The NCLEX is a nationally recognized examination required to become either a registered nurse (NCLEX-RN) or a licensed practical nurse (NCLEX-PN). The examinations are developed and maintained by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). The NCLEX is rigorously designed and reviewed by the NCSBN “to test knowledge, skills, and abilities essential to the safe and effective practice of nursing at an entry level” according to the NCSBN. State boards of nursing, which ultimately will issue or deny a candidates nursing license, look carefully at the results of the NCLEX exams when deciding whether or not to issue a nursing license.

The exams are given on personal computers and candidates are allowed to use an on-screen calculator provided to them. The exams consist mostly of multiple choice questions and may include additional formats of questioning. Partial credit is not given.


  • Length: Between 75 and 265 questions (15 are “pretest” items and are not graded)
  • Time Limit: 6 hours


  • Length: Between 85 and 205 questions (25 are “pretest” items and not graded)
  • Time Limit: 5 hours

Taking the NCLEX:

  1. Submit your application for nursing licensure in your state and meet all the board of nursing’s necessary requirements
  2. Register with Pearson VUE and pay the $200 registration fee (additional $150 charge for testing outside of the United States)
  3. Receive acknowledgement of your registration from Pearson VUE
  4. Receive Validated eligibility requirements from your state board of nursing
  5. Peason VUE issues you an authorization to test (ATT) letter which outlines the validity dates within which you can take your examination
  6. Schedule a date and testing location for your NCLEX examination
  7. Take the NCLEX (Remember to take your ATT letter and a valid ID – State ID, drivers license, passport, Military ID)
  8. Receive your test results. Results are typically mailed out one month after the completion of the exam. Good Luck!