Busting Myths About the NCLEX-RN

Does everyone get the same NCLEX questions?

Some of the so-called “facts” about the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN) are actually more like the stuff of legend. Rumors can lead to anxiety and a lack of focus on what really matters: effective studying for the exam.

Updated:   Published

  • Trusted Brand
    Specializes in NCLEX Test Preparation and Pass - Guarantee.
Sponsored Content
Does everyone get the same NCLEX questions?

Let's bust some of the most popular myths surrounding the NCLEX-RN so you can get to the business of studying for-and passing-this exam.

Myth: Over 75 questions on the NCLEX-RN? You're failing

Reality check

The NCLEX-RN follows the principles of its format as a computer adaptive test or CAT. This means the testing format is interactively based on how you respond to the questions. Everyone answers a minimum of 75 questions to a maximum of 265 questions, and the exam can last up to six hours.

It's not the length of your exam that matters most. Every question has been analyzed and vetted for difficulty, and it's how you respond to each question that affects when the exam shuts off. As you answer more questions, you'll get some right and some wrong. Based on that, the test determines your competency level-which is the whole point, right?

Myth: Some testers get a set number of questions

Reality check

No one taking the test is ever randomly selected to take a designated number of exam questions. The exam ends when it can be determined with 95 percent confidence that a candidate's performance is either above or below the passing standard. That happens no matter the number of items answered or the amount of testing time that's passed.

Myth: "Select all that apply" means passing-level competency

Reality check

If only it were that simple! Unfortunately, "select all that apply" (SATA) questions can be written above passing-level competency and below minimum-level competency.

Granted, SATA questions can be difficult, but that doesn't mean you're answering passing-level questions. The best way to think of these questions is that you want to practice them as much as possible, just as you want to do with every aspect of your NCLEX-RN prep.

Myth: Getting similar questions means you're answering wrong

Reality check

You may get a question that seems very similar to the one you've already answered. Don't assume that it's because you keep striking out on your answers. The NCLEX-RN doesn't work that way. It won't change or rephrase questions that you've answered incorrectly.

All of the exam questions are randomly chosen from a pool of thousands of approved questions, which means that any similarities when it comes to topic or disease are just a coincidence. The bottom line: Focus on the answer you think is right for each individual item you're presented with-even if it feels like deja vu.

Myth: Most people fail the NCLEX-RN the first time

Reality check

In 2015, 157,882 people took the exam. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) statistics show that, out of that number, 84.53 percent passed on their first go-round. Let that boost your confidence. With a little prep, strategy, and determination, the odds are ever in your favor.

Myth: You have to remember everything to pass

Reality check

You don't have to remember every detail you learned in nursing school, even when it comes to things like medications, disease process, and nursing diagnosis.

The NCLEX-RN is organized according to the framework "Meeting Client Needs" and has four major categories and eight subcategories:

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

The main point to keep in mind is that the NCLEX-RN tests how you use critical thinking skills to make nursing judgments. With the right tools and a strategic approach, you can break down each question and systematically reach the answer.

The exam has one mission: to determine if it's safe for you to begin practice as an entry-level nurse. It's the most important test you'll have as a nursing graduate. By avoiding the myths and keeping your focus on the realities of great preparation, you'll succeed.

This is a sponsored article brought to you by allnurses.com in conjunction with the advertiser. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect allnurses.com, its parent company, or its staff.

(Trusted Brand)

This article is brought to you by Kaplan, the leader in test prep for over 90 standardized tests, including the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, and MCAT. Learn more about Kaplan’s Test Prep options and start building the confidence you need for Test Day.

6 Articles   8 Posts

Share this post


2 Posts

I felt Rn-nclex 5x please help


191 Posts

Try ATI. It works for content review, practice questions, and getting used to the different areas of the test (i.e. Psychosocial Integrity or Safety and Infection Control). Safety as well as Basic Care and Comfort are the 2 big areas that this latest version of NCLEX seem to hit the hardest. Most of my test was Safety and all of those questions were also Prioritization (with some Delegation thrown in for fun...though the main Delegation question was pretty easy to figure out). The LaCharity Prioritization book is a pretty good resource as well. I think ATI runs $75 and you get a mentor and several comprehensive tests to see if you are ready to take the NCLEX.

Has 4 years experience.
AvaRose said:
Try ATI. It works for content review, practice questions, and getting used to the different areas of the test...

I really liked my ATI prep. I focused heavily on content reviews areas I knew I was weak and did a ton of practice questions. I passed in 78 questions.

NurseBre94, ASN

169 Posts

Has 3 years experience.

I passed with ATI on August 15th! I didn't study too hard since I just graduated a few weeks ago. Practiced 1000s of questions and read every rationale. Had my license the same day also :)

Specializes in Med/Surg, LTACH, LTC, Home Health. Has 37 years experience.

I'm so sorry! But I found it absolutely hilarious that I've read nothing but ATI responses under a KAPLAN thread. I wanted to insert the little green ROFL smiley face, but felt it would have been politically incorrect.;)