The National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses is developed and maintained by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing or NCSBN to promote a standard of uniformity across all regulations of nursing practice. This exam tests your skills and knowledge regarding client needs in a variety of settings across their lifespan. Successful completion will be rewarded with your RN certificate.
Who is Eligible?
To be eligible for the NCLEX-RN you will need to:
- Apply for licensure/registration to the board of nursing/regulatory body (BON/RB) where you want to be registered.
- Register for the exam with Pearson VUE using your program code
There is a $200 fee for this exam and additional licensure fee based your state board of nursing.
When and Where is it taken?
You will receive an authorization to test letter or ATT once your application has been approved. This will include instructions on how to register and schedule your exam through Pearson Professional Centers.
Exams can be scheduled year-round, six days a week, 15 hours a day, in six-hour time slots. Locations vary as well. Choose a date and time that is convenient for you. A complete list of availability will be provided during registration.
It is recommended to register as early as possible as seating and space may be limited at some locations.
Special accommodations may be available in some locations for those that may not be able to test under normal circumstances. Please make this request as early as possible during your registration to ensure timely approval.
If you should need to cancel or reschedule your exam, you may do up until the last 48 hours before your original exam. If you wait any longer, you will be counted as a no-show and will have to not only reapply to take the exam but resubmit another payment as well.
What Should I Bring?
It is important to arrive at least 30 minutes early for your scheduled exam to ensure you have time check-in before the exam begins. Those who arrive late will not be able to test and will have to reschedule and pay another fee.
You will need to bring at least one form of a current and valid, government-issued photo ID with you. this must include your signature and full name as it appears on your application. Those with incorrect or missing information will not be allowed to enter the testing center.
You will not be allowed to bring any other personal items with you into the testing area. This includes:
- Cell phones
- Calculators and study materials
- Paper and pencils
- Watches, jewelry, and any outerwear
These will be kept in a designated area for the duration of the exam. An on-screen calculator and erasable board and marker will be provided for you.
What Does it Cover?
The exam is broken into four major sections, with two of those sections being broken down further into more subsections. There can be anywhere from 75 to 265 questions on the exam as a whole.
This is a CAT or computer adaptive test, meaning that it adapts to each candidate. If you correctly answer a question, the next one will be slightly harder. If you answer incorrectly, the next question will be slightly easier.
Therefore, each exam is different for each candidate, and the amount of weight given and the number of questions in each section is also different. Questions may be in any one of the following formats: multiple choice, multiple response, ordered response, fill in the blank calculation, and hot spots.
Below is a brief outline of each section and the weight given to each.
Safe and Effective Care Environment
- Management of Care (17-23%)
- Safety and Infection Control (9-15%)
Health Promotion and Maintenance (6-12%)
Psychosocial Integrity (6-12%)
- Basic Care and Comfort (6-12%)
- Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies (12-18%)
- Reduction of Risk Potential (9-15%)
- Physiological Adaption (11-17%)
Each section may contain a number of pretest items, these are unidentified and scattered throughout. There are 15 in total and they will not count towards your score.
You will have a maximum of six hours to complete the exam, with an optional break after two hours and another after three and a half hours.
How is it Scored?
You will receive your exam results from your state board of nursing about 2-4 weeks after your test date. This is indicated by a pass or fail status. There is no numerical score given.
Each exam is scored based on one of the following scenarios:
The 95% Confidence Interval Rule – the computer will stop presenting questions when it is 95% sure that your ability is either clearly above or below the passing average.
Maximum-Length Exam – If your ability level is very close to the passing standard, the computer will keep giving you questions until it has presented the maximum number of questions possible. Your score will then be calculated using all possible items.
Run Out of Time Rule (ROOT) – If you run out of time, the computer will decide if you have answered the minimum amount of questions. If so, it will grade the last 60 ability estimates to see if it is above or below the passing standard.
The passing standard is continuously being re-evaluated and determined based on new pretest items and the difficulty of those items.
If you fail, your score report will also include a breakdown of your performance in each section so as to prepare you for what you need to work on should you wish to retake the exam.
Retakes are available no sooner than 45 days after your original exam. You will need to reregister and submit a fee to do so.
How Can I Prepare for the NCLEX RN Test?
We believe that different learning styles require different tools for success. We have compiled a list of the best study guides, flashcards, and practice tests that we’ve found on the market. Some of these guides have review videos, for you visual learners out there. Others have practice tests, which have been proven to increase student scores by a whole letter grade (in some cases more than that)!