Before you can practice as a Licensed Practical Nurse or Registered Nurse, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), which was developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). The examination is the same no matter which state you plan to practice in.
Hopefully, your accredited state-approved program has prepared you to pass the exam. If possible, before entering a program, it is a good idea to check their NCLEX passage rates to assure that they will help you do the same. After you complete your online nursing degree program, you will qualify to take the exam for your Licensed Practical Nurse (NCLEX-PN) certification or for your Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN) certification. Upon graduating your nursing courses, the state in which you wish to practice will be notified of your program completion.
The standardized test measures competencies and determines if graduates are capable of entering the nursing field in an entry-level position by exhibiting the essential skills, knowledge and abilities necessary for safe practice. Studies show that students who take the exam immediately after graduation, score at a higher success rate than those that put it off till later.
Before taking your test, verify that you have met all eligibility requirements and then you may submit an application to the board of nursing in the state in which you intend to work. Upon their verification, they will send you an “Authorization to Test” (ATT) letter. At that point, you may register and schedule your exam. Typically, you may be allowed to test within about three weeks from graduation, however, you must test between the dates that are specified on your ATT. You will need your authorization letter to schedule your exam date and you must present it, as well, to the testing center for admission. If you do not have your ATT letter, you will be required to re-register and pay the exam fee again. Speaking of exam fee, the total cost of the NCLEX exam is approximately $200 and is due at the time of registration. Each state has its own fee costs for licensure that averages around $100.
The NCLEX exam covers four categories: safe and effective care environments, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity and physiological integrity. The computerized NCLEX exam is an adaptive testing format, therefore, each test is customized to the examinee. Based on your answers, the computer adjusts the challenge level of each question. Since each test is an individual experience, you may have as few as 75 questions on your test or as many as 265 questions. The test will end when you have either passed or failed.
You will need to complete the exam within a six-hour time frame if you are sitting for your RN exam and five hours for your PN exam. This time includes a short tutorial and two breaks.
You will receive a pass/fail score and if you do not pass, you must wait 45 days until you are authorized to take the exam again. The board of nursing regulatory body will allow the student eight times to repeat the exam within a one year period, however, these numbers may vary per state. It may take four to six weeks to get the official results of your examination. On average, 70 – 75% of students have a successful first-time passing result.
If you are interested in more information pertaining to a nursing career, then feel free to check out our Top Online Nursing Degree Programs.