The National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses or NCLEX RN is a test with the aim to determine your skills and characteristics before doing any practice of nursing in the future. This test is very distinctive compared to any other exam you have taken before, with an unique way of organizing questions and calculating your score. Therefore, to get your desired score, it is important for you to do some research about “what is NCLEX RN exam?”, “How hard is the NCLEX RN?”, or how to pass it.


1. The NCLEX RN overview


The NCLEX RN is based on a framework that focuses on meeting client needs, which means you have to think in a very logical and critical way to find out the best solutions for patients. If you want to be a legally licensed nurse, you have to prove both your skills and morality by solving questions in this evaluation. The goal of this examination is to protect people from receiving unsafe and ineffective treatments or nursing services. Since nursing is a combination of science and art, the evaluation for nursing qualification will also be very different from other types of tests you have seen. While most of the tests are knowledge-based, the NCLEX RN is application-based. For that reason, passing this exam requires you to be very well-prepared but not only just memorizing textbook’s information, but also practical experiences and critical thinking approaches.


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>> Read more: NCLEX PN vs RN: Is NCLEX-RN Harder than NCLEX-PN?


2. The registration process for the NCLEX RN test


The National Council of State Boards of Nursing states that you should follow some steps for taking the NCLEX RN examination. Firstly, contact the state board of nursing that you want to get a license from, usually in the same state as the nursing school you graduated from. You will receive an application for the NCLEX RN during your last semester in nursing school, which means around 6 weeks before graduation. When you submit the completed forms to the testing center, you will later receive a letter called “Authorization to test” then you will see your candidate information and you can arrange your test schedule date and time. 


Secondly, you have to fulfill all the requirements from the state’s nursing board you have chosen to apply for. You will have to contact the official testing company called Pearson VUE, they will send you further documents via email with detailed information you need to know.


The final step for this registration process is arranging the date and time of your test day with Pearson VUE and completing the payment of the registration fee. The cost of taking this exam in the US is $200. You can choose a method of payment via MasterCard, VISA, and so on. All of this payment information will be only sent through your email so you have to check your email box carefully. In case you need to delay or change your examination schedule, you have to do it at least 24 hours earlier than the scheduled time. 


3. The format and structure of the NCLEX RN


3.1 How many questions are there on the NCLEX RN?


The format of the NCLEX RN exam is based on a mechanism called CAT, which stands for “computer adaptive test”. This format of testing focuses on your capability to respond, so it makes sure that the difficult level of the test is not too high or too low for each individual. The number of questions you receive also varies depending on your ability to answer them. As a result, each candidate will have a unique list of questions, with a minimum of 75 and the maximum of 265 questions. You can spend as much time as you want for a single question but only when you finish it you can go to the next one. It means you should divide your time equally and logically so you will not be trapped with any questions.  In order to score high, spend time taking our NCLEX Practice Questions!


3.2 What are the NCLEX RN’s contents and structure?


About the structure of the NCLEX RN test, questions are usually raised in the form of multiple choice. Sometimes, there will be alternate kinds of questions like fill-in-the-blank, charts, graphics, and drag and drop… In terms of contents and topics, there are four main categories of topics that appear in the test, and each part accounts for different percentages of contribution. The first one is the Safe and Effective Care Environment, which consists of two sections: management of care (17-23%), and safety and infection control (9-15%). The next category is called Health promotion and maintenance, which accounts for 6% to 12% of the total while the third one named Psychosocial Integrity takes from 6% to 12%. For the last category about Physiological Integrity, it includes four smaller sections with different distribution portions: Basic Care and Comfort (6-12%), Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies (12-18%), Reduction of Risk Potential (9-15%), and Physiological Adaptation (11-17%). By deeply understanding the structure of the test, your chance of succeeding in the NCLEX RN will definitely increase. 

>> Read more: What is a good NCLEX RN passing score


3.3 How long is the NCLEX RN exam?


The duration of the test is limited to 6 hours. You will be briefly explained about the exam, and when you are on the test, there are two optional breaks so you can relax. The first 10-minute break is after 2 hours in the test, and the second one is 3.5 hours after the test begins. The testing mechanism will stop showing new questions when you surpass or fail the standard. The satisfaction standard of the test is you reach 95% of correct answers. 


4. Some helpful guidance for success on the NCLEX RN test?


Certainly, there are some useful guidelines for you to achieve your dream goal. First of all, make sure that you read and understand the question clearly so that you don’t have to read them again. Try to find out the best answers among a list of seemingly correct options.


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Secondly, try to balance your time on every question so that you spend equal amounts of time and effort on it. If you spend too much time on a single question, there will be less time for the next ones. Finding the best answers depends on the situation since the questions are usually based on practical experience or real cases.


Besides, you will be able to review all of your answers after you finish all the questions. By double-checking on your previous answers, you may realize some errors you have made. After that, remember to click on the button to record your answers and your score will be shown on the screen. 


Ultimately, after you complete your NCLEX RN test, you will be provided a short questionnaire and survey to express your opinions and experiences during the test time.


The exam results will be sent to you around six weeks after attending the exam. During this waiting time, have yourselves a break and relieve stress and worries. In case you don’t get your desired score, don’t despair. By working harder and smarter, you can get closer to your goals with the NCLEX RN exam.