Let’s be honest. There aren’t a ton of CCRN prep courses or CCRN prep books out there.
I’d like to save you the time and energy of multiple online searches for review courses or books. I’ve personally checked out all over these, taken a few, and talked to other certified nurses who have tried different approaches.
If you want to learn more about the CCRN exam, check out Critical Care Nursing Certification: How to Pass the CCRN.
Below are the most commonly utilized CCRN prep courses and CCRN prep books.
CCRN Prep Courses vs. CCRN Prep Books
Should I buy a book, a course, or both?
I realize we all want to save money whenever possible. However, this isn’t an area you want to skimp.
Pro-tip: Before buying anything, check with your hospital and see if they have a nursing professional development fund. Many organizations do and will reimburse not only for the CCRN exam but also for CCRN prep courses and CCRN prep books as well. Mine did! At the end of the day, I paid nothing for my exam and review materials and was eligible for a clinical ladder bump. Yahoo!
Most of the CCRN prep books on this list are very textbook-like. They are dense and dry. It’s the equivalent of going to a lecture and the monotone professor simply reads the slides word-for-word.
It’s not engaging. It’s really tough to learn like that (for most).
Speaking as someone who studied and passed the exam, I highly recommend purchasing an online course review to jump-start studying with a study book and practice questions.
Whatever you choose, know that practice questions are an absolute must.
So as you read through the below options and consider cost, ask yourself these questions:
- Do practice questions come with this?
- How long do I have online access to any lectures?
- Do I get any contact hours?
- Do I get any printed materials from the online lectures, or will I need to take my own notes?
- How many hours of lectures are there?
Please note, all of the below courses and books do follow the Critical Care Nursing Certification: How to Pass the CCRN. I wouldn’t even mention them if they didn’t.
Also, the prices mentioned were last updated in October 2019 and may not reflect the most current price.
CCRN Prep Books
First, let’s chat standalone books.
|Name||Cost||# of Review Questions||Features||Notes|
|$65||1,000||Outline review, online question bank||VERY dense, highly technical|
|Barron’s CCRN Exam Review & Online Test||$19||650||Content review and questions, review questions in 2 practice exams and 1 pre-test|
|AACN Essentials of Critical Care Nursing||$55||0||Written by people who write the exam||VERY dense, highly technical|
|Nicole Kupchik’s Study Guide||$60||0||Pairs with her practice review question book||Study Guide only|
|Nicole Kupchik’s Practice Review Question Book||$40||150||Questions in 3 seperate exams||Bundle Nicole’s study guide and this book for $90 (saving $10)|
The Pass CCRN book is around $65 and highly technical and very dense. It contains 1,000 practice questions you can access online.
I used this book back in 2015 and never read any of the text and just took the practice questions. Honestly, I would not make the same decision if I had to sit for it again. The material was too dense for me, had way too much information that was too detailed and unnecessary, and I needed more of a review than just questions.
Barron’s CCRN Exam Review & Online Test
Barron’s CCRN Exam Review & Online Test is around $19, contains two full practice tests (150 questions each) plus a 25 question pre-test to gauge your studying. It is around It contains a content review as well.
A FreshRN® Facebook reader said, “It made all the difference in my studying! The content and questions were VERY similar to what was on the CCRN exam. Made the test VERY easy to pass!”
This is the only personal feedback I am aware of related to this text, as I have not seen it personally. The Amazon reviews are overwhelmingly positive.
American Association of Critical-Care Nurses
The AACN Essentials of Critical Care Nursing is around $55 and comes directly from the AACN (you know, the people who write the test). It is also quite dense and is a textbook. It does not contain practice questions but does have some case study questions and answers.
Nicole Kupchik has some of my favorite CCRN resources. I personally have, well, all of them. Her book, Ace the CCRN ®! You Can Do It – Study Guide is around $60 and while the information is very technical, it’s organized in a simple way that does not feel dense and dry. It’s everything you must know, and nothing more. She also has a book of review questions.
CCRN Prep Courses
Ok, let’s dig into online courses. I’m mentioning only online courses because live courses change so frequently.
If you’re interested in checking out a live CCRN review, your hospital may host one or you can go to the respective website below and click on their live review options.
|Name||Cost||# of CEs||Length of Access||# of Review Questions||Features||Hours of Content|
|Nursing.com with Laura Gasparis||$175||0||2 months||0||29 printables, 20 interactive 3D biodigital images||10|
|AACN||$199 for non-members, $159 for members||15.5||Not specified||Not specified||Save 50% off of your exam registration (saving anywhere from $122-$180)||Not specified|
|Laura Gasparis||$350||12||3 months||500||Includes physical book||12|
|Nicole Kupchik Course||$199||16.75||6 months||0||PDF study guide||16|
|Nicole Kupchik Course & Book Bundle||$269||16.75||6 months||150, in the form of 3 separate exams||PDF study guide, both books||16|
Nursing.com CCRN Review
I am a major fan of Nursing.com, and Laura has done CCRN reviews for many years. This option is $175 for 60 days of access which included 10 hours of video content (57 lessons), 29 PDF cheatsheets, 20 interactive 3D bio-digital images.
Please note, it does not include any review questions and you do not get CE’s for this course. If you want CE’s + review questions, then you can purchase the full course from her directly (listed below, currently costs $350).
American Association of Critical-Care Nurses
The review course provided by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses is $199 (or $159 for members). You save 50% if you register for the CCRN exam at the same time, which is pretty awesome!
This course comes with 15.5 continuing education credits, a PDF of the slides from the lectures, and some questions and answers. It does no
It does not say how many questions specifically or how long you have access to the online material.
CCRN Review by Laura Gasparis
The CCRN Review by Laura Gasparis is the most expensive at $350. It includes a physical book, 12 continuing education credits, 12 hours of video, 500 practice questions, and you only have access to the online lectures for 90-days.
I tried to find out if you can get this book elsewhere and more details on it, but have come up empty. She has a few listed on Amazon, but the most recent versions are from 2015. Reviews of the 2018 edition note that multiple people received much older editions (like 1998!). Be wary of trying to get this book elsewhere.
Nicole Kupchik’s CCRN Certification Review
Now, my favorite resource of all is Nicole Kupchik’s CCRN Certification Review Online Course. It will cost you $200 and with it you’ll get 16.75 continuing education credits, 6-month access to all online content, downloadable PDF study guide, over 16 hours of video, with a printable CE certificate, and can preview a full detailed preview of the curriculum before purchasing.
I’ve seen Nicole teach before and love her passion and enthusiasm, as well as everything she includes in the course (particularly the longer subscription length!). I’ve seen the lectures and have her books and I love them.
She also offers a full bundle of both her books and the online review course. If you purchase the full package for only $269 you’ll save $20. Click here to check out the bundle.
My personal recommendation
As someone who’s taken a review course, done the practice questions, studied, and passed, I definitely have some thoughts.
If I could do it all over again, I would purchase something written in a way that wasn’t so dense and dry, but concise and straight to the point. Again, I bought that PassCCRN book and looked at it once or twice and just used the practice questions. It was too dense and things that I hadn’t personally done before (like CRRT or pulmonary catheters) were really tough to understand.
I also did a review course that I could not access again later online, which later on was something I regretted when I wanted to hear something again.
If I had to do it all over again, I’d get Nicole Kupchik’s book and online course bundle.
It provides contact hours, a PDF review + the two books with practice questions and rationales, and an ability to go back to her lectures if needed for six months. So in the unlikely event that I didn’t pass, I still would have access to everything I paid for to utilize to re-test.
I’ve also personally seen Nicole teach and it is incredibly engaging, and clearly, she knows this information well and is passionate about it.
By bundling, you have content all from one source with a consistent structure and format to refer back to as you dive deeper into the topics. I love the way her course is organized into smaller bite-sized lectures, rather than 3-4 lectures that are hours in length.
You can see how long each of her lectures are down to the minute, which I appreciate that kind of transparency. Adult learners really need content that is shorter and concise to maximize attention span, and she clearly prioritizes this in her curriculum creation.
As a fellow educator, I appreciate that. I cringe when I see lectures that are over an hour that’s essentially reading off of PowerPoints with no engagement or personality. That’s not the case with Nicole’s lectures, as I’ve personally seen them!
Snag a free study plan
If you’ve decided on a CCRN prep course and/or book, but still need some help figuring out how much to study and when look no further. I created a sample study plan to show you how much to study when.
I used Nicole Kupchik’s CCRN Certification Review Online Course as a template for working through the entire online course in the first week, followed by 7 additional weeks of studying – including when you should take practice exams and lengthen your studying time towards the end.
To take the guesswork out of CCRN studying and snag the calendar, click below!
- Critical Care Nursing Certification: How to Pass the CCRN
- How to Manage Your Time in Critical Care For Nurses: Part I
- How to Manage Your Time in Critical Care for Nurses: Part II
- Season 3, Episode 2: Nursing Certifications; The What, Why, How, and When
Need more in-depth cardiac info? Check out the Cardiac Nurse Crash Course brought to you by FreshRN® where we discuss essential topics like chest tube and arterial line care, cardiac nursing report for the ED/ICU/floor, CABG patient care, in-depth discussion on atrial fibrillation, diagnostics like stress tests and caths, and much more!