NCLEX Registration Overview
The National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX, is an assessment that all aspiring nurses must pass before entering the workforce. To register for this exam, you'll need to complete a multi-step process.
Step 1: Apply for a Nursing License
First of all, you'll need to write to the board of nursing for the state in which you wish to practice and apply for a nursing license. If the board approves your application, you will become eligible to sit for the NCLEX. Be advised that you'll need to pay a registration fee. Contact your state board for more information on this fee.
Step 2: Register With Pearson VUE
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) uses a testing service known as Pearson VUE to administer the NCLEX. You'll need to register with Pearson before you can set up a testing date. Registration can be completed online or over the phone, but the NCSBN recommends completing your registration online because Pearson's phone lines can become overcrowded. Prior to registering, be sure to look up your program code, a number specific to your geographical region and the school you attended. This code is required for registration.
This is also the stage during which you'll pay the $200 exam fee. This registration will be open for one year to give you time to receive approval from your board of nursing to take the exam. If you allow a year to pass without gaining approval to take the exam, your registration expires, and you will need to start the process over again.
Step 3: Get Your Receipt of Registration and ATT
Once these two steps are completed, you're eligible to sit for the exam. As proof, you should receive an Acknowledgement of Receipt of Registration from Pearson, which confirms that your registration has been received. If you've been authorized, you will also be issued an Authorization to Test (ATT) from your nursing board, via the e-mail address that you used to register for the exam. Your ATT will list the length of your eligibility (typically three months), and you must take the test before the ATT expires. Be advised that these dates cannot be changed, and you will not receive an extension, so pay close attention and be sure to choose an appropriate date.
Step 4: Schedule a Date and Take the Test
Now you're ready to take the NCLEX! Use Pearson VUE to research testing locations near you, and choose a site and date that works for you. Test slots can fill quickly, so be sure to schedule your testing date promptly to avoid worrying about your ATT expiring.
NCLEX Test Structure Overview
The NCLEX has two variations, one for practical nurses (PN) and one for registered nurses (RN). Both exams use computer adaptive testing (CAT). This means that the exam adjusts the types of questions it presents based on a student's successes and struggles. In other words, if you're doing well, you will get more difficult questions on the exam, and if you're not doing so well, you will get easier questions.
The NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN tests are both divided into 4 categories identified as Client Needs. These exams also include six subcategories. Most questions are multiple-choice, but students can also expect to encounter other types of questions such as drag-and-drop and fill-in-the-blank. The RN test has a maximum of 265 questions that can be answered during the exam, and test-takers have to answer at least 75 questions. The PN test has a maximum of 205 questions that can be answered during the exam, and test-takers have to answer at least 85 questions.
Preparing for the NCLEX
Now that you know how to register for the NCLEX and know the basic test structure, it's time to prepare! Review materials for the exam are readily available. Perhaps one of the easiest ways to study for the NCLEX would be to take a comprehensive prep course. Study.com offers NCLEX-PN and NCLEX-RN study guide courses to help you review essential topics that are on these exams. Each course is self-paced and available at any time. The transcript for each lesson allows you to take notes, which can help you identify areas that you need to concentrate on more. You'll also be able to check your understanding of the material with practice quizzes and exams.