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National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)

The NCLEX is a nationally recognized examination that must be passed in order to become a registered nurse (NCLEX-RN) as well as a licensed practical nurse (NCLEX-LPN) (NCLEX-PN). The National Council of State Boards of Nursing develops and maintains the examinations (NCSBN). State boards of nursing, who ultimately decide whether to issue or refuse a candidate’s nursing license, take the NCLEX results into account when determining whether to issue a nursing license.

According to NCLEX’s information sheet, 82.74 percent of registered nurse candidates for the NCLEX-RN and 79.06 percent of practical nurse candidates for the NCLEX-PN took their respective examinations for the first time between January and June 2021. Candidates with their first international education came from the Philippines, India, Puerto Rico, Kenya, and Nepal, among other places.

Pass Rates on the NCLEX

In the first six months of 2021, the NCLEX pass rate for all RN candidates was 72.94 percent, with the greatest success rate for RNs with bachelor’s degrees. The pass rate for practical nurses on the NCLEX was 66.3 percent, with the highest pass rate of 79.33 percent for first-time examinees educated in the United States. Certain colleges tout high pass rates as a possible indicator of the program’s usefulness.

Application and Registration for the NCLEX

To sit for the NCLEX, you must file an application for licensure/registration with the state’s nursing regulatory body, register for the NCLEX, and pay the necessary price. To advance with the examination, NCLEX must obtain notification of eligibility from your state’s nursing regulatory body within 365 days. Registration for the NCLEX is available online or by phone.

Fees & Payments for the NCLEX

When you register for the NCLEX, you will additionally pay a registration fee of $200 for licensure in the United States, $360 CAD for licensure in Canada, or $200 for licensure in Australia.

There are additional fees for overseas scheduling, changing your nurse regulatory board after registration, changing your examination type (RN/PN) after registration, and changing your exam language after registration, in addition to the fees charged by your state’s nursing regulatory board.

Examining for the NCLEX

The NCLEX is administered at test sites located throughout the United States and overseas. After receiving authorization to test, you must arrange an appointment online or by phone with Pearson VUE (ATT).


The NCLEX-RN consists of questions (PDF, 688KB) on the following topics:

  • Adaptation on a Physiological Level
  • Safety and Infection Control in Care Management
  • Promotion and Maintenance of Health
  • Integrity on a psychosocial level
  • Basic Comfort and Care
  • Parenteral and Pharmacological Therapies
  • Potential for Risk Mitigation

The NCLEX-RN examination consists of 75 to 265 items. Fifteen of these are ungraded pretest items. The NCLEX-RN requires a total of six hours to complete, which includes the instruction, sample items, and optional breaks.


The NCLEX-PN consists of questions (PDF, 590KB) on the following topics:

  • Adaptation on a Physiological Level
  • Care Coordination
  • Security and Infection Prevention
  • Promotion and Maintenance of Health
  • Integrity on a psychosocial level
  • Basic Comfort and Care
  • Pharmaceutical Treatments
  • Potential for Risk Mitigation

Candidates for the NCLEX-PN must correctly answer a minimum of 85 out of 205 questions during the given five hours. The duration of the instruction, sample questions, and any breaks is included in the time.

How to Prepare for the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination)

Given that sitting for — and passing — the NCLEX is a critical component of becoming a nurse, some ideas on how to pass the NCLEX may be beneficial. Study techniques may assist you in preparing for the exam and achieving a higher mark. Because everyone’s optimal study strategy is unique, while some of these recommendations may be beneficial, they do not guarantee success. If you’re unsure how to study for the NCLEX, the following suggestions may help:

Allow Time for Recharging – If you are prepared to take the NCLEX, this indicates that you have successfully completed a nursing program. If possible, schedule your exam somewhat ahead of time and budget for a week or so of relaxation and decompression following school. Stress, according to the Yerkes-Dodson Law, can boost performance, but only to a degree. When you are under excessive stress, it ceases to be beneficial and can instead make things more difficult.

Sample Exams for Practice – One method of assisting with NCLEX preparation is to take a practice exam in a relaxed situation. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) offers NCLEX practice exams (NPEs) for both the Registered Nurse (RN) and Practical Nurse (PN) examinations. These must be completed in a single session of five consecutive hours. For self-paced study prior to diving into an official practice exam, there exist books that contain hundreds of sample questions, many of which are drawn from previous tests. Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN® Examination is an example.

Make an investment in a Study Guide or Preparation Course – While school-issued flashcards may be beneficial, there is an entire business dedicated to assisting nurses in passing the NCLEX. Kaplan and the NCSBN both offer week-long study courses that can assist with test-taking strategy. Additionally, there are a variety of study aids available for purchase that include practice questions and recaps of key sections of the exam.

Assemble a Study Group – While some people prefer to study alone, others benefit from studying among others who are also taking the exam. Studying with a partner or group may be beneficial since it not only provides accountability and companionship, but also demonstrates an understanding of a concept. Additionally, study companions can assist in deciphering questions and identifying solutions in a much more collaborative manner than a book can.

Time Management – Preparing for a significant license exam such as the NCLEX should resemble a marathon rather than a sprint. According to research, cramming lengthy periods of study and repetition into a short amount of time can boost results temporarily, but little information is retained long-term (PDF 340 KB). Consistently studying for small amounts of time over an extended period of time may help pupils recall material better.

Recognize Your Individual Study Style – Not every method of study is effective for everyone. Certain individuals flourish in an interactive or instructor-led study group, while others thrive working independently with a workbook. It is critical to analyze your academic achievement and to choose study strategies that are compatible with your learning style.

This page’s information on NCLEX fees, questions, and other topics was last obtained in September 2021. Please go to the NCLEX website for the most up-to-date information.