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The National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX, is a test developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. The NCLEX-RN is used for graduates of registered nursing programs.

NCLEX exams are multiple choice and are administered using a computerized adaptive testing method, called the CAT method. The CAT can determine a candidate’s ability based on the responses to the exam questions and will adjust the questions to the candidate’s ability. As the candidate completes the questions, the CAT system automatically tracks the score.

Once the candidate has correctly answered the minimum number of questions, the CAT system will shut down and indicate a passing grade. If a candidate runs out of time and the CAT cannot determine whether she passed, it will review the last 60 questions and issue a pass/fail grade based on those answers.

 

Test Content

Both RNs and LPNs must have the same basic understanding of nursing practice and knowledge. Both tests include similar topics, such as health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity and a safe, effective care environment. The emphasis on each section may be different, however, as RNs and LPNs have different responsibilities depending on their scope of practice. The LPN must work under the supervision of an RN or physician, for instance. In the safe, effective care component, for example, 17 to 23 percent of the

      NCLEX-RN items focus on management of care. In the same area, the NCLEX-PN focus is on coordination rather than management of care, and 13 to 19 percent of the test items are on that topic.