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Do LPNs Take the NCLEX?

Yes, as an LPN, you do take the NCLEX. It is an important step in your career as a licensed practical nurse and is necessary to obtain your LPN license.

The NCLEX, or National Council Licensure Examination, is a standardized exam that all aspiring nurses must take in order to become licensed and practice nursing in the United States. It is designed to test your knowledge and competency in various areas of nursing practice.

In this post, we will discuss why LPNs are required to take the NCLEX, the process of taking the NCLEX, how to pass the exam, what happens after passing the NCLEX, and what to do if you don’t pass on your first try. So let’s dive in!

Understanding the role of an LPN

Before we delve into the details of the NCLEX, let’s first understand the role of an LPN.

Licensed Practical Nurses, or LPNs, play a crucial role in the healthcare system. They provide basic nursing care, such as taking vital signs, administering medication, and assisting with daily activities, under the supervision of registered nurses or physicians. LPNs work in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, and home healthcare.

Who is required to take the NCLEX

All nurses, including LPNs, are required to take the NCLEX in order to obtain their nursing license. This is because the NCLEX is a standardized exam that ensures nurses possess the necessary knowledge and skills to provide safe and effective care to patients. The exam is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) and is accepted by all state nursing boards in the United States.

The importance of NCLEX for an LPN

Passing the NCLEX is a critical step in your journey to becoming a licensed practical nurse. Here’s why the NCLEX is important for LPNs:

  • Legal requirement: In most states, passing the NCLEX is a legal requirement to practice as an LPN. Without a valid nursing license, you cannot legally work as a nurse.
  • Professional credibility: The NCLEX demonstrates your competency as a nurse and gives you professional credibility. It assures employers, patients, and the public that you have met the necessary standards to provide safe and quality nursing care.
  • Job opportunities: Many healthcare facilities require nurses to have a valid nursing license, which includes passing the NCLEX. Having your LPN license opens up a wide range of job opportunities and increases your chances of being hired.
  • Career advancement: Passing the NCLEX is often a prerequisite for further career advancement in nursing. It lays the foundation for pursuing higher levels of nursing education and becoming a registered nurse (RN) or specializing in a specific area of nursing.

Now that we understand the importance of the NCLEX for LPNs, let’s move on to the process of taking the exam.

The Process of Taking the NCLEX as an LPN

Here’s a breakdown of the process of taking the NCLEX as an LPN:

Preparing for the NCLEX

Preparing for the NCLEX-PN requires a combination of studying, practice, and familiarizing yourself with the format and content of the exam. It is recommended to start studying several months in advance to allow yourself enough time to cover all the necessary material. Some key steps in preparing for the NCLEX as an LPN include:

  • Reviewing nursing textbooks and study guides: Use reputable nursing textbooks and study guides to review key content areas and concepts that will be covered on the exam.
  • Taking practice exams: Practice exams are an excellent way to gauge your knowledge and identify areas where you may need additional study.
  • Joining study groups or online forums: Collaborating with other LPNs who are also preparing for the NCLEX can provide support, motivation, and additional study resources.
  • Utilizing online resources and review courses: There are numerous online resources and review courses available that can help you prepare for the NCLEX. These may include online practice questions, video lectures, and interactive study materials.

The structure of the NCLEX-PN

The NCLEX-PN consists of multiple-choice questions with four possible answer options. The questions are designed to test your knowledge and critical thinking skills in various areas of nursing practice. The exam is computerized, and questions are presented in a computer-adaptive format, meaning that the difficulty level of the questions will adjust based on your previous responses. The NCLEX-PN is divided into four major content areas:

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

Sitting for the NCLEX

Once you feel adequately prepared, you can schedule your NCLEX-PN exam through your state’s nursing board or the NCSBN website. On the day of the exam, be sure to arrive early, bring all necessary identification documents, and follow any instructions provided. The exam is typically administered in a secure testing center and is proctored to ensure fairness and adherence to testing protocols.

How to Pass the NCLEX as an LPN

Now that we have covered the process of taking the NCLEX as an LPN, let’s discuss some key tips and strategies to help you pass the exam:

Key areas to focus on for the NCLEX

It is important to have a solid understanding of the key content areas that will be tested on the NCLEX-PN. These areas include:

  • Pharmacology: Familiarize yourself with common medications, their indications, side effects, and nursing implications.
  • Medical-surgical nursing: Study various medical conditions, their pathophysiology, signs and symptoms, and nursing care interventions.
  • Maternal and child health: Review concepts related to pregnancy, delivery, newborn care, and pediatric nursing.
  • Mental health nursing: Understand various mental health disorders, therapeutic communication techniques, and psychosocial interventions.

Tips and strategies for passing

  • Develop a study schedule: Create a study schedule that allows you to cover all the necessary content areas and allocate specific time for practice questions and review.
  • Use a variety of study resources: Utilize a combination of textbooks, study guides, online resources, and practice exams to enhance your understanding and retention of the material.
  • Practice critical thinking: The NCLEX-PN is designed to test your ability to think critically and make clinical judgments. Practice answering questions that require critical thinking and learn to apply your knowledge to real-life scenarios.
  • Manage test anxiety: Test anxiety can hinder your performance on the NCLEX. Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and positive visualization, to help calm your nerves on exam day.
  • Take care of yourself: Prioritize self-care during your NCLEX preparation. Get enough sleep, eat well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, and take breaks to avoid burnout.

Resources for NCLEX preparation

There are numerous resources available to help you prepare for the NCLEX-PN. Consider utilizing the following:

  • NCLEX review books: Invest in reputable NCLEX review books that cover the content areas and provide practice questions.
  • Online question banks: Use online question banks that offer a wide range of practice questions with detailed rationales.
  • Mobile apps: There are several mobile apps available that provide NCLEX practice questions and study materials that you can access on the go.
  • Review courses: Consider enrolling in an NCLEX review course that offers in-depth content review, test-taking strategies, and additional study resources.

By utilizing these tips and resources, you can increase your chances of passing the NCLEX-PN and obtaining your LPN license.


Q: How long is the NCLEX-PN exam?
The NCLEX-PN exam can vary in length, but it typically consists of a minimum of 85 questions and a maximum of 205 questions. The exact number of questions you will receive depends on how you are performing throughout the exam. The exam is designed to determine your level of competency, so the computer adapts to your individual performance and may stop the exam once it has gathered enough information to make a determination.

Q: Can I retake the NCLEX-PN if I fail?
Yes, if you fail the NCLEX-PN, you are eligible to retake the exam. Each state has its own policies regarding retakes, so it is important to check with your state nursing board for specific requirements. In most cases, there is a waiting period between attempts and you may be required to pay an additional exam fee. It is recommended to thoroughly review your exam results and identify areas of weakness before retaking the exam to increase your chances of success.

Q: How long do I have to wait to receive my NCLEX-PN results?
The exact timeframe for receiving your NCLEX-PN results can vary, but most candidates receive their results within 2-6 weeks after taking the exam. Some states offer quick results, which allow you to view your unofficial results within 48 hours of completing the exam. Official results are typically sent directly to your state nursing board, who will then notify you of your pass or fail status.

Q: Can I use a calculator during the NCLEX-PN exam?
Yes, a simple on-screen calculator is provided during the NCLEX-PN exam. This calculator can be used for basic calculations. However, it is important to note that the NCLEX-PN is not a math-focused exam, and complex calculations are not required. The calculator is primarily used for medication dosage calculations and other basic math functions.

Q: Is it okay to guess on the NCLEX-PN if I’m not sure of the answer?
Yes, it is acceptable to guess on the NCLEX-PN if you are unsure of the answer. The exam uses computer adaptive testing, which means that the difficulty of the questions will adjust based on your performance. It is important to remember that the NCLEX-PN is designed to measure your overall ability, so it is better to make an educated guess than to leave a question unanswered.

Q: Can I bring any personal belongings into the testing center during the NCLEX-PN exam?
No, personal belongings are typically not allowed in the testing center during the NCLEX-PN exam. This includes cell phones, bags, food, and drinks. It is important to review the specific instructions provided by the testing center and only bring necessary identification documents. Lockers or designated areas may be available to store personal belongings during the exam.

Q: Can I use scratch paper or take notes during the NCLEX-PN exam?
Yes, scratch paper and pencils are typically provided during the NCLEX-PN exam for you to use. You can use the scratch paper to take notes, make calculations, or jot down important information. It is important to follow the instructions provided by the testing center regarding the use of scratch paper and to return all materials at the end of the exam.