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What is the NCLEX RN

Now that you have graduated from nursing school, the last critical step before you finally achieve your professional dream is to get your Registered Nursing license. In order to earn this license, you are required to give the National Council Licensure Examination(NCLEX rn exam) which determines if you are qualified to start practicing as an entry-level nurse. All nursing school graduates, including international aspirants, are required to apply for licensure through NCLEX-RN.


Starting in the USA, 1982, the NCLEX-RN is organized by the National Council of State Boards of Nurses (NCSBN) through a Computer Adaptive Technology (CAT) model. It is an International License exam for Nurses in the USA since 1994 and in Canada since 2015. This competitive examination tests theoretical knowledge, practical skills, and level of critical thinking ability for each student who wants to enter the nursing profession. By bringing measurement of client safety and ethical medical practices, this test verifies whether a new nurse is minimally qualified to practice professionally in the field. To get an in-depth understanding of this highly sought-after exam, we have broken down the entire framework of the NCLEX-RN and elucidated the topic in this blog which will assist you as an NCLEX-RN aspirant. 

Credits: Nursing officer

NCLEX-RN Test Plan & Duration

The NCLEX-RN test is tailored to your skill level and is unique to each individual who takes it. Aspirants will face a minimum of 75 questions, with at least 60 being scored, and a maximum of 265 questions, with at least 250 being scored, throughout the course of six hours. In addition, the exam generates 15 non-scored questions of varied complexity and levels at random. The NCSBN manages a particular segment of the NCLEX-RN Test Plan. Regardless of the number of questions on the NCLEX-RN Examination, you will have a maximum of 6 hours to finish it. This includes:

  • A brief tutorial on the examination you will be taking.
  • There are two pre-programmed optional breaks that you may or may not take. One of these two optional breaks is scheduled for 2 hours after the test begins, while the other is scheduled for 3.5 hours after the test begins. When these pre-programmed breaks are due, the computer will notify you.
  • Other breaks you pick AND doing all of the questions on the NCLEX-RN Examination, whatever of the number of questions you have to accomplish, up to 265 questions on the test

It is suggested that you keep a steady pace throughout the test and spend no more than one or two minutes on each question. Keep in mind that you might require the entire 6 hours if you have to answer all of the questions on the exam, which might total up to 265 questions.

Also Read: NCLEX Exam for Nursing

Basic Terms and Definitions Used in NCLEX RN Exam

The terms and definitions listed here are some of the most common terms and definitions you’ll come across while taking the NCLEX RN exam.

Client: When you see the word, it refers to a person, a family, or a group, and it can also refer to an individual, a family, or a group.

Group: More than one customer or patient is what it means. Populations, age groupings, and other types of groups can all be classified as groups.

Prescription: An order, intervention, remedy, or treatment directed by an authorized health care provider such as a doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician extender such as a physician’s assistant is characterized as an order, intervention, remedy, or treatment.

Exhibit: The term implies that you will see certain images or diagrams, such as those seen in a client chart or a medical record.

Client Needs

The content of the NCLEX Test Plan is organized into four major Client Needs categories as follows:

Safe and Effective care environment

  • Coordinated Care
  • Safety and Infection Control

Health Promotion and Maintenance

Psychological Integrity

Physiological Integrity 

  • Basic care and comfort
  • Pharmacological Therapies
  • Reduction of Risk Potential
  • Physiological Adaptation

Integrated Process

Integrated processes in the NCLEX test plan are fundamental to the decision-making practice of vocational nursing and are inculcated throughout the Client Needs categories:

  • Clinical Problem-Solving Process (Nursing Process) – A scientific approach to client care that includes data collection, planning, implementation, and evaluation.
  • Caring – The interaction of the LPN/VN and client in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust. In this collaborative environment, the LPN/VN provides support and compassion to help achieve desired therapeutic outcomes.
  • Communication and Documentation – Verbal and nonverbal interactions between the LPN/VN and the client, as well as other members of the health care team. Events and activities associated with client care are validated in written and/or electronic records that reflect standards of practice and accountability in the provision of care.
  • Teaching and Learning – Facilitation of the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and attitudes to assist in promoting a behavior change.
  • Culture and Spirituality – The interaction of the nurse and the client (individual, family, or group, including significant others and population) which recognizes and considers the client-reported, self-identified, unique and individual preferences to client care, the applicable standard of care, and legal considerations

Must Read: How to Become a Nurse?

Latest NCLEX-RN news

Let’s check out some of the important news for the upcoming NCLEX-RN exams:

November 2021

  • The W. Cary Edwards School of Nursing and Health Professions at Thomas Edison State University honored the 27 pre-licensure nursing students from its October 20-21 Accelerated BSN Program which was among the largest cohorts in the program’s history.
  • The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Nursing building which has one of the top nursing programs in the US, is set to be constructed on Volunteer Boulevard.

October 2021

  • New England Institute of Technology (NEIT)’s College of Health Sciences, in conjunction with its Department of Nursing, will be offering a Practical Nurse (NCLEX-PN) program starting in March 2022.
  • Owing to the recent pandemic outbreak, in a survey of 657 healthcare providers, of which more than half were nurses or nursing practitioners, 64 percent screened positive for acute stress, 40 percent had symptoms of anxiety, and 53 percent screened for depression.

August 2021

  • The Albany Tech nursing class boasts a 100 percent passing rate on the NCLEX examination.
  • NCLEX High Yield is a start-up that has revolutionized the study pattern for the NCLEX Examination helping many nursing aspirants crack the competitive exam.

NCLEX-RN Eligibility Criteria

The requirements for eligibility to take the NCLEX-RN are predominantly determined by the Nursing Regulatory Body (NRB) while the examination is organized by the NCSBN. Here is the list of eligibility criteria set by the NRB.

  • The minimum educational qualification is a Graduation degree from any recognized School of Nursing.
  • The candidate must possess an Authorisation to Test (ATT) letter from the respective state board of nursing which will assure that you have the necessary skills to get a nursing license.
  • As the exam is conducted in only two languages – English and French, the candidate must be fluent in one of the following.
  • There are no age limitations for the NCLEX exam but the candidate must apply only after graduating from a nursing school.
  • The registration fees for the NCLEX exam are within the range of $200 -$400(14,887 – 29774 depending on the candidate’s country.
  • A candidate can attempt the NCLEX exam only 8 times in a year with a gap of 45 days between each attempt.

NCLEX-RN Syllabus

The NCLEX-RN exam frames its entire syllabus with a fair, comprehensive, current, and entry-level nursing competency measurement. The syllabus can be briefly categorized in the following topics:

  • Safe effective care environment
  • Health promotion and maintenance
  • Psychosocial Integrity
  • Psychological Integrity

In order to prepare these clear-cut nursing topics, there are various NCLEX review books available such as:

How to Register for the NCLEX-RN

Now that you’ve decided to take the NCLEX, the following step is to register or apply for the exam. The steps for registering for the NCLEX, as well as some helpful hints, are as follows:

Step 1: Application to the Nursing Regulatory Board (NRB)

The first step in the registration procedure is to submit an application to the state board of nursing in the state where you want to practice nursing. Inquire with your state’s board of nursing about the specific registration process, as regulations may differ.

Step 2: Registration with Pearson VUE

Proceed, register, and pay the money to take the NCLEX with Pearson VUE once you have received confirmation from the board of nursing that you have completed all of their state requirements. Follow the registration instructions and fill out the forms as completely as possible.

Step 3: Authorization to Test

Pearson VUE will send you an Authorization to Test (ATT) document if the licensure board determines that you are eligible. You must test within the ATT’s validity dates (usually 90 days). There are no extensions available; otherwise, you will have to re-register and pay the price. The test authorization number, validity date, and candidate identity number are all found on your ATT.

Step 4: Schedule your Exam Appointment

The next step is to schedule a Pearson VUE testing day, time, and location. The NCLEX will be administered at a testing center; you can schedule an exam online or over the phone. You will receive an email confirmation of your appointment, including the date and time you selected as well as for instructions to the testing center.

Step 5: On Exam Day

Attendees should arrive at the examination center at least 30 minutes before the scheduled exam time. You must have your ATT and approved identity (driver’s license, passport, etc.) that is current, has your photo and signature, and is valid.

Step 6: Processing Results

After six weeks, the board of nursing will send you your official results.

New Format for NCLEX RN Examination

Previously, all of the NCLEX-RN test questions were multiple-choice questions with only four options from which to choose the correct answer. The four-choice multiple-choice questions are still on the exam, but new format questions have just been introduced. In addition to narrative questions, alternative and new format questions might include tables, charts, graphs, audio recordings, and photographs or photos. The following are examples of alternate and new format questions:

Multiple response questions It asks you to check all of the right replies or items in the question. You will have to choose many right answers for this sort of alternate and innovative format inquiry.

Fill in the blank questions that need you to enter the right answer to a computation that you must perform mathematically.

Hot spot questions It requires you to locate and click on the “hot spot,” or the particular region that depicts the location that the inquiry requires you to identify.

Ordered response questions that need you to use your computer mouse to drag and drop things onto a list in the proper sequence.

Multimedia, such as charts, tables, graphics, sound, and video, may be used in all question formats, including classic four-item multiple choice questions and all of these alternatives.


What is the NCLEX-RN pass rate?

The good news is that the pass rate for first-time test takers is fairly high. Based on 2020 statistics, the overall pass percentage for first-time test takers was 86%. However, the pass rate drops dramatically for repeat test takers to about 42%.

What should I do after the NCLEX-RN?

All you can do right after the exam is wait. Many states offer a Quick Results option that will at least let you know if you pass or fail. This is not an official result and does not constitute a nursing license, but at least you can put your mind at ease. The Quick Results are available for some after two business days have passed. Once you find out you’ve passed the exam, go celebrate!

What happens if I don’t pass the NCLEX-RN?

If you don’t pass the exam on the first try, don’t panic: you wouldn’t be the first, and you can always retake the exam. You will receive a Candidate Performance Report (CPR) from the NCSBN that shows how you performed on each section of the exam. This individualized report is a helpful guide in the case of those who opt to retake the exam. 
If you don’t pass, take some time to figure out what you want to do next. If you decide to retake the test, study your CPR and focus on the areas where you didn’t perform well. If at first, you don’t succeed, try again. And don’t be too hard on yourself—the NCLEX-RN is a huge challenge and working hard at it will make your ultimate success all the sweeter.

What’s the “Next Generation NCLEX®” (NGN)?

The NGN exam uses case studies like you would see in the real world to reflect the kinds of critical decisions nurses have to make in a variety of healthcare settings. It focuses on interactions between nurse and client, the client’s needs, and expected outcomes.
The NGN will contain new types of assessment items, including:
Extended Multiple Response
Extended Drag and Drop
Cloze (Drop – Down)
Enhanced Hotspot (Highlighting)

Graduating from nursing school is a feat unto itself. However, the nursing profession is one of the most important parts of integrated, effective, life-saving healthcare. The NCLEX RN exam helps our health care system ensure that patients will receive first-class care. If you are planning to take this path of medical science, our experts at Leverage Edu can assist you in your astute journey!

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