Becoming a nurse is a process. First, you need to find the right accelerated nursing program. Next, you apply, get accepted, attend online courses, complete assignments, attend clinicals, make some life-long friends, study for exams and take your finals, doubt yourself while you wait for your results, learn you passed with flying colors and finally graduate. It’s a 16-month rollercoaster ride that seems to go on forever and at the same time, be over in the blink of an eye. At the end of it all, you have a diploma to be proud of.
Before you celebrate just yet, you have one more critical step before you can put the coveted “RN” at the end of your name: take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). It will comprehensively test what you have learned thus far to determine your competency level. Below are some resources that can help you with free NCLEX practice test questions.
Free NCLEX Practice Test Questions
There are a lot of resources out there offering free NCLEX-RN exam questions. In no particular order, here are 10 of them.
Bookmark these and come back to them as you’re studying to check in, see how you’re doing and find out if there are any areas you need to focus on more.
When you’re ready, you can register online for the NCLEX at portal.ncsbn.org.
You will have six hours to complete the exam. This includes the tutorial, sample questions and two scheduled breaks. The breaks are optional, so if you want to keep going, you can. The exam itself will focus on four major areas:
- Safe and Effective Care Environment
- Health Promotion and Maintenance
- Psychosocial Integrity
- Physiological Integrity
The exam is pass/fail. You will usually hear back from the state board of nursing two to four weeks after taking the exam. (In some states, you can get unofficial NCLEX results after 48 hours if you sign up for this additional service.) If for whatever reason you didn’t pass, you can take the NCLEX-RN exam again in 45 days.
Understanding the NCLEX-RN Exam Scoring
The exam you take will have between 75 and 265 questions. This variance is due to how the exam is set up. As you answer the questions, you will be presented with either an easier or harder question depending on whether or not you got the last question right. For example, if you got the first question right, your next question will get harder. If you got the first question wrong, it will get easier until you start getting questions right.
So, as you continue to answer questions correctly, they will get harder and harder until the Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) determines your competence. If you keep getting questions right, you only have to answer 75 questions. Make sense? If not, Ellen Julian, Ph.D. with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc. (NCSBN) may be able to help explain the exam in more detail.
A Few Other Things You Should Know About Taking the NCLEX-RN
Like with any licensure exam, you shouldn’t just study the material, you should also prepare yourself for the exam itself. The NCSBN provides some advice for those preparing to take the NCLEX.
- You’ll need to obtain an Authorization to Test (ATT) letter by applying to your board of nursing, then registering with Pearson VUE.
- Arrive 30 minutes early to your exam. According to the NCSBN, if you arrive more than 30 minutes late, you may have to forfeit, reregister and repay for the exam.
- You will need to bring a printed paper copy of your ATT letter along with a photo ID on your exam day to be able to sit for the NCLEX-RN.
- You cannot wear scarves, gloves or your coat into the examination room. So plan your dress accordingly.
- You also cannot bring any notes, paper or writing instruments into the exam room. All of this and an on-screen calculator will be provided for you.
- You can’t skip any questions while taking the exam. So if you don’t know the answer, take a deep breath and answer the best you can.
If you’re just starting down your nursing education and career path, you have a few months before you’ll sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. Take the first step, and choose the right accelerated nursing program for you. To find out if Marian University is a good fit, contact us and talk to an advisor today.