COVID-19 Impact to NCLEX Candidates

    After making a number of changes to enhance the safety of those taking the test,  NCSBN has worked with Pearson VUE to reopen all NCLEX test centers across North America and to expand time slots, while following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and recommendations. Please review the important changes below to the delivery of the NCLEX examinations:

    To ensure social distancing measures are in effect, as well as increase the number of candidates that can test daily, the NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN examinations will be administered until Sept. 30, 2020 as follows:

    • Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) will still be used
    • The minimum number of test items will be 60
    • The maximum number of test items will be 130
    • The maximum testing time will be 4 hours
    • The difficulty level and passing standard has not changed
    • The Next Generation NCLEX Special Research Section will NOT be included

    Version 10 (updated 08/21/2020)

    Important Notice: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, NCSBN introduced several carefully evaluated and tested modifications to the NCLEX examinations. These modifications are set to expire on Sept. 30, 2020. Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, the updates detailed here will be made to both the NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN examinations.

    To the extent that information elsewhere on the NCSBN website may differ, the updates detailed here shall control. We are working as quickly as possible to update the NCSBN website and other materials. In the meantime, any questions may be directed to  nclexinfo@ncsbn.org.

    FAQs for NCLEX Candidates

  • Why was my NCLEX appointment un-scheduled?

    In order to comply with local health and government social distancing measures, Pearson VUE has had to unschedule some NCLEX appointments. Please log into your Pearson VUE account  as soon as possible to re-schedule your appointment for the next available date/time. Please note that candidates are able to take the NCLEX at any test center, regardless of the nursing regulatory body they are applying to for licensure/registration.

  • How can I schedule/re-schedule my NCLEX appointment?

    Candidates should log into their  Pearson VUE account to schedule/reschedule their NCLEX appointment. It is encouraged that candidates log into their account for updated availability as appointments are often being added. Candidates can re-schedule their appointments as many times necessary so long as it is one full business day before the scheduled date and time. Any questions can be directed to nclexinfo@ncbsn.org 

  • Which test centers are open?

    Candidates should log into their Pearson VUE account to find test center locations and availability.

  • Can I take any breaks?

    Yes. Candidates will still be given the opportunity to take scheduled breaks after 2 hours and again after 3 and a half hours of examination time, as well as any unscheduled breaks. Please note that all breaks count against testing time.

  • When will I receive my results?

    NCLEX results are only available from nursing regulatory bodies (NRBs). Please contact your NRB with questions regarding your NCLEX results.

  • Am I required to wear a face mask?

    Yes, NCLEX candidates are required to bring and wear their own face mask during the entire testing appointment at Pearson VUE test centers. Candidates risk being turned away if they do not bring and wear a mask while at the test center. Candidates will be asked to briefly remove the mask during the check-in process to take the required candidate photo. Please consult Pearson VUE’s COVID-19 Webpage for more testing center details.  

  • Will there be a delay in receiving my Authorization to Test (ATT)?

    Nursing Regulatory Bodies (NRBs) continue to process new applications and approve candidates to test who are eligible. ATTs have been extended for those impacted and are currently valid for 6 months or more. For any questions regarding your ATT, please contact your NRB.

  • Can I still request accommodations for my NCLEX?

    Yes. Candidates should continue to request NCLEX testing accommodations with their Nursing Regulatory Body. It is important to note that candidates with testing accommodations requiring assistive personal (i.e. reader, records, sign language interpreter) will experience delays and limits in availability, in order to comply with social distancing measures imposed by the federal, state and local governments. Extra time accommodations will continue to be applied to the shortened exam. For instance, requesting extra time (1-hour, 2-hour, 3-hour) will be added to the four-hour NCLEX.  Extra Time - Double Time 2 Days means that the exam will be administered for eight hours over two consecutive days. The first day appointment will allot for a four-hour exam administration and the second day appointment will also allot for a four-hour exam administration.

  • What if my identification (ID) has expired and I am unable to have it renewed, can I still test?

    If your expired ID meets all other acceptable ID criteria, meaning it is government-issued, contains your name (in Roman characters), recent photograph and signature, you will be accepted to test.

  • Due to the higher volumes of calls and email inquiries, please consult Pearson VUE’s COVID-19 webpage and this page frequently, as both are continuously updated with the latest information.

    For any other NCLEX questions/concerns, you may contact NCSBN at nclexinfo@ncsbn.org.

    FAQs for Educators and Nursing Regulatory Bodies (NRBs)

  • What should NRBs do with new registrants?

    NRBs should continue to process new applications and approve candidates to test who are eligible.

  • What is the impact of a shortened exam?

    To ensure meeting social distancing requirements and maximize the number of candidates that can test each day in test centers, the NCLEX examination will be shortened to 4 hours. To achieve this, no pretest items will be included in the examination and the Next Generation NCLEX Research Section will be discontinued. Extensive analysis indicates these changes will not affect the necessary measurement characteristics, difficulty of the examination, the pass rate, or the candidate testing experience.

    Starting Oct. 1, 2020, the NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN examination time will be five hours.

  • Is the modified exam more difficult?

    The modifications to reduce the amount of time to complete the NCLEX does not result in an exam that is more difficult than the standard NCLEX. The NCLEX continues to measure nursing ability as before, by using the Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) to adaptively select items consistent within the Test Plan and remains focused on the ability level of the candidate. Item selection will always be chosen at the level appropriate for each candidate.

  • How did NCSBN decide on the modifying the NCLEX?

    The NCLEX Exam modifications were the result of extensive simulation and rescoring of all student exams taken during April through June of 2019. Several different modifications were explored to focus on reducing the time needed to complete an exam but maintain the same high-quality, statistical features as the standard NCLEX. The resulting reduction of maximum items to 130 as well as maximum time to four hours, were the most efficient changes that maintained the same quality psychometric rigor related to passing rates, decision consistency, measurement error, and reliability.

    These modifications are set to expire on Sept. 30, 2020. Based on the continued statistical and psychometric strength of the modifications, NCLEX exams will retain some of the characteristics of the modified exam while reinstating some of the essential aspects of the exam that were put on hold because of the pandemic. The exam will continue to utilize the computer adaptive testing (CAT) methodology for administration and scoring. The NCLEX Test Plans will remain the same and the passing standard will not change.

  • If candidates passed the NCLEX with over 240 items previously, would the candidates now be disadvantaged by taking only 130 items?

    No. Our simulation results and rescoring of all students taking the exam from April to June of 2019 indicated that the same level of decision consistency is achieved with the new lower maximum number of items.

  • Will candidates be able to test in a safe environment?

    Pearson VUE is following government guidelines for social distancing and limiting the number of individuals, including staff, in the test center at any time. As a result of these measures, appointment availability is limited. NCSBN has worked with Pearson VUE to increase availability while maintaining  imperative health and safety factors, including the availability of cleaning supplies and proper staffing. Please watch the NCLEX: Testing Availability Webinar for more details about the work to increase availability.

  • Is there information I should share with my students and/or candidates?

    Yes, please have them visit PearsonVUE.com as well as this FAQ page as they will have the most updated information related to the NCLEX testing centers.

  • How should the NRBs process candidates with testing accommodations?

    Nursing Regulatory Bodies should continue to process NCLEX testing accommodations for candidates who request them. It is important to note that candidates with testing accommodations requiring assistive personal (i.e. reader, records, sign language interpreter) will experience delays and limits in availability, in order to comply with social distancing measures imposed by the federal, state and local governments.

    All other testing accommodations will be processed as normal, as detailed in chapter 3 of the Member Board Manual. For example, an NCLEX candidate requesting extra time (1-hour, 2-hour, 3-hour) will be granted the extra time to the four-hour NCLEX (Starting Oct. 1, 2020 the extra time will be added to the five-hour NCLEX) . Extra Time - Double Time 2 Days, will be administered for eight hours over two consecutive days. The first day appointment will allot for a four-hour exam administration and the second day appointment will also allot for a four-hour exam administration. Likewise, starting Oct. 1, 2020 Extra Time 2 Days, will be administered for five hours over two consecutive days. The first day appointment will allot for a five-hour exam administration and the second day appointment will also a lot for a five-hour exam administration.

  • If candidates are unable to renew their identification (ID), will they be able to test with an expired ID?

    If the candidate’s expired ID meets all other acceptable ID criteria, meaning it is government-issued, contains their name (in Roman characters), recent photograph and signature, the candidate will be accepted to test. A case will be made at the test site to document the expired ID presented. The case is viewable to NCSBN and the nursing regulatory body through the NCLEX Admin site.

  • How can NRBs see which test centers are open?

    NRBs can use the “Seat Availability Search” link in the NCLEX Admin website to view testing availability. For any NRB specific concerns/questions, please contact Exams Operations at  ExamsIR@ncsbn.org

  • NCSBN will continue to update this FAQ page and communicate pertinent information to Nursing Regulatory Bodies and Nursing Programs. For any NRB specific concerns/questions, please contact Exams Operations at ExamsIR@ncsbn.org