The National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX, is a professional licensure exam for graduates of nursing schools, developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBC). The NCLEX-RN exam is for graduates of registered nursing programs, and the NCLEX-PN exam is for practical and vocational nursing graduates. Although each state regulates the practice of nursing within that state, the licensing exams are the same all across the United States. The NCLEX exam has one purpose, which is to determine whether it's safe for you to begin practicing as an entry-level nurse.
Both RNs and LPNs need to have the same basic understanding of nursing practice and knowledge, however the emphasis on each section will be different, because RNs and LPNs have different responsibilities depending on their scope of practice.
The majority of the exam questions are multiple-choice (many of which are "check all that apply"!) with four possible answer choices. The minimum number of questions for the NCLEX-RN test is 75 and the maximum number is 265, while the minimum number for the NCLEX-PN is 85 and the maximum is 205. The exam includes 15 experimental questions that do not count for, or against you. The test administrators use them to test for future questions on the exam.
Each time you answer a question, the computer adaptive test (CAT) re-estimates your abilities, based on all the previous answers. The CAT then selects the next question that it estimates you’ll have a 50% chance of answering correctly. That way, the exam is not too easy or too hard. The more questions you answer, the better the CAT estimates your abilities with a high degree of precision. When the CAT is 95% confident of your abilities (pass or fail), the test ends. However the test can also end if time has expired or you’ve answered the maximum number of questions.
Eligibility to take the NCLEX exam depends on the rules of the Nursing Regulatory Body (NRB) where you wish to practice. Each NRB has its own eligibility requirements.
The cost to take the NCLEX for US residents is $200, when you apply at Pearson VUE.
75 Minimum # of questions
265 Maximum # of questions
6 Weeks to get official results
NCLEX-RN By the numbers
6 Hours to complete test
2 Optional breaks during test
200 $ to register for exam
Candidates who have applied for licensure and registration with a participating NRB will be permitted to take the NCLEX up to eight times a year. There must be 45 test-free days between each examination. If you didn't pass the exam, you'll receive a NCLEX Candidate Performance Report (CPR). The CPR is an individualized document that shows how a candidate performed in each of the test plan content areas. The CPR is useful as a guide to prepare you to retake the exam. If you wish to retake the exam, you must notify your NRB and once authorized, pay the fees with Pearson VUE.
Hopefully, you’ve just graduated nursing school and are getting ready to take the NCLEX exam. In nursing school you probably took predictor or exit exams to graduate, but it’s important to note that the NCLEX exam is different, so adequate time and preparation is essential.
For first time test takers with a U.S. nursing degree, the pass rate is 88.85%. Repeat test takers in the U.S. average a 45.08% pass rate.
Not likely. Eligibility to take the NCLEX are determined by the local nursing regulatory body (NRB) in the jurisdiction that you wish to practice. If you are interested in finding out specifics in your jurisdiction, contact your local NRB.
Yes. If the computer adaptive test determines you will fail the test with a 95% confidence level, it will terminate as soon as 75 questions are answered. On the other hand, it can also determine you will pass the test and can end as soon as 75 questions are answered.
Even though the exam is graded as you progress, scores are further verified by Pearson VUE and your score will not be available at the test center. If your nursing regulatory body (NRB) participates in the Quick Results Service, you can purchase your ‘unofficial’ test scores for $7.95 on the Pearson VUE NCLEX website. Official results will be sent by your NRB in about 6 weeks.
The majority of the questions on the NCLEX are multiple choice (many of which are "check all that apply," with 4 possible answers. However there are alternate questions (e.g., fill-in-the-blank items, check all the apply, ordered response items).
The NCLEX-RN is up to 6 hours and the NCLEX-PN is up to 5 hours. Both exams can end early if the computer adaptive test determines a pass or fail with a 95% confidence level.
Your NRB will typically allow authorized test takers to take the exam up to 8 times, although it varies by state so check with your state. A minimum of 45 days between test dates is required.
NCLEX™, NCLEX-RN™, and NCLEX-PN™ are registered trademarks of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc., which is unaffiliated, not a sponsor, or associated with Cathy Parkes or this website.