Nursing Credentials
Search Nursing By State
Search Nursing By Career
Search CNA by Category
Spotlight Schools


National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN)


The NCLEX-RN is very similar to the NCLEX-PN. It 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 an RN. To take the examination, students must first apply to their state and provide evidence of successful completion of a state approved RN 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 RN. 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 75 to 265 items, 25 of which are pretest items that are not scored. The time limit is five hours and includes optional breaks. 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. In addition, nursing processes, caring, communication and documentation, and teaching/learning are integrated into the exam. It should be clear, then, that the candidate is tested on their ability to provide care that effectively promotes both psychological and physiological health.

The NCLEX-RN is a complex test administered via sophisticated 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. The official pass rate is -0.3500 ‘logits’ on the NCLEX-RN logistic scale, a complex assessment which, simply put, holds one to a very high standard for success.

Certainly, the NCLEX-RN 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 89 percent for first time test-takers.