When Can I Take the NCLEX?
While test dates for the NCLEX are available all year long, your eligibility to test must first be determined by your state's nursing board or regulatory body. This process typically involves submitting an application for a nursing license as you near the completion of your training program.
Once the application has been approved and you have registered for the exam through Pearson VUE, you will receive an email containing an Authorization to Test, or ATT. You must have this in order to schedule your test, as it contains:
- Your authorization number
- Your candidate ID number
- Testing validity dates
Your ATT will expire after a certain period of time (usually 90 days), and you must take your NCLEX within the window of time specified by the validity dates.
How Do I Schedule a Test Date?
When you become eligible to test, you'll receive a current copy of the NCLEX Candidate Bulletin, which contains all the necessary information for scheduling the exam online or by phone.
If it is your first time sitting the NCLEX, you will be offered test dates somewhere within thirty days of your call or online request. If this is a retake, expect available appointments to fall within forty-five days of your request.
It's important that you schedule a test date as soon as possible to ensure the best selection of dates and locations. Many people sit for this exam, and if you wait too long, you may not be able to make an appointment before your ATT expires. Not only will you have to re-register, but you will have to pay the $200 registration fee again.
What Can I Expect on Test Day?
After you schedule your test, make sure you're well prepared to take it! Read the policies outlined in your NCLEX Candidate Bulletin carefully, and familiarize yourself with the policies at your testing center as well. Some important considerations include:
- Identification: You will need to bring valid (government-issued) personal identification, which includes a photo and a signature. This could be a driver's license, passport, military ID and so on. The name on the ID that you present at the testing center must be an exact match with the name you used to register for the exam. If there is a mismatch, you will not be allowed to take the exam. You'll have to register for the exam again (and yes, pay the fee!).
- Personal Items: When you check in at the testing center, you'll have to store personal items in a locker. Also, you will have to store smart electronic devices (like your mobile phone) in a sealed plastic bag. Do not open this bag until after it has been okayed by a testing administrator at check-out!
- Test Format: The NCLEX is a computerized adaptive test, which means that its difficulty will adapt to your abilities as you answer each question. This also means the number of questions you have to answer will vary from person to person. For example, the NCLEX-RN has a maximum of 265 questions (or 205 for the PN version), but the computer will stop generating questions and end the test if it determines that you are well above (or below) the passing standard.
- Duration: The NCLEX has a maximum time of six hours for the RN exam and five hours for the PN exam. Even if you don't think it will take you this long to complete the exam, you should still plan for it just in case!
Don't Forget to Review!
To help make the most of your time between now and when your test date arrives, Study.com offers fun review materials that you can access anywhere, any time! Whether you're working at home or using your mobile phone on the go, you can access this comprehensive NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN Study Guide and brush up on every area you'll see on the test.