In order to work as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Registered Nurse (RN) within the United States, a nursing school student or graduate must pass a National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) or National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam, depending on the level of education attained. In order to practice as a LPN, for instance, a student must complete an Associate of Science in Nursing degree program, and pass the NCLEX-PN examination. For registered nurses, it is recommended that at least an ASN degree is attained, if not a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, plus pass the NCLEX-RN examination.
Before taking a NCLEX examination, it is important to contact and register with a state board of nursing and understand the specific requirements established by the state in which the nursing school graduate is applying for licensure. Once these steps are completed, an Authorization to Test (ATT) letter is issued by the state board that allows the student or graduate into the scheduled examination. Upon completing the NCLEX examination, unofficial results can be received within days (for a nominal fee) and the official test scores and status are mailed to the student within 30 days. If the nursing school student or graduate did not pass the exam, it can be taken again within 45 – 90 days, depending on the guidelines of the board of nursing.
Taking and passing the NCLEX examinations is the culmination of a nursing school student’s efforts in the classroom and throughout a nursing school program. Whether the goal is to become a LPN or RN, a career in nursing depends on the ability to pass these essential examinations, proving to hospitals, medical facilities and health care providers that the nurse is ready to continue the long-standing tradition of providing the best nursing care possible.