As an aspiring nurse, you’ve likely heard of the NCLEX. But what, exactly, do you need to know about it?
The NCLEX-RN (short for the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse) is a board-issued, standardized test used to determine whether a nursing student is prepared for the field. Those who pass the NCLEX-RN examination are granted their license to practice as a Registered Nurse.
In Connecticut, there are a few steps you must take before becoming eligible to take the NCLEX-RN examination. According to the state’s Department of Public Health, this includes successfully completing a state-approved nursing program first. Only nursing students in a pre-licensure nursing program are eligible to sit for the NCLEX exam. This is one of its many requirements.
If you are considering becoming a Registered Nurse in Connecticut, it’s important to be aware of the many prerequisites involved – Those mandated by the state, and those by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), who issues the exam. We’re here to help. Below, we detail the various NCLEX-RN requirements, and all you need to know (and do) prior to exam day.
Step-by-Step NCLEX-RN Requirements
- Complete a state-approved nursing program. This program must meet the requirements outlined in the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies (RSA).
- Register for the examination. To register to take the NCLEX-RN, you must register with Pearson Vue, either online here, or via telephone. This is also when and where you will pay the exam fee. After your NCLEX registration is created, it will stay open for 365 days waiting for candidate eligibility from the state’s regulatory body (NRB). You must complete this before moving onto step 3 below; otherwise, it may delay your exam eligibility.
- Submit an application for licensure. Once you are registered with the testing service, you must submit an application and a transcript (verifying completion of nursing school) to the state. Once received, the Connecticut office will deem you eligible to take the exam. An “Authorization to Test” (ATT) will be sent to you via mail or e-mail, which will provide you with more details on scheduling an exam. According to the NCSBN, you will want to start this process well in advance of your target exam date.
- Schedule your exam. After receiving your ATT, you will be eligible to schedule your exam with Pearson Vue. Be sure to locate your test site early on, since seats can fill up quickly. Do not wait to schedule your exam, or you may have to re-register (and pay another exam fee) if your ATT expires, which is usually within 90 days.
- On exam day, bring a government-issued ID. Non-expired, government-issued identification – with a photo, name, and signature – is required to complete the NCLEX-RN. Acceptable forms of ID include a driver’s license, passport, state ID card, permanent residence card, and military ID.
- Do not bring the following items into the testing room: Study materials, educational resources, cell phones, tablets, smart watches, MP3 players, fitness bands, or other electronic devices.
We’ve gone over what’s required to take the NCLEX-RN examination, but what is recommended prior to testing day? From the minute you enter nursing school, it’s important to hone your study habits, time management, and stress management skills – you will need these to get through your nursing program, and in preparing for the NCLEX.
- Familiarize yourself with the test format ahead of time. The NCLEX is a computer-adaptive test, meaning your exam questions will all be selected based on your previous answers and estimated ability. This structure is designed to ensure you don’t receive questions that are “too easy” or “too hard,” but that will still prove your ability to practice as a nurse. During the NCLEX, you cannot skip questions or return to a question once an answer has been submitted. You will have up to six hours to complete the exam, with two optional breaks during the test.
- Review the National Council’s test plan. The NCLEX-RN test plan is an online resource that provides an in-depth overview of what the exam will cover, details regarding test administration, and case scenario and writing sample examples for you to study.
- Make a study plan. The NCLEX-RN exam tests on years of knowledge; it is not something you can cram for the night before. Figure out what works for you, and make a plan to study months in advance of the test. Set a schedule including which days of the week you will study, which days you will take off (a must for balance), and which days you will take a practice exam.
- Take practice exams. While your nursing program will be your guiding light in preparing for the NCLEX-RN, practice exams can help get your mind ready for the big day. These will give you an idea of the look and feel of the test, as well as the types of questions asked on the exam. There are practice exams available through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing here.
Once you’ve checked off all these boxes, you will be well-prepared to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. If you are just starting your nursing career, and seeking an accredited nursing program in Connecticut to begin, please do not hesitate to reach out. Goodwin College is a leading nursing school in Connecticut with associate, bachelor’s, and master’s nursing degrees available to prospective students. Learn more online, or call 800-889-3282 to speak with our admissions team.
Goodwin College is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin College was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.