2014 NCLEX-PNĀ® Test Plan and Passing Standards


The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) reviews the test plan for the NCLEX-PN® examination once every three years. In 2013, the NCSBN voted on the changes to the 2014 NCLEX-PN® Test Plan and passing standard.* These changes are based on empirical data collected from newly licensed nurses by the NCSBN and will go into effect on April 1, 2014. The following sections describe the format of the test and the changes made.

Passing Standard Increase

Due to the continuous changes in U.S. health care and nursing practice, the NCSBN has determined that effective entry-level licensed practical/vocational nurse (PN/VN) practice requires a greater level of knowledge, skills and abilities than was previously required, resulting in the passing standard increase.

The passing standard will change from the current -.27 logits** to -.21 logits. This passing standard will go into effect on April 1, 2014 and will remain in effect through March 31, 2017.

What does this mean for future test-takers?

The NCLEX-PN® examination will be more difficult. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing expects that by increasing the passing standard, the pass rate for first time-U.S. educated nurses will decrease slightly.

Test Plan Structure

NCLEX-PN® test questions are organized into four major Client Needs categories. Two of the four categories are divided into subcategories:

♦ Safe and Effective Care Environment
• Coordinated Care
• Safety and Infection Control
♦ Health Promotion and Maintenance
♦ Psychosocial Integrity
♦ Physiological Integrity

See a more detailed explanation on the specific Client Needs categories.

Distribution of Content

The percentage of test questions assigned to each Client Needs category and subcategory of the 2014 NCLEX-PN® Test Plan has changed from the current NCLEX-PN® Test Plan.

Below is a breakdown of the percentage of questions in each test plan category, comparing the previous test plan to the 2011 plan:

2014 PN Test Plan Categories

Client Categories/Subcategories

Percentage of Questions

Change in Percentage of Questions

Safe and Effective Care Environment
• Coordinated Care
• Safety and Infection Control


3% increase in 2014
1% decrease in 2014

Health Promotion and Maintenance


No change in 2014

Psychosocial Integrity

8-14% 1% increase in 2014

Physiological Integrity
• Basic Care and Comfort
• Pharmacological Therapies
• Reduction of Risk Potential
• Physiological Adaptation


2% decrease in 2014
No change in 2014
1% increase in 2014
2% decrease in 2014

Percentages range for each Client Need category due to the variable length format of the NCLEX-PN. To accommodate possible variations in exam length, content area distributions of the individual exams may differ slightly in each category.

For more information about the NCLEX-PN®, please call 1-800-KAP-TEST or contact us here.

*National Council of State Boards of Nursing. (2013). 2014 NCLEX-RN® Test Plan.
**A logit is defined as a unit of measurement to report relative differences between candidate ability estimates and item difficulties.