For more than a century, state boards of nursing have set standards for professional practice through Nurse Practice Acts. These acts regulate nursing, requiring these health care workers to have specialized knowledge and skills in patient care. One of the requirements for nurse licensure, in every state, is passing the National Council Licensure Examination test. Following the application, registration and test-taking procedures is a must for all soon-to-be nurses when it comes to the NCLEX.
Ensure Your Eligibility
Before taking the NCLEX, you'll need to verify that you are actually eligible to take the test. The first step to ensuring your eligibility is submitting an application to your state board of nursing. Each state board of nursing has its own rules and requirements for eligibility. For example, in the state of Texas all NCLEX applicants must file an application, pay the required testing fee and show proof of graduation from a state board of nursing-approved school. When your board deems you eligible, you'll receive an Authorization to Test letter. The ATT letter is valid for only a specified period of time that varies depending on your state's requirements and is necessary to take your exam.
Register for the Test
Application and registration aren't the same thing when it comes to the NCLEX. While application verifies your eligibility to take the test, registration signs you up to take it. You'll need to register for the NCLEX with Pearson VUE, the company that administers the exam. You can register via the Internet at Pearson VUE's website, by mail or by phone. You'll need to pay for the test at the time you register. Your registration is only valid for 365 days, making it necessary to take the test within the one-year time limit.
Setting Your Schedule
You've registered for the exam, applied for and gotten your ATT, and now you're ready to take the test -- or at least you think so. Prior to taking the NCLEX, you must schedule your exam. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing recommends scheduling your NCLEX exam well before your ATT's deadline to ensure that you get a test date that fits your needs. You can schedule your NCLEX test either by phone or the Internet. If this is your first time taking the NCLEX, you'll receive a test-taking appointment within 30 days of the day that you register. If you need to take the test again, you'll receive your exam appointment within 45 days of registering.
Taking the Test
On the day of the test, the NCSBN recommends that you show up at least 30 minutes prior to your appointment. Bring a valid photo ID and your ATT letter, or the test proctors will turn you away. When you get to the testing site, you'll need to provide biometrics by a palm vein scan, show a photograph and provide your signature. Once you start the test, you can take breaks only during the two permitted times: one two hours into testing, and the other 3.5 hours in.
- National Council of State Boards of Nursing: Nurse Practice Act, Rules & Regulations
- National Council of State Boards of Nursing: NCLEX Examinations
- National Council of State Boards of Nursing: Application & Registration
- National Council of State Boards of Nursing: Registration
- National Council of State Boards of Nursing: Authorization to Test
- National Council of State Boards of Nursing: Scheduling
- National Council of State Boards of Nursing: Exam Day
Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.