NCLEX – RN and NCLEX – PN Which is right choice for you?

Are you yearning to work as registered nurse / licensed or vocational nurse in the US or Canada? If YES then NCLEX is what you will have to get through. Of course, this can be the biggest hurdle on your way to wonderful nursing career in the United States / Canada but with little bit of effort, you can surely breeze through it.

All about NCLEX

The National Council Licensure Examination or in short NCLEX, is all-mandatory for all the nurses who would like to pursue a great career in their field of nursing. This is the test which is designed and developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

It should be mentioned here that each and every state takes up the responsibility to regulate the practice of nursing within the state but still the licensing exams are just the same across all the states. The test is constantly reviewed by the organising committee. At least, once in three years, the test format gets revised. This is done with the sole purpose to make it more effective in assessing the nursing skills of the nurses who would like to work as a registered or licensed nurse in the US or Canada.


It has two different versions, namely NCLEX – RN and NCLEX – PN. the former is for the registered nurses and the later is for the practising nurses.

NCLEX-RN is for all those graduates who are looking forward to get themselves registered in order to streamline their career path. But for all those who have taken up or have completed vocational or practical nursing graduation will have to go for the PN version of the test. The candidates who are going to take the NCLEX – RN may get a minimum of 75 questions (and the maximum number of the questions may go up to 265 as well). The candidates who are going to take NCLEX – PN will have to face a minimum of 85 questions (and the maximum number of questions which they may face is around 205). The application fee for both tests can be around or in between $200 or $250.

Interesting thing is registered nurses and licensed practical and vocational nurses are regarded as nurses across all the states but still their roles may differ a lot. It should be mentioned here that the pay they may be getting may also differ. For instance registered nurses, no matter in which state they choose to work, they can have the opportunity to get better pay, in short, much better than what the vocational nurses might be getting.

Questions in NCLEX PN and RN

In both the versions of the test, candidates will have multiple choice questions (administered using computerised adaptive testing method, generally referred to as CAT method). This form of testing system goes on to determine the candidate’s ability based on the answers provided for the given questions. The system adjusts the difficulty levels of the questions as required. For instance if the candidate answers wrong, then a question that is less difficult appears on the screen. If the candidate goes on to provide wrong answers, the questions with low difficulty levels continuously appear. Such candidates may end up taking only a minimum number of questions, around 75 or 85 (for RN and PN).