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What Is NCLEX? All You Need To Know About This Key Nursing Exam?

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Dwelling with your fair share of nursing school and clinical experience, you would be standing in the gateway of your potential future career as a nurse. However, the passion for caring for people and making their lives better with your knowledge and experience is one step away from achieving your dream job. The one thing needed to accomplish your dream is to acquire the licence to practice as a nurse. 

NCLEX is the licensure test that you need to obtain to prove that you have the competence level to practice nursing professionally in countries like the US, UK, Canada, Australia and elsewhere NCLEX is accepted. The NCLEX exam analyses and guides entry-level nurses to incorporate specific client needs and process fundamentals to practice nursing. As you read along, you will have a clearer picture of NCLEX, its exam types and its pattern. 

What is NCLEX?

Developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc. (NCSBN), NCLEX, which stands for National Council Licensure Examination, is a comprehensive examination that tests several nursing concepts to determine your eligibility to begin your practice as an entry-level nurse. Candidates who are accredited with a nursing program are eligible to acquire NCLEX licensing. 

The NCLEX test assesses the knowledge, skills, and application abilities essential to a professional nurse to meet the client’s needs and maintain health restoration. There are two variations of NCLEX, one is for Registered Nurses (RN), and the other one is for Practical Nurses (PN). 

What is the NCLEX Exam?

The National Council Licensure Exam determines your level of knowledge and skill for you to begin your practice as an entry-level nurse. The NCLEX exam uses Computerised Adaptive Testing (CAT), administered through Pearson Professional Centers, to measure the competency needed to perform safely and effectively as a newly licenced nurse. CAT is a technology merged with computer technology and modern measurement theory to increase exam efficiency. 

NCLEX exam pattern ensures that every time you answer a question, the computer estimates your ability based on the previous answer to select the next question. The majority of the questions will be multiple-choice, although other types of questions include fill in the blank, chart/exhibit, drag and drop, and hot spots questions. The minimum number of questions now set for both RN and PR is 75, and the maximum number of questions are set at 145. 

Who has to take the NCLEX exam?

All nurses who wish to practice professionally need to pass the NCLEX. The two distinct versions of NCLEX are based on your educational qualification. Those who have completed Practical Nursing Diploma and wish to practice as a licensed practical nurse can take up NCLEX-PN. Candidates who have an Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing and want to become a registered nurse can pass the NCLEX-RN. 

Comparison of NCLEX-PN and NCLEX-RN

Although both PN and RN are licensing exams for nursing graduates, there are some differences in education and scope of practice. RN and PN are necessary healthcare elements but licensed practical nurses to focus more on bedside care than critical analysis. On the other hand, registered nurses are trained to assess a patient and look into their overall health status.

RN manages an increased scope of practice as it includes parenteral nutrition and administers blood and blood products. NCLEX-PN does not cover the topics. In addition, RN questions focus on managing a patient’s care and the ability to think critically.

After graduating from a practical or vocational nursing program, NCLEX-PN will give you the title of a Licenced Practical Nurse (LPN). LPN works with the supervision of an RN or a physician and focuses on coordination of care rather than its management. RN and LN have more similarities than differences as they both assist in daily activities. 

NCLEX Exam Pattern 

NCLEX exam pattern consists of three levels that test the students’ knowledge and understanding, analysis and application, and qualitative and aptitude. The exam is organised into a framework of meeting “client needs”. The framework consists of four primary categories, in which two are further divided into subcategories. They are:

  • Safe and Effective Care Environment: Tests the nurse’s ability to be welcoming and create a functional setting for the patients. It includes accident prevention, ethics, client right, and home safety. 
    • Management of Care
    • Safety and Infection Control 
  • Health Promotion and Maintenance: Challenges nurse’s knowledge of growth and development with the ageing process, postpartum, newborn care, developmental stages and transitions, disease prevention, health screening, high-risk behaviours, and self-care.   
  • Psychosocial Integrity: Tests nursing actions and knowledge of mental health concepts, coping mechanisms, grief and loss, stress management, therapeutic communications, chemical dependencies, crisis intervention, family dynamics, etc. 
  • Physiological Integrity: Practical nurses are expected to promote physical wellness by ensuring that the patient remains calm and comfortable.  
    • Basic Care and Comfort 
    • Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies
    • Reduction of Risk Potential 
    • Physiological Adaptation 

Unlike nursing school programs, NCLEX provides knowledge based on integrated content. The following processes are integrated throughout the Client Needs categories in the NCLEX exam: 

  • Nursing Process 
  • Caring 
  • Communication and Documentation 
  • Teaching and Learning 
  • Culture and Spirituality 

NCLEX Registration and Eligibility 

To register for the NCLEX test application, you must apply with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). You have to complete and submit the forms with licensure fees to your nursing school. You will receive an ATT (Authorisation To Test) in which they will mention the instruction of registration. Complete the register and take the NCLEX exam. Upon registration, you must pay the NCLEX Exam fee that is $200.  

The eligibility criteria for the NCLEX exam is:

  • Graduate from any School of Nursing (Associate’s degree or Bachelor’s Degree) 
  • Possession of ATT
  • Applying in Nursing or Regulatory board 
  • Register with Pearson VUE
  • Payment of NCLEX application fee

To qualify for the NCLEX Course, you must be an accredited registered nurse. Make sure to understand what credentials you will attain upon completion of the nursing program. 

To Sum Up 

NCLEX may seem complicated and intimidating, but the knowledge and skills obtained from nursing school will prepare you well enough for the exam. It is simply another hurdle that you need to overcome to become a professional nurse. Now, as you know what NCLEX is, and everything needs to know about NCLEX Exam 2021. The different versions and its exam pattern, you know what to expect for the exam and how to conquer it. 

article1Blessy Babu

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Blessy Babu is an English Language Associate with over seven years of experience teaching various language courses such as IELTS, OET, TOEFL, PTE, SAT, GRE & GMAT. She attained her Master’s Degree in English Literature along with a second Masters's in Counseling and Psychology. Besides, these master's degrees she gained an advanced diploma in creative writing, which perfectly enhances her writing skills. She has authored a book that contains multiple essay writing models to help learners boost their essay writing skills and styles.

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