NGN Survival Guide: A Next Generation NCLEX Overview for Students

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As a resource for anything and everything nursing-school-related, we have received numerous questions from students about the Next Generation NCLEX. What is it? When will it launch? What do students need to know?

Look at the information below for an overview of this important NCLEX update. And make sure to stay tuned for more in-depth articles to come.

What is Next Generation NCLEX?

Next Generation NCLEX is the name given to a new version of the NCLEX that’s in development; you might also see it shortened to NGN. The purpose of this new NCLEX is to better evaluate candidates’ clinical judgment skills.

What is clinical judgment?

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) defines clinical judgment as the observed outcome of critical thinking and decision-making – an iterative process that uses nursing knowledge to:

  • observe and assess presenting situations
  • identify a prioritized client concern
  • generate the best possible, evidence-based solutions to deliver safe client care.

The NCSBN has identified 6 functions of clinical judgment: recognize cues, analyze cues, prioritize hypotheses, generate solutions, take actions, and evaluate outcomes. Learn more about this clinical judgment model here.

Why is clinical judgment important? Clinical judgment is linked to 46% of tasks performed by entry-level nurses, and nearly half of all novice nurses are involved in a nursing care error. Clinical judgment skills aren’t just important; they’re crucial to your success as a nurse.

How are the NCLEX test questions changing with NGN?

The biggest change to the test is that the Next Generation NCLEX will include new question formats focused on testing clinical judgment. The NCSBN has approved 12 new item types to be used in case studies — sets of items representing each function of clinical judgment in order — and 2 more new item types to be used as stand-alone questions.

What are the new item types?

Case study item types:

  • Matrix multiple-choice
  • Matrix multiple-response
  • Multiple-response: Select all that apply
  • Multiple-response: Select N
  • Multiple-response: Grouping
  • Drag-and-drop: Cloze
  • Drag-and-drop: Rationale
  • Drop-down: Cloze
  • Drop-down: Rationale
  • Drop-down: Table
  • Highlight: Text
  • Highlight: Table

Stand-alone item types:

  • Bow-tie
  • Trend

Stay tuned for future blog posts diving into each of these new item types, case study overviews, and more!

When will the NGN changes take effect?

The Next Generation NCLEX is expected to launch in April 2023.

If you take the NCLEX before then, you may have the opportunity to participate in a “Special research section” at the end of your exam. This section — which don’t count toward your score — helps the NCSBN’s research in testing the new question formats. By answering those questions, you’re helping future nursing students, so consider it a good deed to participate!

What’s on the horizon?

ATI is working closely with the NCSBN as they continue to release new information about the Next Generation NCLEX. NCSBN has put together a list of helpful Candidate FAQs that you can read here.

Follow us on Facebook to stay up to date with all our NGN info. Looking for more information about the NCLEX exam in general? Head over to the “Passing the NCLEX” category of our blog.

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