The NCLEX or National Council Licensure Examination is the exam that nurses take to become licensed in the United States, Guam, North Mariana Islands, American Samoa, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc develops and owns the examinations. Becoming a nurse is a very wise decision for those who choose to enter this healthcare field. Nurses have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of each patient in which they come in contact. The industry is in desperate need of qualified, licensed nurses to help patients around the world. Students can earn their nursing degrees from a variety of educational institutions around the world. The best way to increase marketability as a nurse is to earn a nursing license after earning a nursing degree.
Some employers will hire nurses without licenses but the majority of them want someone who has proven their competence in nursing by taking a NCLEX examination. The fastest way for nurses to move up the career ladder of nursing is to earn a nursing license to prove that they have what it takes to be a success in the nursing field.
Not everyone who enters the nursing field has the skills to pass the NCLEX examinations so those who do should be proud that they represent the best of what the nursing industry has to offer. There are many resources available these days that can help students who are studying to take a NCLEX examination to have success. Attending nursing school and taking a NCLEX examination may not be easy but well worth it in the end.
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What is NCLEX?
As stated above, the NCLEX or National Council Licensure Examination is the exam that nurses take to become licensed in the United States, Guam, North Mariana Islands, American Samoa, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc develops and owns the examinations. These tests are administered by the NCSBN for its member boards.
Unless there is a tremendous shortage of qualified, licensed nursing professionals, most employees expect their nursing professionals to have the appropriate licenses to practice as nurses. Licensing nurses is one of the ways that those in the healthcare industry safeguard the protection of the public. Successful completion of a NCLEX examination proves to employers that nurses have a high level of ability and skill in the nursing field. The content covered in nursing courses provides the best indicator of the type of information that nurses need to know to pass the NCLEX examinations.
What to do if you Fail NCLEX?
Free NCLEX Practice Quizzes
We have NCLEX practice quizzes that you can take to help prepare you for the type of questions you may face on the real exam.
When you take the real NCLEX examination, it will be administered in computer format. Pearson VUE administers this computerized test. By design, the test is intended to test the skills, abilities, and knowledge that nursing professionals should have to work in the nursing industry. These are the outlined essentials to effective and safe practice for entry-level nurses entering the nursing field. As nurses progress through their nursing careers and gain more experience, they will build upon the foundation covered in the NCLEX examinations.
Unlike many examinations that students will take throughout their testing days, the NCLEX is not about memorizing information for the exam. Students must have a firm grasp of the concepts involved in nursing. Critical thinking is an enormous aspect of this examination as well as the nursing profession. In recent years, the main focuses of the examination were infection control and prioritizing and delegating nursing responsibilities that are in the best interest of each patient.
Types of NCLEX Exams
Nursing professionals have 2 options when it comes to taking the licensing examination. The NCLEX-PN and the NCLEX-RN are the two options. The NCLEX-PN is the examination that Licensed Practical Nurses take to become certified. The NCLEX-RN is the examination that nurses take to become registered nurses.
Students who plan to take the examination should know that there is a 5-hour maximum to complete the NCLEX-PN and 6-hours for the NCLEX-RN examinations. It is important that students pace themselves so that they can complete the examination within this timeframe. There will be a short tutorial before the test starts that will prepare them for what will happen during the examination.
The minimum number of questions on the NCLEX-RN examination is 75 but the maximum number of questions is 265. The minimum number of questions that test takers can expect on the NCLEX-PN is 85 and a maximum number of 205. After the examination the student must wait for their result. Usually 2-4 days the result is available online if the student wants to pay a fee to get it. This result is unofficial and is available through the Pearson Vue website. There will be no score, just a pass or fail. For official results the student will have to wait 4 to 6 weeks for the result to arrive in the mail.
Nursing professionals must complete their respective nursing programs before they can sit for a NCLEX examination. Each state has their own specific requirements to sit for the examination so nurses must contact their State Board of Nursing to determine these requirements. In some cases, nurses must have two years of nursing experience and a specified number of hours of work related experience in addition to clinical hours before they can sit for an examination.
Test candidates must receive permission to take an examination from their State Board of Nursing. Test takers will be expected to present at least two forms of identification on the day of the test to prove that they are the persons registered to take the test. They must register with Pearson VUE to take an examination after all other requirements have been fulfilled.
International nurses must complete the above in order to qualify to sit for a NCLEX examination, and they must also meet other requirements. These nurses must also take an English proficiency examination, receive Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) certification, and have an official review of nursing credentials. Contacting the State Board of Nursing in the state of practice is the best way to determine the specific requirements to sit for a NCLEX examination.
NCLEX Pass Rates
The pass rates for the NCLEX-RN during 2011 are as follows for first time nurses that were U. S. educated:
- Diploma – 3,476 tested – 89.76% passed
- Baccalaureate – 58,246 tested – 89.09% passed
- Associate – 82,764 tested – 86.99% passed
- Special Program or Invalid Codes – 97 tested – 71.13% passed
A total number of 144,583 nursing professionals took the NCLEX-RN examination for the first time in 2011 and 87.89% of those individuals passed the examination.
The pass rates for the NCLEX-RN during 2011 are as follows for the remaining nurses:
- Repeat (U.S. Educated) – 27,458 tested – 55.78% passed
- First Time (Internationally Educated) – 9,719 tested – 33.98% passed
- Repeat (Internationally Educated) – 13,547 tested – 20.71% passed
A total number of 195,307 nursing professionals took the NCLEX-RN examination in 2011 and 76.04% of those individuals passed the examination.
The pass rates for the NCLEX-PN during 2011 are as follows for nurses that were U. S. and internationally educated:
- First Time (U.S. Educated) – 65,334 tested – 84.83% passed
- Repeat (U.S. Educated) – 13,975 tested – 34.91 passed
- First Time (Internationally Educated) – 755 tested – 45.56% passed
- Repeat (Internationally Educated) – 855 tested – 18.42% passed
A total number of 80,949 nursing professionals took the NCLEX-PN examination in 2011 and 75.12% of those individuals passed the examination. You can also read common questions regarding nursing licensing information.
How to Study for NCLEX
The computer-based test contains mostly higher-level cognitive thinking questions. Test takers will not be able to go into the testing situation with only information memorized and expect to meet success on the exams. There will be a small amount of information on the NCLEX that include information from all levels of cognitive thinking but mainly application, knowledge, analysis, and recalling. This information applies to both the NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN.
Nurses are expected to know some of the same basic content for the NLCEX-RN and NCLEX-PN but some of the content is different on the two tests.
The content that students need to know for the NCLEX-RN includes Safe Effective Care Environment (Safety and Infection Control and Management of Care), Psychosocial Integrity, Health Promotion and Maintenance, and Physiological Integrity (Physiological Adaptation, Basic Care and Comfort, Reduction of Risk Potential, and Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies).
It is important to know that the majority of the information on this test is in multiple-choice format. Recently other types of questions have been added to this examination. For example, fill in the blank questions are one of the new additions. The questions are broader for some of the content. These questions may include selecting more than one correct answer ( check box format), identifying and selecting a specific area of the body from a drawing that relates to the question, answering and calculating mathematical problems to find a solution (ex. dosage calculation), and arranging procedures in order (ex. donning sterile gloves).
The content that students need to know for the NCLEX-PN includes Psychosocial Integrity, Safe Effective Care Environment (Safety and Infection Control and Coordinated Care), Physiological Integrity (Psychiatric, Basic Care and Comfort, Physiological Adaptation, Pharmacological Therapies, and Reduction of Risk Potential), and Health Promotion and Maintenance.
Again, the majority of these questions are in multiple-choice format with questions in a broader style. Nurses are expected to complete questions that are not multiple choices, and the examination covers the same types of broad questions as those on the NCLEX-RN.
When studying for these examinations, nurses should use the concepts stated above as the basic foundation for the information they study for the exam. Making flashcards may help nurses to understand the concepts needed for the NCLEX examinations. There are online sources that nurses can use to gain access to flashcards that have already been made.
In addition, many colleges and universities have NCLEX Review Courses that can help students understand the concepts they need to know to pass these examinations. It may also be beneficial to purchase NCLEX Review books to prepare for the examinations. Online prep courses may also help students to study for the exam. The nurse’s learning study should be taken into consideration when looking for information to study for the NCLEX examinations.
For an example of the study log for NCLEX or HESI, please look at the sample NCLEX and HESI Study log, completed by an actual student.
Recommended Study Guide for the NCLEX Exam
In order to prepare for the NCLEX Exam as a potential registered nurse or licensed practical nurse, a study guide will need to be used along with your class notes. However, using a study guide will make it easier to study then trying to fumble through all of your class notes. Almost all NCLEX study guides come with practice questions that are in the NCLEX format. This helps prepare the student prepare for what the real NCLEX is like.
There are a lot of study guides available for students to use. Students should obtain the most recent NCLEX study guide available.
Here are the two best study guides for the NCLEX-RN & NCLEX-PN exam based on nursing student reviews:
How to Register for NCLEX
Before registering for a NCLEX examination, nurses must contact their local Board of Nursing to complete a licensing application. Nurses who do not meet the minimum requirements to take the examinations will have their applications denied. Nurses can register for the NCLEX examinations upon state approval.
NCLEX examination candidates can find pertinent information about registration by going to www.pearsonvue.com/nclex. Nurses have 3 methods to register for the examination, which include:
Nurses must first get a registration scan form from their Board of Nursing. Only the original scan will be accepted. They should send their certified check, money order, or cashier’s check (payable to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing) to the following address:NCLEX Operations P.O. Box 64950 St. Paul, MN 55164-0950
Credit card payments cannot be accepted by mail. Registration applications that are not completed properly will be returned and this may delay processing.
Applicants registering in the United States can register by phone by contacting Pearson VUE at 1-866-49NCLEX. Nurses must provide a valid debit or credit card at the time of the call. The representative will ask for the expiration date and the name on the credit card.
Candidates can use their debit or credit card to pay for the examination over the Internet. Once on the NCLEX webpage, candidates must follow the steps on the Internet registration page to complete their test registration.
Some nurses choose to register for the test before they receive authorization to take the test from their State Board of Nursing. If this happens, nurses have 365 days to take the test or forfeit the fee and registration. After nurses become eligible to take the test, they must take the test before the validity date printed on the Authorization to Test (ATT) letter expires. Nurses will have to reregister and pay the fees once again in order to take the NCLEX examination.
It is also important to remember that nurses cannot have two NCLEX registrations open at once. The system will allow them to register and pay the fees, but they will not be refunded any of the fees for the second registration and the registration will be denied.
Taking the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN is a very important part of the careers of nurses. Successfully passing these examinations will prove to their employers that they have the highest level of skills of all other nursing professional. There is a wealth of information available to nursing professionals to study for these examinations so that they can meet success and increase their marketability in the nursing industry.