NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination)
is a nationwide examination for the licensing of nurses in the United States
and Canada since 1994 and 2015, respectively There are two types, the NCLEX-RN
and the NCLEX-PN. After graduation from a school of nursing, one takes the
NCLEX exam to receive his or her nursing license. A nursing license gives an
individual the permission to practice nursing, granted by the state where he or
she met the requirements.
NCLEX examinations are developed and owned by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc. (NCSBN). The NCSBN administers these examinations on behalf of its member boards which consist of the boards of nursing in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and four U.S. territories, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands.
To ensure public protection, each board of nursing requires a candidate for licensure to pass the appropriate NCLEX examination, NCLEX-RN for registered nurses and the NCLEX-PN for vocational or practical nurses. NCLEX examinations are designed to test the knowledge, skills and abilities essential for the safe and effective practice of nursing at the entry-level.
NCLEX examinations are provided in a computerized adaptive testing (CAT) format and are presently administered by Pearson VUE in their network of Pearson Professional Centers (PPC). The NCLEX is a type of exam called a criterion-referenced examination. According to the chapter, “NCLEX: What You Need to Know,” in the textbook Nursing Now, a criterion-referenced examination is a “test that compares an individual’s knowledge to a predetermined standard rather than to the performance of others who take the same test.” With computerized exams such as this, the computer selects which question you are asked based on how you answered the previous question. The NCLEX covers a wide range of material. The individual will be scored by their ability to think critically about decisions involving nursing care.
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Changes in the NCLEX Exam
The governing body
responsible for making changes to the NCLEX is the National Council of State
Boards of Nursing, the NCSBN. They make changes by analyzing the current
nursing practices. They do this by surveying approximately 12,000 recently
licensed nurses about different nursing activities which appear on the NCLEX.
The NCSBN analyzes these nursing activities based on how frequent the activity
may occur, how it could impact the client’s safety, and the location of these
activitiesThe NCSBN conducts these analyses every three years, then makes any
needed changes to the exam. Changes were made in 2013 and are expected every
three years after that date
In 2015, NCLEX was adopted in Canada, with changes made to address measuring units, drug names, and other terminology differences between the United States and Canada. Additionally, translated NCLEX in Canadian French are offered to French-speaking Canadians
Levels of examination
NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure
Examination-Registered Nurse). All boards of nursing in states and territories
of the United States require candidates to pass this exam for licensure as a
registered nurse (RN). As of 2015, 10 provincial/territorial RN regulators in
Canada have chosen the NCLEX-RN and the National Council of State Boards of
Nursing (NCSBN) as the provider of the Canadian RN entry-to-practice exam.
The NCLEX-RN uses the five-step nursing process. Each of the questions will fall into one of the five steps: assessment, analysis, planning, intervention and implementation, and evaluation.
NCLEX-PN (National Council Licensure Examination-Practical Nurse). All US state and territorial boards of nursing require a passing result on the exam for licensure as alicensed practical nurse (LPN) or licensed vocational nurse (LVN).