NCLEX: 7 Essential Facts You Need to Know About the Exam

Picture of Javiera Vega

Javiera Vega

Study Consultant at Gradehacker

What Are Common Questions About The NCLEX Exam?

We know you have many NCLEX questions, and we’ll solve them in this article.

The NCLEX is an exam process you need to become a nurse in the US. There is a lot of information about this exam, so much so that it becomes overwhelming for someone just starting their journey through a nursing program.

The fact that you might depend entirely on the result of a single exam can be a frightening possibility that you never asked for in the first place.

Here at Gradehacker, we are experts in helping college students, and since many of our clients follow a path in healthcare, we have developed this guide about the 7 essential NCLEX questions you should know.

Once you’re done reading, you will realize that this exam is a logical step you have to take once you finish your initial academic journey into nursing.

So, with that clear, let’s start with the basics:

1) What Does NCLEX Mean? Why It's So Important?

NCLEX stands for National Council Licensure Examination.

This is a standardized test that every state regulatory board uses to identify which candidates are ready to become a practical (LPN) or registered nurse (RN).

It is designed to measure the nurse’s competency and skills and, most importantly, allows you to work as a nurse in the US.

It’s a photograph of two students preparing for the NCLEX exam

2)What Are The Prerequisites To Take The NCLEX?

First, it is essential to clarify that each nursing regulatory body (NRB) has its eligibility requirements. So, you’ll have to contact the NRB you seek licensure/registration in to know what prerequisites they ask for.

The most essential requirement is having the appropriate nursing certification.

To take the NCLEX-PN Exam, you need:

  •  Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) degree or Licensed Vocational Nursing (LVN).

 Similarly, to take the NCLEX-RN Exam, you need: 

  • Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN).

Once you graduate, the NRB will declare you ready. You will receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) by email, allowing you to make an appointment to take your exam in any authorized testing center nearby.

3) Are NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN The Same Thing?

This is another recurrent NCLEX question, and the answer is no, they are not.

Anyone who wants to work as a nurse is required to take and pass the NCLEX exam. However, the test has two variants, depending on your educational level.

Those who hold a practical nursing diploma to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) must pass the NCLEX-PN, and Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree holders who wish to become a registered nurse (RN) must pass the NCLEX-RN.

The main difference between these exams is that the NCLEX-RN focuses more on managing care, while the NCLEX-PN focuses on coordination.

The exam consists of between 75 and 145 questions. In addition to this, the minimum of correct answers is 60, while the maximum number of scored items is 130.

It's a picture of three nursing students walking at the university and looking at some books studying for the NCLEX

4) How Is The NCLEX Set Up?

The NCLEX is a computer-adaptive test. This means that you will take the exam on a computer set in a testing center of your choice.

Second, according to your initial performance in the exam, the difficulty of the following questions will be determined.

For example, if you miss the previous item, the next one will be easier. On the other hand, if you get one correct answer, the next one will be a more difficult question. This format is created to get a more accurate result in which areas you are better at or need improvement.

Adaptive testing also affects the length of the exam. Depending on your performance, you get between 75 to 145 questions. However, you will always have 5 hours to complete the process with breaks included.

About 90% of the questions are multiple-choice, while the rest is divided between fill-in-the-blank, chart reading, audio listening, or similar questions.

5) What Topics Are Covered In The NCLEX? Is It Difficult?

Areas of Practice

The NCLEX is divided into four areas of practice, no matter which variant you decide to take, which are the following:

NCLEX 7 Essential Questions You Need to Know About the Exam

Questions

The questions also come in three levels of difficulty:

Even though 90% of the exam comprises level 2 and 3 questions, you will be happy to know that, based on the results from 2023, the total percentage of first-time test candidates in the US to pass was 87,62%.

You will undoubtedly ace the test with proper preparation through study, practice exams, and stress-management practices!

6) How Can You Register to Take the NCLEX Test?

The registration process depends on whether you take the NCLEX-PN or NCLEX-RN Exam, but the main difference will be which one you select as an option while filling out the online registration.

About six to eight weeks before you graduate, you will receive two applications: one for licensure and one to take the NCLEX exam.

After you complete these applications and submit them to your nursing school, you will receive the ATT (Authorization To Test).

Only after you get the authorization can you register to take the exam at the NCLEX candidate website and create an account.

The test costs $200, and you can schedule an exam appointment to take it online through the  NCLEX candidate website or by calling the  Pearson VUE Testing Centers directly.

7) How Will the Day of Your NCLEX Exam Be?

This is the last and most recurrent NCLEX question.

After your exam appointment, you will arrive at the Pearson VUE Testing Center of your choice. 

Once you’re there, a receptionist will greet you, and you must fill out the check-in paperwork. It is advised to arrive 30 minutes earlier so you can do this process calmly.

You will then be asked which variant of the test you will be taking, and you will get a sheet with information.

Once you are done with that, you will be asked to provide a Government ID that includes:

  • Photo
  • Signature on a digital pad
  • Fingerprint
  • Palm vein scanning

We know this can sound threatening, but it is just a way to check that you are, in fact, you. Then, a digital photo will be taken, and you’ll be ready to go!

You can put your items in a locker (since phones and other devices are not allowed). 

You will meet your test administrator and undergo another quick identification process; they’ll give you a calculator if you need it and an erasable note board.

You will be escorted to your testing station with a computer and your exam available. Remember that these tests are proctored, so your audio and video will be recorded.

When you need breaks or are done, you can signal to the administrator by raising your hand so they can help you.

All centers are ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant, so whatever assistance you need will be provided.

NCLEX Exam Highlights and Tips

Let’s review the main aspects of the NCLEX questions once more.

Close up view of nursing student standing in the study room.

Taking the NCLEX: A Culmination of Your Nursing Career

Usually, people think the NCLEX exams are stressful because they must prepare themselves to take them. They may feel overwhelmed with all the information they find online about the exam and the comments from other test-takers.

However, always think about this as a culmination of your career. You won’t just be thrown to the lions; your classes, experiences, and studying will be your best tools for overcoming this stage.

We hope this guide gave you better insight into how this last step into your future is nothing to fear if you have the correct information.

If you need help with your academic nursing journey, you can always count on Gradehacker. Just  send your request, and we’ll be happy to help.

And for your Nursing career, you can check these blogs to facilitate your path:

Picture of Javiera Vega

Javiera Vega

Javiera Vega is a Study Consultant and Content Creator for Gradehacker. She has a degree in Education and Literature and is currently working on getting a master’s degree in Linguistics. Even though words, languages, and books are her thing, science and psychology were her hidden passion for many years. Luckily, Gradehacker has allowed her to use all that knowledge by helping many clients with everything they need. Javiera considers herself a proud nerd who likes to learn and read about everything she can find. From movies and comics to microbiology and genetics, every topic is interesting for her. Her curiosity has no limits. Find her on LinkedIn