The NCLEX-RN examination questions are written by masters or doctorally prepared nursing experts who work with RNs or teach RN students. The nurses who write the questions are called "item writers." In order to participate on an item writer panel, nurses must currently work with nurses who have graduated from nursing programs within the last twelve months, or they must teach nursing students.
After the questions are written, they are reviewed by a second panel called "item reviewers." This is an all RN panel for NCLEX-RN examination items. An advanced degree is not required for the item review panel. The National Council tries to get a wide representation of nurses to participate on the item review panels. The United States and its surrounding territories are divided by the National Council into four geographic areas. It is important that each item development panel is composed of nurses representing each region, a variety of practice areas, and minority populations. The entire item development process ensures that the NCLEX-RN examination represents current nursing knowledge, skills and abilities, and is the best assessment of an individual's competence to practice entry-level nursing.
As you progress through your nursing career, consider the opportunities provided by the National Council that are available for you and your nursing colleagues.
If your examination ends because your five hours expired, the computer did not have sufficient evidence to make a clear pass or fail decision (or it would have already stopped administering questions). Candidates whose competence is either far above or far below the passing standard are identified quickly, and their examinations end after the minimum number of items have been administered. Candidates whose competence is closer to the passing standard (neither extremely high nor low) need to provide more information (by answering more questions) before a confident decision can be made. By using Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) methodology, the NCLEX examination is capable of producing as precise a measurement using the maximum number of items (only 265), as was done using the paper and pencil format.
However, when a candidate runs out of time before taking the maximum number of questions, the computer reviews the candidate's responses to the last 60 questions to determine a pass or fail result. If each of the last 60 competence levels that were calculated are above the passing standard, then the candidate will pass the examination. This does NOT mean a candidate needs to answer all of the last 60 questions correctly, but enough of them correctly so that one's competence level stays above the passing standard. Therefore, if a candidate's performance has been consistently above passing, the candidate will pass, despite having run out of time.
Candidates should plan to keep a steady pace when taking the NCLEX-RN examination, averaging about one minute per item, on the assumption they may need to take the maximum number of questions.
Each examination is designed to meet all requirements of the NCLEX test plan. The examination is constructed to recognize that each candidate has strengths and weaknesses in particular subject areas. It is not designed to administer a rephrased question for questions answered incorrectly by candidates.
There are several reasons candidates may receive questions that appear to cover similar content areas. Candidates may have received "tryout" questions (questions that are imbedded in the examination which do not count, but are used in future exams as real questions), or questions in which the content was similar but the question covered a different "Client Needs" category.