Study Tips

5 Myths About the NCLEX®

Osmosis Team
Published on May 12, 2020. Updated on Jul 29, 2021.

It’s Nurses Week, and it’s also Year of the Nurse! As part of Nurses Week celebrations at Osmosis, we asked team member Jannah Amiel, MSN, BSN, RN, to share some of her wisdom on the NCLEX®. The high-stakes nature of board exams like the NCLEX means that rumors about how to game the system and optimize your chances for success end up circulating widely—and this is especially true in the time of COVID-19!

In this article, Jannah Amiel, MS, BSN, RN, and Founder of tootRN LLC, addresses some of the most common myths and misconceptions about the NCLEX, and shares some advice about what you should be aware of regarding this exam in light of COVID-19.

Myth #1: The new NCLEX is here.

It’s true that there are some significant changes in store for the NCLEX. The NCSBN® is working on the Next Generation NCLEX®, which will emphasize critical thinking abilities over rote memorization of tasks and information. There’s a rumor circulating that this new NCLEX exam is here already—but that’s just not true. The Next Generation NCLEX won't be in place until at least 2023. 

If you’re studying for the NCLEX now, keep doing what you’re doing. The NCLEX test plan now is more or less the same as what it's been for the last couple of years: it will feature the same type of multiple choice questions, same type of alternate-format items, like "select all that apply" and drag-and-drop, and hotspot questions—that's all the same. 

This new NCLEX won’t be as scary as some people are making it up to be. In fact, it’s likely that the exam will offer a better experience for test takers, as one of the common complaints about the current exam is that it maybe doesn't reflect practice as great or as closely as it could. If all goes according to plan, this next-gen NCLEX will better bridge the gap between theory and practice.

Myth #2: If your NCLEX exam shuts off after 75 questions, you’ve passed.

This is another common rumor that’s simply not true. With the NCLEX-RN®, you can get anywhere from 75 questions to 265 questions.. Just because you get the minimum amount of questions and the computer shuts off does not mean that you've passed. It also doesn't mean that you failed. 

When you’re taking the actual exam, don't focus so much on the number of questions that you're getting—it’s just a distraction. Instead, concentrate on doing your very best, answering every single question to the very best of your critical thinking nurse brain ability. You’ve got this!

Myth #3: The Pearson VUE trick.

Have you heard of the Pearson VUE trick? Some people think they can get their “pass or fail” result early by registering for the NCLEX again on the Pearson VUE website: if you’re able to register, you failed, and if you aren’t, you’re passed. Again, this is just not true. If you want to get your results officially and legitimately, wait for your official results: they’ll be sent to you. It can take a couple of weeks, and yes, it feels long, and it’s anxiety-inducing!

 If you feel like you need to speed up the results, you can take advantage of the Quick Results service and find out whether you passed or failed within 48 hours—and this is something that the NCSBN endorses.

Myth #4: “Select all that applies” questions show how you’re doing on the NCLEX.

A common myth about Select All That Applies (SATA) questions is that if you get a lot of them on your test, you're definitely passing. Again, this is definitely not true—and it’s actually very subjective.  

The NCLEX is unique to each and every single test-taker: one test-taker might get 10 SATA's on their test and feel like that was a ton; another test-taker might get 30 on their test and feel like that wasn't so much. What denotes “a lot of SATA questions” is very subjective based on things like your ability, your skill, your perception of taking the test, and how much you love or hate SATA questions. The perception that you're seeing a lot of them is not an indicator of whether you’re on track to passing or failing. 

This is a good time to remind you that you shouldn’t focus too much on the types of questions that you're getting during the exam. Instead, focus on being a rock star test-taker and answering everything to the best of your ability. 

Another myth about SATA questions is that you can get partial credit for them. Again, not true. With SATAs, one, some, or all of the answer options provided may be correct. To get that question right, you have to answer all of the answer options that are correct—and there's no partial credit that's given for that.

Myth #5: The NCLEX is easier in different states.

Another extremely popular and extremely wrong idea people have about the NCLEX is that it varies in difficulty from state-to-state. Not true! The NCLEX is a national exam: that means it's used everywhere in the US (and it's also used in Canada). Whether you test in Florida, Idaho, New York, Wisconsin, or Hawaii, the NCLEX is used nationwide, and it's exactly the same exam wherever you go.

What is different are the rules around the test. Each state has a State Board of Nursing, and it's really important that you're familiar with your State Board of Nursing and what that testing rule says.  For example, each state has a policy in place regarding the number of times that you can take the test and in what time period. One state might have testing rules that say you can only take the NCLEX five times and that's it. A different state could have rules that say you can take the NCLEX up to three times, but then you have to take a remediation course if you've not been successful, and then you can apply again. 

These state-by-state rules around how you take the test are different, but the exam itself is not. So no matter what state you go to, things aren't any difficult or any easier based on geography alone. 

Bonus: How will COVID-19 affect the NCLEX?

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant there have been some changes to NCLEX testing, and these measures are going to be in place until at least July 4.There are fewer test centers open, and there modifications to the exam to make it a little bit shorter (test-takers currently have four hours to take the exam, rather than the usual 6). 

Nothing has changed regarding the quality or the standards of the exam, but it is important to be familiar with the logistical changes that are in place. The best place to go to find that out is directly on the NCSBN's website. There, you can see what modifications have been made to the test, and familiarize yourself with the measures that have been put in place to make sure we're all able to take the exam safely during this time. 

In light of COVID-19, it’s important to keep up with your studying. You want to make sure that you are ready to rock and roll come test day. You should feel fully prepared to work at your best ability, and not only to feel competent in your knowledge and your skill, but also to feel really confident in your ability to get out there and do your best. 

Here's to safe testing and a happy Nurses' Week!

About Jannah

Jannah Amiel, MS, BSN, RN is a Registered Nurse, entrepreneur and educator recognized by the March of Dimes for her 'Clinical and Academic Excellence.' Jannah founded and created tootRN™, LLC in 2013- providing tutoring, coaching and NCLEX® expertise to nursing students and schools across the globe. Jannah is also a Clinical and Nursing Subject Matter Expert (SME), serving as a consultant for many nursing and healthcare leaders, including Osmosis. Jannah earned her Master of Science in Nursing degree from Florida Atlantic University's Emerging Nurse Leaders program, and also holds a BSN and ASN degree from Keiser University.

NCLEX-RN® and NCLEX-PN® are registered trademarks of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc (NCSBN®). Osmosis is not affiliated with NCSBN.

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