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About the NCLEX

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What is the NCLEX?

To ensure public protection, NCSBN Member Board jurisdictions require a candidate for licensure to pass an examination that measures the competencies needed to perform safely and effectively as a newly licensed, entry-level nurse. NCSBN develops two licensure examinations, the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN), that are used by boards of nursing to assist in making licensure decisions.

Taking the NCLEX-PN or the NCLEX-RN is a capstone experience to your studies and so much more. Passing the exam demonstrates your competence so that you can launch your nursing career.

Format and Content

The NCLEX is a computer-adaptive exam.  For the details on Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT), see NCSBN > Computer Adaptive Testing.

The length of the exam is dependent on when the CAT program can determine whether you have passed or failed, but the NCLEX-RN can last up to 6 hours, and the NCLEX-PN can last up to 5 hours.

To learn more about the content and behaviors tested on the NCLEX, visit 
NCSBN > NCLEX Test Plans.

NCLEX Test Plans, which guide the selection of content and behaviors to be tested, are derived from a complex set of analyses of knowledge, skills, and abilities required to meet the needs of patients as a prospective registered or practical/vocational nurse.  The test assesses your clinical judgment to determine if you will be a safe and effective nurse.
When is the NCLEX?

Because the NCLEX is a computerized exam, there are many test date options.  Before you can schedule a test, you must first receive approval to take the exam from your local licensing board.
Registration and Fees

Once you have received approval (Authorization to Test, or ATT) from your local licensing board, you can register for the exam with Pearson VUE and schedule a test date.

The regular NCLEX registration fee is $200

See more about NCSBN Fees and Refund Policy
On Test Day
  • Bring at least one form of government-issued photo ID, as well as your ATT letter
  • You will have an option break after the first 2 hours of testing, and another after the next 3.5 hours
For more on what to expect on Test Day, visit NCSBN > Exam Day.
NCLEX Scoring

What score should I aim for?

The NCLEX is a pass/fail exam, and the pass/fail threshold changes every time a new group of students takes the exam.  Visit the NCSBN page for more detailed information on NCLEX Pass Rates

Also, keep in mind that the point of the NCLEX is to determine whether it is safe for you to begin practicing as a nurse.  You can only be certified by your state board once you pass the exam, and you can find more information on how standards are set on the NCSBN page for Frequently Asked Questions About NCLEX Psychometrics.

Understanding your score
The performance evaluation your receive with your score report will be the most comprehensive resource for understanding your score, but if you still have questions, see the NCSBN page on Exam Psychometrics for more information on how the pass rate is set.



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