I found this site when I was out surfing earlier:
NCLEX® Myths & Facts
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With excerpts from: http://www.ncsbn.org/public/testing/info_fact.htm
Myth: Candidates are randomly selected to receive maximum length examinations-265 items for the NCLEX® -RN examination and 205 items for the NCLEX® -PN examination.
Fact: It is not true that candidates are randomly selected to receive a designated number of examination questions. As a candidate takes the examination, questions are selected based on the candidate's response to previous questions. Testing stops when a candidate's performance is estimated as being either above or below the passing standard (passing level), regardless of the number of questions taken or the amount of testing time elapsed (five hour maximum time period).
Myth: If you had to answer more than the minimum number of questions, then you failed the test.
Fact: Most people who fail had to answer greater than the minimum number of questions, but plenty of people pass with a variety of number of questions asked. There's no absolute way to tell based on answering more than the minimum number of questions. The only possibly realistic conclusions students seem to draw from their testing experience is that if the test stops at the minimum number of questions (85 for PN, 75 for RN), then they probably passed--or bombed miserably.
Myth: Candidates who receive the minimum number of items (75 items for the NCLEX® -RN examination, 85 items for the NCLEX® -PN examination) and the last item is "easy" will fail the examination.
Fact: It is often impossible for candidates taking the examination to know which questions are difficult and which questions are easy. However, the level of difficulty of a question is not related to the content area of the test plan-and the content of the last question is not an indication of a candidate's competence level. The examination is constructed to recognize that each candidate will have strengths and weaknesses in particular subject areas. All examinations, regardless of length, have the required proportion of questions from each area of the NCLEX® -RN or NCLEX® -PN Test Plan.
Myth: Passing percentages are really high.
Fact: There's no "passing percentage" that you can discern--everyone gets about 50% right and 50% wrong.
Myth: The passing standard was raised for the NCLEX® -RN examination in 1999, and is the cause of increased candidate failure rates for the examination.
Fact: No change to the NCLEX® -RN examination passing standard was made in 1999. The current NCLEX® -RN examination passing standard went into effect on April 1, 1998. The passing standard is reviewed every three years. In October, 2000, the RN passing standard was reviewed and it was decided that no changes would be made. In November 2001, the same decision was made concerning the PN exam.
Myth: Other states (like California & New York) require a higher passing standard for licensure.
Fact: All states accept National Council's recommended passing standard for the NCLEX® -RN examination or NCLEX® -PN examination to be eligible for nursing licensure. California and New York do not require a different passing standard on the NCLEX® -RN or the NCLEX® -PN examinations for initial nurse licensure by examination.
Myth: You can't study for the NCLEX®
Fact: Phooey! If you're weak in certain areas, you can and should study those using one of many NCLEX® preparation books available. The NLN exam that most students have to take in the last semester of nursing school is a good indication of where you stand. People who fail the NCELX usually failed this exam, too, although NLN failure is not a guarantee of NCLEX® failure. If you use the results to bone up on subjects, you will probably do OK on the NCLEX® .
Myth: The NCLEX® examination will contain fill-in-the blank questions beginning April 1, 2001.
Fact: The National Council plans to begin pilot testing innovative item types such as fill-in-the blank questions in the fall of 2000 with boards of nursing. Depending on the results of this pilot study, some of the innovative item formats may be used to develop NCLEX® examination items. However, administration of these innovative item types on the NCLEX® examination will not begin April 1, 2001. The National Council will provide updates on this pilot project on its Web site. This means you won't be getting an exam with fill-in-the-blank questions.
Myth: NCLEX® examination questions that include graphics (pictures) are not "real" questions and do not count in the pass/fail result.
Fact: They count! All questions presented on NCLEX® examinations are important. The inclusion of questions that contain graphics is not new. Questions that include graphics were likewise included on NCLEX® paper-and-pencil examinations.
On the NCLEX® -RN examination, the minimum number of questions is 75, which includes 60 "real" questions and 15 "tryouts," which are not counted toward your competence level. The maximum number of questions possible in the NCLEX® -RN is 265, which includes 250 "real" and 15 "tryout" questions. On the NCLEX® -PN examination, the minimum number of questions is 85, which includes 60 "real" questions and 25 "tryouts," which are not counted toward your competence level. The maximum number of questions possible in the NCLEX® -PN examination is 205, which includes 180 "real" and 25 "tryout" questions. There is no way to tell which questions are "tryouts." All NCLEX® examination candidates are given a brief tutorial and three sample questions to practice use of the examination interface (space bar and enter key). The word sample is printed across each sample question on the screen. Once the word sample disappears, the candidate is in the actual test. There is no break in the administration of questions between the three sample questions and the actual examination questions.
Myth: Beginning in April 2001 with the use of the mouse, the NCLEX® examination will begin using essay-type questions.
Fact: The National Council will not be using essay-type questions in April 2001. How using a mouse would enable testers to complete essay-type questions is another mystery invented in the myth-factory, and likely a computer illiterate factory at that.
Myth: Some of the NCLEX® examination test questions require the candidate to select an answer outside the scope of practice for a registered nurse or licensed practical/vocational nurse.
Fact: All NCLEX® examination items have been reviewed by the National Council's Examination Committee. All items have been deemed by the committee to be within the scope of practice for a registered nurse or a licensed practical/vocational nurse. When the subject is seemingly out of the testers scope of practice, such as blood administration questions for PN testers, the question usually deals with recognizing changes in a patient's condition or some other issue that the PN should have knowledge of.
Myth: Most NCLEX® examination questions are written at the cognitive levels of knowledge and comprehension.
Fact: For the past few years, item writers for the National Council have developed NCLEX® examination questions written at the cognitive levels of application and analysis (Bloom et. al, 1956). These questions require a candidate to utilize problem-solving skills in order to select the correct answer. Examples of these items include making assignments for four clients, prioritizing care for four clients and analyzing complex client data to determine an appropriate nursing action.