Careers in nursing require passing The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)

To ensure public safety, entry level nursing candidates must meet set requirements established by the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The requirements involve passing specific exams that demonstrate that the candidate has the necessary skills to perform their duties safely and effectively. The National Council of State Board of Nursing (NCSBN) develops and administers licensing exams throughout the fifty states, four territories, and the District of Columbia. Pearson VUE is the contracted exam provider, that also administers and helps develop test materials.

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Several things need to be done for registration:

• Before registering for the exam, you must register with the board of nursing and be declared eligible. The eligibility requirements vary from one state to another so check with your board.

• After you have submitted an application to the licensing board where you wish to work, register with Pearson VUE. Once the application has been approved you will receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) number from Pearson VUE.

• In order to book an exam time, you must have an Acknowledgement of Receipt of Registration from Pearson VUE, an eligibility letter from the board of nursing in your state, and an ATT from Pearson VUE.

• Test centers are available throughout the United States and are listed on the Pearson VUE website.

• Registration is available through the internet, telephone or by mail. If you register by internet or telephone you can pay using a credit or debit card (VISA, MasterCard or American Express). It is also possible to send in a money order, cashier or certified check by mailing the confirmation document along with the payment.

• Only money orders, cashier’s checks or certified checks will be accepted for mail in orders.

• The cost of the exam is $200. There may be additional licensure fees depending on the board with which you are affiliated.

• The exam is only offered in a computerized format.

• It is important to schedule the exam time as quickly as possible as there is limited seating, and places are assigned on a first come, first serve basis.
Just before you write the exam

Upon arrival at the test center, you will be asked for one piece of identification and a valid ATT. The only acceptable forms of identification at the test centers are U.S. driver’s license, U.S. state identification, passport, or U.S. Military Identification.

It is best to arrive 30 minutes early for the exam. If you arrive more than 30 minutes late, you may not be allowed to take the exam, and you will not be reimbursed.

Important aspects of the exam you need to know in your NCLEX RN practice:

• The test contains 265 questions and allows six hours for completion. Nurse candidates must answer a minimum of 75 questions.

• The questions contain both multiple choice and written items in an alternating format. The differing formats include fill in the blank calculations, ordered response, and/or hot spots. Charts, tables, graphics, and video can be part of the question.

• The content of the test is intended to challenge nurse candidate’s knowledge and skills across the lifespan of a patient, in a variety of settings. The topics include Safe and Effective Care Environment, Health Promotion and Management, Psychosocial Integrity, and Psychological Integrity.

• The test also addresses the fundamental processes central to nursing such as Nursing Process, Caring, Communication and Documentation, and Teaching/Learning which are incorporated into all aspects of the exam.

• The exam uses a computer adaptive system (CAT) which means that depending on whether or not the previous response was correct or incorrect, the following question will be harder or easier respectively. This allows the test to establish an accurate range of expertise.

Hitting a home run – passing the exam

The results of the exam will be available through the state nursing board. Some nursing boards participate in the Quick Results Service which means you can obtain unofficial results 48 hours after the exam. This option is also available with Pearson VUE for $7.95 on the NCLEX Candidate website.

The official results will be mailed to you approximately one month after the exam. If you are successful you will receive a “pass” status. If you fail the test, you will receive a two page document called the Candidates Performance Report (CPR). The report will provide information on how many items were answered, and will indicate “below, near, or above passing standard” in various categories.

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