Nursing Licensure Exam Results

The NCLEX exams ensure that nurses are fully qualified.

The NCLEX exams ensure that nurses are fully qualified.

Once you finish training as a nurse, you still have to clear an important hurdle before starting work. You must pass the National Council of State Boards of Nursing Exam, or NCLEX, to get a state license. It's the true final exam for nurses, and it's available as the NCLEX-PN for practical nurses and as the NCLEX-RN for registered nurses. Although you can get early results in many states, only the official ones count for licensing.

Quick Results

In many states, you can get NCLEX results 48 business hours after taking the test, according to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, or NCSBN. This Quick Results Service isn't available in all states because it depends on the participation of the state board of nursing. Because these results don't come through your state board, they're not considered official results. If your state participates in the program, you can access early results through your online account at the Pearson VUE website. Log on using your username and password at "My Account," and have a credit card handy to pay the extra fee, which was $7.95 as of August 2013.

Official Results

Pearson VUE transmits your results to your state board of nursing, which in turn gives you the official results. The timing and method for giving scores out depends on the board, but most states send them through the mail. You'll most likely receive them approximately four weeks after taking the test. It's a waste of time to telephone your state board, the NCSBN or Pearson VUE because you can't get your results by phone, according to the NCSBN.

Candidate Performance Report

If you get the bad news that you failed the NCLEX-PN or NCLEX-RN, you'll receive an additional report. Because the test adapts to the test taker, it cuts off the lowest candidates early on in the exam. If you didn't answer a minimum number of questions, you'll only get a short report telling you how many more questions you needed to answer to be evaluated. Those who failed but answered enough questions receive a complete Candidate Performance Report. This report tells how close you were to the standard for passing and which particular areas of nursing need more work.

Invalid Results

The NCSBN sometimes cancels test results or refuses to release them when it finds some indication of cheating or other irregular situation. For example, your results may be invalidated if you broke the testing rules or if there appears to be a problem with your identification. The NCSBN can refuse to release your results even if you were not the cause of the problem.

Challenging Results

If you failed the exam and want to challenge the results, that's possible in some states. Depending on the state, you might be able to see what items you missed and even challenge each answer, according to the NCSBN. You'll need to contact your state board of nursing to find out whether this is possible and what it costs.

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