Purpose of the National Council Licensure Examination
There are versions of the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for registered nurses as well as for licensed practical nurses. Both exams are used to determine if a candidate can utilize their nursing knowledge to provide effective patient care.
Format of NCLEX Examination
Individuals will mainly see multiple-choice questions on the exam, each with four answers to choose from. They might be asked to select one or more correct responses.
To answer other types of questions, test takers are required to fill in a blank with calculations or select an area from a graphic. In some cases, they might also be asked to use a chart or listen to an audio clip to answer test questions. Still other questions will require them to place information in the correct order or rank.
Individuals must complete at least 75 questions in the six hours allotted; however, there are up to 265 questions on the exam. There will also be 15 sample questions at the end of the test that are unscored and strictly used for creating future test questions.
During the testing session, test takers will have the opportunity to take a break after two hours, as well as after three and a half hours.
Topics on the NCLEX Examination
This exam is structured around the philosophies involved in addressing patients' needs. It consists of four main sections and eight subsections. Individuals are tested on a variety of surgical, pediatric, medical, and obstetrics nursing topics.
Safe and Effective Care Environment
The first main section on the NCLEX exam, Safe and Effective Care Environment, contains two subsections. The subsection Safety and Infection Control covers topics like restraints, hazardous materials, and accident prevention. The Management of Care subsection is found on the RN exam and includes topics like patient rights, advanced directives, and informed consent. The PN exam includes a Coordinated Care subsection that covers similar topics.
Health Promotion and Maintenance
Health Promotion and Maintenance is the second main section. Individuals are tested on areas such as high-risk behaviors, infant care, and disease prevention.
The third main section on Psychosocial Integrity contains topics ranging from dealing with grief and loss to crisis intervention.
Physiological Integrity, the last main section, contains four subsections. They are as follows:
- Pharmacological Therapies questions test individuals on concepts like administering medication, medication's adverse effects, and pain management. The RN exam also covers parental therapies.
- Basic Care and Comfort deals with proper nutrition, mobility, and assistive devices.
- Physiological Adaptation covers topics such as fluid imbalances, changes to systems, and medical emergencies.
- Reduction of Risk Potential questions test individuals on topics like therapeutic processes, laboratory values, and diagnostics procedures.
Preparing for the NCLEX Examination
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) provides test plans for both versions of the exam. Individuals may find it beneficial to review these test plans in preparation for the NCLEX. The test plans offer a comprehensive overview of test content, including definitions for each section. They can be found on the NCSBN website.
Individuals may also find it beneficial to review the NCLEX materials available on Study.com: