NCLEX – Nursing School Aptitude Examination


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How important is the nursing school aptitude exam NCLEX? - As important as the need to provide nursing health care for patients in need.

NCLEX stands for National Council Licensure Examination – an international nursing school aptitude exam standardized by each state-jurisdiction board of nursing to determine if nursing candidates are competent for entry-level nursing practice in the United States. There are basically two US licensing NCLEX nursing school aptitude exam tests offered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) – the NCLEX-RN® (for Registered Nurses) and the NCLEX-PN® (for Practical and Vocational Nurses).

Both the NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN nursing school aptitude exam questions are mostly multiple-choice questions with 4-answers. In some cases the exam uses more difficult question formats such as multiple-choice questions asking for 1+ correct answers, fill-in-the-blank questions, or identifying an area on a picture.

Both exams cover mostly the same topics and both are time-limited. The main difference between the two is that the NCLEX-RN is more difficult, determined by the number and difficulty of correctly answered questions required to pass the exam.

Both of the nursing school aptitude exam NCLEX is administered using Computerized Adaptive Testing - CAT. In the CAT-administered NCLEX, the computer measures the ability of the candidate using the answers provided previously and changes the difficulty and topic of the new questions accordingly - if you answer correctly the computer will select harder questions and if you are answer incorrectly it will choose easier questions. With each new answer you provide the estimate of your ability gets more precise. The computer then selects questions you will have a 50% chance of answering correctly. This is done so that a well-prepared examinee will be asked more difficult questions thus having a good chance of passing the exam by answering the minimum number of questions, while less-prepared candidates are not forced to guess the answers to questions too difficult for them.

This rule is also followed: for each correct answer add one to your score while for each incorrect answer subtract one. Adding your scores one at a time for each question answered should never result in a negative score in order for you to pass if you run out of time but you have answered the minimum number of questions required. The required number of correct answers is 1/2 the total number of questions you are presented with because of the adaptive nature of the test. The computer will then shut-down when the program running the test has determined with 95% certainty that your ability is either passing or failing. [next…]

The US and state boards of nursing necessarily use these measures in making licensure decisions. The nursing school aptitude exam NCLEX is registered and directed by each state board of nursing requiring all candidates to pass the examination to assess if they have the knowledge required to perform nursing safely and effectively. This is to ensure public health protection in the whole of the United States starting with its territories.

Milos Pesic is a successful webmaster and owner of popular and comprehensive Nursing Education web site. For more articles and resources on Nursing related topics, Nursing Jobs, Nursing Schools, Nursing Education and much more visit his site at:



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