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The Big Deal Behind the NCLEX-RN Exam

The NCLEX-RN has only one objective: to determine if you can safely operate as an entry-level nurse in the state in which you've chosen to practice. This isn't a test of your IQ or how fast you can start an IV. The NCLEX-RN doesn't predict how successful your nursing career will be or whether or not you'll become a nurse leader. All you have to do is demonstrate that you have the clinical knowledge and judgment necessary to provide safe and effective care necessary to meet the needs of the types of clients you'll encounter in the healthcare workplace. And in order to get your license, you must pass the test.

Sometimes students think that the NCLEX-RN is a certification examination — it's not. A certification examination is one that certifies a certain body of knowledge by an organization that's accredited to do so. In the case of the NCLEX-RN, you're tested on your ability to practice as a nurse. When you pass, you're issued a license by the state, and you can go out and get the job of your dreams.

Here's a little-known secret: If you graduated from a school of nursing, you can pass the NCLEX-RN. Nursing schools are evaluated on how well their graduates perform on the exam, so they're reluctant to graduate students who can't demonstrate potential for success on the NCLEX-RN. So if you've graduated, you have what it takes. Kudos!

The NCLEX-RN is much less complicated than most exams you've taken in school, less difficult than most of your clinical rotations, and far less time-consuming than all the papers you've written, care plans you've devised, and other requirements you met in order to even be eligible to take this test.

The NCSBN actually conducts a study every three years to determine what entry-level nurses do, what responsibilities they're given, where they work, and what type of care is required to meet the needs of the client. In this way, the council can tailor the test questions to reflect what new nurses actually experience in their first jobs.

The people who write the NCLEX-RN questions are looking for basic safety, competent decision-making, and logical prioritizing. Keep those topics foremost in your mind!

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