The NCLEX test is one of the most important examinations in the life of an aspiring nurse. Passing it means you can become a full-pledged professional nurse. Every year, around 200,000 aspiring nurses take the exam across different states. Despite being the most popular licensure examination for nurses, there are still lots of misconceptions about it.
Are you planning to take the NCLEX this year? Take note of the following facts you need to know about the NCLEX.
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) facilitates the NCLEX test. There are two examinations under NCLEX – the NCLEX-RN for aspiring registered nurses and the NCLEX-PN for aspiring licensed practical nurses.
Unlike standard examinations given in nursing schools, the NCLEX is not an objective type of test. It’s more on knowledge application and analysis so the test can be used as an efficient tool in determining if the applicant is ready to practice the nursing profession. It takes time to prepare and register for the test as it is the first professional test an aspiring nurse takes after graduation.
Steps in NCLEX Registration
At around six weeks before graduation, nursing schools initiate their nursing students’ application for NCLEX registration. You will receive application forms from your nursing school.
Here’s a step-by-step guide in completing your NCLEX registration:
1. Complete the application forms your school will issue to you
Nursing schools usually give two sets of application forms to their nursing students several weeks before graduation. The first set of application forms is for the licensure requirements in your state’s Board of Nursing or Regulatory Body. The second set is for the NCLEX application.
2. Obtain an Authorization to Test (ATT)
You can get an ATT upon successful application to your state’s Board of Nursing or Regulatory Body. Different states have varying requirements. Check your state’s requirements to obtain ATT HERE.
3. Register for the exam in Pearson Vue
Registration for the NCLEX® Examination can be done through Pearson Vue. Complete your registration with Pearson Vue and pay the exam fees. The NCLEX-RN exam fee is $200 but additional licensure fees may be imposed by individual State Boards of Nursing. After completing the requirements, you will soon receive an Acknowledgement of Registration.
4. Schedule the exam
Once you have your ATT and the Acknowledgement of Receipt of Registration, you can schedule your exam through Pearson Vue. The exam is offered in 6-hour time slots for 6 days a week. Testing is available year-round so you don’t need to worry about scheduling your test at your convenience.
The NCLEX-RN Exam
After completing your registration to take the exam, it is important to know the following:
• How long to take the NCLEX-RN exam?
You have a maximum of 6 hours to take the exam. There are no mandatory breaks but you have two optional breaks after 2.5 hours of testing and another one after 3.5 hours of testing. There is also no time limit imposed in answering each question.
• When will the exam end?
Although you have a maximum of 6 hours to complete the test, applicants have varying test lengths. The exam ends when:
– You demonstrated your competency well in answering the minimum number of questions (75 items).
– You have demonstrated your competence poorly and have mostly incorrect answers in answering the minimum number of questions (75 items).
– You have reached the maximum number of questions (265 items).
– You already consumed the maximum time allowed for the test (6hours).
• How many questions are there in NCLEX-RN exam?
The minimum number of questions is 75 items while the maximum is 265 items. Also, there are 15 experimental questions not included in your summary of scores but counted in the total number of questions. These experimental questions are not included in the scoring as they are being used by exam administrators in gauging future questions for the exam.
• What are the types of questions in the exam?
The questions in NCLEX-RN exam are mostly multiple-choice type of questions with four choices of answer. However, you may also find alternate question types like fill-in-the-blank, drag-and-drop, charts, hotspots and multiple responses types of questions.
On Exam Day
Here are some reminders to keep in mind in preparing for your exam day:
1. Bring an acceptable ID
The name in your ID must match the name in your ATT. Examples of recognized IDs include passport books or cards, driver’s license, permanent residence cards, military identification card and provincial/territorial or state identification card. For international testing centers, only passport books/cards are recognized. You don’t need to bring your ATT.
2. Dress appropriately
Wear comfortable clothes on your exam day. Coats, gloves, scarves and hats will be required to be left outside the testing room. However, exemptions will be made for religious or cultural dresses.
3. Arrive early
It is best to be on the testing center thirty minutes before the exam. Test-takers who will be more than 30 minutes late will need to reregister and pay another exam fee.
4. Comply with pre-examination protocols
Before the exam, your biometrics will be taken. It includes your photograph, signature and palm vein scan. As you enter the testing area, you will not be allowed to bring your paper or any writing materials. The test center provides an on-screen calculator and an erasable note board with marker.
5. Complete the exam
Set your pace in answering the exam. Once the test finishes, you will need to answer a short computerized survey. After completing the survey, simply raise your hand and wait for the test administrator to dismiss you.
After the NCLEX
After completing the exam, you will need to wait for approximately six weeks before you receive your official results from your state’s Board of Nursing or Regulatory Body. Some states participate in the Quick Results Service where you can pay $7.95 to receive your unofficial result 48 business hours after the exam. Inquiry about the official results through calls is not available at this time.
Reminders about the Test
• NCLEX is a national test. Taking the test in different states doesn’t change the nature of the exam.
• The number of questions doesn’t matter unless you got 75 questions. Getting 75 questions means you were either consistently below the passing standard or you were consistently above the passing standard in taking the test.
• Getting 256 questions does not automatically mean you failed. It may mean you were consistently around the passing standard as you progress on the entire length of the exam.
• There are many resources available to prepare for the exam but it is best to answer practice questions frequently. It takes time to be accustomed with NCLEX-style questions so trying many practice tests will help you in adapting your test-taking skills with NCLEX.
Also Read: NCLEX Practice Questions
With this guide about the NCLEX test, are you now ready to take this examination? It is best to prepare for the exam weeks before you graduate. The best time to take the exam is right after graduation as you can benefit from being in momentum to review and study.