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Nursing Schools - Preparing for the NCLEX

Getting a degree from a nursing school is only part of the process to becoming a registered or practicing nurse. From there, school graduates will have to obtain a nursing license from their State Board of Nursing. Part of this means passing the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination). This is a standardized test to determine if a candidate is ready to enter the nursing field.

The Procedure:

  1. Upon graduating from nursing school, contact your State Board of Nursing and apply for a nursing license. The board will determine whether you’re eligible for the NCLEX.
  2. They’ll send you a NCLEX Candidate Bulletin in the mail.
  3. Register to take the exam with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). You’ll be able to do this by phone, mail in forms, or online.
  4. Your State Board gives you the ATT (Authorization to Take the Test). They’ll also send you a list of testing centers and tell you how to schedule your test.

The Cost:

The examination fee for the NCLEX is $200.00. This is only the testing fee. Your license fees and applications for licenses vary from state to state. Contact your State Board of Nursing for specifics.

What’s Covered in the NCLEX:

Safe and Effective Care and Environment: This section is divided into two categories. Coordinated Care (11-17% for PN & 13-19% for RN), testing the candidate’s ability to coordinate with team members to provide care for the patient and family. Safety and Infection Control (8-14% for PN & 8-14% for RN), testing the candidate’s knowledge on environmental hazards.

Health Promotion and Maintenance: Constituting 7-13% for PN and 6-12% for RN, this section covers stages of development, health problem prevention, and early detection. Psychological Integrity: 8-14% for PN and 6-12% for RN - examines your knowledge of the social, emotional, and mental health of patients.

Physiological Integrity:
This section is split into four categories:

  1. Basic Care and Comfort (11-17% for PN & 6-12% for RN) – Providing comfort and care to patients and providing assistance in tasks and activities.
  2. Pharmacological Therapies (9-15% for PN & 13-19% for RN) – Providing and monitoring medication, and screening patients who receive parenteral therapy.
  3. Reduction of Risk Potential (10-16% for PN & 13-19% for RN) – Reducing the risks of complications related to treatments, procedures, and other conditions.
  4. Physiological Adaptation (12-18% for PN & 11-17% for RN) – Participating in care for patients with acute, chronic, or life threatening health problems.

Question and Answers:

  • Do I need a nursing school degree? In most cases, yes. Some states allow degrees from nursing related industries. Check your State Board of Nursing for specifics.
  • Do I have to retake the exam if I move to another state? Usually not, but you will need to apply for a license in your new state. Check your State Board of Nursing for specifics.
  • What kind of test is it? The NCLEX is a Computerized Adaptive Test (CAT). In this test, you answer multiple choice questions. As you answer right or wrong, the computer asks appropriately easier or harder questions to find your level of competence. You must answer a minimum of 75 questions for the RN (Registered Nursing) test and a minimum of 85 questions for the LPN (Licensed Practitioner Nursing) test.
  • Can I retake the exam if I fail? Yes, after 91 days, you can retake the exam if you fail.

How long will it take before I see my test results? It usually takes a month to get your test results, so have patience.

The NCLEX is there for patient protection, and plays a valuable role in safeguarding the nursing industry from incompetence. It works with nursing schools to keep hospitals and care providers staffed with skilled nurses.



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