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National Counsel Licensing Examination-Practical Nursing (NCLEX-PN)

The NCLEX-PN is administered by Pearson Vue and designed in conjunction with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc. (NCSBN). It is a computer-administered examination and, at a cost of $200, is your ticket to licensure as a LPN. To take the examination, students must first apply to their state and provide evidence of successful completion of a state approved LPN program or equivalent within the US, as well as submit to a criminal background check and fingerprinting—it is important to note that one must not have a criminal record to become an LPN. Additionally, your state board of nursing usually charges both examination and endorsement fees upon application for examination—see the appropriate state page for more.

The exam itself may be comprised of anywhere from 85 to 215 items, 25 of which are pretest items that are not scored. The exam will stop when the CAT testing system (see below) has determined the candidate has a 95 percent chance of passing or failing, and the longest the test can go is five hours. The items are designed to test competency in four areas: safe and effective care environment, health promotion and maintenance, psychological integrity and physiological integrity—with physiological integrity and safe and effective care environment receiving the most weight, respectively. Clearly, then, the candidate is tested on their ability to provide care that effectively promotes both psychological and physiological health.

The NCLEX-PN is a complex test administered via Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT), which primarily relies on multiple choice questions, but can also provide fill in the blank, multiple response, drag and drop, hotspot, and chart/exhibit based questions. Due to the sophisticated technology, no one test is the same. A passing grade is defined as -0.4200 logits on the NCLEX-PN logistic scale, a complex assessment which, simply put, holds one to a very high standard for success. As a result, the NCLEX-PN is not a test to be taken lightly—it is an intensive examination that ensures prospective LPNs are well prepared to serve the needs of their patients. Certainly, the NCLEX-PN is complicated business—for more on the complexities of the test, visit the NCSBN . Rest assured that good grades and dedicated study leading up to the test should prepare one sufficiently for the test—the pass rate in 2009 was above 86 percent for first time test-takers.