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NCLEX-RN® Overview

NCLEX-RN Exam Overview & Structure

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

Many nurses trained outside of the USA struggle with the exam, as it is significantly different from the tests you would have taken throughout nursing school. The NCLEX-RN exam is not a knowledge based exam, instead it is application-based. This means that 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 require 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, as well as several other locations. To find out the testing center nearest you, visit Pearson VUE for more information.


The NCLEX-RN exam is a Computer Adaptive Test (or CAT), a testing format that 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-RN Exam Structure

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

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

NCLEX-RN 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.

What's Next

Shearwater Health is a U.S. based nurse recruitment company that wants to help you reach your nursing dream in the U.S. They offer full financial sponsorship for NCLEX and Immigration for qualified candidates. Click here to learn more about how you can take-off with Shearwater!

Free NCLEX Quizzes

  • NCLEX Safe and Effective Care Environment Quiz
  • NCLEX Health Promotion & Maintenance Quiz

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