How The NCLEX Works (Part II): What To Expect At The Testing Center

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    This article is the second direct response to the many inquiries that test-takers have made regarding the the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). The purpose of this two-part essay is to discuss how the NCLEX is administered and what to expect.

    The NCLEX remains vitally important to your future as a nurse because you will not be granted a nursing license anywhere in the United States if you have not taken and passed this exam. And if you do not have a valid nursing license, you will not be able to legally work as a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN).

    The first part of this two-part essay explains in detail how computerized adaptive testing works. You are now reading the second part of this two-part essay, which is going to describe what to expect at the very moment that you take your seat in front of the computer at the testing center.

    First of all, NCLEX is always administered at a Pearson Vue testing center. There are more than 200 Pearson Vue testing centers operating in the United States at any given time. In addition, 18 international testing centers are in operation.

    Test-takers are permitted to have one dry-erase board and one set of headphones at each testing station. A calculator will be available to assist in solving those pesky dosage calculation questions. However, it is not a hand-held calculator. Rather, it is the type of virtual calculator that displays in the corner of one's computer screen. Test-takers may drag and drop the calculator to an area of the computer screen that they prefer.

    The NCLEX is comprised of three parts: a tutorial, the actual exam, and a survey that will appear after your test ends. The tutorial is mandatory, only lasts a few minutes, and is designed to acclimate the the test-taker to how the rest of the exam will work. After finishing the tutorial, the exam will begin. The exam does not end until the computerized adaptive test reaches a pass/fail determination, the maximum number of questions have been answered, or the test-taker simply runs out of time. After the exam has been completed, a survey will appear on the computer screen. Even though the survey is purely optional, you are encouraged to complete it.

    NCLEX-PN test-takers have five hours to complete the exam, and those who take NCLEX-RN have a maximum of six hours. You will be taking NCLEX in a room with multiple computers and testing stations. A proctor and a camcorder will be monitoring the activities in the room.

    As always, preparation is the key to conquering the NCLEX. Hopefully some of your nervousness and test anxiety will be alleviated if you know what to expect before you sit in front of that computer at the testing center. Good luck to you!
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 28, '12
    josho, zionsma, VivaLasViejas, and 3 others like this.

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    TheCommuter is a moderator of and has varied experiences upon which to draw for her articles. She was an LPN/LVN for more than four years prior to becoming a registered nurse.

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