NCLEX – PN (Practical Nurses)

Individual State Boards of Nursing administer the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN).

The purpose of NCLEX–PN is to determine if it is safe for you to begin practicing as an entry-level practical or vocational nurse. To determine eligibility to sit for the NCLEX-PN, you must first contact your state’s nursing board.

NCLEX-PN includes medical-surgical, mental health, and family health nursing; pharmacology.

Subject: Coverage Of Nclex-PN

  • Coordinated Care: 21% of tests.
  • Safety and Infection Control: 13%
  • Health Promotion and Maintenance: 9%
  • Psychosocial Integrity: 12%
  • Basic Care and Comfort: 10%
  • Pharmacological Therapies: 13%
  • Reduction of Risk Potential: 12%
  • Physiological Adaptation: 10%

The students who have studied GNM (General Nursing and Midwife) and B.SC. (Bachelor of Science) in nursing are both eligible to take NCLEX-PN.

Graduates are prepared to take the NCLEX-PN® exam for licensure.  Upon passing, graduates can qualify for positions as entry-level Licenses Practical Nurses (LPNs).

Further, they have various job settings to choose from- a fast-paced hospital environment, assisting patients in a physician’s office, and providing long-term care in nursing facilities and home health care services.

Individual State Boards of Nursing administer the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN exam). The NCLEX-PN is often referred to as “The Boards” or “State Boards.”

These boards have a mandate to protect the public from unsafe and ineffective nursing care, and each is responsible for regulating the practice of nursing in its respective state.

The NCLEX-PN is a test that is administered to all nursing school graduates. It is meant to ensure that each nurse is competent and can practice safely as a new nurse. The NCLEX is based on Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) which means that each test is different.

NCLEX-PN is provided in CAT format and is presently administered by Pearson VUE in their network of Pearson Professional Centres (PPC). With computerized exams such as this, the computer selects which question you are asked based on how you answered the previous question.

How do I register for NCLEX-PN?

During your last semester of nursing school, you’ll receive two applications: An application for licensure and an application for the NCLEX-PN Exam. On a predetermined date, you will be required to submit the completed forms and the licensure fees to your nursing school.

How is the NCLEX-PN Exam conducted?

Attempting Questions

Everyone answers a minimum of 85 questions to a maximum of 205 questions. Regardless of how many you answer, you will be given 25 experimental questions that do not count for or against you. The exam administrators use them to test for future questions on the exam.


There is no time limit for each question. You’ll have a maximum of 5 hours to complete the exam, which includes a tutorial in the beginning. There are no mandatory breaks. However, there’s an optional break after 2 hours of testing and another optional break after an additional 90 minutes of testing.

When does the exam end?

  • Your exam ends when one of the following occurs:
  • You have demonstrated minimum competency and answered the minimum number of questions (85).
  • You have demonstrated a lack of minimum competency and answered the minimum number of questions (85).
  • You have answered the maximum number of questions (205).
  • You have used the maximum amount of time allowed (5 hours).

Test Format for NCLEX-PN

There are four major categories and eight sub-categories. Many nursing programs are based on the medical model, where students take separate medical, surgical, pediatric, psychiatric, and obstetric classes. However, on the NCLEX-PN exam, all of the content is integrated.

In terms of content and structure, the NCLEX-PN covers several content areas, each with specific weights. Below are the content areas, potential topics, and specific weight ranges per section (which are dependent on the number of questions you end up completing).

  1. Effective, safe care environment
    1. Coordinated care: 18–24%
      1. Including, but not limited to: advance directives, advocacy, clients’ rights, assignments, referrals, etc.
    1. Infection control and safety: 10–16%
      1. Including, but not limited to: accident and injury prevention, hazardous or infectious materials, safety, etc.
  2. Health promotion and maintenance: 6–12%
    1. Including, but not limited to: ageing, data collection, developmental stages, self-care, etc.
  3. Integrity, psychosocial: 9–15%
    1. Including, but not limited to: abuse, neglect, coping mechanisms, support systems, etc.
  4. Integrity, physiological
    1. Basic care and comfort: 7–13%
      1. Including, but not limited to: assistive devices, mobility, nutrition, hygiene, etc.
    1. Pharmacological therapies: 10–16
      1. Including, but not limited to: adverse effects, contraindications, dosing, pain management, etc.
    1. Risk potential reduction: 9–15%
      1. Including, but not limited to: vital signs, diagnostic tests, laboratory tests and values, therapeutic procedures, etc.
    1. Physiological adaptation: 7–13%
      1. Including, but not limited to: body system changes, medical emergencies, fluids, electrolyte imbalances, etc.


The NCLEX-PN exam is pass/fail—there is no numerical score. A determination will be made after the exam whether you have passed or failed. You’ll be notified by your state board of nursing approximately 2–6 weeks after your test date.

What if you fail?

If you fail, you’ll receive a diagnostic profile that evaluates your test performance. Read it carefully. You’ll see how many questions you answered on the exam. The more questions you answered, the closer you came to passing.

The only way you continue to get questions after you answer the first 85 is if you are answering questions close to the level of difficulty needed to pass. Use the diagnostic profile to determine your problem areas.

Tips For Taking NCLEX-PN Exam

  • During the exam, read the multiple-choice question first before viewing the answer; then preview the answers and choose your response. Guess if you do not know the answer, as no penalty exists. Carefully read the questions, as it prevents wrong answers.
  • Use the NCSBN’s Review for the NCLEX-PN® Examination for material that contains practice questions and feedback from a nurse professional.
  • Plan for the examination by knowing the location of the test-taking site. Take photo identification (e.g., driver’s license, state ID, passport, or military ID) to check in.

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