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Passing the NCLEX-PN

The NCLEX-PN is a computerized adaptive test (CAT) that is used to determine whether or not a prospective LPN has the minimum level of competency required to safely and effectively care for patients. The test is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) and is taken by candidates who have completed an accredited nursing program.

The NCLEX-PN is composed of multiple-choice, alternate format, and fill-in-the-blank questions. The test may consist of anywhere from 85 – 205 questions depending on how many questions you answer correctly early on. An algorithm is used to determine which questions you will receive based on your previous answers.

The NCLEX-PN is a pass/fail exam, and candidates are given five hours to complete the test. However, most people finish the exam in two to four hours. There is no penalty for guessing on the NCLEX-PN, so it is important to answer every question.

The test is divided into four main content areas:

  1. Safe and Effective Care Environment
  2. Health Promotion and Maintenance
  3. Psychosocial Integrity
  4. Physiological Integrity

1. Safe and Effective Care Environment

The safe and effective care environment content area is the second largest section making up roughly 28-40% of the questions found on the exam and focuses on the LPN’s ability to create and maintain a safe and clean environment for patients. This includes topics such as infection control, safety and security, and environmental management. Many study guides separate questions in the section into two sub-sections:

  • Coordinated Care
  • Safety and Infection Control

2. Health Promotion and Maintenance

The health promotion and maintenance content area focuses on the LPN’s ability to assess and promote the health of patients. This includes topics such as growth and development, health promotion and disease prevention. Health promotion and maintenance makes up approximately 6-12% of the questions on the NCLEX-PN.

3. Psychosocial Integrity

The psychosocial integrity content area focuses on the LPN’s ability to support the psychological well-being of patients. This includes topics such as coping and adaptation, loss, grief, and death. Psychosocial integrity makes up approximately 9-15% of the questions on the NCLEX-PN.

4. Physiological Integrity

The physiological integrity content area is the largest section making up 33-57% of the test and primarily focuses on the LPN’s ability to care for patients with health alterations. The test is categorized into four main sections:

  • Basic Care and Comfort
  • Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies
  • Reduction of Risk Potential
  • Physiological Adaptation

NCLEX-PN Pass Rates

In 2021, 64,871 candidates took the NCLEX-PN exam and 66.92% of candidates passed the exam. Of first time test takers, 79.60% passed the exam while for repeat test takers, 35.42% passed.

Because only 2 out of 3 people pass the NCLEX-PN, it is important to be well prepared before taking the test.

Preparing for the NCLEX-PN

There are a number of ways to prepare for the NCLEX-PN, which is essential in order to maximize your chances of success.

Retake LPN Program Tests

The most effective way is to review the coursework from your accredited LPN program. Start by reviewing the quizzes and exams that you took throughout the program. Re-take the quizzes until you are capable of answering all of the questions correctly. This is a great way to refresh your memory on the material and to identify any areas of weakness.

Complete a LPN Program Review Course

Many LPNs say the best way to prepare for the NCLEX-PN is to complete a review course offered by an accredited nursing school or provider. These courses will provide you with the necessary content knowledge and test-taking strategies to help you pass the NCLEX-PN. Additionally, many review courses offer practice tests that can help you gauge your level of readiness for the actual exam.

Use NCLEX-PN Review Books and Study Guides

In addition to content knowledge, you will need to familiarize yourself with the NCLEX-PN test format and question types. The best way to do this is to use NCLEX-PN review books and study guides. These resources will provide you with an overview of the test content and format, as well as detailed information on how to approach each question type. Practice tests can be found in many of these books, which will give you an opportunity to test your knowledge and skills.

Use NCLEX-PN Practice Tests

Practice tests are another essential part of your NCLEX-PN preparation. By taking practice tests, you can get a feel for the types of questions that will be on the actual exam, as well as the level of difficulty. Additionally, practice tests can help you identify any areas of weakness so that you can focus your studies accordingly. There are a number of NCLEX-PN practice tests available online and in review books.

On Exam Day

Be sure to get a good night’s sleep before your exam, as you will need to be well-rested to do your best. Arrive early and relaxed on the day of the NCLEX-PN. Bring all of the necessary items with you, including your test registration confirmation number, and a valid photo ID.

During the exam, be sure to read each question carefully and select the best answer. If you are unsure of an answer, eliminate any obviously incorrect answers and then make your best guess. You will not be penalized for guessing, so it is always better to select an answer than to leave a question blank.

After the Exam

Once you have completed the NCLEX-PN, you will need to wait for your official score report. Scores are typically released within four weeks of the exam date. If you pass the NCLEX-PN, you will be eligible to obtain an LPN license and begin practicing nursing.

Most states allow LPNs to continue work with a temporary license until their official license arrives. If you do not pass the NCLEX-PN, you will be given the opportunity to retake the exam. Many review courses offer a retake guarantee, so be sure to check with your provider before retaking the exam.