For a random person NCLEX is just a computer adaptive standardized test, but for a nurse, it is a crucial step of pursuing her dream. NCLEX stands for National Council Licensure Examination. The exam is taken to determine whether or not a candidate is prepared for entry-level nursing practice.
Eligibility Criteria and Registration of The Exam
Normally, a candidate becomes illegible for taking this entrance exam after the complication of her accredited nursing degree.
However, in order to take the NCLEX test, a candidate must apply for the nursing license from her state board of nursing. Then the board decides whether the candidate meets the criteria of taking the exam or not.
If you apply, you will receive an NCLEX Examination Candidate Bulletin by mail just after the application. You have to follow the mail to register for the test.
When your state board finishes the verification formalities, you will receive an authorization to appear on the test along with the list of testing centers and instructions for how to schedule an appointment to take the examination.
Difference Between NCLEX PN and NCLEX RN
Depending on your level of education you can either take NCLEX-RN (registered nurse) or NCLEX-PN (practical nurse) examination. Among the applicants who have completed an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) can take the NCLEX-RN exam.
On the other hand, the NCLEX-PN exam is for those who have obtained a diploma in licensed practical nursing or licensed vocational nursing.
The Format of NCLEX- RN Exam
The test questions are primarily multiple choice with four possibilities. However, there are also alternative types of questions such as multiple-response, hot spots, fill-in-the-blank, chart/exhibit and drag-and-drop questions.
Subject Matter of The Questions
NCLEX RN exam questions are written based on the practical nursing experience rather than bookish knowledge.
According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, the NCLEX examination covers the following areas in the test.
- Safe effective care environment.
- Health promotion and maintenance.
- Psychosocial integrity.
- Psychological integrity.
Number of Questions
The test consists of 265 questions, but a candidate may not have to answer all the questions. However, a candidate has to answer at least 75 questions to pass the exam. Regardless of how many questions you answer, you will be given 15 experimental questions, these questions do not add any positive or negative value to the final score. The exam administrators use these questions to verify their standard so that they can enlist them in future exams.
Remember, this is a computer adaptive test, so every question has its own weightage. The exam starts with a medium difficulty level question. If you can answer it correctly, the next question will be harder than it. If you can’t, then the next question will be easier. A hard question has more weightage than an easy question.
You will have a maximum of 6 hours to finish the exam, which includes a tutorial in the beginning, but there is no time limit for each individual question. During the exam, there are no mandatory breaks. However, if a candidate wants, she can take an optional break after 2 hours, and another after 3.5 hours of testing.
How the Test Ends
It’s a computer adaptive test and ends by itself. Your exam will end if one of these occurs.
- You have already demonstrated minimum competency and answered the minimum number of questions (75- questions).
- You have already established a lack of minimum competency and answered at least 75- questions.
- You have finished answering the maximum number of questions (265 questions).
- You have used your maximum allocated time(6-hours).
How A Candidate Passes Answering 75 Questions?
You already got that NCLEX has a total of 265 questions, which means sometimes you have to answer 265 questions to pass the test. Having said that at this state if a candidate wants to pass with just answering 75 questions, then probably you yourself will realize how you have to prepare yourself.
However, before going through the tips and tricks of how you prepare yourself for this test that we have prepared for you, look at the below section to know how actually a candidate is declared passed just by examining herself with 75 questions?
We assume you already got that NCLEX NR is a computer adaptive test, as well as every question has its separate weightage. So, when a candidate answers a minimum of 75 questions, and she performs in a way that the computer assumes that in 95 percent confidence interval after answering 75 questions, If the candidate continues her exam, she will be able to persist her accuracy, only then the candidate is passed. Though at that time you won’t know whether you passed or not, but the test will stop.
As you want to answer just 75 questions and make your way to the nursing profession, you have to work really hard for it. Proving to the system that you are a qualified nursing graduate with answering only almost ¼th of total question is not an overnight process. It requires hard work, dedication, consistency and motivation.
However, as you are looking for making your place among the passed nurses with minimal exam effort, we are going to help you with some actionable suggestions on ‘how to make it happen’.
Tips and Tricks for NCLEX RN Exam
We have discussed here some proven study and exam techniques that were followed by many successful nurses. Hopefully, you will be able to utilize your preparation time and exam hours perfectly following these strategies.
Start Before Everybody Starts
As you are determined to conquer the NCLEX NR exam, you should start your preparation from the early days, actually from that day when you take your decision.
Most of the candidates, start preparing for their entrance exam after completing their graduation. As a result, they do not get enough time to work on their weaknesses and couldn’t pass at first attempt. Graduation CGPA is important, but if you can manage a few moments from your daily study schedule, that will be a bonus for you.
Start with A Diagnostic Test
Starting preparation with a diagnostic test is a good approach to get your current level of preparation, as well as to know how much distance you have to cover. You can do this after a few days of your initial preparation, basically when you completely get an idea about the exam format. Most students find it’s frightening to take a test even before full swing preparation, but it’s a proven technique also a good approach to know your strength and weakness.
Make A Study Plan
If you take preparation without a proper plan, at some point of your preparation, you may discover you didn’t learn enough though you actually learned, or you learned a lot though you actually did not so much. It happens because you have no record of what you have done and what you have to do.
So, at the very beginning, make a plan focusing on your strength and weaknesses. Also, research proved that when you have a written plan there are more chances of getting done things.
Practice Authentic Materials
You knew everything about the test format, taken your diagnostic test and prepared a study schedule, now you have to choose the best material more precisely, you have to choose the standard materials that resemble original test.
Some students find this step unnecessary, but in your preparation every minute is crucial, so why you spend your valuable time studying needless materials that do not go with the test standard?
Spend Time for The Evaluation
During your practice session, work on both the questions you got right and wrong after each session. Most students remain satisfied with just finding how many questions they got right and how many wrong, or at best only check the wrong answers.
This cannot be a strategy of a brilliant student. What if you accidentally or subconsciously got a question right, but you may not get that question right in future! So, check both of your right and wrong answers after each test.
Maintain an Error Log
You should not make the same mistake again and again. When you keep making the same mistake more than once, you may be disappointed too, also it will be hard for a student to level up her skill on a particular topic. In this regard, you can maintain an error log notebook, where you enlist all the points that you miss or can’t remember. When you start working on those errors besides your regular study hours, you will get some quick improvement.
Take Mock Tests
Remember, you are going to take the challenge of passing the NCLEX with only 75 questions, so to brush up your preparation there is no substitute than taking mock tests.
While choosing the mock test, make sure that the maker of the test uses quality and standard material for the preparation of their model questions. Otherwise, you may not get a proper measurement of your ability.
For example, you take a mock test and secure a fantastic accuracy rate, but at the end of the day, you find the mock materials were not standard and they overestimate your ability. The same can happen with the underestimation of your ability. So, choose wisely.
Believe in Yourself
Being motivated all over the preparation period also an important determiner of your success in any exam. If you lose your enthusiasm amid your preparation, you may have to sacrifice your dream.
At some points of preparation, you may find you are improving very fast; but at some points, you may not get any visible result even after studying very hard. At this situation, you have to be positive and focused. When you can maintain a positive vibe and study hard, you deserve to be passed with 75 questions!
Exam Day Tips for NCLEX RN Exam
Don’t Draw Something from Your Past Clinical or Work Experiences
If you have previous experience in working hospitals as nursing aides or techs, the experience can cloud your ability to answer test questions. You will find what you observed in the hospital during your work and textbook topics or clinical skills are different. So, the best approach for you would be to answer NCLEX questions as if you don’t have any real-life constraints as a nurse.
It’s quite obvious that a test taker can be nervous when she becomes close to the exam day. Just before the exam as well as during the exam, it’s necessary to be stress-free, because your good performance in the exam depends largely on how you are handling the exam. So, before the exam day and during the exam just be yourself, even spend these days more relaxed than before. Just before the exam day, have a tight sleep, take your favorite food, study little or not at all and reach the center as early as possible.
Test Taking Skills
The most satisfying factor about the NCLEX exam is you have a lot of time to prove yourself that you worth a position. During the exam, you have no time constraint for answering a single question, so you can find out the best option among multiple choices taking as much time as you need, which is the key factor to end exam just with 75 questions.
Here are some important tricks that you can follow on the test day.
- As we said, reach earlier. If possible, visit the center day before the test.
- Bring some snacks to the center and store them in your locker.
- Wear comfortable clothe.
- You can use the ‘process of elimination’ as your answering techniques.
- Don’t upset if you find any question out of your knowledge, just ignore it.
- Pay special attention to SATA type questions.
Frequently Asked Questions about NCLEX RN Exam
Students always keep asking the senior nurses and webmasters different questions about NCLEX exam. For our readers, we have answered 6 of the most frequently asked questions related to NCLEX exam. We hope these will make NCLEX even more understandable.
What Percentage of Candidates Pass the NCLEX Exam?
The NCSBAN (National Council of State Boards of Nursing) always publishes all exam statistics for the public. According to the NCLEX Exam of 2017, the overall passing percentage of first-time test candidates in the US was 87.11%, and those who earned either diploma or Baccalaureate Degree has the passing rate of 90 percent.
If I’m Not Sure About Which Option Is Best, Should I Guess?
Answer: Imprudent guessing during the exam most of the time lowers the scores. If you find any question totally out of your knowledge, you can use the process of elimination approach. Doing this you can increase the probability of getting the right answer.
For example, in an unknown question, if you can remove 1 option among 4, your chances of choosing right option will be 25% to 33%, if you can remove 2 it will be 50%, so why you guess randomly?
Can A Foreign Degree Holder Take NCLEX RN?
Answer: Yes, she can, in the USA every state has its own requirements for foreign-educated nurses. In general, if she has 2 or more years of regular nursing education, her diploma will be accepted by the USA authority, and she is eligible for taking the NCLEX RN examination.
What Are the Good Signs That I Will Pass the Exam?
Answer: Actually, after a certain time of your preparation you will discover the signs by yourself, am I going to pass?
However, you can have a good idea about your preparation status appearing on the model tests. When you will be able to make a brilliant score continuously in 3 to 4 mocks at straight, congratulation you are going to conquer the NCLEX RN. Other than this, during your practice, if you can solve Hard, Very Hard, especially, SATA type questions without facing any difficulty, surely you are in good shape to pass the test.
Can I Take the NCLEX Exam in Any Languages Other Than English?
Answer: No, you can’t. Regardless of the state and test center location, the NCLEX authority conducts this exam only in the English language.
Is NCLEX Hard to Pass?
Answer: As we mentioned, in 2017 the passing rate was 87% for the first time take, additionally the second-attempt passing rate for domestically-educated students was 45.56% in the same year. According to these percentages, it can be said that the test is a pretty difficult test. Here, the questions are designed to test candidates’ critical thinking ability, assessment skills, and knowledge of the nursing process.
At the same, as the test also allows its candidates flexibility with timing, and passing answering as less as 75 questions, anyone study hard will pass the exam successfully with the first attempt.
An Important NCLEX RN Exam Recommendation
We assume you have a good understanding of the NCLEX RN exam and know passing this exam with 75 questions is not an easy task. So, we would recommend you should not just confine yourself with the mindset that you will answer only 75, it may put pressure on your mind. You just prepare hard, try your best on the exam, concentrate question by question. Actually, no one can guarantee you that you will pass just answering 75 questions, so the better approach is you keep a mindset that 75 will be best, but more than that is also welcome.
NCLEX exam is not like other competitive exams, you don’t have to outmarch other candidates to secure your position. If anyone meets passing criteria, passes the exam and get a job. So, if you study hard and keep up your practicing, you will definitely make it happen, now or later.