What Is NCLEX-PN? Everything You Need to Know

NCLEX-PN (National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses) is a standardized exam all entry-level LPNs or LVNs must take to get a license.
information about NCLEX - PN ( National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses )

Are you considering a career in nursing? Have you heard of the NCLEX-PN but are unsure “What is NCLEX-PN?” If so, you’ve come to the right place!

As an experienced licensed practical nurse, I will provide a comprehensive overview of the NCLEX-PN and how to prepare for a successful exam. Join me to get more details now!

What Is NCLEX-PN? 

NCLEX-PN (National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses) is a standardized exam all entry-level LPNs (Licensed Practical Nurses) or LVNs (Licensed Vocational Nurses) must take to get a license.

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing, or NCSBN, administers the exam. It aims to safeguard the public’s health and well-being by ensuring that only competent and proficient nurses become licensed. 

The Structure Of NCLEX-PN

Before doing practice exercises for NCLEX-PN, you must understand its structure. This way, you can prepare effectively, maximizing the chances of success. 

Format of NCLEX-PN

This exam uses a unique format called Computer Adaptive Testing or CAT. The difficulty of the test questions varies, depending on the test taker’s performance. 

The total number of questions ranges from 85 to 150, depending on the candidate’s performance. It also includes 15 non-scored questions dispersed throughout the test for potential use in future exams. 

Content of NCLEX-PN

The NCLEX-PN covers four primary categories, each with different subcategories, which are:

  • Safe and Effective Care Environment: to test understanding of how to provide a safe and effective care environment for patients (account for 21-33% of the exam)
  • Psychosocial Integrity: to assess the ability to provide care to patients who experience mental health issues (account for 9-15% of the exam)
  • Health Promotion and Maintenance: to evaluate knowledge on how to provide care that leads to improved health for the patient (account for 6-12%)
  • Physiological Integrity: to test the nurse’s ability to promote physical health and wellness by providing care to clients with acute or chronic physical health conditions (account for 43-67% of the exam)

These significant categories collectively cover areas like infection control, coping mechanisms, pharmacological therapies, physiological adaption, and many others. 

Before taking the test, I recommend thoroughly understanding these topics to perform well on your exam. 

Alex Johnson

Time limit for NCLEX-PN

According to NCSBN, candidates have a maximum of five hours to complete NCLEX-PN, including two optional breaks. I see that the actual duration may be shorter, depending on the test taker’s performance and the number of questions presented. 

 Overview of the NCLEX-PN
 Overview of the NCLEX-PN

Type Of Questions In NCLEX-PN

NCLEX-PN incorporates different types of questions to evaluate the test-taker’s nursing expertise, including: 

  • Multiple-choice questions
  • Fill-in-the-blank
  • Calculations
  • Ordered response
  • Hot spot items
  • Exhibit questions
  • Drag-and-drop questions

You should know that some questions on NCLEX-PN may contain multimedia, such as charts, tables, graphics, sound, and video. 

Each type of question tests different competencies and requires different strategies to answer correctly. I suggest you familiarize yourself with these question formats to reduce test anxiety and improve performance. 

How To Register For NCLEX-PN?

You may find the process challenging if it’s your first time registering for NCLEX-PN. Don’t worry! Here are simple steps to do this:

Step 1: Meet the requirements

Before registering for NCLEX-PN, you must meet the educational and other requirements set by your state nursing board, such as:

  • High school diploma (or equivalent)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (or Associate Degree in Nursing)

Step 2: Apply for licensure 

Once you’ve met the educational requirements, apply for licensure with your state’s nursing board. The application process may vary by state, so you must check with your state nursing board for specific details. 

Step 3: Register with Pearson VUE

Visit the Pearson VUE website and follow the instructions for NCLEX-PN registration. 

Step 4: Receive your authorization to test

Once your state board of nursing has declared you eligible to take NCLEX-PN and registered with Pearson VUE, you will receive authorization to test via email.

Step 5: Schedule your NCLEX-PN exam

Log into your Pearson VUE account and choose a date and location that’s convenient for you. Be sure to schedule your test within the validity dates provided on your authorization to test.

Registration process for NCLEX-PN
Registration process for NCLEX-PN

How To Prepare For NCLEX-PN?

The preparation process for this exam can be overwhelming. So, I want to share my tips and strategies for your better NCLEX-PN prep:

Understand The Test Format

You must first understand the format of the NCLEX-PN. As shared earlier, the test is computer-adaptive, meaning each question is adjusted based on your previous answer. 

The number of questions ranges from 85 to 150. The test covers four areas:

  • Safe and Effective Care Environment
  • Psychosocial Integrity
  • Health Promotion and Maintenance
  • Physiological Integrity. 

Create Your Study Plan

Determine the areas you must focus on and allot specific time for each topic. Your plan should include regular time to review your learning and revise challenging regions. 

From my experience, you should balance your study plan with rest periods to prevent burnout. 

Take Practice Tests

Practice tests provide a realistic exam environment simulation and help you measure your understanding of the material. 

I recommend you regularly take the practice test to help you identify your weaknesses, improve your speed, and build your test-taking stamina. 

Take practice tests
Take practice tests

Manage Test Anxiety

Test anxiety is a common issue among test-takers. You must learn to manage it effectively to perform your best on the exam day. Always maintain a positive mindset and remind yourself of your capabilities. 

Get Ready For The Exam Day

Ensure you know the location of your testing center and the time your exam starts. Get a good night’s sleep before the exam day and eat a healthy meal before leaving for the test. You can also check out more tips from NCSBN for better preparation. 

The Bottom Line

What is NCLEX-PN? It is a standardized exam administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) to test the abilities and proficiency of LPNs or LVNs before gaining a license. 

Are you ready to take your nursing career to the next level? Start preparing for the NCLEX-PN today. If you have further questions, feel free to share them below. I’m here to help you!