These handbooks provide information needed to apply and prepare for the COHN and COHN-S examinations. Please click on the images to download the handbooks.

Each handbook includes the following: eligibility requirements, examination policies, examination application, test blueprint, core content areas, sample questions, and study references. Please retain this handbook after applying for the examination. It is extremely useful when studying for the examination.

PLEASE NOTE: There are different education qualifications for the COHN and COHN-S examinations.  HOWEVER, if you qualify for both examinations, just having a higher degree does not necessarily mean you should take the examination with the higher degree qualifications.  Please review the examinations Blue Prints/Test Specifications in BOTH HANDBOOKS before deciding on which examination to take.  It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you choose the examination that fits your practice, not your level of education.

cohn handbook

cohn-s handbook


What are some suggestions to prepare for the certification exam?

        Recently certified occupational health nurses identified these tips to prepare for the exam: 

  • Begin a regular study plan about 6 months prior to when you plan to take the exam.
  • Most nurses studied 3-5 days a week and averaged 9 to 10 hours of studying a week
  • Helpful study materials included:
    • AAOHN core curriculum book;
    • AAOHN on line core curriculum,
    • ABOHN Test Blueprints, and
    • ABOHN self-assessment tests (CSATs).
  • 44% indicated a certification review course was helpful

Please note:  Although the AAOHN Core Curriculum and On-line classes provide an excellent overview of the aspects of occupational health nursing practice, it is not intended as an exclusive source of information for  the exams.


Tips for passing a certification exam:

  1. Focus your study efforts on the exam blueprint. For ABOHN certification, download the handbook of the credential (COHN, COHN-S or CM); review the domains of the test blueprints; review the reference list.
  2. Keep up to date on what is changing in the field.
  3. Know the format of the exam. The COHN and COHN-S exams have 160 exam items and you are allowed 3 hours to take the computer-based exam. 25 items are “pre-test” meaning they do not count towards your score, but you will not know which questions “count”.  For the CM exam, there are 110 questions of which 10 are pre-test items. You have 2 hours to take the CM exam.
  4. Focus on the main domains of the exam. Focus on all areas because if you focus obsessively on a certain part, you will neglect other areas.
  5. Take care of yourself. Maintain your normal schedule of exercise, rest, and proper nutrition especially in the few days before the exam. Try to schedule yourself a routine study plan. Successful exam takers for the COHN or COHN-S exams study an average of 9-10 hours 4-6 months before the examination date. Maybe take some personal time away from work for review and rest right before the exam.
  6. Plan the logistics of exam day. Allow plenty of time to arrive at your destination – map it out, scout it out ahead of time. Maybe have a backup plan like printed directions.
  7. On exam day: Be sure to have your state issued identification with you. Leave personal items at home or in your vehicle. Re review any instructions you received from the examination vendor.
  8. Time management. You will have 3 hours to answer 160 questions so pace yourself.  You can mark questions if you wish to go back to some.
  9. Work at a steady pace without rushing.
  10. No tricks honest! Some people might overthink a question to look for a trap. Don’t overthink or make an unnecessary assumption.
  11. Stress management. Take a deep breath. Nobody gets a 100%. If you don’t know the answer, move on. If you can calm down, the answers might come more readily.