The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) was developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing to assess the knowledge and competence of professional nurse candidates. The test determines whether or not a nurse will receive a license to practice as a registered nurse. To be eligible to sit for the examination, you must meet the licensing guidelines of the state in which you would like to practice. If the guidelines are met, potential candidates may register to take the examination within any given time frame. Graduation dates do not affect your eligibility to sit for the exam. If you have allowed a previous registration to expire or are registering for the first time, you will need to follow the same steps for registration.
Begin preparing for the examination by taking a NCLEX review course or by purchasing study materials. If you have waited a year or more since graduation to take the exam, it is crucial that you prepare yourself properly.
Apply for licensure through the board of nursing in the state where you would like to practice. Check with your state board on its application deadlines and make sure that you meet its guidelines for licensure prior to submitting your application.
Register to take the NCLEX examination with Pearson VUE. You may register online, by phone, or through the mail. A nonrefundable testing fee of $200 is required at the time of registration as of 2010. You will receive a confirmation from Pearson VUE in the mail or via email if you provided an email address during registration. Your registration will remain open for 365 days.
Schedule your NCLEX testing date. Once you receive eligibility from the state board and your Authorization to Test (ATT) from Pearson VUE you may schedule your test date. You must test within the dates listed on your ATT form.
Take the test. On the day of the test, arrive at the Pearson Professional Center 30 minutes prior to your testing time. You will need to bring valid identification and your ATT form. You will have six hours to complete the examination.
- You can download current NCLEX test plans from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing website. These will give you an idea of what to expect on the examination.
- Pay close attention to all dates related to the NCLEX. Not taking the examination in time will result in loss of the registration fee.
Cari Riley received her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Oakland University in Rochester, Mich. She is a freelance writer with more than 15 years of experience. She has served as a sports writer, feature writer and contributor of advertising copy and Web content for major media groups.