COVID-19 Impact to NCLEX Candidates

  • After making a number of changes to enhance the safety of those taking the test, as well as the staff working in the centers NCLEX test delivery at U.S.-and-Canada based Pearson VUE test centers, resumed on March 25th at a limited number of test centers in major metropolitan areas across the United States and Canada. Please see below for important changes 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, effective March 25, 2020 until Sept. 30, 2020, will be administered 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 8 (updated 05/15/2020)

    Important Notice:  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and measures imposed by the federal, state and local governments, candidate testing has been interrupted.  NCSBN has worked with Pearson VUE to reopen some test centers and allow for testing in critical healthcare fields to continue to support the high demand due to COVID-19.  Some changes will be made to our testing program to enable testing to resume.  Key changes are addressed in the FAQs.  To the extent that information elsewhere on the NCSBN website may differ or be in conflict with the FAQs, the COVID-19 Impact to NCLEX Candidates FAQs 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 my NCLEX appointment?

    Candidates should log into their Pearson VUE account to schedule/reschedule their NCLEX appointment.

  • 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. 

  • 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. 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.

  • Can I re-schedule my appointment within 24 business hours of my appointment?

    Candidates who are unable to make it to their appointment should log into their Pearson VUE account and reschedule/unschedule their appointment. If your NCLEX appointment is scheduled in the next 24 business hours, please email nclexinfo@ncsbn.org with your reschedule request.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 will be extremely limited. NCSBN is working with Pearson VUE to increase availability but, need to maintain the imperative health and safety factors, including the availability of cleaning supplies and proper staffing.

  • 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. 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.

  • 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.

  • Which test centers are open?

    Candidates will be able to find test center availability by logging into their Pearson VUE account.

  • 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