The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is an examination conducted in the USA, Canada and Australia that helps determine the licensing of nurses on a nationwide basis. It has been active in providing nursing licenses since 1982 in the United States of America. For Canada, it has been operational since 2015, and Australia started using it in 2020.
The two main types of NCLEX tests are NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN. This article covers details on the entire NCLEX registration process, preparation procedure, steps for candidates before and after qualification and general information. Read on to get a grasp on the topic of NCLEX.
NCLEX-RN: What is it?
Our primary focus in this post is on the NCLEX-RN exam and related information. The test tries to determine the minimum level of knowledge and activity level for entry-level nurses in performing safe and effective healthcare activities.
NCLEX is a licensure exam for nurses at the top premier level and comprises computerized technology to deliver, ensuring a valid and reliable option. This segment covers the important details of the registration, application, eligibility and fees for the exam.
● How to Register for The NCLEX-RN
Both the Nursing Regulatory Body (NRB) and Pearson VUE centres play a role in determining the registration process for the NCLEX exam. It is a multi-step process, with the entire registration procedure available in online mode.
The first step in the registration process is to apply to the NRB seeking licensure for nursing professionals. The next step is to register with the Pearson VUE centre of your choosing, with payment and scheduling done through designated portals.
If you need to make any changes to the registration information, additional costs may apply depending on the selected criteria. Based on the eligibility criteria checks and authorization to test reviews, the candidate can proceed with the process.
Authorisation to Test (ATT) emails are part of your appointment scheduling with the NCLEX. It is valid for a period of up to 90 days. Finding a suitable venue where you can take the NCLEX test is the next step in proceeding with the process.
The final step is to fix the exam appointment by choosing from the available scheduling options. The NCLEX registration process is only deemed complete if you undergo all the steps mentioned above without fail.
○ The NCLEX-RN Test Application
If you satisfy the relevant eligibility criteria to work as a nursing professional in the USA, Canada or Australia, then proceed with the application procedure for NCLEX-RN. The application submission process is possible in online mode.
As part of registration portal access, you will receive a program code at your email address that will assist you in the application process. All communication and correspondence will be available via email.
The salient points that define your eligibility criteria for NCLEX-RN are as follows:
- Graduation in nursing from any approved nursing college.
- Authorisation to Test (ATT) for the NCLEX exam
- Complete the application form detailing all your qualifications and personal information
- NRB Board and Pearson VUE registration fulfilment
- Application fees
○ NCLEX-RN Exam Details and Licensure Fees
The exam details and licensure fees for NCLEX-RN are as follows:
- Registration fees for candidates planning NCLEX licensure in the USA, Canada and Australia should pay USD 200, CAD 360 and USD 200, respectively.
- Additional fees for international scheduling may apply on all platforms that amount to $150.
- Separate fees will apply for exam-type registration fees for the USA, which is $50.
- For changing the NRB after basic registration, $50 is the applicable charge.
- In Canada licensure, changing exam language after the registration fee is an option which will cost you 50 CAD.
- For licensure or registration fees, you have to contact the nursing regulatory body in the USA, Canada and Australia.
○ What’s on The NCLEX?
The NCLEX exam pattern covers three levels. Level 1 tests the knowledge and understanding of a candidate, whereas level 2 tests the analysis and application of the candidates. In level 3, the qualitative and aptitude range of the candidate is taken into consideration.
The unique thing about the NCLEX exam is that it will be different for each participant. The number of questions may range between 75 and 265 and follows a continuous question pattern where choosing one answer will be very relevant in answering the succeeding question.
A total of 60 questions from the 75 will be considered as the rest are saved for future testing purposes.
The syllabus for the NCLEX exam includes four core areas like safe effective care environment, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity and psychological integrity. You may refer to numerous review books on NCLEX that covers all the above topics.
NCLEX Process and Preparation for International Nurses
NCLEX exam follows a specific process and preparation procedure for helping international and foreign-educated nurses to pursue their passion in the healthcare domain. The requirements to be met for international nurses involve the following steps:
- State BON application submission
- Payment of associated fees
- Verification of clean background with no criminal history
- Verification of foreign nursing licenses
- Verification of educational qualifications and credentials evaluation
NCLEX for Living and Working Permit – USA, Canada, Australia
The most considerable merit of NCLEX licensure is the support it offers to the candidates who possess it to live and work freely in the United States of America, Canada and Australia. These three countries’ nursing licenses are tested and approved by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).
The USA first adopted the NCLEX test and licensure, followed by Canada and Australia. You need a nursing practice license from the corresponding regulatory authority in the above countries to engage in healthcare service participation.
Once you clear the eligibility criteria for nursing practice, ensure registration submission followed by an application attempt within a year. On application approval from the regulatory authority, you will have 90 days to schedule the examination.
● NCLEX for USA
In the USA, the licensure requirements will change for each state, but general NCLEX guidelines remain the same. You may take the test from multiple countries, including India and the registration process can be at your convenience.
Different exclusive requirements for NCLEX in the USA could include fingerprint submissions, provision of social security numbers and English proficiency tests. The restrictions and requirements for the NCLEX exam vary by NRB. So it’s wise to choose a board with less stringent rules and conditions.
● NCLEX for Canada
In Canada, the NCLEX types are known as RN (Registered Nurse) and RPN (Registered Practical Nurse). After submission and verification of documents with the National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS), you can apply for the NCLEX test.
Specific eligibility conditions for Canada include a bridge course in nursing if your graduation is not up to the Canadian healthcare benchmarks, credential reviews by NNAS and language proficiency in English or French.
● NCLEX for Australia
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) dictates the measure and requirements of entry-level nurses in Australia. As with the USA and Canada, Australia also offers a perfect career trajectory for nursing professionals based on growth and development.
The registration procedure involves numerous steps with a focus on centres, venues and NCLEX regulations organized by the AHPRA. If you clear NCLEX-RN for Australia, you have to proceed to the clearance of the OSCE examination at the Adelaide Health Simulation Centre.
Two Types of NCLEX Exam
The two types of NCLEX exams are NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN. They both follow the same topics in the syllabus, qualification criteria, eligibility skills and nursing practice.
National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) follows a computer adaptive test format that helps nursing graduates to successfully obtain medical licenses to practice in the USA, Canada and Australia.
National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) also measures the capacity of healthcare professionals to pursue entry-level nursing in the USA, Canada and Australia. It measures skills and knowledge more in the practical nursing field.
● Difference between NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN
Though the practice and knowledge required for NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN are the same, the difference lies in their exam patterns. The number of questions that you should answer plus the time you will get to complete the exam varies for the two types.
As of yet, it is harder to crack the NCLEX-RN, which needs more preparation and attention from your side. NCLEX-PN nurses have permission to diagnose patient health conditions directly. Their privileges could also include ordering tests, prescription treatments and general physician assistance.
What Exactly does NGN Mean? Why does that Matter?
NGN stands for Next Generation NCLEX. Rather than being designed as a new exam, it is an enhanced version of the existing NCLEX pattern assuring students with positive signs to grow in their domain.
The significance of NGN is that a potential candidate’s clinical judgement can be measured perfectly by asking empowering questions. With the rapid rise in healthcare technology and innovation and the presence of complex and challenging problem statements, NGN is a boon.
With clinical decision-making, NGN will help nurses explore new horizons in their healthcare profession. The optimum use cases include recognition and analysis of cues, hypotheses prioritization, generation of solutions, action and response recordings and evaluation of outcomes.
Once You’ve Passed The NCLEX
The NCLEX results will be officially announced via your chosen NRB. It will be available in your communication handles after six weeks of appearing at the NCLEX. You don’t have to call the centre or NRB to know about the result publications.
There is also the option called Quick Results Service, where you can get the results of the exam after two business days. Remember that these results will be unofficial and will cost you an extra $7.95. The limitations of this option are that you can only access this from your candidate profile, and it only applies to candidates seeking NCLEX licensure in the USA.
As some general measures for your waiting time between the NCLEX exam and your formal result announcement, you can proceed with the below steps. Spend some quality time with your family and friends to relax and have fun. Prepare yourself for the healthcare environment that you are going to step into with adequate knowledge and resources.
You could opt for getting different niches like speciality, nurse residency programs, mentorship guides, professional recommendations and the like. Be ready with your nursing transcripts, join nursing networks for building relations and get professional recommendation letters and reviews.
It helps you to go back to the roots and utilize your original network from the nursing schools. Start applying for entry-level nursing jobs at healthcare facilities of your liking at the target destination. Upskill or learn some soft skills during the waiting time to boost your chances.
What Happens if You Don’t Qualify for The NCLEX?
Like every other competitive exam, there is always the chance that you might not pass the exam. Sad as this may seem, you still have to be prepared for tackling this scenario.
NRB provides you with an NCLEX Candidate Performance Report (CPR). It helps candidates know where they missed out on performing according to the required criteria for the test. It will help you create a self-guide for redoing the test.
Yes, you can retake the NCLEX exam. The waiting time between the original test and a retake is a minimum of 45 days. NRB has the final discretion of choosing the dates, and you have to contact them directly for reregistration procedures.
As with all competitive tests in the healthcare industry, passion matters the most. If you are planning to enrol and practice as an entry-level nurse in the USA, Canada or Australia, then NCLEX licensure is a mandatory requirement.
Your best shot at cracking the exam with sufficient preparation and discipline is to seek the help of a professional agency capable of providing the in-depth guidance that you need to proceed with the licensure application. Proven experts can help you prepare well in advance with the appropriate amount of factors that are demanded as part of the NCLEX clearance.
Here’s wishing you the best of luck and wishes in cracking your NCLEX exam and making that dream move abroad.