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Experience with the NCC Exam Process

If you are reading this, I’m assuming you are preparing for and planning to take the National Corporation Certification (NCC) exam for Obstetric and Neonatal Quality and Safety at some point in the near future. If you have any angst about this, take a few minutes to read this article. This is my experience with the NCC exam process, along with some considerations regarding preparation- hopefully, it will help you! 

Study Tips

I study best by writing things down and then reviewing the material, sometimes with flashcards which is what I did for this exam. That’s right, flashcards using standard index cards. Call me old school but that is what works for me, and using techniques that work for you is key. Other study strategies include: 

  • Developing a study schedule- this may depend on your work schedule and when you are most alert. For me, I would study (and currently write) on the weekends in the morning. I wake up early because that is when I focus the best and am not interrupted by my teenage boys- they are good kids, but distracting nonetheless! 
  • Using a variety of sources– textbooks, articles, and videos if you can find them. The NCC candidate guide has a list of resources. Youtube has videos created by professionals (caution- always consider the source) that are helpful for the visual learner. 
  • Using mnemonics to help remember information: 
    • Example: Process measures= Steps to get to the desired outcome
      • Post Script (technically one word but I’m making it two for this example) or P.S. 

Planning for Exam Day

Things to consider prior to the day of the exam: 

  • Directions- do you know where you are going?
  • Time- give yourself enough time to get there, and to have a few minutes to relax prior to going in and even look over notes for one last time 
  • Consider driving to the exam location beforehand to ensure you know where you are going 
  • An email is sent by NCC prior to your exam specifying information such as: 
    • Required paperwork to bring- at the time of my test, it was required to bring 2 forms of identification 
    • Personal items not allowed including cell phones- so ensure anyone who may want to contact you knows you won’t have your phone during this time

Day of the Exam 

Upon arrival, after getting checked in, I was put in a room with other test-takers (not necessarily taking the same exam because the site offered other types of testing), with a computer in a partitioned area. Everyone was quiet and respectful so I found it easy to concentrate. 

The exam is a 2-hour test consisting of 125 multiple-choice items, and it took me approximately two hours to complete. The questions were a combination of factual and critical thinking.  Critical thinking along the lines of having to understand the concept and then applying the concept to an example. Fortunately, after 8 days I received an email from NCC congratulating me on passing!

Test Taking Tips

    • Keep calm- take a few deep breaths if feeling anxious 
    • Get a good night’s sleep prior to the exam
    • Eat a good meal prior to taking the exam (a hungry stomach can be a big distraction)- consider protein and carbs for the long haul
    • Go with your gut when answering questions 
    • It’s usually always prudent to not change your answers unless you are absolutely sure! 
    • Take your time and read the entire question before answering 

Immediate Thoughts after the Exam

I left the test center feeling not so confident!  It was harder than I thought it would be. There were some questions I answered blindly and others I knew the answers to.  My only consolation was that I felt exactly the same way after taking both the EFM and In-patient Obstetrics exam, and I passed both of those exams. My mindset prior to taking this exam as well as the others was “if I don’t know this material by now, I shouldn’t be doing what I’m doing”, which was working in a quality and safety nurse role. Much of the material for the exam was learned through this work experience.  

Good Luck, You Got This!!

*If this article interests you, you may also enjoy my book titled: Obstetric and Neonatal Quality and Safety (C-ONQS) Study Guide: A Practical Resource for Perinatal Nurses, available on amazon: Amazon_obneonatalstudyguide

Copyright by Jeanette Zocco MSN, RNC-OB, C-EFM, C-ONQS

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