How to Register for the NCLEX-PN Exam: Application Process, Requirements, and Tips

In order to attain a working license as a Practical Nurse, all aspiring candidates need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). The exam is conducted and regulated by NCSBN (The National Council of State Boards of Nursing) and the respective Nursing Boards of all the states. But, before you gear yourself up for the exam, let’s take a look at the step by step process to register for the NCLEX-PN examination.

NCLEX Eligibility Requirements by States:

The eligibility to take the NCLEX test and getting the license is wholly decided and standardized by the Board of Nursing of the State where you wish to practice.

How to Initiate the Registration Process for NCLEX-PN?

Step 1: Check Eligibility

The first step is to submit your licensure or registration application to the Board of Nursing/Regulatory Body (BON/RB) of your state, where you desire to be registered/licensed. Contact your State Nursing Board to check the requirements to ensure your eligibility for the exam.

Step 2: Register Online or Through a Call

Next, register on Pearson VUE for your NCLEX-PN. You can register via email, phone or internet (online). However, registering via the internet is preferable as there is a high call center volume in the telephonic method. You can visit Pearson VUE Online to get yourself registered for the NCLEX-PN Exam.

Step 3: Pay Application Fee

You must provide your email address and a program code during your registration. The Pearson VUE correspondent only communicates via email, thus providing your email is crucial.

NCLEX Application Process Online

1. Visit the Site

Visit the Pearson VUE website to start your registration process. Fill in your details in the form, such as personal information, contact information, etc. Now, move to the payment page.
Note: The name which you will enter during the registration must match exactly with the name on your Proof of ID presented at the test center.

2. Payment

You can use two methods of payments here. Make sure that you have your card ready before you start the process of NCLEX-PN registration online. You can either use debit, credit or a prepaid card (only VISA, MasterCard and American Express are accepted) for making payment. Or, you can also make payment through third parties, such as – approved nursing schools, employers and agencies. The process for the payment is the same as above.

NCLEX Application Process via Telephone

1. Make a Call

For USA and Canada, call on the Toll-Free Number [1.866.49NCLEX (1.866.496.2539)] of the NCLEX Candidate Services of Pearson VUE from Monday-Friday between 7am-7pm CST.

2. Pay through Card

Now, before you make a call to the NCLEX Candidate Services for registration, have your card ready in hand. You need to furnish the details like the card number, name on the card, and expiry date to the spokesperson. The following cards are acceptable for making payment – Debit, Credit, VISA, Master Card, Prepaid Card, and American Express.

Step 4: Confirmation of Registration

You will receive a confirmation of your registration from Pearson VUE.
Note: Once a registration is submitted, there is a validity period of 365 days for the BON/RB to approve the eligibility of the candidate.

Step 5: Receiving Eligibility Approval

You will receive the eligibility approval from the State BON/RB from where you have applied your licensure.
Note: If the State Board of Nursing denies your eligibility within the 365 days’ validity period, you will lose your Examination and Registration fee.

Re-registration Process:

If you are deemed ineligible and you wish to re-register for NCLEX exam, you must wait for the current registration to expire, i.e., 365 days. You cannot open two NCLEX registrations for the same type of exam simultaneously. If you do so and reapply for the second registration before the expiration of the first one, the second application will be processed and denied. In such a case, your second-time registration fee will also be forfeited.

Note: The NCLEX registration fee is non-refundable in any case, whatsoever.

Step 6: Receiving ATT

Once you are made eligible, you will receive the Authorization to Test (ATT) on the email address you have provided during registration. Take the test within the validity dates of your ATT email, as they are not extendable for any reasons. The average ATT validity period is 90 days. The name which is printed on your ATT must exactly match with the name on your proof of identification.

If the name mismatches, then for providing proofs of name change you must bring the legal documents (marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court-approved documents for a legal name change action) to the test center on the date of your test. These documents must be in English, and you must carry the original copies.

Note: If two weeks have passed after registering for the NCLEX-PN exam and receiving the confirmation from the Pearson VUE, and you have still not received your ATT, immediately call the Pearson VUE’s toll-free number given above to check the status of your application.

Step 7: Scheduling Appointment

The next step after receiving your ATT invitation is scheduling your appointment for the test. You can initiate the scheduling via phone call and internet both, however, due to high call center volume it is highly recommended to schedule the examination through Pearson VUE website by selecting either register or sign in option from the site menu. You can request for your preferred test date, time and test center there. Similarly, if you are making a call at the NCLEX Candidate Services, provide your name, ATT number, and proof of identification for verification, and request your preferable dates, test center, and time slots.

It is highly advised that you make a call or schedule online well in advance, as that will increase your chances to get the desired dates on which you wish to take your exam. Apart from that, if you wait till the expiration date of your ATT invitation, the test centers may not be able to allot you the seat at the last moment. In such a case, you might forfeit your exam fee, and you will have to re-register.

Confirmation of Appointment:

Once you are done scheduling your appointment, the Pearson VUE will send you a confirmation of the appointment. First timers will be offered an appointment within 30 days of the scheduling of the test, whereas the repeat candidates will be provided a period of 45 days. If the first choice of date opted by you is unavailable, they will give you the next possible date as close as possible to the preferred one. If the appointment date offered doesn’t suit you, you can decline it and re-schedule for later than 30 or 45 days.

Changing your NCLEX Appointment:

NCLEX appointment can also be rescheduled via call or by visiting the Pearson VUE online.

  • For those wanting to schedule their exam on Saturday, Sunday or Monday, can call the Pearson VUE NCLEX Candidate Services not later than Friday, and inform at least 24 hours in advance of your scheduled appointment.
  • For those wishing to schedule their exam on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, please call at least 24 hours in advance of your appointment.
  • Please consider National Holidays in mind, as offices are closed during that period. Thus, scheduling an appointment on these days will be futile.

Note: Leaving a message on the answering machine won’t be sufficient, and it will not be considered as a proper notification. So, please ensure that you have your appointment request answered by a Pearson VUE Candidate Services Agent.

Step 8: The Day of Exam

To simplify the NCLEX examination day process, we have put it into following essential pointers. Please ensure that you check them before the exam day, and reach fully prepared.

  • Reach your test center at least 30 minutes before your exam time with a valid proof of identification and your ATT email (you are no longer supposed to carry a paper copy of ATT).  Your exam fee will be forfeited, and you will have to go for re-registration if you fail to reach the exam center prior to 30 minutes.
  • Extra clothing, such as scarves, hats, jackets, coats, gloves, etc. are prohibited inside the exam room, and thus will be taken from you and kept outside. There are, however, some exceptions made for religious/cultural attire.
  • Biometrics of the candidates such as photograph, signature and palm vein scan is taken before entering the test room.
  • You will be provided with an erasable note board as well as a marker for making notes, along with an on-screen calculator for mathematical calculations. No other writing instruments or paper material is allowed for taking CAT.
  • You will have up to 5 hours to complete your NCLEX-PN exam. This period includes two optional breaks (one after 2 hours, and another after 3.5 hours), and a short tutorial for NCLEX.
  • Take your time to scrutinize and analyze each question; because once you submit an answer, there is no option to go back to that question.
  • In the end, you will be given a short computerized survey. As soon as you finish it, raise your hand to inform the Test Administrator, and wait. The TA will dismiss you, and then you can leave.
  • Please keep this in mind that as the exam progresses, you receive certain grades, but that’s not your final score. These scores are further sent to the Pearson VUE for a second verification. The final result will not be released at the exam center.

Note: The Proof of ID must be in English, and shall have your signatures in English too. For international candidates, the only acceptable POI is a valid Passport.

Understanding CAT (Computerized Adaptive Testing)

CAT is a Computer-administrated test used by NCLEX to enhance the efficiency of the exam. It works on the methodology of merging modern measurement theory with computer technology. The technology is such that it estimates a candidate’s ability to answer the questions. Consequently, it reduces the number of “difficult questions” for a low-ability candidate and increases the level of difficulty for those with high performing abilities. The reliability and precision of the ability’s measurement of a particular candidate related to nursing competency, is always accurate, thus.

After each question, the computer judges all your previous answers and re-estimates the difficulty level of the next item it will display. This question is chosen in such a manner that there is a 50% possibility that you will answer it correctly. Each question will be targeted to get the most about your true ability level.

Registration/Licensure Fees and Other Payments

The Pearson VUE has set different fee structure for U.S. and International candidates. You can understand it clearly with the information provided below –

Registration Fee: For U.S. candidates it is $200, and for those looking for Canadian licensure it is CAD 360.

Fee for Changing Board of Nursing after Registration: $50 for U.S. Candidates, and CAD 50 for the Canadians.

Fee for Changing Exam Type (RN/PN): USD 50 for those seeking U.S. licensure, and it is not applicable for the other countries.

Fee for Changing Exam Language (French/English): Not applicable for the U.S. candidates, and CAD 50 for the Canadian candidates.

Licensure Fee:  U.S. candidates must contact their Board of Nursing, and the others must receive this info from the Regulatory Body of their country.

Practice Before the Examination

In order to be familiar with the NCLEX-PN format, candidates are advised to get their hands on the feel of question paper, by going through the sets of our NCLEX-PN practice tests. These free of cost NCLEX-PN practice questions cover basic subjects such as Health Promotion and Maintenance, Physiological Integrity, Psychological Integrity, Safe and Effective Care Environment, etc. The items are generally handpicked from the previous years’ NCLEX-PN Exams.

After the Examination

So, you have appeared for the NCLEX exam, but still have many questions popping in your head regarding the process of evaluation, where to get your results, and the procedure to retake the exam if one fails in the first attempt. We have covered all these queries along with the quick service for NCLEX results to give you an idea about what happens after the exam.

Passing Standard for NCLEX-PN

The NCLEX passing standard is re-evaluated every third year by the Board of Directors of NCBSN. The current passing standard for NCLEX-PN is -0.21 logits, which was first introduced on April 1, 2014, and was continued by the NCBSN Board of Directors in the meeting held in December 2016. This passing standard will remain effective until March 31, 2020.

Note: (logit – a measurement unit to indicate the relative differences between the candidate’s ability to answer the items and the difficulties of the questions)

Standard Process of Pearson VUE NCLEX Results

The score of each question is disclosed as soon as you attempt them. However, the final result/score is not revealed at the test center. Your answer sheets are further sent to Pearson VUE for re-evaluation. The official NCLEX-PN results are posted to you by your BON/RB after six weeks of taking the exam. If that period has passed and you have still not received your results, then you should contact your BON immediately.

Note: Candidates are strictly advised not to make any calls to the Pearson VUE Candidate Services, or at your test center for knowing your results.

The Process of Quick NCLEX Results

Most of the States of the U.S., except Alabama, California, Delaware, and New Hampshire, participate in the Quick Result Services. You can avail your results unofficially after 48 hours of your exam by paying a fee of $7.95 at the Pearson VUE Website. However, this unofficial result won’t help you get your licensure. You can apply for the license for practical nursing only after receiving your official results from your BON.

Note: This service is not available for the international candidates and those seeking licensure in Canada.

CPR for Candidates who did not Pass

The candidates, who fail the exam, receive a CPR (Candidate Performance Report) from NCLEX.  CPR is an individualized two-page report card of the candidate’s performance at the 8 test plan content areas if he/she is not able to pass the NCLEX-PN exam. The content areas are divided into three performance categories, namely – “Below Passing Standard,” “Near the Passing Standard,” and “Above Passing Standard.” This part of the report is beneficial to know your weak areas, which have been put under the category of ‘Below Passing Standard,’ and you must focus on them while retaking your exam.

How to Retake the NCLEX-PN Exam after Failing?

Candidates must contact their respective Boards of Nursing to know the exact exam retake policies of their state. Generally, NCBSN allows all the failing candidates to retake the exam after 45 days of their first attempt. All the candidates who have applied for licensure with their BON can take NCLEX exam a minimum of 8 times a year, but not without a gap of 45 days between each attempt.