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What is NCLEX-RN?

The National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses is designed to test essential knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for safe and effective practice of nursing at the entry level. Entry into the practice of nursing in the United States and its territories is regulated by the licensing authorities within each jurisdiction. To ensure public protection, each jurisdiction requires a candidate for licensure to pass an examination that measures the competencies needed to perform safely and effectively as a newly licensed, entry-level registered nurse. The exam is developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) and is the same no matter which state you are in or where you plan to work.

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How is the exam administered?

The NCLEX-RN exam is in a computerized adaptive testing format. Each test is tailored to the examinee. Every time the examinee answers a question, the computer re-estimates the examinee's ability. With every additional answer, the ability estimate gets more precise. Based upon the most recent, revised ability estimate, the computer selects the next item to be presented, such that the examinee will find it challenging (not too hard, not too easy).This way an adaptive test presents the examinee with the items that will be the most informative for measuring ability. It also reduces the number of easy items that high-ability examinees receive and reduces the number of difficult items that low-ability people receive.

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What if I don't pass the first time?

In all but 4 states, students are allowed to retake NCLEX after 45 days if they did not successfully pass their first attempt. Each state has its own policy about the number of times a student may take NCLEX and at what point additional education is needed before being allowed to retest.

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Why do some states have a higher passing standard for nursing licensure, like California or New York?

All states accept the National Council recommended passing standard for the NCLEX-RN examination or NCLEX-PN examination to be eligible for nursing licensure. California and New York do NOT require a different passing standard on the NCLEX-RN or the NCLEX-PN examinations for initial nurse licensure by examination.

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Why can't I get my results immediately after taking the exam?

Candidates do not receive NCLEX-RN examination results at the testing site. After a candidate's results are reviewed and analyzed, they are mailed to boards of nursing within 48 hours after the exam is completed. Results are then forwarded on to the candidate by the board of nursing where the candidate requested licensure. The specific method for the processing and distribution of candidate results is different for each individual board of nursing, so the exact time for receiving results is different from state to state. The board of nursing, not the National Council, is responsible for releasing examination results to candidates. Generally, candidates receive pass or fail results in approximately four weeks.

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I'm interested in the passing statistics for the United States and its territories. Where can I find this information?

National NCLEX examination passing statistics can be accessed through the National Council's web site. Look under NCLEX Examination Info for the percentage of candidates who passed. Result statistics are divided by either RN or LPN/VN examinations.