Preparing for the NCLEX During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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There are a lot of uncertainties we are all currently facing as a result of COVID-19. As things change minute by minute as we learn more about the coronavirus and how it will affect us on a large scale, I wanted to take a moment and shed some light on the changes made to the NCLEX.

by Damion Jenkins Damion Jenkins, MSN, RN (Trusted Brand)

Specializes in NCLEX Prep Expert - 100% Pass Rate!. Has 12 years experience.

How can we prepare for the NCLEX during COVID-19?

Preparing for the NCLEX During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Firstly, I would like to say that the most trusted place to find up-to-date information about the NCLEX is directly from the source - the NCSBN website - You can find everything about the exam by visiting their website. The NCSBN has created a special page that is devoted to providing updates regarding COVID-19 and its impact on NCLEX test-takers. That URL is listed in the references section of this article.

To help make it easier for you to understand, I have pulled out the most important facts you’ll need to know:

  • Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) will still be used
  • The minimum number of test items will be 60
  • The maximum number of test items will be 130
  • The maximum testing time will be 4 hours
  • The difficulty level and passing standard has not changed
  • The Next Generation NCLEX Special Research Section will NOT be included
  • The above changes apply to both the RN and PN exams

These changes have been implemented as a means to ensure all testing centers can maintain optimal social distancing measures, increase disinfection and cleaning processes, and enhance the safety of test-takers as well as testing center personnel. Additionally, these terms were also part of the negotiations between Pearson Vue, the NCSBN, States Boards of Nursing and Local Government Agencies. These negotiations were made in an effort to prevent the closure of all testing centers during an international health emergency. The unfortunate reality is that not all of the Local Government Agencies agreed to allowing testing centers to remain open, and thus many NCLEX candidates had their testing dates cancelled, and now have to wait a much longer than anticipated time to test.

The good news though is that it appears that the expiration date to test has been extended extensively (some up to a year) so hopefully this will help many plan accordingly as all of our priorities shift to care for ourselves, our families and our communities. If you or someone you know is facing a much longer wait time to test, I recommend that you take the extended time to really focus on creating a killer study plan! Here are some simple, yet practical tips to gear up and prepare yourself for NCLEX success:

  • Create a study schedule
  • Learn as much as you can about the NCLEX design, structure and content
  • Develop a study plan
  • Review content and practice NCLEX questions
  • Identify areas of weakness and plan time to review that content more closely
  • Find a study partner or professional tutor to help guide you and hold you accountable
  • Focus on test-taking strategies and really learn how to answer NCLEX questions
  • Be sure to limit your study time to 3 or 4 hours per day so you have balance
  • Make time each day to relax, exercise, and enjoy time with friends and family
  • Complete readiness predictor tests to gauge your performance
  • Focus on a limited number of NCLEX Prep resources - too many can overwhelm you and even have conflicting information
  • Be sure you know how to navigate to the testing center at least the day before the exam
  • Do not study content the day of the exam - you should be rested and have a clear mind going into the test

I hope you find this information helpful during these uncertain times, and I hope that you have all the success on the NCLEX and within the nursing profession!

For more information download the allnurses® NCLEX Study Guide ebook...

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NCSBN Extends Modified NCLEX Through Sept.30, 2020

Damion Jenkins, RN, MSN is an NCLEX Prep Expert and CEO of The Nurse Speak. Named the "NCLEX Whisperer" in an article by Nurse Beth, Damion provides individualized tutoring and mentoring services for nursing students, new graduate nurses and professional nurses alike. For more information about Damion and the services he provides, check out

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