Nursing board examination in connecticut

All About the Nursing Board Examination

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, all nurses — registered nurses and practical nurses — must be licensed in order to provide care in the United States. However, getting a license isn’t as simple as applying for one. In order to become a licensed nursing professional, you must first complete training and the nursing board exam.

What is the nursing board exam?

The nursing board examination is a standardized test that nurses must pass in order to obtain licensure and practice within their state. Specifically, the nursing board exam is known as the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination). There are two types of NCLEX exams: the NCLEX-RN and the NCLEX-PN.

The nursing board examination is designed to evaluate the knowledge, skills, and abilities of aspiring nurses and to confirm they are ready for entry-level practice. It covers various aspects of nursing practice, including (but not limited to) safety and infection control, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, basic care and comfort, and management of care.

The NCLEX exam itself is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) and is required for all nurses who wish to become licensed and practice in the United States. The NCSBN uses computerized adaptive testing (CAT) technology to administer and score the exam, allowing for efficiency in test-taking and accuracy in measuring scores.

What are the types of nursing board exams?

As stated above, there are two types of nursing board exams. One is designed for aspiring registered nurses (RNs), and the other for aspiring licensed practical nurses (LPNs).

Both types of exams lead to licensure in the specific nursing field of choice.

  • NCLEX-RN: This exam is for individuals who wish to become registered nurses (RNs). Registered nurses help coordinate care for those who are sick, injured, and disabled. As such, the NCLEX-RN assesses the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for entry-level nursing practice.
  • NCLEX-PN: This exam is for individuals who wish to become licensed practical nurses (LPNs). These nurses are responsible for basic patient care and comfort, and typically work under the direction of an RN. The NCLEX-PN is similar in structure to the NCLEX-RN but focuses on practical/vocational nursing skills.

Why is the nursing board exam needed (and where)?

The nursing board exam is required across the United States. It is meant to ensure that nurses are fully ready to practice in a patient care setting and have the skills to be successful in their careers. After all, healthcare is a critical field and can be a matter of life or death. That said, nurses must go through a rigorous training process, meet a number of education requirements, and be evaluated before being approved to practice with real patients.


Learn everything you need to know about becoming a nurse in our free guide!


How hard is the nursing board exam?

The nursing board examination is rather lengthy, with about 145 questions on the NCLEX-RN exam and 205 questions on the NCLEX-PN exam. Aspiring nurses must complete a minimum of 75-85 questions (depending on the exam type) but have five full hours to do so.

The nursing board exam is computer-adaptive, meaning it works in a way that the difficulty of questions will adjust (increase/decrease), based on the test taker’s responses. The computer chooses questions that give you a 50% chance of getting right. You will keep answering questions until you’ve passed or failed, or you reach the maximum question or time limits.

Because of the comprehensiveness of the NCLEX examination, and because of the weight it holds on a person’s nursing career, the exam itself can be very intimidating. And while the questions are meant to be challenging — encouraging you to think critically — the exam is entirely achievable. Just look at the four million nurses already licensed and practicing nationwide! With the right preparation, you can pass the nursing board exam.

According to the NCSBN, pass rates for the nursing board exams are high. In 2023, the NCLEX-RN examination boasted about an 89% pass rate for first-time nurses in the U.S. The NCLEX-PN pass rate was about 87% that same year for first-time, U.S.-educated candidates.

What are the requirements for the board examination?

The eligibility requirements for the nursing board exam vary by state. Be sure to research the requirements of your state’s nursing regulatory body before taking the steps to complete the exam. In general, you must complete a state-approved nursing program before applying to take the NCLEX examination. Once you check off the education and experiential requirements, you must then apply for your nursing license (RN or LPN) with your state’s nursing board.

After these steps are complete, you can register for the examination. This can be done by:

  1. Registering for the NCLEX on the Pearson VUE website. Note that you will need to provide a program code for the nursing school you attended and your email address.
  2. Pay a $200 fee online or by phone to be eligible for the exam.
  3. Once your state nursing board approves your registration and deems you eligible, Pearson VUE will email you an Authorization to Test (ATT).
  4. Use your ATT (and the validity dates within it) to schedule your exam through Pearson VUE and complete your NCLEX.

Learn more about the NCLEX-RN requirements here!

What types of questions are on the NCLEX board exam?

There are various topics covered in the nursing board examination. In the NCLEX-RN board examination, for example, test questions are divided into four major categories:

  • Safe and Effective Care Environment
  • Health Promotion and Maintenance
  • Psychosocial Integrity
  • Physiological Integrity

The NCSBN provides further details into some of these content categories. For example, the Safe and Effective Care Environment portion includes questions about safety and infection control, as well as management of care. The Physiological Integrity section of the exam also covers topics like basic care and comfort, pharmacological therapies, reduction of risk potential, and physiological adaptation. You can get even more insight into the NCSBN’s NCLEX-RN Test Plan here.

In addition to covering different topics, the nursing board exam offers questions in various formats. For example, questions might be multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, select-all-that-apply, drag-and-drop, and questions in the form of photos and diagrams. Most questions (80 to 90%, according to the American Nurses Association, are multiple choice).

How can I prepare for the nursing board exam?

The nursing board exam, also known as the NCLEX, is a robust examination that requires preparation. Plan for adequate study time leading up to the day of your test.

There are various resources available to help you prepare for the NCLEX examination. For example, you may tap into your nursing school’s student and alumni services and take advantage of any mentoring available. Other nursing students and graduates will be in a similar boat as you, too, so you may consider setting up study groups with your peers.

It’s also important to get familiar with the various testing topics (listed above!) in preparation for the board exam. Once you understand the depths of these topics, you may also take practice exams — available on the National Council of State Boards of Nursing website — which can help you get comfortable with the various question formats on the exam. In addition, consider purchasing an NCLEX prep book or creating your own study guide to review.

Many aspiring nurses study for months leading up to the board exam. It can help to create a schedule or plan for your studies, too. Which days of the week, and at which times of the day, will you have your most successful study sessions? Which days will you take off to recharge? On top of timeline, also think about how you learn and which study methods will work best for you.

Remember, balance is key. While good study habits are essential, so is prioritizing self-care and rest. Especially for those with test anxiety, it’s important to get the proper amount of sleep, eat balanced meals, and have stress management techniques in your back pocket leading up to the exam.

Where do I start to become a nurse?

Now that you have gathered information about the nursing board exam, it’s time to start your journey to becoming a nurse! Step one is to apply to a nursing school of your choice. Nursing school is required to become an RN and become eligible to take the NCLEX-RN exam. It’s also mandatory for those seeking to earn their LPN licensure, at the certificate or diploma level.

If you feel ready to begin your journey, and are a first-time nursing student in Connecticut, Goodwin University is a great option. We are a leading nursing school with a variety of nursing programs and partnerships with healthcare facilities throughout the state. Learn more by requesting more information online here!