National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)

The NCLEX is a nationally recognized examination required to become either a registered nurse (NCLEX-RN) or a licensed practical nurse (NCLEX-PN). The examinations are developed and maintained by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). State boards of nursing, which ultimately will issue or deny a candidates nursing license, consider the results of the NCLEX when deciding whether or not to issue a nursing license.

According to NCLEX’s Fact Sheet, in 2019, 83.51% of RN candidates for the NCLEX-RN were taking it for the first time. For the NCLEX-PN, 85.3% of practical nurse candidates were first-timers. First time international educated candidates came from the Philippines, India, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Nigeria and more.

NCLEX Pass Rates

The NCLEX pass rates in 2019, for all RN candidates, was 72.8%, with the highest pass rate for bachelor degree educated RNs. Practical nurse pass rate for the NCLEX was 73.71% with the highest pass rate for first time examinees educated in the United States at 85.63%. Some universities boast high pass rates as a possible indication of the value of their program.

NCLEX Application and Registration

In order to take your NCLEX, you must submit an application for licensure/registration to the nursing regulatory board in the state of your practice and register for the NCLEX, with the applicable fee. NCLEX needs to receive eligibility from your nursing regulatory board, within 365 days, in order to proceed with examination. You may register for the NCLEX online or by phone.

NCLEX Fees and Payments

When registering for the NCLEX, you will also submit a registration fee of $200 for U.S. licensure, $360 CAD for Canadian licensure, or $200 for Australian licensure.

There are additional fees such as: international scheduling, changing your nurse regulatory board after registration, changing examination type (RN/PN) after registration, changing exam language, and your state’s nursing regulatory board fees.

Taking the NCLEX

The NCLEX is offered at test centers both domestic and internationally. You must schedule an appointment online or by phone through Pearson VUE, after you’ve received an authorization to test (ATT).

NCLEX-RN

The NCLEX-RN is composed of questions on:

  • Physiological Adaptation
  • Management of Care
  • Safety and Infection Control
  • Health Promotion and Maintenance
  • Psychosocial Integrity
  • Basic Care and Comfort
  • Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies
  • Reduction of Risk Potential

The NCLEX-RN questions can range from 75-265 items. Fifteen of these are pretest items that are not scored. Total time allotment for the NCLEX-RN is six hours which includes the tutorial, sample items, and optional breaks.

NCLEX-PN

The NCLEX-PN is composed of questions on:

  • Physiological Adaptation
  • Coordinated Care
  • Safety and Infection Control
  • Health Promotion and Maintenance
  • Psychosocial Integrity
  • Basic Care and Comfort
  • Pharmacological Therapies
  • Reduction of Risk Potential

NCLEX-PN candidates must answer a minimum of 85 items out of 205 within the five hour allotted time. The time allotment includes tutorial, sample questions and all breaks.

Information on NCLEX fees, questions, and other information found on this page was last retrieved as of March 2020. For the most up-to-date information please refer to the NCLEX website.

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