We all know that the NCLEX questions are mostly multiple-choice. In fact, there are also different test items that you might not know about them. In this article, we are going to introduce the types of NCLEX questions, how they are written to evaluate your ability and skills, as well as some clues to deal with them in the NCLEX exam. Let’s move to the main part!


common nclex questions
common types of nclex questions

1. What is NCLEX?


1.1. How many questions is the NCLEX?

NCLEX stands for National Council Licensure Examination, which refers to one of two standardized tests nurses need to pass to become either a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a registered nurse (RN). You can choose to do the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN exam depending on your career decision.

  • NCLEX-RN: this test consists of between 75 and 265 questions, you are allowed to do it for a maximum of 5 hours.
  • NCLEX-PN: this test consists of between 85 and 205 questions and you also have 5 hours to complete it.  

>> See more: NCLEX Study Guide

1.2. What are the NCLEX topics?

In general, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) already provided the test plan for each type of NCLEX exam, which helps learners understand the content of the test. Let’s take a quick look at the table below: 

Management of Care: 16-22%

Safe & Infection Control: 8-14%

Health Promotion & Maintenance: 6-12%

Psychosocial Integrity: 6-12%

Physiological Integrity 

  • Basic Care & Comfort: 6-12%
  • Pharmacological & Parenteral therapies: 13-19%
  • Reduction of Risk Potential: 10-16%
  • Physiological Adaptation: 11-17%
Safe & Effective care environment 

  • Coordinated care: 18-24%
  • Infection control and safety: 10-16%

Health Promotion and Maintenance: 6-12%

Psychosocial Integrity: 9-15%

Physiological Integrity

  • Basic care, comfort: 7-13%
  • Pharmacological therapies: 10-16%
  • Risk potential reduction: 9-15%
  • Physiological adaptation: 7-13%


2. What are the types of NCLEX questions? 


2.1. Multiple choice (MCQ)

First of all, multiple choice is the most common type in the NCLEX Exam. It can be estimated that about 80 – 90% of the questions will be presented in MCQ form. Usually, this type of question will come along with the phrase “Which of the following” or “What is the most appropriate”, or keywords such as BEST, MOST, FIRST.  

Example: The nurse is reviewing the lab results of a patient with acute pancreatitis. Which of the following serum amylase levels would the nurse expect?

  1. 200 U/L
  2. 25 U/L
  3. 425 U/L
  4. 75 U/L

Correct Answer: 3

Explanation: The normal range for serum amylase is 25–120 U/L. Levels at least 3 times the reference range are indicative of acute pancreatitis.

  • In chronic pancreatitis, serum amylase levels are generally slightly elevated. Amylase levels are only slightly elevated because of pancreatic atrophy, causing a decrease in amylase production and storage.
  • 75 U/L and 25 U/L are within the normal range.
  • 200 U/L is only slightly elevated and may be present in chronic pancreatitis.

You must remember that there is only one correct answer, thus, don’t spend too much time wondering if there are one or more correct questions. 


nclex questions exam
MCQ is the most common type of NCLEX questions

2.2. Multiple-response

Besides the MCQ, there will be other types of NCLEX questions that do not account for a large number of the exam. This type of question also can be called “Select all that apply” or SATA questions. It requires learners to decide which are the correct answers among 5 or 6 options. The SATA question type often applies to the clinical indications of a disease, side effects of a medication, discharge instructions to a client, community education, or safety and care standards. Thus, prepare for those topics carefully to ace the SATA questions.

Example: A patient is prescribed sildenafil for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. The nurse should include which of the following serious side effects and risks in the teaching plan.

  1. Arrhythmias
  2. Confusion
  3. Flushing
  4. Headache
  5. Myocardial infarction
  6. Severe hypotension

Correct answer: 1, 5, 6


  • Sildenafil is a selective vasodilator that can cause severe hypotension. Sildenafil should be avoided if the patient is taking nitrates, which can potentiate the effects of vasodilation.
  • Potentially serious side effects of sildenafil include hypotension, myocardial infarction, arrhythmias, hearing loss, and stroke.
  • Flushing and headache are common side effects of sildenafil, but they are not serious.
  • Confusion is not a known side effect of sildenafil.

2.4. Fill-in-the-blank

Another type of NCLEX question is fill-in-the-blank. You will use a calculator, a mobile device, or paper and pencil to tackle a problem like calculating a drug dosage or IV drip-rate. After that, you will type your response. The question stem will specify the measurement units, the number of decimal places, and whether or not you should round the answer. The computer will ask you to “enter a numeric answer” if you don’t provide a number in order to continue.


2.5. Chart

In addition, chart is one of the types of NCLEX questions. The data used to create these test questions is taken from a client’s chart, which frequently includes tabs for a client’s history and physical, prescriptions, lab results, vital signs, flow sheets, and progress comments. The information will be presented in a table with tabs. You will locate and examine the information that is present in the chart before using these facts to respond to questions. If a question involving a chart or exhibit is given to you, thoroughly study the material in the tables. Utilize the information only. Make notes on paper or the provided whiteboard at the testing facility.


2.6. Drag-and-drop

You’ll be asked to rearrange facts in accordance with a predetermined order on a test item known as an ordered response. For instance, the query might inquire about the order of importance for client care or the steps in a process. There could be as many as six items. There is no partial credit, just like there isn’t for the multiple-choice questions. You won’t get credit if even one thing is out of position. You’ll shift the things from the left side of the screen to the right side when you take the NCLEX. Once you’re certain that they are in the right sequence, click “submit.” This question type does not appear recently, however, when it comes to this section, make sure you can do it to conquer all types of NCLEX questions. 


2.7. Graphic option

With the exception of the absence of a written stem, these are analogous to multiple-choice exam items. You can be asked to identify the correct response or responses to a question that includes drawings, pictures, or figures. Identification of a client position or a sort of traction are two examples. Simply click the box or circle next to the appropriate image to choose your response.


2.8. Audio/Video clips

The last one in the types of NCLEX questions we are going to introduce is Audio. You must watch or listen to a brief clip by clicking the “play” button on these test items before responding to a question regarding your interpretation. Heartbeats, breath noises, and conversational exchanges are some examples of audio snippets. Video clips may depict clinical scenarios or actions, such as administering an injection. You can rewind both kinds of clips as frequently as necessary.


3. What are the FAQs of the types of NCLEX questions?


3.1. Are NCLEX questions the same for everyone?

The NCLEX uses a CAT format or computerized adaptive testing, meaning no single exam is identical. During the course of the exam, the computer algorithm produces each new question based on your performance from previous questions.

nclex questions types
NCLEX test is not the same for everyne

3.2. Is getting a lot of SATA on NCLEX good?

A common myth about Select All That Applies (SATA) types of NCLEX questions is that if you get many of them on your test, you’re definitely passing. Again, this is definitely not true, and it’s actually very subjective.


3.3. Are priority questions higher level on NCLEX? 

Yes, priority and delegation tend to be higher-level questions because (for the most part) it assumes by a certain point that you have enough knowledge to answer them.


3.4. Does everyone get research questions after NCLEX? 

No, it’s optional.


3.5. Which state has the easiest NCLEX exam?

If you are looking for the best state for NCLEX or the easiest state to pass NCLEX, here are the top 5:

#1 Connecticut. 

#2 Montana

#3 New York

#4 Northern Mariana Islands

#5 South Dakota


In summary, we’ve provided you all the types of NCLEX questions that might appear on your test. Ensure you aim yourself with not only the NCLEX knowledge but also the test format to pass and score high on the NCLEX Exam. However, if you are not confident about the NCLEX test, you can practice more with the online NCLEX Practice Test, a good tool to boost your NCLEX score.