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FAQ - Professional examination
Voir la version en français
Frequently Asked Questions
Details of the examination (4)
The professional system in Quebec is overseen by the Office des professions du Québec and, as a professional order, the OIIQ’s mission is to protect the public. The professional examination is one of the main tools that the Order relies on for this purpose. Any candidate for the practice of nursing (CPN) must pass the Order’s admission examination to obtain her permit to practise.
The admission exam for the nursing profession is a written examination, with about 40 clinical situations and 130 to 135 associated open short-answer questions. Each clinical situation is worth 100 marks and the questions are weighted.
The professional examination is prepared to reflect the skills novice nurses are expected to possess and concerns the critical aspects of each clinical situation in order to determine your ability to practise the profession.
The admission exam for the nursing profession is intended to assess your ability to practise the profession, with the goal of protecting the public. It evaluates not only the knowledge you acquired during your studies, but also your assimilation and your ability to apply this knowledge in various clinical situations similar to those a novice nurse may encounter in her practice.
The OIIQ examination is based on actual clinical situations that are representative of the field of nursing practice. The questions are designed to assess your ability to use your judgment and intervene appropriately in each situation.
When you read the questions, you will have to think about them as if you were the nurse caring for the client in the situation described. You may find some of the situations incomplete or vague – as is often the case in practice. You will have to form your own judgment based on the information provided.
Upon completion of your program of study, your educational institution will send the OIIQ your official transcript, indicating that you have successfully completed your program. The OIIQ will then e-mail you the information you need to register for the examination.
Although you may take up to two years and three tries to pass the OIIQ professional examination and meet the other conditions for obtaining your permit, you are required to register for the professional examination each time you are notified of the examination. If you cannot attend, you must contact the Registrar’s office and examinations.
Preparing for the Examination (3)
There are different tools you can use to prepare for the OIIQ professional examination :
- Read the Frequently Asked Questions section, for answers to your questions about the examination, its contents and procedure.
- Consult the Preparation Guide for the Professional Examination of the Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec (available from the OIIQ and from student co-ops at educational institutions offering nursing courses). It has useful information on the exam and tips to help you get ready.
- Watch the Let’s talk about the exam video, giving a brief summary of the exam process.
- Familiarize yourself with the acts and regulations governing the nursing profession.
- Contact your educational institution or your employer to find out whether there are exam preparation workshops available.
- Apply the stress management methods that helped you during your years of schooling.
For more details on preparing for the examination, watch the Let’s talk about the exam …video.
No, there are no other exercises available. The best way to prepare for the professional examination is gradually, throughout your schooling. It is a long-term approach that involves assimilating knowledge and honing your clinical judgment over time.
Registering for the Examination (4)
Upon completion of your program of study, your educational institution will send the OIIQ your official transcript, indicating that you have successfully completed your program. The OIIQ will then send you the information you need to register for the examination.
For information on how to register, see the Notification and registration section.
The examination will be given in the Montreal and Quebec City regions.
When you register, you may ask to sit the examination at a specific centre. The final choice of the examination centre where you will be invited to sit the examination is at the Order’s discretion.
About two weeks before the professional examination, once your file has been checked and is complete, you will receive a confirmation of registration with the necessary information : place, date, examination schedule and examination procedure.
Any unjustified failure to sit the examination is considered failure of the examination. So it is important to report for every examination session to which you are invited, unless you can prove that you were prevented because of a health problem, childbirth, death of your father, mother, child or spouse, or unavoidable circumstances. You must provide proof in the form of a medical certificate, a birth certificate or a death certificate, as applicable. If you cite unavoidable circumstances to justify your absence, your situation will be analyzed by the Executive Committee. Unavoidable circumstances are defined as a serious, unforeseeable and unavoidable event beyond your control.
Examination procedure (11)
To ensure that the on-site registration and identification of candidates go smoothly, please report 15 to 30 minutes before the time shown on the confirmation of registration that you received. It is important that you be present when registration starts, since arriving late can lead to your failing the examination. Anyone arriving more than 20 minutes late will not be admitted to the examination.
In fact this is much more than simply signing in. We must confirm your identity.
Go to the table marked by the letter corresponding to your family name, and show your piece of photo identification. An invigilator will then give you further instructions.
We strongly suggest that you go to the washroom before registering, since once you are in the examination room, you will have to wait until after the examination begins, and will have to be accompanied to go to the washroom.
To be allowed into the room for the professional examination, you must show one of the following types of photo identification:
- Quebec health insurance card
- driver's licence from a Canadian province
- permanent resident card
The identification must be valid and not expired at the time you sit the examination. The name on the identification must be identical to the name in your OIIQ file. Otherwise, you are responsible for providing documentary proof that the name in your file and the name on your identification are the same person. If this applies to you, please contact the Registrar’s office and examinations at 514 935-2501, option 2, or 1 800 363-6048, option 2, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you do not show valid and non-expired identification, you will be deemed absent, since you cannot be admitted into the room where the professional examination is being held. Consequently, your file will be marked FAILURE, in accordance with section 11 of the Regulation respecting the terms and conditions for the issue of permits by the Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec (CQLR, chapter I-8, r. 13).
If there is more than one table, check the signs above the tables, bearing a sequence of letters corresponding to candidates’ family names on the list (e.g. if your name is Smith, go to the table under the sign reading “Sa to Tz” or "R to Z").
The sequences of letters depend on the number of registration tables and the number of candidates. They vary from one examination site to another.
The temperature in the examination room is kept at 22°C, but you may be warmer or colder than usual. It all depends on your level of stress. So we suggest that you dress accordingly.
Before the examination starts, the OIIQ will issue you all the materials you need for the examination. You may also have a snack and a drink on your examination table. Any other personal effects must be placed at the assigned places. You will be given instructions at the time.
The OIIQ will be taking the necessary steps to avoid any plagiarism or cheating during the examination. Invigilators will be patrolling the examination room at all times.
We suggest that you bring some food just in case you can’t buy something there. You will be able to buy food at most examination sites. However, you will have a break of just 60 minutes between the two parts of the written examination.
Note, first of all, that it is impossible to reach the invigilators at the examination site.
We recommend that you document the incident that prevented you from reaching the examination (e.g. accident report, etc.) and contact the Registrar’s office and examinations as soon as possible. You can also consult the OIIQ website Convocation et examen
The professional examination cannot be cancelled simply because of bad weather or road conditions (a road or bridge suddenly closed), out of respect for other candidates who have paid for travel and accommodation to attend the examination. Under certain circumstances, only the Order can cancel the examination, and it will be cancelled for all candidates.
You may raise your hand during the examination and ask an invigilator to show you the wording of a question in the other language.
First of all, note that you are allowed to wear earplugs to help you concentrate. If you wish to request accommodation measures, you must do so when registering for the examination. For information on how to do so, see the “Notification and registration” section at Convocation et examen
Starting in September 2017, accommodation measures will be possible in Montréal and Quebec City.
How the professional examination is prepared (7)
The weighting of the questions is decided by committees as the questions are being developed. Each clinical situation is worth 100 points and they are distributed depending on the relative importance of the aspects assessed in the situation.
The number of marks allocated is indicated next to each question in the examination booklets.
The examination is developed by a committee of nurses from different care settings. For more information see the “Professional examination committees” section.
The examination is intended to assess the competencies of novice nurses. The questions on the examination must allow us to determine whether you are qualified to practise the profession, regardless of the region where you work. This is why we avoid including aspects specific to a certain region in questions. The various examination committees consist of individuals from different regions of Quebec.
The Angoff method is used to determine the pass mark, a recognized method for assessing competencies. It calls for the collaboration of a committee of teachers and professors from basic nursing programs, and makes it possible to take the level of difficulty of the examination into account.
The pass mark of 55% is the threshold for determining whether a candidate is qualified to practise nursing.
The translation of the examination into English is a rigorous four-part process.
- First of all, the examination is translated by a certified member of the Ordre des traducteurs, terminologues et interprètes agréés du Québec.
- Then this translation is revised by a bilingual nurse whose mother tongue is English, to make sure that the English and French versions match.
- The examination is then reviewed by a professor from an anglophone university and a teacher from an anglophone college.
- After any necessary adjustments are made to the translation, it is revised by a second professional translator to ensure that it flows properly and sounds natural.
Difficulty of the examination (2)
The professional examination is prepared using the key features approach, which allows the evaluation to focus on the critical aspects of each clinical situation in order to determine your ability to practise the profession. These clinical situations are similar to those routinely encountered by novice nurses.
Thus the examination requires that you assimilate and apply knowledge to handle clinical situations, rather than simply memorize classroom knowledge.
The examination assesses the same basic knowledge and skills as in the past, and also considers training programs leading to the permit to practice. It does not contain any clinical situations involving critical care or community health.
The correction process is very strict, so that we can be sure that all candidates have been fairly evaluated. The expected answers to examination questions are determined ahead of time by the committees of nurses who prepare the examination. Then the examination is corrected by correctors supervised by nurses belonging to the exam development committees. Questions are corrected one at a time, for all candidates, meaning that other answers considered appropriate by the members of the exam development committees can be accepted during the correction process.
All booklets with results close to the pass mark are systematically reviewed (double correction).
A question may be cancelled after the correction step, for psychometric reasons.
Unanswered questions receive 0 marks.
When the examination is being prepared, we pay particular attention to making sure that questions are mutually exclusive. However, the committee members may choose to award marks depending on the clinical relevance of the situation. They may decide to award a mark for both parts of the answer.
The pass mark is an overall mark, meaning it takes account of all questions, in both booklets.
You will not be penalized for mistakes in French grammar or spelling. However, we do ask that you write clearly so that we can understand your answers.
Communicating the results (10)
Your results are shown with the indication “Pass” or “Fail”. The pass mark and your individual mark as a percentage are also shown.
Candidates who have failed the examination will receive a feedback report on the professional examination, by mail, concerning their individual qualitative results, and a group qualitative feedback report on the main difficulties encountered by candidates who sat the examination.
The results will be posted in the reserved section of the website about nine weeks after the examination is held. An e-mail will be sent to all candidates on the day the results are released. All results will be available on the same day. We understand that nine weeks or so may seem like a long time, but there are many steps involved before the results can be released. All the examination booklets must be corrected, meaning 130 to 135 questions per person, the data must be entered and processed, the reports must be produced and steps taken to put the data online. We also check everything twice at every step. The Order is currently working to complete the process more quickly.
Communicating the results by telephone would involve too many calls and could lead to mistakes. In addition, there is a large amount of information on the website, and it would be difficult to provide all this information for each candidate by telephone.
To make sure you receive this e-mail, please add the OIIQ to your address book or lists of contacts and make sure that the e-mail address in your file is valid and exclusive. If you need help, please contact the Registrar’s office and examinations at email@example.com.
Yes, you can connect to the Reserved section of the OIIQ website and consult your results once they are available. You can use your permanent code from the Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur, your OIIQ file number or your e-mail address on file with the Order. Follow the instructions on the screen to complete your connection.
We publish this information on our infoiiq.org site shortly after the results are published online.
According to the established feedback process, the OIIQ sends each educational institution information (average marks, qualitative results and group qualitative feedback) allowing it to assess its graduates’ results, especially in comparison with those of other educational institutions, and to improve its training program(s).
Unless you have given your educational institution written authorization, it will not be informed of your individual mark or whether you passed or failed the examination.
Unfortunately, because of the large number of candidates, only people who have failed the examination and submitted a request for review are allowed to see their copies of the examination.
The OIIQ will never disclose your examination results to your current or future employers.
If you fail the professional examination, you are entitled to take it two more times. You must do so within two years of the first examination session after you graduated or obtained your equivalence.
You can ask the OIIQ to review your examination results within 30 days of the date on which the Order sent them to you. Some fees apply. We also invite you to consult the “Preparing for the examination” section.
Review application (8)
If you fail the examination, you may ask for your results to be reviewed. You must complete the form for this purpose, attached to your results, and pay the administrative fees required. Your review application and the payment of fees must be received before the deadline indicated on the form.
It consists of verifying that all the answers given by the candidate correspond to the expected answers in the corrected version of the examination. The Review Committee members review all the booklets at the same time, after the deadline for receiving review applications. These members are not the same as the initial correctors.
It has happened in the past that candidates received a “Pass” mark after a review. This is a rare occurrence, however.
It is up to you to decide whether to submit a review application and, unfortunately, we cannot tell you your chances of improving your mark. If you decide to submit a review application, we recommend that you register for the following examination session just the same, so as not to miss the registration deadline. If the review leads to a “Pass” mark on the examination, you can then ask that your examination registration fees be refunded.
It depends on the number of review applications received. Since we cannot tell how long the process will take, we recommend that you register for the following examination session just the same, so as not to miss the registration deadline. If the review leads to a “Pass” mark on the examination, you can then ask the Registrar’s office and examinations to refund your examination registration fees.
Yes, you can ask to consult your examination booklets. Make this request on your review application form. We will contact you to make an appointment to come to OIIQ Head Office. Examinations are reviewed only in Montreal.
Even though our initial correction process is very strict, a second review can lead to a different result. The persons who review the examination are not the same as the initial correctors.
We cannot make any recommendations regarding review applications. We offer the possibility, but the decision is up to you.
We do not have a limit. All review applications are handled in the same way.
Application for entry on the Roll (4)
A permit alone is not enough to practise nursing. You must also be entered on the Roll of the Order every year and pay your annual assessment. The Roll is the official record of OIIQ members and is updated every year. It is illegal to practise nursing or to use a reserved title without being entered on the Roll, i.e. without being a member in good standing of the Order.
Once the examination results have been released and you have been issued a permit, you must apply for entry on the Roll within 30 days of your nursing permit being issued.
You can apply for entry on the Roll in the reserved section of the OIIQ website, or come in person to OIIQ Head Office.
The “Verification of the right to practise” tool is available at all times for employers wishing to check that you are entered on the Roll.
For more information on how to apply for entry on the Roll, read the “Applying for entry on the Roll and updating your file” section.
For the first time you are entered on the Roll, you pay only 50% of the regular assessment. It must be understood, however, that the annual assessment is a fixed fee that is not calculated pro rata to the days or months worked.
You can start signing “Nurse” after your name as soon as you receive confirmation from the OIIQ that your payment of fees for entry on the Roll has been cashed.
Withdrawal of the Pratical Component (6)
The evolving context of nursing led to major challenges in keeping the examination’s practical component; for example increasingly complex situations needed to be simulated. Given the size of the cohorts-nearly 4,000 people a year-a large number of circuits had to be set up and the necessary devices could not be used due to their limited availability (e.g. volumetric pump, restraints).
It is also important to know that the examination’s practical component required as many resource persons as there were candidates. Thus, to enable 4,000 candidates to take the examination, the contribution of about 4,000 people was required (site coordinators, nurse observers, simulated patient instructors, simulated patients, etc.).
The practical component was therefore withdrawn due to the administrative, organizational and cost challenges it presented.
The new examination contains 40 to 44 clinical situations that are representative of the field of nursing practice, which is an increase compared to the previous examination’s written component. In the previous examination, the sample of clinical situations was distributed over two components, written and practical, and this distribution varied from one examination to another. The new examination has a sample of clinical situations allowing the OIIQ to assess the ability to practice nursing.
The examination makes it possible to assess critical aspects pertaining to the ability to practice the profession such as the candidate’s capacity to make and justify appropriate clinical decisions.
The relational and operational skills that were assessed in the OSCE are assessed during training and more specifically during clinical fieldwork, i.e. in a more favourable setting than a 10-minute station during an examination. The professional examination is centred on the critical aspects for determining ability to practice.
Withdrawing the examination’s practical component does not lower requirements for entering the profession. It is only a change in the examination format. The competency framework and the competencies assessed remain the same. The written examination assesses the most critical aspects to determine ability to practice the profession, such as making and justifying clinical decisions.
The new examination contains 40 to 44 clinical situations that are representative of the field nursing practice, which is an increase compared to the previous examination’s written component. In the previous examination, the sample of clinical situations was distributed over two components, written and practical, and this distribution varied from one examination to another. The new examination has a sample of clinical situations allowing the OIIQ to assess the ability to practice nursing.
The examination is prepared on the basis of the entry-level clinical competency framework and consists of a sample of clinical situations that a nurse is likely to encounter when beginning to practice. It is not a theoretical examination, but an examination that assesses the candidates’ ability to integrate their knowledge, skills and behaviours to demonstrate clinical judgment and the capacity to take the right action in specific situations. The examination is focused on the clinical aspects of nursing, not management.
The written and practical components of the examination were complementary and allowed for the proper evaluation of ability to practice the profession. The withdrawal of the practical component was the reason behind changing the examination’s written component so that it could be used on its own to assess candidates’ ability to practice nursing.