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What is the NCLEX?

Welcome to the first of a three-part series featuring the NCLEX exam. The NCLEX can be a significant source of anxiety for many nursing students, but you don’t have to go through it alone.

NCLEX Preparation

Learn everything you need to know about the NCLEX by following along the 3-part series of blogs: What is the NCLEX, Preparing for the NCLEX, and After the NCLEX. 

If you are gearing up to take the NCLEX-RN or the NCLEX-PN, you are probably scrambling with excitement about what to expect and, above all, how to prepare. You’ve come to the right place. Keep reading for a better grasp of the NCLEX and what to expect as you prepare to register and take the exam.

What is the NCLEX?

NCLEX stands for the National Council Licensure Examination. The test is administered in a computer-adaptive form, and it varies from person to person. The NCLEX is an exam required for nursing graduates to be licensed as Registered Nurses or Practical Nurses. There are variations of the NCLEX exams, like the NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN. The NCLEX-RN is required to become a licensed Registered Nurse (RN), while the NCLEX-PN is required to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). LPNs and RNs are both nurses, and they tend to work in similar environments, but RNs work more directly with patient care, while LPNs work more with patient data collection. 

The exam itself ranges from 75-145 questions, and students are allowed a maximum of 5 hours (including breaks) to complete it. It covers four major topics: safety and effective care environments, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, and physiological integrity. Feeling prepared and knowing what to expect is half the battle, which is why it is important to know what the NCLEX will cover and how you will be tested. Stay tuned for Part II of the series for more information about the NCLEX structure and format. 

Who takes the NCLEX?

Anyone who wants to become a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) in the United States must pass the NCLEX-RN or the NCLEX-PN. 

How to Register for the NCLEX

  1. First, check your eligibility to take the NCLEX.
  2. Then, register online and pay the exam fee.
  3. Await your acknowledgement of Receipt of Registration and Authorization to Test (ATT).
  4. Finally, schedule your exam in a timely manner, so your ATT does not expire. 

Your Path Forward: Why passing the NCLEX matters. 

If you are preparing to take the exam, you have already put work into your new nursing career. You are a dedicated, hard-working, intelligent, and compassionate human being. You are ready to make a difference in your own life and in the lives of others. The NCLEX is the next big step so that you can leap into your new career. Don’t let it frighten you. With time and practice, you can ace this exam. Stay tuned for Part II of this series, Understanding the Exam, by following us on Facebook

Planning to take the NCLEX after 2023?

In order for the NCLEX to remain an effective and modern method of testing the eligibility of new nurses, it changes. Beginning April 2023, the NCLEX will use new types of questions to best assess clinical judgment. Learn more about these changes here

To learn more about the details of registering for the NCLEX, check out the NCSBN’s candidate bulletin here

Loved this blog? Don’t want to miss part II of the NCLEX series? Follow us on Facebook for program information, student motivation, and blog updates. 


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