maple leaf THE NCLEX-RN® IN CANADA:
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Canadian nursing students, or candidates, will be asked to write the NCLEX-RN® in order to become registered nurses.
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NCLEX 101

The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX®) was created for one important purpose—to decide if it is safe for a nursing school graduate to begin practice as an entry-level nurse.

While other nursing school exams are knowledge-based, the NCLEX uses practical application and analysis to test candidates on their ability to use critical thinking skills when it comes to making nursing judgments.

This approach benefits both the candidates as they enter the field as well as their future patients by making sure the candidate is prepared to begin practicing nursing.

NCLEX Test Categories

The NCLEX-RN exam is organized into four main categories according to the framework, “Meeting Client Needs”:

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

For everything else you need to know about the Client Needs categories, click here.

NCLEX Question Format

NCLEX questions are primarily multiple-choice with four answer choices. There are also alternate question types, including drag-and-drop, fill-in-the-blank, and “select all that apply” style questions.

NCLEX Test Day Expectations

Candidates have a maximum of 6 hours to complete the exam. Each candidate answers a minimum of 75 questions to a maximum of 265 questions.

The nursing exam ends when the computer can determine that a candidate's performance is either above or below the passing standard, regardless of the number of questions answered or the amount of time that has passed.

NCLEX Passing Standard

The NCLEX exam is pass/fail. To ensure that the passing standard accurately reflects the level of ability required, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) evaluates the passing standard every three years.

What does the NCLEX’s Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) format look like?

The NCLEX-RN® is known as a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT). The format simply serves to increase the efficiency of the exam process by interactively adapting future questions based on past responses.

Here’s how it works...

Every time a candidate answers a question, the computer evaluates the student’s ability based on his or her response and selects the next question (which could be harder or easier) targeted to the student’s ability. This means that the computer will not allow a student to skip or return to previous questions.

The ultimate goal of the CAT platform is to get as much information as possible about the candidate’s true ability level. That’s a win-win for candidates and thousands of future patients.

The NCLEX-RN® and Bloom’s Taxonomy

Bloom’s Taxonomy for the Cognitive Domain is the framework used to write and measure the difficulty of the questions candidates see on the NCLEX. Since the practice of nursing requires application of knowledge and skill, passing level questions are at the Application and Analysis levels.

The lower level questions are based on basic memorizing, remembering and comprehension of nursing content. The high, passing-level questions are based on both the application and analysis of nursing content.

If a candidate can answer enough of the high, passing-level questions, then he or she will pass the NCLEX. If a candidate can only answer the questions written at the lower levels, then she may not.

Remembering

Questions written at this level include basic “What is...” definition-style questions. Simple memorization is a key factor in being able to answer these questions on the NCLEX correctly.

Understanding

Questions written at this level include “Why” style questions. A more concrete foundation in anatomy and physiology is helpful in being able to answer these NCLEX questions.

Application

Questions written at this level include ones that require candidates to use the knowledge they already have and apply it to the specifics of each question. Being able to recognize the most applicable areas of basic nursing knowledge most relevant to the question will help candidates answer these NCLEX questions.

Analysis

Questions written at this level include ones that apply basic nursing knowledge to a new situation with which the candidate may not be familiar. Being able to determine what the question is really asking is helpful in answering these NCLEX questions correctly.

NCLEX FAQ

1. What are the fees for taking the NCLEX in Canada?

The NCLEX registration fee for candidates is $360 CDN.

2. If a Canadian student takes the NCLEX for licensure in Canada, will he or she be able to work in the U.S.?

The NCLEX is only one component of the nursing regulatory licensure process. Other licensure requirements depend on the area in which the candidate is looking to practice. Candidates should contact their regulatory body or board of nursing for further information on the requirements and how these can be met.

BRITISH COLUMBIA: College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia

ALBERTA: College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta

SASKATCHEWAN: Saskatchewan Registered Nurses' Association

MANITOBA: College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba

ONTARIO: College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO exam)

QUÉBEC: Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec

NEW BRUNSWICK: Nurses Association of New Brunswick

NOVA SCOTIA: College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia

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