Want to know how many questions are on the NCLEX? Have you been worried sick thinking about how to pass the NCLEX? In this blog post, we have taken the time to take you through all of what you need to know concerning how to prepare for it, the kind of questions to expect, and how to pass it.
You must first understand what NCLEX means. The National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) assesses a candidate’s basic competency necessary to offer their patients safe and effective nursing care. All applicants who want to be licensed to practice nursing must take it.
The national first-time NCLEX-RN pass rate for US-educated nurses was 86.5 percent in 2020, while the PN pass rate for the same time period was 83 percent, according to the NCSBN. Only 42.9 percent of repeat RN exam takers passed, and 35.6 percent of PN test takers did as well.
If you’re curious to know how your institution compares, the NCSBN releases state-level yearly and quarterly NCLEX pass rates. Remember that you are solely responsible for your ability to adequately prepare for and pass the NCLEX, regardless of your school’s success rate.
The low pass rate for repeat test-takers is caused by a variety of reasons, but the bottom line is that your likelihood of passing the NCLEX—period—depends on how well you prepare and seek to pass on your first try.
You must have a thorough study strategy in place that incorporates subject matter, test-taking techniques, and practical practice with test-like questions.
Remember that these are national averages and that pass rates differ from state to state and from school to school. Please refer to the table at the bottom of this article to find the 2020 NCLEX pass rates for each state.
There Are Two Types of NCLEX Examinations
There are two distinct ways to take the NCLEX. The NCLEX-PN assesses potential practical nurses (also known as licensed practical nurses or licensed vocational nurses). The NCLEX-RN evaluates potential registered nurses.
While there are some similarities between the two exams, there are also significant variations. The RN test places a focus on care management and evaluates the advanced scope of practice of registered nurses. More questions about care coordination can be found on the PN test.
NCLEX Exam Focuses on Four Areas
A safe and effective care environment, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, and physiological integrity are the four key areas of concentration on the NCLEX exam.
These broad categories are divided into more specific issues. For instance, the category of safe and effective care emphasizes the duties and rights of the customers.
NCLEX Exam Offers Questions in Different Formats
The format of the NCLEX’s questions is flexible. The NCLEX-RN could have anything between 74 and 145 questions because the computer modifies the questions based on test takers’ performance.
There are 15 pre-test questions in all, however, they do not affect the test-takers’ final scores. The NCLEX-PN may include up to 205 questions, including 25 that are not graded. A five-hour time limit applies to both exams.
With the help of our NCLEX study guide which you will find below, you can learn how to answer questions on the test in a variety of forms.
Multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, ordered response, and/or hot spot questions are some of these formats. Between 80 and 90 percent of the questions are multiple-choice.
NCLEX Uses a Pass-Fail Scoring System
The NCLEX employs a pass-fail grading scheme rather than a percentage-based methodology. That system, though, isn’t as straightforward as it might seem.
The computerized adaptive testing used for the NCLEX exam decides the scoring in addition to customizing questions to test-takers aptitudes.
The test uses questions to gauge how well candidates think they can perform before testing whether they match that gauge with additional questions.
When the computer analysis system is 95% certain that test-takers pass or fail, questions are no longer sent to candidates.
Remember that the length of the exam does not predict whether you will pass or fail.
How Many Questions Are on the NCLEX?
There are a minimum of 60 questions and a maximum of 145 questions on the NCLEX-RN and PN.
Additionally, 15 experimental questions that do not count toward scoring will be included on each test. Many candidates currently have the chance to take part in a unique study section for upcoming Next Generation NCLEX issues.
The level at which you regularly perform determines when the test will terminate for you. The NCLEX is a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT), which means that each new question is generated by a computer based on how well you answered the previous ones.
If you successfully respond to questions, you will receive increasingly challenging questions, and if you erroneously respond to questions, you will receive progressively simple questions. Skipping questions will not be possible.
It is your responsibility as a test taker to provide accurate answers to questions as they increase in difficulty in order to indicate that your level of competency is high enough to show that you will be a reliable and efficient nurse.
How quickly you pass the National Council of State Boards of Nursing’s specified required zone of competency determines when the test is over (NCSBN). The test is over when the test-taker either passes it by correctly answering enough questions to maintain their score above the passing line with a 95% confidence interval or fails it by failing to maintain their score above the pass line with a 95% confidence interval.
The NCLEX-RN/PN can therefore be passed or failed with 60 questions, 145 questions, or any other number in between.
When Can I Register for the NCLEX-RN Exam?
You must first have permission to take the test before you can register for it. The Board of Nursing or another regulating agency in the area where you want to practice nursing issues this. If you want to become a licensed nurse, they will decide if you match their requirements.
You can book your test at the closest Pearson VUE testing facility if you meet the requirements and are granted permission to take the exam. You must select a date and time for the exam that falls within the testing window specified on your authorization to test letter, and you must pay the $200 exam cost.
Which Subjects Are Covered on the Exam?
The exam will have anywhere from 75 to 265 questions. See the description of the exam’s scoring below to understand why there is such a wide variance. No of how many inquiries you respond to, the percentage distribution of inquiries by subject will roughly follow:
1. Safe and Effective Care Environment:
The LPN/VN provides nursing care that helps to improve the healthcare delivery environment and safeguards patients and medical staff. This section contains the following two ideas:
- Coordinated Care (18-24% of the NCLEX-PN exam) — Some of the nursing actions included in this subcategory are Advanced Directives, Advocacy, Client Care Assignments, Concepts of Management and Supervision, Ethical Practice, Quality Assurance, Resource Management, and others.
- Safety and Infection Control (10-16% of the NCLEX-PN exam) — Some of the nursing actions included here are Accident/Error Prevention, Handling Hazardous Materials, Injury Prevention, Medical and Surgical Asepsis, Incident Reporting, Use of Restraints and Safety Devices, and others.
Sample Question for Coordinated Care: The nurse in a long-term care facility is making client care assignments for unlicensed assistive personnel (UAP). Which of the following statements by the nurse would provide the UAP with the best directions about the assignment?”
- A. “Encourage the client to increase daily fluid intake.”
- B. “Ambulate the client 20 ft (6.7 m) every 4 hours beginning at 0900.”
- C. “Assist the client to perform passive range-of-motion (ROM) exercises.”
- D. “Reinforce physical therapy instructions about the proper use of a walker.”
Sample Question for Safety and Infection Control: The nurse is reinforcing teaching with a client who is using a mechanical lift. Which of the following information should the nurse reinforce?
- A. “Place your hands on the sling.”
- B. “You should lie prone on the sling.”
- C. “Place your arms across your chest.”
- D. “You will need to rock to a standing position.”
2. Health Promotion and Maintenance:
The LPN/VN gives clients nursing care that takes into account knowledge of normal growth and development milestones, as well as prevention and/or early diagnosis of health issues.
This section makes up between 6 and 12 percent of the NCLEX-PN test. The aging process, pre/intra/postpartum care, newborn care, developmental states and transitions, disease prevention, immunizations, lifestyle choices, self-care, health promotion programs, and others are just a few of the nursing interventions that have been scientifically tested.
Sample Question: The nurse is reinforcing teaching with a client about the signs of hunger in a newborn. Which of the following signs should the nurse reinforce?
(Select all that apply)
- A. Open hands
- B. Quivering bottom lip
- C. Rooting movements
- D. Sucking on the hands
- E. Hand-to-mouth movements
The LPN/VN gives clients care that helps to promote and maintain their emotional, mental, and social well-being.
The category makes up between 9 and 15% of the exam. Coping mechanisms, grief and loss, mental health concepts, the impact of religion on health, support systems, chemical dependency, behavioral management, coping mechanisms, end-of-life care, and other nursing interventions have all been tried and tested.
Sample Question: The nurse is assisting to evaluate the coping strategies of the spouse of a client who had a stroke 5 days ago. Which of the following statements by the spouse would indicate ineffective coping?
- A. “I sleep only for short periods of time since my spouse became ill.”
- B. “I feel frustrated when my spouse turns away and will not talk with me.”
- C. “I eat meals in my spouse’s room so my spouse will not have to eat meals alone.”
- D. “I have been performing a few household chores each day before visiting my spouse.”
4. Physiological Integrity:
Clients receive comfort from the LPN/VN as well as aid with daily living activities. Four concepts make up this category:
- Basic Care and Comfort (7-13% of the NCLEX-PN exam) — The nursing actions tested include Assistive Devices, Elimination, Mobility, Non-pharmacological Comfort Interventions, Nutrition and Oral Hydration, Personal Hygiene, and others.
- Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies (10-16% of the NCLEX-PN exam) — Tested nursing actions include Adverse Effects, Expected Effects, Medication Administrations, Pharmacological Pain Management, and Side Effects.
- Reduction of Risk Potential (9-15% of the NCLEX-PN exam) — Tested nursing actions include Diagnostic Tests, Potential for Body System Alterations, Potential for Complications of Diagnostic Tests, Treatments and Procedures, Vital Signs, and others.
- Physiological Adaptation (7-13% of the NCLEX-PN exam) — Tested nursing actions include Alterations in Body Systems, Basic Pathophysiology, Fluid and Electrolyte Imbalances, Medical Emergencies, and Unexpected Response to Therapies.
Sample Question for Basic Care and Comfort: The nurse is reinforcing teaching with a client about using crutches. Which of the following information should the nurse reinforce?
- A. “The stairs should be avoided while using crutches.”
- B. “The elbows must stay straight while ambulating with crutches.”
- C. “Three finger widths should separate the axillae and the crutches.”
- D. “Bearing weight on the affected leg should be avoided when using the four-point crutch gait.”
Sample Question for Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies: The nurse is caring for a client who has a prescription for ampicillin 375 mg, p.o., every 6 hours. The nurse has ampicillin 250 mg per 5 mL of solution available. How many mL should the nurse administer to the client with each dose? Record your answer using 1 decimal place.
Sample Question for Reduction of Risk Potential: The nurse is caring for a client with peptic ulcer disease (PUD) who vomited 150 mL of blood-tinged green liquid. Which of the client’s laboratory test results would be a priority to check?
- A. Serum pH
- B. Hematocrit (HCT)
- C. Serum sodium level
- D. Blood urea nitrogen (BUN)
Sample Question for Physiological Adaptation: The nurse is talking with a client who had a subtotal gastrectomy 1 month ago. Which of the following statements by the client would be a priority to follow up?
- A. “I occasionally take an over-the-counter (OTC) laxative.”
- B. “I eat several small meals each day.”
- C. “I avoid drinking liquids with meals.”
- D. “I feel tired all the time.”
There are various question kinds, such as multiple-response, fill-in-the-blank, hot spots, charts, and drag-and-drop questions, in addition to the majority of NCLEX-PN exam questions, which are presented in a multiple-choice format with four answer choices.
Sample Question Answers: 1)B 2)C 3)C,D,E 4)A 5)C 6)7.5 mL 7)B 8)D
What is the Duration of the NCLEX-PN Exam?
No matter how many questions are on the NCLEX-PN exam, you have a total of 5 hours to finish it. You’ll see a quick introductory video before the test. You’ll have two opportunities for optional breaks during the exam:
- The first break is 2 hours into the exam.
- A second break can be taken after 3.5 hours into the exam.
Once you have correctly answered the necessary number of questions to pass the NCLEX-PN exam, the test will immediately end.
The exam can take up to six hours to complete in its entirety. There are two brief breaks during that period that you are free to forego. The real amount of time will depend on how many questions you must respond to.
It’s crucial to understand that you cannot skip questions and come back to them. To continue on to the next question, you must respond to the previous one.
To discover the best response even when you’re not quite confident about the question, you must focus on techniques throughout some of your study time.
How Is the NCLEX-RN Exam Scored?
Having seen how many questions are on the NCLEX, a fairly unusual scoring method is used for the NCLEX-RN. The score here will be expressed in “logits” as opposed to a point value that represents either the number of right responses or the typical difficulty level of the questions you answered.
Your estimated ability level (based on your degree of education, training, and experience) and your actual ability level are measured using a unit of measurement called the logit (based on how you performed on the test). Every three years, the board sets a new passing standard. You will currently require a logit of 0.00 or above.
There is such a broad variation in the number of questions you’ll have to answer on the test because this “logit” is continuously changed based on how you respond to each question.
The test will conclude once you complete the required minimum of 75 questions and the computer algorithm can decide with 95% accuracy whether you passed or failed.
You will keep seeing questions until your results are certain, or until you have seen the maximum number of 265 questions, whichever comes first. If you achieve the maximum, a final evaluation will be performed to see if you have achieved the required standard.
All of this might sound a little confusing, but in essence: the better you perform, the fewer questions you must respond to. However, even if you wind up having to respond to 265 questions, you might still succeed on the test.
If you have achieved the required criteria, you will simply be told that the test was a success. If you failed the test, you would only read a thorough summary of how you did on each component.
How Intensely Should You Prepare for it?
It’s not enough to know how many questions are on the NCLEX, your preparation is important. You should spend at least a few weeks going through everything in detail and practicing your capacity to recall information rapidly.
To achieve that, pick up a copy of the Mometrix Study Guide, which offers an in-depth analysis of each material area and lists all the key phrases and concepts you’ll need to be familiar with.
Get a set of Mometrix Flashcards to help you recall all that information better. One of the best ways to memorize a lot of information is repetition. Regrettably, repetition can become just that—repetitive. You can use flashcards to make repeated learning more fun and exciting by incorporating games or pop quizzes into your review sessions.
Steps to Register for the NCLEX-PN Exam
The official steps to register for the NCLEX-PN exam are as follows:
Apply for licensure/registration at the nursing regulatory body (NRB) where you wish to be licensed/registered.
Check that you’ve met all of the NRB’s eligibility requirements to take the NCLEX exam.
Register for the NCLEX with Pearson VUE.
Receive NCLEX Registration Acknowledgement email from Pearson VUE.
Confirm NRB eligibility in the Pearson VUE system.
Receive Authorization to Test (ATT) email from Pearson VUE.
Schedule your exam with Pearson VUE.
After registering for the exam, candidates have one year to take the NCLEX. For either the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN, test takers must pay a $200 fee, which they can do online or over the phone.
How to Pass the NCLEX: Study Tips to Pass in your initial seating
1. Understand the NCLEX Format
A CAT format, or computerized adaptive testing, is used for the NCLEX. indicating that no two exams are the same.
The computer algorithm creates each new question throughout the exam based on how well you answered the previous ones. The test bank is thorough and contains a variety of question types and subject matter.
2. Don’t Self-Evaluate During the Test
It is useless to attempt self-evaluation while taking the test. Don’t presume that you are below pass level just because you answered a few “easy” questions in a row. Just pay attention to the immediate issues. What is simple to you may be difficult to someone else. Each query is as significant to the next.
It’s all about endurance on this test. If you plan to sit the entire time, you won’t feel stressed if you do.
3. Find Ways to Manage Your Test Stress
Don’t worry, all of you anxious test-takers out there. There are tactics for controlling stress.
Although test anxiety is real, you made it through nursing school, so just keep preparing whatsoever has previously worked for you. There is a potential that you will feel anxious even if you don’t generally suffer test anxiety because of the pressure of such a significant test.
There are a few important strategies for minimizing stress.
- First, take your exam preparation seriously, but avoid making studying your entire life. In the weeks and months prior to the exam, it’s crucial to maintain balance.
- Set aside time each day for pleasurable activities, healthy sleep, and exercise. Your mind won’t make the exam moment seem bigger than it is by maintaining balance.
- Additionally, when it’s time to take the NCLEX, avoid studying or cramming information the day before.
Take some time to relax your mind the morning of the test. Whatever works for you, concentrate on doing something that keeps you grounded, such as making a lovely meal, listening to music, or going for a run.
The greatest method to calm your anxieties is to properly prepare for the exam. The NCLEX doesn’t seem as terrifying when you are assured and prepared.
4. Know Your NLCEX Study Style
Everyone has a slightly distinct learning style, and by this point, you probably know what it is. Make sure you customize your study methods to suit your needs!
- Draw out crude illustrations of the heart chambers, color-coded drug classes, etc. if you learn concepts best through images.
- There are many YouTube lectures and podcasts available if you learn best by hearing things.
- Make a study group to go over subjects in if you find that you learn best through conversation.
In general, most students benefit from employing mnemonics when learning concepts that are more challenging.
Avoid simply reading, rewriting, and copying old notes. Try tying concepts together. Consider the lessons you are learning from a holistic perspective and connect them to any clinical experiences you may have had in school.
5. Make a Study Plan
Decide to give the test the preparation it requires. Start your study session with a plan; for instance:
- Plan days to study. Establish a schedule that specifies the days of the week that you will study, take off, and use for practice exams.Es
- Make a goal before each study session. Be intentional, whether your goal is to complete a certain number of practice questions or master a certain content area.
It is a waste of time and effort to study without a plan if you want to pass the NCLEX. It doesn’t matter how many hours you put in; what matters is how you use them.
The NCLEX is a comprehensive test model that tries to assess knowledge acquired over the course of years, not days, therefore this is one exam you must not under any circumstances cram for.
6. Don’t Draw from Past Clinical or Work Experiences
Unfortunately, if you’ve ever worked as a nursing tech or assistant in a hospital before, it may have hampered your ability to correctly respond to test questions. It is typically clear that many themes or clinical skills are different between textbooks and actual healthcare from what you experienced as student nurses in clinical.
The NCLEX is built upon tried-and-true, empirically supported practice. Don’t assume that something done in a different way at your prior facility—even though it’s just as safe or just as correct—will work the same way on the NCLEX.
It’s critical to approach NCLEX questions as though you don’t have any practical limitations as a nurse. Assume you have enough time and money to complete each answer option.
7. Hone Your Test-Taking Skills
Knowing the test’s format is just as important for passing the NCLEX as knowing the correct answers. Use test-taking techniques to weed out incorrect responses, steer clear of “extremes” like ALL or NONE, and always prioritize patient safety.
You will eventually identify certain patterns in the answers:
- Never call the doctor immediately away; instead, always evaluate the patient first.
- Utilize the Airway-Breathing-Circulation method, etc.
- Even if you are unfamiliar with the theoretical underpinnings of the topic, use logical reasoning.
- If all else fails, trust that developing instinct we like to refer to as “nurse intuition.”
The dreaded select-all-that-apply questions will undoubtedly appear. Apply the same methodical strategy to weed out inaccurate answer options based on knowledge and answer language.
8. Invest in Test Prep Resources
Purchasing practice test materials or registering for a classroom review session are both unquestionably smart investments. Kaplan, UWorld, and nursing.com are a few instances. * The majority of the time, people base their study choices on reviews, recommendations from peers, or personal taste.
Spend some time reading reviews to choose which handbook style is best for you. All exam resource businesses produce excellent guides to help you prepare for the NCLEX exam.
9. Go Beyond the Practice Questions
While taking practice examinations is undoubtedly the greatest and most significant way to get ready, doing so is only half of the procedure.
It is equally crucial to:
- Look up questions that you answered incorrectly..
- Jot down notes of which concepts you want to revisit,
- Practice, practice, practice.
10. Prepare for Exam Day
There are no shortcuts, you’ve got to prepare and not just prepare, but prepare very well
Finally, believe in yourself. What are your thoughts about these how many questions are on the NCLEX? Is it something you can handle?