The NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses) is a standardized examination designed to test knowledge, skills, and abilities deemed essential for entry level nursing practice. Graduates of the BSN and ABSN program options must take this exam in order to practice as a registered nurse. The NCLEX-RN exam is administered by state boards of nursing, as well as boards in the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories: American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. These boards have a mandate to protect the public from unsafe and ineffective nursing care, and each board has been given responsibility to regulate the practice of nursing in its respective state. The NCLEX is also referred to as “The Boards” or “State Boards.”
Graduates of the Nursing program must pass the NCLEX in order to practice as a registered nurse.
- The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) provides information on licensure, testing, and the field of nursing in general, as well as links to state boards of nursing.
- The NC Board of Nursing provides information on licensure, practice, education, discipline, legislation, and compliance in the state of North Carolina.
The NCSBN Examinations department created official Facebook and Twitter pages to give the public information they need about the NCLEX, National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP) and Medication Aide Certification Examination (MACE). Facebook and Twitter users can become fans of the Facebook pages and follow NCLEXInfo on Twitter to find current information about the examinations, updates and direct links to the Examinations websites.
NCLEX Review and Preparation
- Each nursing school exam and standardized assessment is integral to helping you prepare for NCLEX. Do numerous practice questions during your nursing courses. Each time you take a Content Mastery exam at the end of a course, be sure to do a “focused review” on the topics you missed.
- During the last semester of study, students should begin to think seriously about intentionally preparing for the licensure examination. This is an ideal time to begin reviewing content from previous nursing courses and to do many practice questions throughout the semester (note: you need to do at least 4000 practice questions before you take the NCLEX exam).
- When final exams are completed, it is time to begin an intentional and intensive review plan to increase the likelihood of passing NCLEX on the first attempt. The School will share a recommended plan of study for NCLEX preparation with seniors during their final semester.
NCLEX REVIEW RESOURCES
Here are some current review materials to help you prepare for NCLEX. An NCLEX review book is a helpful tool to have throughout the curriculum as it provides additional practice with multiple choice test items.
- Davis’s NCLEX-RN Success by Lagerquist, 3rd edition
- HESI/Saunders Online Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination (1 yr) access
- Kaplan NCLEX-RN Premier 2016 with 2 Practice Tests: Online + Book + DVD + Mobile
- Kaplan NCLEX RN 2016: Strategies, Practice, and Review with Practice Test
- Mosby’s Comprehensive Review of Nursing for the NCLEX-RN Exam, 20th edition
- Lippincott’s Fast Facts for NCLEX-RN
- Lippincott’s NCLEX-RN Review Made Incredibly Easy, 5th edition
- Lippincott’s NCLEX-RN Questions and Answers Made Incredibly Easy, 7th edition
- Lippincott’s NCLEX-RN Alternate-Format Questions, 6th edition
- Lippincott’s Q & A Review for NCLEX-RN, 11th edition
- Saunders’ Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN by Silvestri, 7th edition
- Saunders Q & A Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination by Silvestri, 6th edition
- Saunders Q&A Review Cards for the NCLEX-RN Examination by Silvestri and Silvestri, 2nd edition
- Saunders 2016-2017 Strategies for Test Success – Passing Nursing School and the NCLEX Exam by Silvestri, 4th edition
- ATI Mobile Mentor
- Kaplan NCLEX-RN Mini Q-Bank
- Mosby’s NCLEX-RN Exam Prep 2016
- NCLEX RN Mastery 2016
- NCLEX Success RN 2016
- UWorld NCLEX
Tips for Buying NCLEX Review Materials
- Purchase the most current edition. The NCLEX test plan changes periodically and your review book should be consistent with the latest test plan.
- Many books have CD’s with extra questions or may provide links to extra questions on-line. The more practice questions you do, the better prepared you will be for the NCLEX exam.
- Question and answer books should include rationale for each answer; look for resources that also include other helpful information with each question, such as testing strategies.
The Academic Counselors strongly recommend that all students take some type of NCLEX review course. The following are the best-known courses and ones that our students have used in the past with very good success.
ASSESSMENT TECHNOLOGIES INSTITUTE
Hurst offers live review courses lasting four days as well as online review courses.
Classroom or online NCLEX-RN review courses are available through Kaplan. Information on classes and on-line review are available through the Kaplan nursing website or the Chapel Hill Kaplan office (phone: 919-960-4600).
NATIONAL COUNCIL OF STATE BOARDS OF NURSING
NCSBN offers an online self-paced NCLEX review course through the NCSBN Learning Extension. The course provides content review, practice questions, online review exercises, and instructor feedback through discussion boards and email. Students subscribe for a specific period of time ranging from 3 weeks to 15 weeks. The cost varies with the enrollment period.
ATI offers a web-based NCLEX review program in which students can utilize their current ATI products (review modules and on-line practice exams) along with individualized assistance and guidance from an experienced ATI instructor. The instructor assists students to develop and follow a detailed timeline for NCLEX preparation. Students have access to an additional 500 online practice questions.
(For complete information about NCLEX_RN, read the NCLEX Candidate Bulletin Information)
What is NCLEX-RN?
- The National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses is designed to test essential knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for safe and effective practice of nursing at the entry level. Entry into the practice of nursing in the United States and its territories is regulated by the licensing authorities within each jurisdiction. To ensure public protection, each jurisdiction requires a candidate for licensure to pass an examination that measures the competencies needed to perform safely and effectively as a newly licensed, entry-level registered nurse. The exam is developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) and is the same no matter which state you are in or where you plan to work.
How is the exam administered?
- The NCLEX-RN exam is in a computerized adaptive testing format. Each test is tailored to the examinee. Every time the examinee answers a question, the computer re-estimates the examinee’s ability. With every additional answer, the ability estimate gets more precise. Based upon the most recent, revised ability estimate, the computer selects the next item to be presented, such that the examinee will find it challenging (not too hard, not too easy).This way an adaptive test presents the examinee with the items that will be the most informative for measuring ability. It also reduces the number of easy items that high-ability examinees receive and reduces the number of difficult items that low-ability people receive.
How many questions will be on the exam?
- This is an individual matter. You may have as few as 75 or as many as 265 questions on the exam, depending on how you are answering the items. The computer will shut off when you have either passed or failed. You will not know at that point how you have done. You have a maximum of six hours to complete the exam.
How Do I Sign Up?
- During your last semester in the School of Nursing, you will attend an NCLEX information session conducted by the academic counselors. You will receive instructions on how to register to take the NCLEX-RN examination.
- Basically, there are three eligibility requirements for taking the NCLEX exam:
- Register with the Board of Nursing in the state for which you wish to be licensed. (For N.C., refer to the “New Graduate Resources”)
- Register for the NCLEX-RN examination with Pearson Vue
- Complete the nursing curriculum.
Register with the Board of Nursing. Right now, you can begin the process of exploring the licensure requirements for the state in which you will be working. Be sure to meet that board of nursing’s application deadline. Go to the board of nursing website for the specific state (for North Carolina: www.ncbon.org). Find out if there are special requirements and attend to those as soon as possible. For example, in order to apply for licensure in North Carolina, you will need a criminal background check that can take several weeks. This involves live scan fingerprinting (digital fingerprinting and transmission of the impression directly to the SBI and FBI).
If you plan to practice in a state other than N.C., you may want to investigate the Compact State Agreement for Multistate Licensure [Video]. Having a multistate license allows you to practice in any of the states that are part of the Compact agreement. Watch this short video that explains the agreement: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgYXULIGoa8&feature=youtu.be
Register with Pearson Vue. You also need to apply to take NCLEX with the test vendor (Pearson Vue). You can register with Pearson Vue using one of the following methods: on the web, by mail, or by telephone. If you provide an e-mail address when registering for the NCLEX Examination, you will receive all subsequent correspondence from Pearson VUE only through e-mail. If you do not provide an e-mail address when you register, then all correspondence from Pearson VUE will arrive only through U.S. mail.
Complete the nursing curriculum. Before you are eligible to take the NCLEX-RN examination, you must have completed all required courses in the nursing curriculum at UNC Chapel Hill. Soon after final exams are over and grades are submitted, OASS will send a notification of program completion to the board of nursing in the state where you are seeking licensure.
Authorization to Test (ATT). After the board of nursing declares that you are eligible to test, you will receive an Authorization to Test (ATT). DO NOT LOSE YOUR ATT!!!! You must have your ATT to schedule an appointment to take the NCLEX examination and you must present your ATT at the test center to be admitted to the examination. You will not be admitted to the examination without your ATT and you will be required to re-register and re-pay to take the examination.
How much does it cost?
- The total cost of licensure in most states will be approximately $300.00. The NCLEX exam itself costs approximately $200.00; this is paid to Pearson Vue at the time you register. Each state has its own fee for licensure; this fee is due at the time of application. (In North Carolina, it is around $75.00 + $38.00 for Criminal Background Check through Live Scan.)
When can I take NCLEX? How soon after graduation?
- The earliest testing appointment is typically about 3 weeks following graduation. An appointment to take the NCLEX can be made after the ATT is received. Once this is received, it is imperative to test within the dates specified by the ATT.
Where do I go to take the NCLEX exam?
- The NCLEX exam is administered by Pearson Vue. There are over 200 locations in the U.S. and 18 locations internationally. You can take the test at any Pearson Vue testing center, regardless of the state in which you will be licensed.
How will I know if I passed?
- For quality control purposes, every computerized NCLEX examination is scored twice; once by the computer at the test center and then the result is verified after the examination record has been transmitted to Pearson VUE. Although the examination is scored as the candidate completes each item, NO RESULTS are released at the test center. In fact, test center staff do not have access to the examination results. Examination results are available ONLY from a candidate’s board of nursing and will be mailed to candidates approximately one month after taking the examination. DO NOT CALL the board of nursing, NCLEX Candidate Services, the Pearson Professional Centers or NCSBN for examination results. In most cases, you can check the Board of Nursing website and find out if you passed within two or three days. In N.C., go to http://www.ncbon.com/dcp/i/verify-license-verify-a-license and enter your name. If you passed, you should show as having a license. You can also use the NCLEX “Quick Results Service” available through NCSBN; you will get results in 48 hours using this service (cost is around $10).
What if I don’t pass the first time?
- In all but 4 states, students are allowed to retake NCLEX after 45 days if they did not successfully pass their first attempt. Each state has its own policy about the number of times a student may take NCLEX and at what point additional education is needed before being allowed to retest.
- As soon as you know that you did not pass the exam, immediately contact one of the Academic Counselors in the School of Nursing for help in creating an individualized study plan. The counselors are very supportive and will provide information and encouragement.
Do I need to take an NCLEX review course?
- All students should plan to take a live review course, if possible. You will hear more about review course options in during your last semester. Live review courses range in price from $350 to $400, so plan ahead with your finances. Graduation gifts of money can go toward a live review course.
What NCLEX review courses are available?
- There are a number of live and on-line review courses. These include, but are not limited to: ATI Live Review, Virtual ATI (on-line), Hurst, Kaplan, and NCSBN. Representatives from the major NCLEX review companies will visit the School of Nursing during your last semester to present information about their courses.
When should I begin reviewing for NCLEX?
- Begin reviewing as soon as possible. During your final semester in the nursing program , make a point of doing as many practice questions as possible through the numerous on-line ATI assessments.
- Purchase an NCLEX review book such as the Saunders’ Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination and use this book to do additional practice questions.
- The Academic Counselors will provide you with a recommended plan for concentrated NCLEX review. This plan is intended to cover approximately three weeks and guides you through the various content areas.
- The Academic Counselors are available to help you develop an individualized study plan.
HOW DO TESTERS OBTAIN AN ATI PAPER/PENCIL ID NUMBER?
All testers must create an ATI account prior to taking a paper/pencil test. They can create an account at www.atitesting.com by clicking on Create New Account and following the screen prompts. After a tester has registered on the site, that tester’s personal paper/pencil ID will be displayed under Account Information. At this screen, the user will have an opportunity to print the paper/pencil ID. Each user should print and retain this and use it for identification on every paper/pencil test. This ID number will not change; the tester only needs to register once. Testers who forget their login information can retrieve it by using the Forgot Password feature or have an instructor look up the information under Manage Students.
WHAT IF I HAVE TESTED BEFORE BUT DON’T KNOW MY USERNAME OR PASSWORD?
Students who have tested previously but have never logged into ATI should sign in using their SSN without dashes or spaces as their username and the last four digits of their SSN as their password. Users should follow the screen prompts to update their account and receive their paper/pencil ID; they should print the information and take it with them to their test session.
I’VE TAKEN A TEST USING MY ATI PAPER/PENCIL ID. HOW DO I OBTAIN MY RESULTS?
Students can sign in to the ATI system using the username and password they used when they created their account. They can retrieve their results by clicking on Results under the Quick Links section.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE ATI PAPER/PENCIL ID AND YOUR ATI USERNAME?
The ATI Paper/Pencil ID Number is a number assigned by the ATI system to students and is only used on Paper/Pencil forms. Everyone creates their own ATI Username to log into www.atitesting.com; they should always choose something that is easily remembered.
*Assessment Technologies Institute (2007). Overland Park, KS.
Assessment Technologies Institute:
- ATI Web site
- Important information about ATI registration and student identification (see section above)
- The Learning Center: Take Charge of Your Reading – Speed Reading and Study Skills: free non-credit course offered several times each semester
- Learning Center Handouts and Digital Tools
- Reading Speed and Comprehension
- ATI: Nurse Logic – An on-line tutorial with practice questions (located under “My Products”, “Tutorials” tab on the student ATI home page
- Test Taking Strategies – Suggestions from the Academic Counselors
- Study and Test Taking Strategies – From Shielda Rodgers
- Study Skills and Test-Taking Strategies Powerpoint presentation
- Learning Center Handouts and Digital Tools
Stress Management and Test Anxiety:
- UNC Counseling and Psychological Services (CWS)
- Conquering Test Anxiety
- Stress Management and Testing Anxiety
- TED Talks to Help You Manage Stress
- Template for schedule planning
- Learning Center Handouts and Digital Tools
- Use the Outlook Calendar in Your Exchange Email
Learning Disability or ADHD Resources
- Learning Center – How to be formally evaluated for an LD or ADHD
- Campus Health Services– Information about being successful if you have ADHD
- Accessibility Services – Services and accommodations for students with disabilities
- Resume Template
- UNC Career Services – Job search skills and assistance
- Finding a Job: https://sonportal.unc.edu/current-students/finding-a-job/
- What Every Nursing Student Should Know When Seeking Employment
Other helpful UNC Links: