What to Expect When You're NCLEX-ing Part II: Pearson

If you missed part I about NCLEX Test Basics, click here.

1. Signing up

Pay both the Board of Registered Nursing ($300) and Pearson ($200) two weeks before nursing school finals/graduation. Somehow I missed the memo about Pearson and was so freaked out by the time I paid Pearson I took the first date the system offered me without fulling understanding how close it was (in my head it was still May-ish, but it wasn't...later, I realized my test date was my late mother's birthday). I hadn't expected to test so soon--in fact, I'd ordered an NCLEX review book that didn't arrive until the day after I took the test.

2. Showing up

I had a 1pm test slot and made my way into the test building 45 minutes early. They scanned my palms, photographed me and let me right in. This does not apply to 8am tests (and definitely don't be more than 30 min. late), but if you're testing in the afternoon, it might be worthwhile to go in early because it's unlikely all the morning testtakers took the entire 6 hours (the horror!) and if there's a seat, you're ushered in.

3. During the Test

You can have your choice of earplugs, noise-canceling headphones, or nothing. A regular pair of headphones are also available at your cubicle in case you get audio questions. There's a tutorial containing every question type for you to "practice" before the real test begins, so you will be prepared. The computer tells you that you can't go back to change answers, and can't skip any, either.
Sample "Hot Spot" Question: Where would you hear...

UWorld's format looks pretty similar to the actual NCLEX, and NCLEX content is arguably easier than UWorld and less infuriating than the ATI comprehensive test, lying somewhere in between the two platforms (UWorld & ATI).

4. Special Research Section

Thankfully, Pearson probably won't spring these awful new format questions on testtakers for real until 2022/2023, according to this article.

For now, after your official test stops, the computer will state that these next 30 questions won't affect your grade, but you will be beta-testing Pearson's new questions for them. Honestly, even after the minimum of 75 questions, who's in the mood to do this billion dollar testing company that just select-all-that-applied you to death a favor? And the questions, mostly grouped around specific case studies, are not straightforward or clear at all, and some of them, (I felt,) unreasonable.

If you just randomly click and drag-drop things on the screen, you can go home sooner and it won't hurt your grade. I did sit through them just to give Pearson a piece of my mind in the comments section.

5. After the Test

Nobody feels awesome leaving the NCLEX, but the number of questions you took may help you gauge how it went. The chances of you sucking so bad that the computer shut off at 75 (or however many you got) questions (because even 265 questions wouldn't save you) are slim. It's much more likely that the computer was satisfied with your competancy by X number of questions. The bigger the number (closer to 265) the less reassuring the odds, but people have definitely passed with 265 questions.

Very few people run out of time (6 hours) and if you do, there's still hope, and at least you don't have to beta test their crappy questions. I've definitely, due to child/meal-related distractions/procrastination, run out of time (8 hrs) and got 50% on one of those practice ATI tests we had to take in the program and had to redo the whole thing. It happens.

If your anxiety is killing you, when you get home from the test center, try the Pearson VUE Trick:
Basically, you pretend you're registering to test again (without giving the correct credit card code), and if it give you the "good pop-up," you can breathe.

 The good pop-up.

Something like 86% of NCLEX testers pass on their first try, so the odds are in your favor!

6. Results

I took the test on a Thursday, checked the BRN site before bed Friday night, and saw my license number. If you're in California, you can't pay for "quick results" but you'll probably get fast results for free anyway. 

You can also look yourself up on the BRN website (or have a friend do it) and if it's ready, your license is now public knowledge.

Good luck, and happy studying/guessing/testing!

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