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NCLEX: Why is it Important, How to Study for it, and What Does it Mean

Higher Education Articles March 16, 2013

The NCLEX is an acronym and well known terminology among nursing students. The term stands for the National Council Licensure Examination. The test is administered by the NCSBN, an acronym for The National Council of State Boards of Nursing. In order to work as a licensed nurse, graduates from a nursing program must pass this examination by meeting a minimum standard. The exam is graded as you progress since it is given in what is known as Computerized Adaptive Testing format; although scores do go through a second verification process later on. Passing the NCLEX will enable you to work as a Practical Nurse or a Registered Nurse, licensed and official. The main concern is that passing students will be able to meet a minimum standard of competency, so they can perform procedures efficiently and with the utmost care to the patient.

NCLEX Overview

The priorities of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing are to govern licensing for nurses within the United States. The NCLEX is an exam that has been designed to evaluate not only textbook knowledge of nursing practices, but also to test the instincts of nurses, as regards to safety. An incompetently trained nurse could endanger the lives of patients and cost a hospital a fortune, so it is easy to see why testing is imperative, even at an entry-level position.

There are two types of NCLEX exams. One is for practical nurses, and the other is for registered nurses. They are known, respectively, as the NCLEX-PN and the NCLEX-RN. You cannot take either exam until you have met the nursing board’s prerequisites. Only then will you be able to register for the NCLEX.

Once you have received approval from the nursing board, they will provide you with a license application according to the state in which you are seeking licensure. You will be expected to pay a relatively small fee of $200. This will accompany the application, and you may also be expected to pay fees to the board for other licensing requirements.

It is strongly advised that nursing students read the online NCLEX Candidate Bulletin, even before registering for the exam. This online text will discuss vital aspects of testing, including registration, fees and policies, scheduling, rules, reports and standards that must be respected.

Next, you will register with a test vendor known as Pearson VUE, which will provide the NCLEX exam. You can do this online through the Pearson VUE website (, or you can contact them directly at 866-496-2539. As soon as you register, you must pay the $200 fee; so make sure you have a credit card ready. Alternate methods of payment include a cashier’s check or a money order.

Before you begin studying, you should wait for the ATT, which stands for your Authorization to Test form. This letter will be issued to candidates by Pearson VUE and will include exam dates, as well as a unique authorization number. Should you have any questions about eligibility, feel free to contact the nursing board in the appropriate state. The ATT letter authorizes you to set your date to take the National Council Licensure Examination and will ensure you admission into the test center, known as a Pearson Professional Center (PPC), a network of facilities located around the world.

Now what is left is plenty of preparation and studying! Nursing is a rewarding profession, but it is a career defined by rules, regulations and standards. Learn more about this exciting profession by taking a nursing degree program from an accredited school.

How to Study for the NCLEX

Like any test, the key element to success is preparation, so you should develop a study strategy that works for you. Megan Duffy, who holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, offered some tips:

•Review all of your nursing textbooks. Take the chapter test along with reading the chapter summaries.
•Maintain a good attitude and challenge yourself; be determined that you CAN pass the NCLEX!
•Study every day, even in short five to ten minutes burst.
•Maximize your time and study materials that you are less familiar with first.
•Purchase comprehensive NCLEX study materials that include practice tests.

There are several online websites with numerous resources available to nursing students who are studying for the NCLEX. You can download different types of materials free of charge that have been written by experienced nurses. The study materials usually include four extensive practice exams similar to what you will find in the National Council Licensure Examination itself, as well as chapter tests.

The Importance of NCLEX

The NCLEX is important because it bridges the gap between being a graduate or nursing student, and becoming a Licensed Registered Nurse or Licensed Practical Nurse. If this is the goal for your nursing career, then you have to pass the NCLEX exam.

The NCBSN requires graduating nurses to pass the NCLEX because this demonstrates that you have the essential knowledge and skills to deal with patients in a medical facility. It ensures that nurses who work in the state will not endanger the lives of those in their care. They are competent and will make sure that the manner in which they look after the patients meets the standards of quality care.

Just about all students experience stress and anxiety when they think about taking the NCLEX exam. Once you have successfully passed the exam; you will realize that all your hard work was worthwhile. You should appreciate the confidence you have gained and feel proud of your accomplishment when you pass the NCLEX exam and become a licensed registered or practical nurse.

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