NCLEX-RN is a test that all aspiring registered nurses need to take after they graduate from nursing school so that they can be licensed to start practicing. For you to be a licensed registered nurse (RN) in any state, you are required to pass the exam in the particular state.
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing Inc. (NCSBN) owns, develops, and administers this exam. It does this on behalf of the board members who consist of the 50 states, the 4 US territories and the District of Columbia. Although each state has different questions for the exam, they are formulated the same.
You can qualify for the NCLEX-RN exam if you have a diploma or degree in nursing. You can either have a diploma that is hospital-based, a Bachelor of Science degree (BSN) that takes four years or an associate degree (ADN) that takes 2 years.
NCLEX-RN Exam Format
The NCLEX-RN test uses the framework of “Client Needs”. The test integrates all content learned in nursing school instead of having them separate from other courses, which separate medical, surgical, obstetric, psychiatric exams. The NCLEX-RN exam has 4 categories and 8 subcategories.
Majority of the questions in the NCLEX-RN exam are multiple-choice ones. The questions are on three levels. There is the general knowledge level comprising Level 1 with questions being mainly multiple choices. Level 2 may or may not have questions in multiple choices. It comprises of analysis and application. Level 3 has open questions which you are required to apply processes, rules, and facts. Level 2 and 3 make up 90% of the exam.
The NCLEX-RN test is computer adaptive. This means that the next question you get will depend on the way you answered the previous question. Therefore, question one can be easy. If you answer it correctly, the next one will be slightly difficult, if you answered it incorrectly, you get a simpler question.
As you answer the questions, your competence level is determined by the computer. You can practice on prepaway site below:
NCLEX-RN Exam Structure
The NCLEX-RN test requires you to answer 75 questions at the least and 265 questions at most. There are then additional 15 experimental questions. These are not included in the results. The exam board uses them for testing future questions in the exam. You can take the NCLEX-RN exam for at most 6 hours. This time also includes a tutorial when you start. The questions have no time limit.
Although not a must, you can break after two hours and take another break again after 90 minutes.
What happens is that after you answer 75 questions, the computer tries to access your competence level. If you are above the expected standard, you pass. If you are way below the standard, you fail.
In case you are slightly below standard, you are allowed to continue answering questions until a proper assessment is made up to a maximum of 265 questions.
NCLEX-RN Exam Ends When:
- You reply to at least 75 questions and displayed minimum competency in which case you pass.
- You have replied to at least 75 questions and displayed that you don’t have minimum competency in which case you fail.
- You have given answers to 265 questions (this is the highest number of questions allowed).
- You have used up all the allowed time of six hours.
The NCLEX-RN exam questions are based on four categories. They include:
- Safe care. The section comprises of 2 concepts i.e. Management of Care where 17-23% of the test is derived from Safety and Infection Control that is 9-15% of the questions in the exam.
- Health promotion. The section caters for 6-12%of the test.
- Physiological integrity. It has four concepts which include:
1) Pharmacological and parenteral therapies accounting for 12 to 18% of the exam.
2) Basic care and comfort, for 6 to 12% of the exam.
3) Reduction of risk potential accounting for 9 to 15% of the test.
4) Physiological adaptation accounting for 11 to 17% of the exam.
- Psychosocial Integrity. It accounts for 6-12% of the test.
Grading of NCLEX-RN Exam
Therefore, your performance on the NCLEX-RN exam is not based on how many questions you answer correctly. It is measured by the difficulty of questions that you can answer 50% of the time. For you to pass, you need to correctly answer medium difficulty questions at least 50 percent of the time. In case you fail, you can retake the exam 45 days after your last intake.
4 Tips for Passing NCLEX-RN Exam
1. Understand the format of the NCLEX-RN test. The exam uses the computer adaptive testing. You pass when you correctly answer enough questions above 95% confidence interval.
2. Make thorough preparations for the exam. Use the various resources available, such as free tests, books, or you can attend classes.
3. When answering questions, remember that patients safety comes first. For instance, you need to assess the patient first before you call the doctor.
4. Practice answering questions. There are many practice questions online. Make sure you answer as many as possible. Take full mock exams.
NCLEX-RN Exam Resources
Various resources are available that can aid you in passing the exam. Some of these are preparation courses and books.
You can use books to prepare for the NCLEX-RN test. There are strategy review books, Q&A books, and content review books. These include:
- Saunders Comprehensive 7 edition: This is a NCLEX- RN content review book. The book also has 5,200 practice questions in the book and online.
- Mometrix Media: At the website https://www.mometrix.com/studyguides/nclex/, you can request for a review book for NCLEX-RN whether downloadable or printed. It covers the entire nursing content and questions.
- Kaplan: The NCLEX review by Kaplan is mainly on strategy review teaching on the kind of questions you might encounter, eliminating and prioritizing answers.
- Delmar’s Complete Review for NCLEX-RN: This second edition NCLEX-RN Review book by Donna F Gauwitz has 67 chapters of review content. The book features above 1,600 practice questions.
You can get ready for the NCLEX-RN test using various websites, such as:
- Hurst NCLEX Review online provides in person, online, or live online core content review. The website has reviews content, strategy, and practice.
- NRSNG.com: This online library has the NCLEX content. The website also has an exam simulator, flashcards videos, and practice questions.
- Kaplan: The NCLEX review is known for its strategy review. The website has live online, self-paced review, and in person courses as well as its Qbank that has the NCLEX-RN exam styled questions.
- Nurse Plus Academy: The site has free practice questions with the similar kind of questions to those in the exam.