What can I do to prepare for the Performance Based Development System test? I have not worked as an RN for 3 years.

By | 2022-05-06T15:35:11-04:00 April 28th, 2014|0 Comments


Dear Donna,

I accepted an advice nurse position after being out of nursing for almost three years. I have to take the PBDS test. What can I do to prepare for the test?

Needs to Prepare for PBDS

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Needs to Prepare for PBDS,

The Performance Based Development System is more of an assessment tool rather than a test per se. It is used to gauge a nurse’s level of critical thinking skills as well as technical and interpersonal skills. The results then can be used to tailor orientation/staff education.

If you’ve never taken it before, it is entirely computer based and uses video vignettes/patient scenarios. You will be asked to identify a problem(s), choose a treatment/intervention and provide your rationale for the same in writing, either on paper or via computer. It takes about four to six hours to complete.

Hopefully your new employer has given you some written information about the format of the PBDS so you know what to expect. If not, ask for that. You also can do an Internet search, which I recommend, to learn more about PBDS and tips for taking it so you’ll feel better prepared. Search for “How can a nurse prepare for PBDS?”

You’re going to use the knowledge and skill set that you have to complete the assessment. You may want to review/brush up on basic medical/surgical emergency nursing diagnoses and intervention practices. You’d want to do this anyway for your new position. You can scan some of the 750-plus articles available via Nurse.com’s Nursing Continuing Education (http://ce.nurse.com/). It also would be great to speak to another nurse who has already taken PBDS.

On the day of the assessment, show up in a well-rested, relaxed but alert and in a level-headed state. Approach it with confidence, common sense and the same critical thinking skills and logic you would use in any healthcare scenario. Trust yourself and your instincts.

Best wishes,


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