Hey, what’s going on guys in this article what is nclex examination? We are going to be talking about how the nclex-rn exam actually works and answering some of the most common questions. let’s get started with

How the exam works.

the NCLEX is a computer adaptive test also known as a cat this means that the test modifies itself based on how well or how poorly you are doing the more questions you get correctly the harder the exam questions get the more questions you get incorrectly the easier the questions can get. the exam is taken entirely on a computer and contains

  • multiple choice
  • select all that apply
  • fill-in-the-blank
  • ordering and labeling questions

How do you achieve a passing grade?

The NCLEX users what’s called a 95 percent passing interval this means that when the test is 95 percent confident you have either passed or failed it will simply shut off. let’s take a look at an example:

here is an example of someone taking an NCLEX exam each point on the graph represents where the writer stands after the previous question the blue line represents the passing grade every time this individual answered a question correctly the points on the graph moved higher, every time this individual answered a question incorrectly the points on the graph moved lower the minimum number of questions every writer takes is 75 at this point you are evaluated to see if you are above the passing line or below the passing line.

in addition, the computer also needs to be 95% confident that you will either stay above or below this line for the remainder of the test after 75 questions each and every question is evaluated the same way once you reach a question and the computer is 95 percent positive that you have either passed or failed the test will simply turn off


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Here are the top 3 NCLEX-RN Books for your reference.


Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN® Examination, 8e

Silvestri PhD RN FAAN, Linda Anne (Author); English (Publication Language); 1152 Pages – 10/07/2019 (Publication Date) – Saunders (Publisher)
NCLEX-RN Prep Plus (Practice Tests + Proven Strategies + Online + Video) (Kaplan Test Prep)

Kaplan Nursing (Author); English (Publication Language); 540 Pages – 03/03/2020 (Publication Date) – Kaplan Publishing (Publisher)
Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN (Saunders Comprehensive Review for Nclex-Rn)

Saunders; Silvestri PhD RN FAAN, Linda Anne (Author); English (Publication Language); 1152 Pages – 10/14/2016 (Publication Date) – Saunders (Publisher

let’s take a look at some of the most commonly asked questions

How many questions can I write?

the answer is 265 after 265 the test will automatically shut off.

what is the maximum amount of time someone can take to write the NCLEX?

well, the maximum amount of time that you have to write is six hours for the nclex-rn and five hours for the NCLEX PN. this being said it is very uncommon for somebody to take six hours to write the nclex-rn typically people that are done between two and three hours sometimes even less so what happens if you do take the entire six hours and end up running out of time well the computer will look at the last sixty questions you have answered if any of those questions are below the passing line regardless of current confidence interval you will fail.

what happens if you write all 265 questions?

well if you write all 265 questions the only thing that matters is where you stand on the last question the computer will look at your answer and if it is above the passing line it’s a pass if it’s below the passing line you fail.

what content is on the nclex-rn?

the content on the NCLEX can be broken down into eight categories

  • 20% is the management of care
  • 12% is safety and infection control
  • 9% is health promotion and maintenance
  • 9% psychosocial integrity
  • 9% is basic care and comfort
  • 15% is pharmacological and parenteral therapies
  • 12% is a reduction of risk and
  • 14% is a physiological adaptation
  • if you would like a more in-depth breakdown of each and every category to visit ncsbn.org for more information


in most states, it is possible to purchase a quick result service for 7 dollars and 95 cents Canadians do not have such option at this time with this option you can receive your unofficial results within 2 business days after writing your exam without this option the wait for results usually take between a few days and several weeks depending on busyness.

so what happens if you receive notice that you have failed the NCLEX?

thankfully it’s not the end of the world most states allow you to write an unlimited amount of times the wave period between attempts must be at least 45 days there are provinces in Canada that only allow a maximum of three attempts however these policies are slowly changing some states also have a limit to the number of times you can attempt the NCLEX per yearcheck with your board of nurses for further information

if you do fail the NCLEX you will also receive an NCLEX candidate performance report also known as a CPR. CPR will not tell you anything about how you did on each particular question or your overall percentage but it will tell you if you are above the passing standard, near the passing standard or below the passing standard and each of the categories explained in the previous section

is there a need to know a list of drugs for the NCLEX?

no there is nothowever, applicants should focus on the major and most common drugs for each body system as well as their most common side effects and precautionsremember the nclex-rn is a safety exam

can I use a calculator on the NCLEX?

yes, calculators are provided on the computer and you are not allowed to bring your own calculator.

can I bring a pen and paper for the exam?

to take rough notes the answer to that is no an erasable whiteboard and dry erase marker will be provided to you upon arrival

do I need to bring headphones for the audio questions?

no, headphones are provided and you cannot bring your own pair of headphones

if I get a select all to apply question and I answer it partially correct do I get part marks?

no the only way to get a say to question correctly is to answer all of the options correctly there are no part marks on the NCLEX.

does the NCLEX use generic or trade names on questions with medication?

the NCLEX uses mostly generic names rarely will you see a medication with the trade name as trade names vary based on an area of practice

is there any way you can cheat on the NCLEX?

the answer to this question is simply a flat-out no it would be nearly impossible to cheat on the NCLEX security precautions are extremely high you are required to check-in with a minimum of two forms of ID your picture will be taken and your palm print is registered into the computer you are not allowed to bring any of your own supplies as everything you need will be provided to you prior to entering the exam room you need to lock everything away in a private Locker and participate in a brief body search that takes place in front of a camera and an instructor every time you enter or leave the room you must scan your palm print while in the exam room you are watched by cameras from in front of you above you and behind you in addition to writing that exam you must sign a waiver indicating that you are aware of the fact that cheating on the NCLEX is not only unethical but against the law and it opens up opens you up to potential prosecution the next question.

what days can I write the NCLEX?

each testing center has its own testing dates you will you will be able to see what dates are available and open to you when you are eligible to book your exam however most test centers operate Monday to Friday and some are even open on weekends. an impossible thing to accomplish we have an article dedicated to 4 tips to prepare for NCLEX so if that’s something you’re interested in please feel free to check out


Abdullahi Suleiman a Certified Registered Nurse based in Nigeria, an Entrepreneur and Also a Blogger, passionate about Community Development and Cosmetic Nursing

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