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The NCLEX Exam: How to Take It and How to Pass It

Are you thinking of working as a nurse in the USA, Canada, or Australia?

All of these countries are currently experiencing shortages of registered nurses. This means that there are numerous employment opportunities. For instance, in the US, it's predicted that by 2022 there will be more registered nurse jobs than in any other profession.

However, before you can start the process of applying for a nursing position in either Canada, the US, or Australia, you will need to take the NCLEX exam.

Not sure what the NCLEX exam is, how to take it, or how to prepare? 

We cover everything you need to know in this guide. Read on to find out important details, including NCLEX eligibility and the NCLEX components, and kickstart your nursing career today.

What Is the NCLEX exam?

The NCLEX exam is a bridging program that nurses need to take to work as registered nurses in the USA, Australia, or Canada. It is administered via the Pearson Vue center.

The NCLEX exam is designed to test the competency of nursing school graduates. Once you have successfully passed the NCLEX exam, you will then be granted your nursing license.

NCLEX Eligibility: Who Can Take the Exam?

Although the NCLEX exam is used in multiple countries, NCLEX eligibility requirements can vary depending on where you are applying for your nursing license.

The nursing regulatory body that issues your license is in charge of determining your eligibility. Different nursing regulatory bodies can have slightly varying requirements.

NCLEX eligibility is determined by your previous qualifications. In most cases, you will need to hold at least an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to start the licensing process and sit the NCLEX exam.

To be 100% sure of the requirements, you can contact the nursing regulatory body where you wish to be licensed and find out what their specific requirements are.

How to Apply For the NCLEX Exam

The first step in the NCLEX application process is to receive approval from the controlling regulatory body in the country or state where you are going to work.

For instance, in Australia, you will need to confirm your NCLEX eligibility from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

In the US, you will need to apply to your state's regulatory board. They will then verify your NCLEX eligibility.

The same process applies to Canada, where you will need to apply with the right Nursing Regulatory Body. There are twelve in total.

Once your NCLEX eligibility has been verified with the correct regulatory nursing body, you can then register for the NCLEX exam. You will need to do this with the Pearson Vue center. You can choose to apply online via their website, or by contacting them directly.

After this, if your registration is approved, you will receive your Authorization to Test (ATT).

Additional Licensing Requirements

Besides taking and passing the NCLEX exam, depending on where you are applying, there might be other requirements you need to meet to gain your nursing license. These can include things like:

  • A background check and fingerprints
  • References (either from supervisors or educators)
  • Proof of proficiency in English
  • Self-reporting of any legal trouble or addiction issues you may have had

You might also need to meet further examination requirements in some areas before you get your nursing license. For instance, in Australia, you must also take the Objective Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE) after you have completed the NCLEX exam.

The Components of the NCLEX Exam

The NCLEX exam covers a variety of focus areas, which can be broadly categorized as:

  • 1.
    The provision of a safe and effective care environment
  • 2.
    Health promotion and maintenance
  • 3.
    Psychosocial integrity
  • 4.
    Physiological integrity

The NCLEX exam also has eight distinct components that center around the following:

  • 1.
    Management of Care (20%)
  • 2.
    Safety and Infection Control (12%)
  • 3.
    Health Promotion and Maintenance (9%)
  • 4.
    Psychosocial Integrity (9%)
  • 5.
    Basic Care and Comfort (9%)
  • 6.
    Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies (15%)
  • 7.
    Reduction of Risk Potential (12%)
  • 8.
    Physiological Adaptation (14%)

Having an idea of the NCLEX components and what percentage of the exam they make up can help you to allocate your study time accordingly.

How the NCLEX Exam Works

The NCLEX exam is an adaptive test. This means that the sequence of the questions is not set. Instead, the program will feed you questions based on how you faired on the preceding ones.

If you get the first question correct, the test will then feel you a slightly more difficult question. If you get that one wrong, it will give you one that is slightly easier.

Through this, the exam aims to determine what level of questions you can consistently answer correctly.

The NCLEX exam contains 265 questions. However, if you are able to answer predominantly higher-level questions, you can pass the exam after answering a minimum of 75 questions.

If you answer all 265 questions but do not achieve the baseline of correct answers, you will fail the exam.

If you fail, you can choose to rewrite the NCLEX exam after 45 days have passed. There is no limit to the number of times you can retake the exam, however, the frequency is limited to 8 times per year, and you will need to pay for each rewrite.

Have you failed the NCLEX exam? If so, you can read this blog post on how to excel at your NCLEX rewrite.

How to Prepare For the NCLEX Exam

Whether you are fresh out of college or are taking the NCLEX exam some time after, you will need to prepare thoroughly.

One of the best ways to prepare is by taking an NCLEX practice exam. This allows you to answer similar types of questions to those you will face when you take the actual NCLEX exam.

Wondering where to access an NCLEX practice exam?

Here at Archer Review, we're committed to helping nurses like you prepare for and pass the NCLEX exam. We give you access to a question bank that contains more than 2,500 challenging questions.

Formulated by expert nurses, these questions are also created with "vagueness" and "brevity", which are signature components of the NCLEX exam.

Our questions also come with peer stats to help you self-assess and predict readiness, as well as detailed explanations for both correct and incorrect answers.

Our customized software mimics the real NCLEX exam which helps to instill confidence and put you at ease when you do the actual NCLEX exam.

Besides all of these impactful features, with Archer Review you also get access to highly affordable on-demand webinars.

Increased Your Chances of Success For the NCLEX Exam With Archer Review

The NCLEX exam is your final challenge to undergo before you start your nursing career in the USA, Canada, or Australia—the countries that offer the highest remuneration rates in the world.

Don't let a lack of preparation stand in front of your dreams. 

Kickstart your nursing career and check out the Archer Review NCLEX page to learn more about how our system and question bank can help you pass the NCLEX exam.

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