What Is the NCLEX for LPNs?

Even though each state sets its own requirements for nurse licensing, they all use the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) as a qualification for licensure. Keep reading to learn about the format of this exam and its contents.

The NCLEX-PN Defined

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) is responsible for the creation and administration of the NCLEX-PN, which tests your competency in practical nursing. However, the NCSBN does not determine the eligibility requirements to take the exam; instead, these requirements are established by each state's board of nursing.

In most states, to be eligible for the examination, you must complete an approved practical nursing training program. Programs, which are usually offered at technical and vocational schools, include courses in anatomy and physiology, legal and ethical issues, and basic nursing skills, in addition to providing practical experience. In some states, you may have to meet additional exam eligibility requirements. These may include passing a criminal background check and meeting minimum age requirements.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Salary (2014) $42,490
Job Outlook (2012-2022) 25%
Professional Certification Optional in specialized areas but can be beneficial
Key Skills Compassion, stamina, patience and interpersonal skills

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Exam Format

The NCLEX-PN is administered via a computer. Each examination is unique because the questions you are given are based upon the answers you have already given to previous exam questions. The level of difficulty for each question is directly based on the computer's perception of your abilities.

The NCLEX-PN is a pass/fail test. You will answer at least 85 questions, but you may answer up to a maximum of 205 questions within the 5-hour maximum time limit. Question formats include multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, ordered response and calculation.

Exam Contents

The contents of the NCLEX-PN cover the recognized areas in which you should be competent as an LPN. The exam is divided into four main categories. These categories include safe and effective care environment, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity and physiological integrity.

Examination questions may cover topics including ways patient care is coordinated, safety procedures, infection control, patient education, basic care procedures and pharmacology. You may also answer questions pertaining to the nursing process, data collection, patient evaluation and patient support.

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