The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) is the national governing body that provides testing to nursing school graduates. There are two tests, the NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN (for registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, respectively), both of which require a passing score in order for a nurse to be licensed to practice in the field. Although the test is nationally-governed, each state has different restrictions regarding how and when this test is required.
For many nursing students, the NCLEX-RN, or National Council Licensure EXamination) represents a major stepping stone in the process of becoming a nurse. It is a highly regulated test, much like the Bar Exam for lawyers, and the amount of studying required can be quite a hefty undertaking.
Studying for the NCLEX-RN
Accredited nursing programs are designed with the NCLEX-RN exam in mind. Although the curriculum certainly varies depending on where you go to school, what degree you’re hoping to attain, and what your specialty is, basic competencies in the NCLEX-RN areas are included. The test is designed to examine your knowledge base and nursing skills to ensure that you are ready for entry-level nursing work.
The exam covers a wide range of topics, with a focus on both providing care and taking a leadership role in the healthcare field. Graduates can expect questions on:
- Safe Effective Care Environment
- Management of Care
- Safety and Infection Control
- Health Promotion and Maintenance
- Psychosocial Integrity
- Physiological Integrity
- Basic Care and Comfort
- Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies
- Reduction of Risk Potential
- Physiological Adaptation
The format of the test is primarily multiple choice, and it is almost always done on a computerized system. Additional questions might ask candidates to identify body segments, calculate mathematical equations relevant to nursing and medication, and answer a few fill-in-the-blank questions.
Setting Up a NCLEX-RN Test Time
Most nursing graduates take the NCLEX-RN test within two months of graduation. Waiting too long might require a bigger study time, since so much of the information is directly related to what you learn in school. Your nursing program should be able to direct you through the steps of setting up a test time.
As a basic overview, you can expect to apply for licensure within the state in which you’d like to be licensed. The state will then determine your eligibility based on your education, degree, and work history. You are then free to register for the NCLEX-RN exam, and you will most likely be assigned a test location and time. The test costs $200 to take, and is strictly overseen by test officials.
For more information on preparing for and taking the NCLEX-RN exam, you can visit the National Council of State Board of Nurses at their testing page.