Any test can be intimidating; therefore, the NCLEX is no exception. The good news is, according to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), almost 70% of candidates taking the exam passed the test in 2021. As a RN who has taken the exam and passed, I know how daunting the task can seem. Luckily, there are numerous resources at your fingertips that can help you to pass the exam and fulfill your dreams of working in the United States as a Registered Nurse.
National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN)
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) is a non-profit organization whose goal is to help nursing regulators in their efforts to better protect the public. One way this helps protect the public is to ensure all nurses in the US have taken that NCLEX-RN before they start practicing in a real-world setting. The NCSBN will evaluate the “passing standard” for the exam every three years in order to keep up with the ever-changing field of nursing. This is to guarantee all candidates who pass the exam are within the NCSBN definition of an entry level nurse. Throughout your journey, the NCSBN can be a resource and guide to help you get to where you need to be.
Computerized Adaptive Testing
Computerized Adaptive Testing or CAT is the way the NCLEX is conducted. The test basically learns from you as you answer question. So, as you answer items, the computer reanalyzes how you are performing based off the level of difficulty of the questions, and it will readjust to ensure you are within an acceptable range to be deemed a competent nurse. That is why there is a minimum and maximum number of questions and not a set amount. Due to the pandemic, the current minimum number of items is 75, and the maximum number of items being 145. The most common way the computer decides if you have passed, for most NCLEX candidates, is the 95% Confidence Interval Rule. This rule basically states that the computer will stop providing items once it is 95% sure you are above the passing standard or 95% sure you are below the passing standard. Do not be alarmed if the test does not cut you off at 75 items immediately. It does not mean you are doing poorly on the exam. There have been people who failed with 75 questions and others who passed by reaching the maximum number of items. As you are taking the exam, try not to focus too much on the number you are on and put more focus on answering each item as you move forward.
Types of Items
A big question people typically ask regarding the NCLEX is: what type of questions are on the exam? The NCLEX is full of very situational questions. This implies putting yourself in the nursing role and making decisions based on best evidence-based practice. The majority of questions will be multiple choice (1 correct answer) and select all that apply (more than 1 correct answer). There may also be items like text-based items, “hot spot” items (for example: clicking on a region of the body), and audio items (like listening to breath sounds or heart sounds). These special types of items are not as common. For example, I took the exam in 2019 and did not have any audio type questions. One of the major sorts of items revolve around prioritization. On any given day as a nurse, you must prioritize not only the needs of one individual patient, but you must also prioritize the needs of all your patients. If one patient needs a scheduled antibiotic at 7:00 am and another needs an antihistamine due to an unexpected allergic reaction, you will prioritize the allergic reaction. These are the types of priority recognition questions that could be on your NCLEX.
Studying for the NCLEX
You have studied hard in nursing school, and the NCLEX is designed to take those years of training and ensure you are ready to start your career in the US as a RN; however, it is important to maintain good study habits and have a plan together in order to pass the NCLEX. Fortunately, RN Staffing USA has many resources available to help ensure you pass the NCLEX on the first try. One important aspect about studying for the NCLEX is to recognize the best way you learn. Some people study best by answering practice questions; other people learn by reading textbooks. For most people, it is best to follow a plan and have a guide that helps keep you on track and on time in order to get through the information in a quality manner.
Passing the test
Looking to the future and keeping your goals in mind will be the best way to focus on passing the test. If moving to the US as a RN is your goal, there has never been a better time to take the leap. Utilizing the resource available from RN Staffing will ensure you have a successful NCLEX exam and a successful transition into the next phase of your nursing career. In ten years, do you hope you took the leap?