicants may request to change their exam date or cancel their exam appointment up to 5 business days prior to the start of the testing window. 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 5 business days in advance of the start of the testing window, 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.

You must cancel your appointment directly through Webassessor. Do NOT contact CGFNS to change your testing window.

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

About the CP Study Guide

Each approved applicant receives a copy of the CP Study Guide, which provides:

  • A general overview of the exam and the topics covered on the exam.
  • A list of resources to review to prepare for the exam.
  • Sample test questions with rationales.

About the CGFNS self-assessment practice exam

  • Two practice examinations will be available for purchase and can be taken online at home. The self-assessment exam helps applicants to become familiar with the question formats and the examination interface prior to exam day.
  • Applicants can select the pacing (timeframe) for the exam; it can be taken using the same timing as the CGFNS Qualifying Exam® or can be self-paced (untimed). Each test form contains questions that were previously used on the CGFNS Qualifying Exam®. Applicants will receive a score report that provides performance information on each of the topic areas. Performance interpretation guidelines are provided to assist applicants to identify relative strengths and weaknesses.

Score Reporting

Within 15 business days of 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

NOTE: CGFNS does not accept the at-home versions of English Language Proficiency exams.

CGFNS International requires evidence of competency for both spoken and written English as demonstrated through passing scores on one of the following exams:

  • Cambridge English (B2 First, C1 Advanced, or C2 Proficiency exams)
  • TOEFL iBT (Test of English as a Foreign Language, Internet-based Test)
  • TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication)
  • IELTS (International English Language Testing System)
  • MET (Michigan English Test)
  • OET (Occupational English Test)
  • Pearson PTE Academic

English language proficiency passing scores for registered nurses

English Competency Tests

Scores: Registered Nurses

Cambridge Assessment English: B2 First, C1 Advanced, or C2 qualifications exams

Cambridge English Scale: 176 overall and 185 Speaking

Educational Testing Service: Test of English as a Foreign Language

(TOEFL) Paper-delivered Test: 540

Educational Testing Service: TOEFL Internet-Based Test

81 with minimum of 57 on Reading, Listening, and Writing and 24 on Speaking

Educational Testing Service: TOEIC (Listening and Reading)


Educational Testing Service: TOEIC (Speaking / Writing)

160 Speaking / 150 Writing

International English Language Testing System (IELTS):

6.5 academic with minimum of 7 on Speaking

Michigan English Test (MET):

Overall 55; minimum Speaking section score of 55

Occupational English Test (OET):

OET Grade C+ for Reading, Writing, and Listening
OET Grade B for Speaking

Pearson PTE Academic:

55, no section below 50

For Additional Information on English language proficiency examinations, please visit:

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

CGFNS Certification Program® certificates

The CGFNS Certification Program® certificates are awarded to applicants 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 state board of nursing to which they are applying for licensure.

Applicants are responsible for ensuring that CGFNS has their current 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

The application for the CGFNS Certification Program® is online in the CGFNS Connect Portal. To purchase the program, you will need to create an account on the portal, which you can do by selecting Apply at the top of any page of the CGFNS website.

If you already have an account on CGFNS Connect, select Login and follow the steps to access your account as an Applicant.

Once you have created and submitted your personal profile, please select Shopping Cart in the upper right-hand corner for a full list of CGFNS programs and services. Select the CGFNS Certification Program®.

(NOTE: CGFNS does not accept the at-home versions of English Language Proficiency exams)

To complete the CGFNS Certification Program®, you must submit scores from one of accepted English language proficiency examinations.

Pay attention to the following when considering the English language requirements for the CGFNS Certification Program®:

  • Scores must be from an English language exam taken within one year of your Certification Program Qualifying Exam® date.
  • You are not required to submit English language test scores before taking the CGFNS Qualifying Exam®. However, if you pass the CGFNS Qualifying Exam®, you will not receive a Certification Program Certificate until English language proficiency exam scores are received.

Exemption from the English Language Proficiency Requirement

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

  1. English was your language of instruction, including the language of the textbooks; AND
  2. Your 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

If you meet these criteria, you do not need to take an English language proficiency examination.

The CGFNS Qualifying Exam® is offered four times per year during five-day test windows. The testing windows for 2024 are as follows:

  • March 11-15, 2024
  • July 8-12, 2024
  • September 9-13, 2024
  • November 11-15, 2024

Once you complete your application and pay for the Certification Program, an Authorization to Test (ATT) email will be sent to you. You will then be provided with the testing window for which you applied. You may select only one testing appointment to take the Qualifying Exam®.

1. What are the steps to schedule the CGFNS Qualifying Exam®?

After you have been approved to take the CGFNS Qualifying Exam®, you will receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) email containing instructions about how to schedule your testing appointment.

2. What are the required steps once I go to the page where I can schedule my testing appointment?

Once you have entered your CGFNS ID number and password where requested, please follow these steps:

  1. Select “Register for an Exam.”
  2. Click on the “+” sign to the left of CGFNS Qualifying Exam.


  3. Click on “Get Now” which will be highlighted next to the testing window for which you are authorized to test.


  4. Select your country and/or city to determine the location of the closest exam centers.


  5. Check the box next to the available testing location(s) where you would like to test and click on “Next.”


  6. After you have selected an exam center, you will be shown a calendar listing available test dates at that center.


  7. Navigate to the month of the exam in which you are interested. Available test dates will be highlighted in bold. If no test dates are listed, it may be that the exam center has no vacancies or is closed during the period of the test window selected.


  8. Select a date and time on the calendar for which you wish to sit for the CGFNS Qualifying Exam® and confirm your selection.

3. May I change my exam date or location once I have made a selection?

Yes. Any changes must be made no later than five (5) business days prior to the beginning of the testing window. Changes must be made directly in Webassessor.

4. I am no longer able to test during my approved testing window. May I change to a new testing window?

Yes. You may purchase a “Qualifying Exam Testing Window Change Fee” to select the next available testing window.

5. I was unable to appear for my scheduled testing appointment. Can I get a refund?

No. If you do not show up for your scheduled exam, you are not eligible for a refund and you will be required to pay a “Re-Examination Fee” to schedule an appointment for the Qualifying Exam in the future.

The CGFNS Qualifying Exam® is administered in collaboration with Kryterion, which has a global network of testing locations. To find out if there are any testing centers near you, go the Kryterion location database.

Please note: Some test centers may not be available during CGFNS Qualifying Exam® test windows.