NCLEX Overview and Structure

The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN exam) is designed to determine if it's safe for you to begin practice as an entry-level nurse in the U.S.

Many internationally-trained nurses struggle with the exam as it is significantly different from any test that you took during your time at nursing school. The NCLEX-RN® exam is not a knowledge based exam, instead it is application-based. You will be tested on how you can use critical thinking skills to make nursing judgments.

The framework of the NCLEX-RN® exam is based on "Meeting Client Needs". You will see four major categories and eight sub-categories. All of the questions you will face on the exam entail the use of integrated nursing content. You will be expected to integrate medical, surgical, pediatric, psychiatric and obstetric nursing content learnt as separate entities during your nursing program.

You can take the exam in London: visit Pearson VUE for more information.


The NCLEX exam is a Computer Adaptive Test or CAT. CAT stands for computer adaptive test, a testing format that is adapts based on your answers to the questions.

The first question you encounter will be fairly easy - below the minimum level of competency. If you select the correct answer, the computer adapts and provides you with a more difficult question. If you select the incorrect answer, you will be asked a slightly easier question. The computer does this throughout the test and is finally able to calculate your competence level.

NCLEX Exam Structure

The NCLEX-RN exam is structured using a framework of "Meeting Client Needs". There are four major categories:

NCLEX Scoring

Once you have taken your NCLEX-RN exam you will receive a pass/fail. You will not receive a numerical result.

2-4 weeks after you have taken the exam you will be notified by your individual state board of nursing of your result.