The NCLEX exam, which stands for National Council Licensure Examination, is the only test that is administered to prospective registered nurses. Since it is the only standardized test sitting between a nursing student and a registered nurse, it is extremely comprehensive and covers all of the topics necessary to determine if it is safe for a graduate to practice as a nurse. No matter what state you are in, the format of the test will remain the same. The only reason you will need to know state requirements is to find out how many credits or what type of degree you must have to actually be able to get an Authorization to Test.
The format of thee NCLEX is not much like the medical model that is followed in school. Instead of taking separate tests to cover surgical processes, pediatrics, psychiatric care and other subjects, the content on the test is fully integrated. According to Kaplan Nursing, you will be tested on four different categories with multiple choice questions and fill in the blank questions. The categories are as follows:
- Safe and Effective Care Environment
- Psychosocial Integrity
- Physiological Integrity
- Health Promotion and Maintenance
How is the NCLEX Examination Graded?
Before you take any type of test, especially a test for licensure, you should know how your answers will be graded. The NCLEX-RN test is a unique test where you will either pass or fail but you are not given a numerical grade for each section of the test. Receiving a numerical score may be able to show you where you are struggling and where you are strong, but with this exam you receive only a diagnostic profile that shows you how many questions you have answered when you fail. If you did not get through enough questions, this means that you did not cover the questions at a level of difficulty that proves that you are ready to provide care.
It is not unusual to fail the first time that you take the test. In fact, a majority of those who sit for the exam fail for one reason or another. You will not find out until about two to four weeks after submitting your test at the site whether you passed or failed. If you do not pass, you have the option to retest 45 days after you took your test the first time. You can retest without paying another fee.
How to Prepare for the Exam
Before you apply to take the exam and you register to receive an Authorization to Test you should set aside time for preparations, according to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. You might think that graduating from a nursing program is preparation enough, but studying with the right materials will better your chances of passing. There are special review sessions that you can attend through the NCSBN or materials that you can use to study on your own. Check to see if there are sessions available through your college as well and study regularly without cramming.
Related Resource: Director of Nursing Education
If an exam is the only thing sitting between you and your next step in your career, it is time to get to work. Studying is crucial when you are taking an exam that covers so much content. Use the resources that you have at your disposal and then take your NCLEX exam so that you can become a RN.