The NCLEX RN exam is a computer-adaptive test (CAT), meaning it is a testing format that is interactively based on your response to the questions. Based on your skill level, the CAT ensures that the questions on the NCLEX are not "too hard" or "too easy".
Your first question will be relatively easy—below the level of minimum competency. If you answer it correctly, the computer selects a slightly more difficult question. If answered incorrectly, the computer selects a slightly easier question. By continuing to do this throughout the NCLEX, the computer is able to calculate your level of competence.
While the questions on the NCLEX exam are primarily multiple-choice with four possible answer choices, there are also alternate question types. Alternate question types include: multiple-response, fill-in-the-blank, hot spots, chart/exhibit and drag-and-drop.
There is no time limit for each individual question. You will have a maximum of 6 hours to complete the NCLEX-RN exam, which includes a tutorial in the beginning.
Everyone answers a minimum of 75 questions to a maximum of 265 questions on the NCLEX exam. Regardless of how many you answer, you will be given 15 experimental questions that do not count for or against you.
The NCLEX RN exam will end when:
- You have demonstrated minimum competency and answered the minimum number of questions (75).
- You have demonstrated a lack of minimum competency and answered the minimum number of questions (75).
- You have answered the maximum number of questions (265).
- You have used the maximum time allowed (six hours).
Try not to focus on the length of your exam. You should just plan on testing for six hours and completing 265 questions.
The grading system on the NCLEX is pass/fail. There is no numerical score. Although a determination will be made at the conclusion of the exam as to whether you have passed or failed, the results will not be made available at the exam site. You will be notified by your individual state board of nursing approximately two to four weeks after you take the NCLEX.
In order to register for the NCLEX RN exam you are responsible for sending the completed test application and the fee to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing which can be found online at www.ncsbn.org.