Taking the NCLEX exam â

Taking the NCLEX exam –
what to expect
C. Matthews RN, MSN
Spring 2010
• “While many nursing students and new grads
experience anxiety over the NCLEX, around
70% pass the RN exam the first time…” (p.14).
» Gaskill, M. (2008). “Who writes the NCLEX?” p 14-15. Fall 2008
Future Nurse www.nurse.com
• Remember… 94.74% of our 2009 graduates
passed on the first try…so LSCC has a much
higher pass rate than mentioned above!
What is the NCLEX process?
Go to the hot link provided below…go toward
the bottom of the page and click where is says
“The NCLEX process: Click here.” (or, just
click here!)
This provides a detailed explanation of how the
NCLEX is developed, used and scored.
How to begin:
• https://www.ncsbn.org/nclex.htm
• Go to the link above – there you will find a
great deal of information re: how to register,
what to expect on the day of the exam, the
test plan, etc.
• Don’t wait until you graduate to prepare!
• Prepare all along…
• do hundreds and hundreds of NCLEX questions
during nursing program.
• Don’t count on just our theory exams and HESI
exams to give you enough experience with these
types of questions…go to other sources as well.
– Gaskill, M. (2008). “Who writes the NCLEX?” p 14-15. Fall 2008
Future Nurse www.nurse.com
• Obtain a copy of the test plan on the NCSBN
website https://www.ncsbn.org/1287.htm
• Put your syllabi next to the test plan…see any
• “The take home message for nursing students
is study early and study often for the NCLEX.”
Gaskill, M. (2008). “Who writes the NCLEX?” p 15. Fall 2008
Future Nurse. www.nurse.com
• https://www.ncsbn.org/1213.htm
• https://www.ncsbn.org/1202.htm
The NCLEX test center
• http://www.pearsonvue.com/nclex/
• This site (as well as the https://www.ncsbn.org/nclex.htm
• Site) will tell you about the test center, the
security measures involved, what to bring and
so forth. Look for a virtual tour of the center.
NCLEX is a ‘CAT’
• Computer adaptive test – the computer
calculates a candidate’s ability based on the
individual’s responses to items, and then it
searches for an item that matches it to show
NCLEX is a ‘CAT’
• ““Item difficulty changes depending on your answers.
Everybody starts with an easy question, and if you don’t
answer that, you’re given another easy one. If you do answer
it, then you get a moderate question, and if you answer that,
a hard one. At some point, it becomes clear you are going to
pass or not, and the test stops. It’s a myth that if the test
stops at 75 questions, it means you’ve passed, because it can
go both ways.”
Gaskill, M. (2008). “Who writes the NCLEX?” p 15. Fall 2008 Future Nurse. www.nurse.com
NCLEX is a ‘CAT’
• Exam results are based not on the number or
percentage of items answered correctly, but
the difficulty of the items that a candidate can
answer correctly 50% of the time.
• Passing candidates answer 50% of the more
difficult items correctly, and failing candidates
answer 50% of the easier items correctly.
NCLEX is a ‘CAT’
• Tailored to the person taking it
• High ability gets high level questions
• Variable length
• 2009 NCLEX Invitational updates
NCLEX is a ‘CAT’
• If the results of your answers show you are
clearly above or below passing standard, the
exam will end.
• If you are close to line (it is not clear if you are
definitely above or below passing) more and
more questions fired!
• No random maximum length test (265 items)
– 2009 NCLEX Invitational updates
NCLEX is a ‘CAT’
• “The computer continues to give you
questions until it comes to a statistically valid
number. Many will pass or fail after answering
the minimum 75 questions while others may
be required to complete the 265 maximum.”
“Flying Colors” Hugg, A. 2004 Future Nurse www.nurseweek.com
What happens during the test…
• Test items use revised Bloom’s taxonomy (verb form)
– you should be able to:
Apply-knowledge applied to situation
Analyze-how are parts related
Evaluate-making judgment based on information
Create-putting elements together to make
functional whole
What happens during the test…
• All items are pretested. Statistical criteria is
used to determine difficulty, etc
• There are experimental questions on each
exam (15) – these won’t count against your
While taking the test…
• Read carefully and take plenty of time on the
• Read the question 2 -3 times to make certain
you understand the question.
• Don’t get in a hurry to answer.
“Alternate” questions
• https://www.ncsbn.org/Alternate_Item_Form
Sites of interest
• http://www.allnursingschools.com/faqs/nclex.
• http://www.cybernurse.com/nclex.html
• http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/17
• http://www.nclexguides.com/nclex-exam.php
• http://www.nclexinfo.com/

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