Date Published: February 26, 2020
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing, also known as the NCSBN, recently announced changes to the NCLEX-RN & PN Test Plans, and students have some questions. Have these changes taken place? How will this impact my testing? What do I need to know as a nursing student preparing to take the NCLEX?
Luckily for you, we’ve got answers! We’re sharing some important info about the NCLEX test plan changes from one of ATI’s certified nurse educators, Lawrette Axley, PhD, RN, CNE.
What is the NCLEX and who is NCSBN?
Before we dive into the nitty gritty, let’s answer the mandatories. What is the NCLEX and who is NCSBN?
The National Council Licensure Examination, also known as the NCLEX exam, is designed to do one key thing: determine whether or not a candidate is prepared to begin working as an entry-level nurse. This exam is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). However, not just any nursing student can take the exam. Prior to taking the NCLEX exam, there are a few requirements set in place.
Related Read: 6 frequently Asked Questions about the NCLEX Exam
When and why does the NCLEX Test Plan change?
The NCLEX-RN and PN test plans are each reviewed and updated every three years. The NCSBN initiates this process to make sure these important exams continue to accurately measure competency for the entry-level nurse. Every new item goes through a rigorous review process before being used on the NCLEX.
Related Read: Next Generation NCLEX: What Nursing Students Need to Know
What changes can we expect to see on the NCLEX-RN exam?
The RN test plan was last updated in 2019. Based on the RN Practice Analysis at that time, it was determined that the NCLEX-RN test plan did not require revisions. While there were some editorial changes made to items, the Client Needs Categories and percent of items tested did not change. In addition, the NCSBN did not make any changes to the passing standard for the NCLEX-RN test.
What changes can we expect to see on the NCLEX-PN exam?
The PN Test Plan was reviewed and based on the result of the PN Practice Analysis it was determined that the test plan did not require revisions. Similar to the RN exam, there were some editorial changes made to items but the Client Needs Categories and percent of items tested did not change.
However, on December 9, 2019 the NCSBN Board of Directors voted to raise the passing standard for the PN exam. This decision was based on many sources of information and the Board considered a variety of important factors when adjusting the passing standard. The most current NCLEX-PN version will go into effect on April 1, 2020.
What are some ways I can start preparing for the test plan changes?
Preparation for the NCLEX should begin with your first nursing course! During nursing school, exams will include questions that are written to give you the skills needed to apply nursing knowledge while taking the NCLEX. Understanding the content, applying your nursing judgement and practicing your test-taking skills are all great ways to prep for the test plan changes.
ATI recommends using practice questions to both apply test-taking strategies and work on better understanding the content. Make sure you review rationales to understand the key concepts and takeaways of all of the practice questions that you work on.
Related Read: When Should Nursing Students Start Preparing for the NCLEX?
How can ATI help prepare me for the updated versions of the exam?
ATI provides NCLEX review courses for both RN and PN candidates that are designed to get you ready for the most current version of the big test. You might have the opportunity to attend a Comprehensive Live NCLEX Review facilitated by an expert nurse educator during your final semester of nursing school or soon after graduation. The goal of this review course is to guide you in recognizing areas of knowledge that you are strong in and identifying areas that you need to review further. Depending on your school, you might also have access to programs like Virtual-ATI and BoardVitals which can help you study for the NCLEX efficiently and effectively.
Related Read: A Breakdown of NCLEX Prep
Looking for more information about the NCLEX Exam? Head over to the Passing the NCLEX category of our blog.