NCLEX-RN Information that you Need to Know

Frequently Asked Questions about NCLEX-RN Exam:

What types of questions will there be on the exam?

According to the National Council State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), innovative format test items will be used. These test items might include multiple-choice items requiring selection of multiple responses; items asking for identification on a picture, graph or chart; fill-in-the-blank test items; or prioritizing a list of tasks, etc. in a procedure. Standard multiple choice questions will also be seen.

With the CAT (Computerized Adaptive Testing) will I need to be familiar with computers?

No computer experience is required in order to do well on the exam. All candidates are given instructions prior to the examination and a practice exercise. You will use the mouse interface and may use the optional drop-down calculator.

Is there a tutorial to practice prior to the exam?

Yes, you will be provided the opportunity to practice at the testing center prior to the exam. This practice will include a tutorial on the innovative test items, as well.

Are there a minimum and maximum number of questions asked?

Yes, the minimum is 75 with 60 “real” questions and 15 “tryouts”. The maximum is 265 with 250 “real” questions and 15 “tryouts”.

Will there be multiple-choice questions on the exam?

Yes, the test bank at NCSBN has many multiple-choice test items. They will still appear on the exam.

Are there any ‘Except’ or ‘All of the above’ questions?

No, there are no ‘Except’ or ‘All of the above’ questions.

Is it true that the exam has some experimental questions?

Yes, there are 15 “tryout” questions administered with each examination. Once these questions are thoroughly tested and analyzed, they may become “real” questions on the exam.

Is there a group of questions based on a particular case study?

No, each test item (question) stands independently.

Are the CAT questions in any preset order?

No, because the CAT is not designed to link one question with another.

Are there a lot of Pharmacology questions on the exam?

There are between 13-19% Pharmacology questions which include calculations, side effects, blood transfusions, and total parenteral nutrition. For example, if you have 100 questions, anywhere from 13-19 questions would be Pharmacology related.

Can I skip a question and go back to it?

No, you may not skip or go back to review any questions. The response you give to each question determines which subsequent questions will be asked.

What percent correct do I need to pass?

CAT determines your competence based on the difficulty of the questions you can answer correctly, NOT how many questions you can answer correctly. There is no set number of questions. The number will vary with each person. The computer will end the test when it has determined the candidate’s skill level.

How much time is given for each exam?

The maximum amount of time for each exam is 6 hours, but most students have completed the exam in less time. This time period includes the innovative items, tutorials and rest breaks.

What happens when time runs out?

When time runs out, the computer reviews the candidate’s answers to the last 60 questions and calculates competency to determine the pass or fail result. This does not mean you must answer the last 60 questions correctly to pass. It means you must achieve a competency level above the passing standard in order to be successful at passing.

Who makes up the test plan for the exam?

The test plan content is based on practice analysis studies of entry-level nurses licensed to practice after successful performance on the NCLEX-RN® during the previous 6 months. These nurses report the type, frequency and importance of the tasks they perform at work. This information is reported to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Once there, the tasks are combined into content areas and weighted to adjust for current nursing practice and each state’s licensure.

What are the test categories in the exam and what are the percentages?

Physiological Integrity
Basic Care and Comfort 6-12%
Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies 13-19%
Reduction of Risk Potential 13-19%
Physiological Adaptation 11-17%
Safe, Effective Care Environment
Management of Care 13-19%
Safety and Infection Control 8-14%
Psychosocial Integrity 6-12%
Health Promotion and Maintenance 6-12%

How often do they reevaluate the passing standard? When was it last done?

The National Council’s Board of Directors reevaluates the passing standard every 3 years. This was last done in 2003 and resulted in an increase in the required passing score.

How will I know what to study and how much?

First, perform a self-assessment using the test categories from the NCLEX-RN® test plan and your class notes. Determine what areas you can simply review and what areas you still need to learn. Set up a daily study schedule and stick to it.

How long after graduating should I wait to take the exam?

The earliest you can take the NCLEX-RN® exam varies from state to state. It is best to take the exam shortly after graduation while your knowledge is fresh.

Where do I register to take the exam?

You arrange to take the NCLEX-RN® exam by applying with the State Board of Nursing in your state. They will send you all the information you need to set up your test date.

How much does it cost to take the exam?

The fee is $200.00. You must send the completed test application and the fee to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. You may also register on the web at: or by phone. Visit the NCSBN website at: and download the current Examination Candidate Bulletin.

What do I need to take to the exam?

You may only bring the Authorization to Test form and two forms of identification. Both forms must bear your signature and one must have a recent photograph of you. The two forms must list your name exactly as it appears on the Authorization to Test form.

Where is the exam given and are there certain days the exam is given?

The exam is administered at a designated PearsonProfessionalTestingCenter. When you register, you will receive a list of test centers. The test center may be open up to 15 hours per day, six to seven days a week depending on demand.

How soon will I know if I have passed?

Approximately one month after taking the examination, you will receive written results by mail.

Is there an 800 number I can call to see if I have passed?

No. However, unofficial results are available in certain states three (3) business days after you have taken the test. The number to call is (900) 225-6000. The cost is $7.95, regardless of the length of the call and is charged to your telephone service bill. Participating states include: Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia (P.N.) and Wisconsin.

Are there any statistics on how well a particular state averages on the exam?

Statistics on licensure and examination are compiled from each State Board of Nursing and published annually. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing tracks this information to aid in monitoring trends in nursing education.

What does the NCLEX-RN® Candidate Performance Report look like?

The Performance Report is designed to give you as much information as possible regarding your strengths and weaknesses in certain areas of the test plan and shares your performance by indicating how close you came to a passing score.

If I fail the exam, when can I retake it?

You can arrange to re-test in 45-90 days.

How many times can I take the exam after I have failed?

The State Board of Nursing you applied to determines the amount of times you can retake the exam after failure to pass.

Do you have to pay to retake the exam each time?

Yes and the amount is determined by the State Board of Nursing to which you applied.

Latest Comments
  1. Linda L. Wood

    get a study book and study study study

  2. Nourelhoda Ragab

    Thanks so much

  3. Mary M Fritz

    Either you know it or you don’t.. But RN is knowing and understanding WHY not WHAT.

  4. Mae Ann Moralde

    practice and read rationales…

  5. Kelly Griffin-Buettner

    Study study study! Get an NCLEX review book and go through the whole thing.

  6. Staci Miller

    Always always always read the rationale!! It helps you to understand why the answer is correct! Hope this will help all of you that are getting ready to take your NCLEX and Good luck to you all!! 🙂

  7. Sunina Parada

    Yes??? Lol Oliver Bah

  8. Oliver Bah

    Sunina Parada

  9. Trisha Glover

    I’ve heard mixed things about using ATI to practice. I will be taking the NCLEX in the next 3 months. What are some study tips that worked for everybody?

  10. David Josie Horosko

    Jackson comm. College(Mich)does an excellent job preparing you for NCLEX and practice,practice,practice on your own.

  11. Mary Koniz Arnold

    My NCLEX was about 70 % alternate format items. The computer was not difficult but you should defintely be practicing test questions in the same kind of environment.

  12. Rachel Porter

    This is helpful. Thanks, nursingcrib.

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