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The NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure EXamination-Registered Nurse) is a computer-adaptive test of entry-level nursing competence. Passing the exam is required of candidates for licensure as a Registered Nurse (RN) by all US state and territorial Boards of Nursing.

The NCLEX-RN® and NCLEX-PN® examinations are developed and owned by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc. (NCSBN®). NCSBN administers these examinations on behalf of its member boards which consist of the boards of nursing in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and four U.S. territories American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands.

To ensure public protection, each board of nursing requires a candidate for licensure to pass the appropriate NCLEX® examination, NCLEX-RN for registered nurses and the NCLEX-PN for practical/vocational nurses. NCLEX examinations are designed to test the knowledge, skills and abilities essential to the safe and effective practice of nursing at the entry-level.

NCLEX examinations are provided in a computerized adaptive testing (CAT) format and are presently administered by Pearson VUE in their network of Pearson Professional Centers (PPC).

CAT is a method for administering tests that merges existing computer technology with modern measurement theory to increase the efficiency of the testing process. The NCLEX examination uses items with a variety of response formats, such as, single response multiple-choice, multiple response, fill-in-the-blank, drag and drop and a variety of display formats, such as, chart/exhibit displays, tables, and graphic images.

All items are developed and validated using the expertise of practicing nurses, educators and regulators from throughout the country. The content of the items of the NCLEX examinations is based on a practice analysis conducted every three years.

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