What’s the NCLEX

The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is an examination for the licensing of nurses in the United States. There are two variants, the NCLEX-RN (for registered nurses) and the NCLEX-PN (for practical nurses).

After graduating from a school of nursing, you are required to take the NCLEX exam to receive a nursing license. After obtaining a nursing license you are given legal permission to practice nursing, granted by the state where you met the requirements.

The NCLEX is created and written by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc (NCSBN). The exam is provided in a computerized adaptive testing formation and are administered by the Pearson VUE at Person Professional Centers located throughout the country.

The NCLEX is an exam that compares an individuals knowledge to a predetermined standard rather than to the performance of others who take the same test.


NCLEX Structure

The NCLEX exam assesses the knowledge, skills and abilities that are essential for the entry level nurse to use in order to meet the needs of clients requiring promotion, maintenance, or restoration of health.

The content of the NCLEX exams are organized into four major, “Meeting Client Needs” categories; two of the four categories are then divided into subcategories:

  • Safe and Effective Care Environment
    • Coordinated Care
    • Safety and Infection Control
  • Health Promotion and Maintenance
  • Psychosocial Integrity
  • Physiological Integrity
    • Basic Care and Comfort
    • Pharmacological Therapies
    • Reduction of Risk Potential
    • Physiological Adaptation

The questions are primarily multiple choice with four possible choices; however, there are also alternate question types including multiple response, fill-in-the-blank, hot spots, chart/exhibit and drag-and-drop.


Administration of the NCLEX

The NCLEX Examination is administered to candidates by computerized adaptive testing (CAT). CAT is a method of delivering exams that use computer technology and measurement theory. With CAT, each exam is unique as it is assembled interactively as the exam proceeds.

All practical/vocational nurse candidates must answer a minimum of 85 items and may answer a maximum of 205 questions during the allotted five hour time period. Registered Nurses must answer a minimum of 75 items and may answer to a maximum of 265 questions during the allotted six hour time period.

The NCLEX exam is pass/fail and there is no numerical score.


When, Where, How?

The cost to take the NCLEX-RN exam is $200. Additional licensure fees are determined by the individual State Boards of Nursing.

You can take the NCLEX at the nearest Pearson Testing Center to you. Testing is available year round, 15 hours a day, 6 days a week.

Registration for the exam can be done online through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing website.


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