6 Things to Know About the NCLEX Examination

A nursing diploma or a bachelor’s degree is not enough to become a licensed professional nurse. It doesn’t matter if you attained first-class honors, your competency to practice as an entry-level nurse must be tested by the NCLEX exam. In fact, the NCLEX is regarded as one of the most important exams for aspiring nurses; since without passing it, your nursing diploma or degree can only get you so far. NCLEX Exam In the due process of preparation, one of the most crucial steps is to find out information about the NCLEX. Furthermore, you can’t walk into an exam appointment without knowing what you’re up against, can you? The following are the 6 things you should know about the NCLEX examination.
  1. There are Two Categories of NCLEX Exams
The type of NCLEX exam you ought to sit for depends on your educational credentials. If you have a Bachelors’ or Associate’s degree in nursing, you will be scheduled for the NCLEX-RN exam. Additionally, if you graduated with a diploma in nursing, you can take the NCLEX-PN exam. The RN acronym stands for Registered Nurse while the PN is for Practical Nurse.
  1. The NCLEX Exam Content Covers Four Areas of Nursing
It doesn’t matter if you’re doing the NCLEX-PN or the NCLEX-RN; both cover the same 4 nursing areas. The first topic is Safe Effective Care Environment which mainly deals with safety hygiene procedures and controlling infections. The second area is Health Promotion and Maintenance which focuses on wellness and a healthy lifestyle to prevent health complications. The remaining two areas include Psychosocial Integrity and Physiological Integrity. Keep in mind that physiological integrity accounts for a majority of the NCLEX questions. Typically, Physiological Integrity questions will assess your ability to provide nursing care to surgical, adult, infants and elderly patients. On the other hand, Psychosocial Integrity covers the scope of mental healthcare.
  1. The Exam is Administered by a Computerized Adaptive Testing
Remember back in nursing school when the questions on the test were written on a paper? Well, the NCLEX is different. The questions are predicted by a computer algorithm which means you won’t know your next questions until you answer your current question. In fact, if you answer a question correctly, the CAT will give you a more challenging follow up question but if you fail to answer correctly, it does the opposite. The silver lining is 90 percent of the questions are multiple-choices which make it easier to find the answers. However, the rest of the questions will require you to give out multiple responses, fill in the blank or identify an exhibit.
  1. The NCLEX Time Limit is 6 Hours
If you had a hard time finishing exams in nursing school, don’t worry; the NCLEX can go on for up to 6 hours giving you plenty of time to answer every question. Of course, there are mandatory and optional intervals between the test to refresh and visit the bathroom. During the test, you’re allowed to answer a minimum of 75 questions but not more than 265 questions. Hence, the 6 hours’ time frame is not obligatory and you can even finish the exam in less than 3 hours provided you meet the satisfactory threshold.
  1. The NCLEX Doesn’t Have a Numerical Pass Score
Since the purpose of the NCLEX exam is to determine your competency to become a nurse, it doesn’t evaluate you on a numerical score basis. In fact, the numerical score is insignificant and you will either pass or fail the NCLEX depending on how you answer the questions. Regardless, the CAT must be 95 percent certain that your ability to answer questions is above the passing standard. That doesn’t mean that you must answer 95 percent of the questions correct but rather the more difficult questions you answer, the higher the confidence gained in your ability. As soon as the computer determines with 95 percent certainty that you’re above the passing criteria, the test will end; even if you’ve answered only 75 questions. However, just because the test continues after you’ve answered the minimum questions doesn’t mean you will fail. It is possible to answer all the 265 questions and still get a pass.
  1. The Results Are Released a Few Weeks After Completing The Exam
Even though NCLEX is done by a computer system, you have to wait at least 6 weeks to get your official results from the regulatory board. But if you can’t wait for 6 weeks, there is a quick results service available where you can get your unofficial results after only 2 days. For the quick results option, expect to pay a processing fee of $7.95. Obviously, since the quick results are not official, you can’t use it to get a license. If you are unfortunate to fail the NCLEX, you can apply for a re-sit.