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University of Rhode Island — Nursing

The NCLEX-RN Exam
Description

The NCLEX (National Council Licensure EXamination) is the required examination for the licensing of all registered nurses (RNs) in the United States. You must take this exam once you have officially graduated from a recognized school of nursing; passing this computerized adaptive test is one of the final steps you must take in order to practice as an RN.

This exam was developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing as a standardization measure, a way to ensure public safety by requiring that all new graduate nurses possess the necessary competencies needed to practice safely and effectively as entry level nurses. Every state gives the same exam and accepts the same passing standard; new nurses from RI should exhibit the same competencies as those from every other state. The exam is offered by the Pearson Vue testing company and their website contains all of the necessary registration information. The College of Nursing at URI will also assist you in meeting the registration requirements by providing any and all needed paperwork to the Board of Nursing in the state where you plan to take the exam and apply for your first licensure.

Different students take different approaches to studying for the NCLEX. Most Colleges of Nursing, including URI, have a faculty- designed system in place to help students prepare for and pass the NCLEX-RN. While the URI graduates pass rate on the NCLEX-RN varies with each graduating class, generally we have met our goal to have more than 90% of the students pass it on the first try.

  • At the URI College of Nursing, students in every nursing course will take standardized achievement tests from Health Education Systems (HESI) during the final exam week. These standardized tests will prepare you for the NCLEX by giving you practice in exam taking and alerting you to areas of academic weakness that require your attention before taking the NCLEX. 10% of your course grade will be based on your performance on this national exam. Students purchase the testing package at the beginning of each semester (just like a textbook) and then use it for practice tests and case studies throughout the course.
  • Some students like to purchase an NCLEX review book, and use this book throughout the academic program while studying for both URI nursing tests and the nursing license exam. Reading NCLEX review books while attending school ensures that you will be studying the concepts necessary for passing the NCLEX. And because most review books include rationales and explanations of the answers, you are likely to develop an understanding of important nursing concepts, instead of just developing a talent for memorization. There are many review books to chose from , the most popular are:
  • The NCLEX candidate should also answer practice questions. In your degree program you have accumulated the requisite body of knowledge to practice as an RN, but now you need to know how to be a successful NCLEX test taker. There is no substitute for practice. NCLEX test review booklets and many other programs and test preparation companies provide NCLEX test questions. Many textbooks include practice NCLEX questions, embedded in each chapter. Whatever method you decide on, make sure to actually follow your study plan and answer test questions frequently so that you will arrive at the testing center thoroughly familiar with the test format and content. If you think you would benefit from some extra help with test-taking skills or a content tutor please contact the URI Academic Enhancement Center. Multiple practice paper tests may be found in any review book and there are even some free ones online at Test Prep Review and at Caring4You.net.
  • And of course there are actual courses you can take at the end of your academic program to prepare for the NCLEX - some of these are on line, some are offered in person locally. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing also offers an online NCLEX review course and they even have an application that will send you a weekly review question for free. Kaplan is a well known test preparation firm that offers local and online test preparation classes.

The Adventure of the American Mind Project describes the history of licensure story of nurses' struggle to promote professional practice.


Pearson Vue is the testing company that offers the NCLEX Exam