Ultimate Guide to the NCLEX for International Nurses

Taking and passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is a very important moment in a nurse’s career. The NCLEX tests your nursing knowledge, critical thinking, and decision-making skills surrounding your work as a healthcare professional.

International nurses face unique challenges in passing the NCLEX, so it’s important to be ready for the exam as well as the barriers you may face along the way. With support, hard work, and patience, you can pass the NCLEX confidently and begin your journey as a nurse in the United States. 

Chapter 1

Introduction / Overview

Are you ready to take the NCLEX exam? The first chapters reveals what it takes to be exam ready and what factors contribute to your overall readiness to successfully prepare for and pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Read on to learn more!

Are You Ready for the Exam?

The secret to being ready for the NCLEX is preparation. Exam readiness determines how prepared you are to handle the challenges the exam will present and be able to tackle questions with confidence.

To study for the NCLEX, seek out resources like workbooks tutors, and practice tests to get insight into your strengths and weaknesses. A practice exam is a great way to gauge how you will feel when you’re taking the test. It can reveal what areas you need to study in order to be prepared.They can also help you understand what types of questions you will see on the exam. 

Other factors that contribute to exam readiness include time management, a good study plan, and maintaining a healthy balance between work, studying, and your free time. You should also consider joining a study group, seeking expert guidance, or investing in a reputable NCLEX prep course.

Support is also important, whether you lean on friends or family for encouragement. Remember that many nurses have taken and passed the NCLEX before you and have been successful in their journey. Have confidence in yourself, prep

What is the NCLEX?

Group of international nurses

The NCLEX is a standardized test that nursing graduates must pass to obtain licensure as a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) in the United States and Canada. The NCLEX is developed and administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) to ensure public safety through a minimum level of nursing competence.

The NCLEX is important because it tests your knowledge, critical thinking, and decision-making skills related to clinical practice, patient safety, and care management. By passing this exam, you demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of the nursing field and a commitment to providing outstanding patient care.

Chapter 2

NCLEX Minimum Requirements

NCLEX requirements vary by state, but there are several basic requirements you’ll need to meet before you can take the exam in the United States. 

Education Requirements

The first step in meeting the NCLEX requirements is to complete an accredited nursing program, usually resulting in an associate's or bachelor's degree. This prerequisite demonstrates you have a solid foundation of nursing knowledge and are prepared for the challenges of the exam and professional nursing practice.

Registration Process

Once you've completed your nursing program, you must register with the NCSBN by creating an account on their website. To register with the NCSBN and apply to take the NCLEX, you first must verify your credentials. Let’s explore the credentials process, as this is an essential step for nurses to take before applying for the NCLEX.

Credentials Verification

The process of verifying your credentials includes submitting your education transcripts, certifications, proof of completion, and other documentation to certify that you completed the necessary education and are prepared to take the NCLEX and apply for an RN license. 

To begin the verification process, you must contact your former school and ask that they transfer your transcripts to the right institution. If you received your RN license in your home country, contact that organization as well to transfer your credentials. Where they transfer your documents depends on the state where you want to work as an RN. Most states use CGFNS to verify credentials. CGFNS is a third-party provider that serves the global healthcare community by verifying credentials, among other services. However, certain states like New York use an internal system to verify credentials. It’s important to know the verification requirements in the state you want to work in so you can send your documents to the proper regulatory body.

Note that the credential evaluation process takes time, and states like New York that use their own verification system often take longer than those that use CGFNS. It’s important to send your documentation as soon as possible, as you cannot register for the NCLEX until this process is complete. Also, ensure you send all the required documentation. If you leave off any documents, you may be penalized and extend the timeline. 

We understands that the credentials verification process can be lengthy and frustrating. This process can also be confusing for nurses who obtained an RN license in another country. That’s why we provide support to nurses navigating this step. Our team can help ensure you obtain the proper documentation, send it to the right regulatory body, and don’t leave out essential information that delays credential verification. 

Completing Registration

Once you have verified your credentials, you must apply to a board of nursing. This step includes paying a fee and submitting your verified credentials. Then, once you’ve completed this step, you can register with Pearson VUE, the international testing company that administers NCLEX exams. We’ll go into more detail about the Pearson VUE registration process later, but note that part of registration includes having your fingerprints taken and sent to a third-party vendor for a background check. Then, this information is sent to the board of nursing.

Scheduling Your Exam

Once you've received your Authorization to Test (ATT), you have a limited window to schedule and take the NCLEX exam. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the ATT has a wide range of validity. The timeframe to take your exam depends on which state you apply through. It can range from 75 days to 6 months after the ATT is issued. So, because of this extended timeframe, it’s essential to book your test date and location as soon as possible. Falling to schedule your exam within this timeframe could result in needing to reapply and pay additional fees, which creates more work and more hurdles between you and your goal to become an RN in the U.S.

Which Board of Nursing Should I Take My NCLEX Through?

USA map

As mentioned, different state nursing boards have different requirements for credentials verification, educational prerequisites, and more, and these requirements change often. 

As an international nurse, certain states are better than others for obtaining an RN license. States like California and Florida require that you have a Social Security Number (SSN) and card to become a registered nurse. So, in these states, you can take the NCLEX, but you won’t be issued an RN license there.

For this reason, it’s better to take the NCLEX in a state that doesn’t require an SSN to obtain an RN license. Illinois and Ohio, for example, are two states where you can take the NCLEX and obtain an RN license without an SSN.

If you know where you want to work, research that state’s board of nursing and its requirements. Note that some states allow for NCLEX passing by endorsement. For example, the NCLEX-RN taken in Australia may be permissible in some U.S. states. Remember that this varies from state to state, so don’t assume that if you’ve passed the NCLEX in another country, it will count in the U.S.

Chapter 3

Understanding the Next-Gen NCLEX

The Next-Gen (NGN) NCLEX exam was launched in April 2023. Read on to learn what changed with the NCLEX-RN exam.

What is the Next-Gen NCLEX?

The Next Generation NCLEX (NGN) is an updated version of the current NCLEX examination that was implemented in April 2023. The NGN aims to improve the assessment of candidates' clinical judgment by including new question types and different evaluation methods. The NGN project is driven by the need to better prepare nurses for real-world clinical situations and adapt to the evolving healthcare environment.

NCSBN has identified clinical judgment as a complex process that includes multiple cognitive and decision-making steps, which form the basis of the Clinical Judgment Model (CJM). The CJM consists of six steps: recognize cues, analyze cues, prioritize hypotheses, generate solutions, take action, and evaluate outcomes. The NGN will challenge candidates to apply the CJM in responding to more complex, dynamic test items that directly assess clinical judgment skills.

Recent Changes to the NGN: How is the Next Gen NCLEX Different? 

While existing NCLEX exams primarily use multiple-choice questions, the NGN aims to provide a more comprehensive evaluation by incorporating new item types. These question formats include multiple response items, extended drag and drop, hotspot, and case-based items. By using these item types, the NGN can more accurately test a candidate's ability to integrate clinical knowledge to reach appropriate judgments in patient care scenarios.

One of the most notable features of the NGN is the use of more case studies that allow candidates to demonstrate their clinical judgment in realistic situations. These case studies call for nursing candidates to process and interpret patient data while navigating complex, dynamic patient scenarios. Through this new approach, the NGN aims to ensure nursing graduates enter the workforce with the critical thinking skills and clinical judgment abilities needed to provide effective patient care.


Note that there are two distinct types of NCLEX exams: NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN. The NCLEX-RN is for those who want to become registered nurses. This exam requires a high school diploma or equivalent and an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). 

The NCLEX-PN exam is for licensed practical nurses (LPN) or licensed vocational nurses (LVN). To take the NCLEX-PN, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent and a graduation certificate from a board-approved practical nursing program.

Chapter 4

Unique Challenges for Foreign-Educated Nurses Taking the NCLEX

As a foreign-educated nurse, you face unique challenges when preparing to take the NCLEX. Thankfully, there are many solutions you can seek out and implement to get the support you need to succeed. Here is a look at some challenges you may face as an international nurse taking the NCLEX.

Considerations for International Nurses

English Proficiency

The NCLEX is designed to assess critical thinking and judgment, which can be challenging for non-native speakers to navigate due to language barriers. However, as an international nurse, you can invest in English classes to improve your understanding of the language. You can also practice with native English speakers to fully grasp the nuances of the language. The more you practice, the easier it will be to understand complex questions in English.

Understanding Terminology

Nursing terminology may differ on the NCLEX compared to what you learned in your country of origin. Make sure to review the proper terminology by studying the NCSBN glossary of terms.

Nursing Skills

Nursing requirements, methods, and skills can vary from country to country. To understand practices in the U.S., volunteer or shadow hospitals and healthcare facilities and see how nurses perform job duties. In addition, take NCLEX review courses and practice exams to improve upon the skills that you know will be tested.


Understanding the English terminology and clinical judgment skills involved in pharmacology can be difficult, and it is a key part of the NCLEX. To improve, study medication classifications, side effects, contraindications, and nursing considerations. NCLEX practice exams can also help you develop this knowledge.

Therapeutic Communication

Communication styles and cues vary across countries and cultures, and adapting to a new type of communication can be hard. To prepare yourself, practice active listening with your patients and colleagues. Don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues questions to gain a deeper understanding of cultural differences in the U.S.

Test Prep and Support

Doing the right preparation and having support is critical to passing the NCLEX. To prepare yourself, find a learning style that works best, whether through practice exams, case studies, or study groups. To find support, seek out available resources, such as other nurses who have been through this process or even professional tutors. There are so many professionals who are eager to help you learn and succeed, so don’t be afraid to ask!

Chapter 5

Registering for the NCLEX-RN Exam

Registering for the NCLEX-RN exam is a multistep process that includes working with Pearson VUE and the nursing regulatory body (NRB). Let’s look at the steps you need to take to register for the exam.

How to Register for the Exam (Step by Step)

1. Obtain CES Report

To register for the NCLEX, you must first verify your credentials with the proper regulatory body and obtain your CES report. You are responsible for contacting your former school and the country’s institution where you obtained your RN license (if applicable) and sending these documents to the proper organization.

Many states use CGFNS as a third-party service provider to verify credentials. Other states, like New York, use an in-house system. Ensure you know the requirements of the state’s nursing body where you want to work, and send the proper documentation to the right institution. HCI can help guide you in gathering the right documents, such as transcripts and certificates, and send them to the right institution. Note that this process can take several months, so it’s best to send in your documentation as soon as possible. 

2. Application for Registration

Once you have obtained your CES report, you must submit an application for licensure/registration to the nursing regulatory body (NRB) where you want to be registered. If you aren’t aware of the licensure or registration requirements, you can contact the NRB, and they will guide you through the proper registration steps.

3. Register Through Pearson VUE 

Next, you need to register to take the test through Pearson VUE. Pearson VUE is the company that coordinates payment and scheduling of the NCLEX exams. There are three options for registering with Pearson VUE:

  • Online - You can register via the Pearson VUE website by creating an account and paying the test fee. This method accepts credit, debit, prepaid VISA, MasterCard, or American Express. 
  • Phone - You can register over the phone through Pearson VUE Candidate Services and coordinate payment. This method accepts credit, debit, prepaid VISA, MasterCard, or American Express. 
  • Third-Party - Sometimes, a third party may pay for your NCLEX-RN exam (such as a nursing school or employer). If this is the case, register online through the Pearson VUE website and follow the third-party payment instructions.

Note that part of the registration process includes having your fingerprints taken. Your fingerprinting will be done in your home country by a third-party service provider and then used for a background check. The results will be sent to your board of nursing for review.

4. Pay Registration Fee 

Next, candidates will pay the registration fee for the NCLEX. The cost of taking the exam depends on your testing location, and there are additional fees for international scheduling, changing the exam type (RN/PN), and other circumstances. Learn more about the testing fees here.

5. Authorization to Test 

Once your NRB declares you an eligible candidate and you are registered through Pearson VUE, you will receive an Authorization to Test Email (ATT). This email will be sent to the email address you provided during registration, and you must have this email available to schedule your NCLEX.

6. Find a Testing Center 

Next, find a testing location near you. The NCLEX is offered domestically and at international test centers. You can view all testing location options here.

7. Schedule Your NCLEX Exam 

Finally, it’s time to schedule your test! You can schedule your NCLEX exam through your online account or over the phone with Pearson VUE Candidate Services. Remember that you need your ATT email accessible when scheduling. First-time test takers are offered an appointment 30 days after their request to schedule, while repeat candidates are offered appointments starting 45 days after their last exam attempt. Note that if you are retaking the NCLEX, you need a new ATT email and must reapply. An ATT email can only be used for one test attempt.

Is There a Registration Fee?

calculating exam fees

Registering for the NCLEX-RN involves paying a testing fee. Candidates looking for U.S. licensure are charged $200 for the exam. There are additional fees for special circumstances, such as scheduling at an international testing center. In this case, you’ll need to pay $150 extra. 

Your NRB may also require you to pay registration fees, so contact them for questions about this payment. For a full list of NCLEX fees, visit their pricing page here.

Chapter 6

Required Documents for Registration

As a foreign-educated nurse looking to register for the NCLEX-RN, you will need several documents on hand to ensure your registration process is smooth. Read on to understand the document requirements to successfully register for the NCLEX exam.

Required Documents

required documents checklist
  • Education Documents - You will need official transcripts from the nursing program you completed, and you may need course descriptions of your program’s curriculum.
  • Nursing License and Registration - Have documentation of your current nursing license in your home country and proof of your registration with the NRB in your home country.
  • English Proficiency - Many U.S. states require evidence of English language proficiency. This is typically demonstrated through a passing score on the Test of English and a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
  • Credentials - Some states require the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) to verify your nursing credentials.
  • Passport and ID - You will need a valid passport or another form of government-issued identification.
  • Visa Documentation - You will need documentation of your current visa status, such as a work visa or student visa.

Do Requirements Vary by State?

Each state in the U.S. is responsible for registering nurses within that area. So, there is some variation in requirements from state to state. Each state nursing board has its own rules and requirements for international nurses, which can include differences in documents, fees, English language proficiency, education requirements, and more. 

If you are curious about state-specific licensure information for international nurses, contact that state’s board of nursing here. They will be able to help you with the specific requirements. 

How Long It Takes to Register

If you have the proper documentation and a reliable payment method, registering for the NCLEX should take between 30-60 minutes. However, be patient with yourself during this process and take your time to navigate each step. You want to make sure you are thorough with your application!

Chapter 7

Exam Fees and Related Expenses

In addition to the exam fees, there are additional expenses you’ll need to plan for when taking the NCLEX. Let’s break down estimated costs.

Estimated NCLEX-RN Exam Costs

Below is an estimate of the NCLEX-RN exam costs.

  • Exam Fee - As mentioned, the PearsonVue registration fee is $200, and there are additional fees if you are testing at an international center or for other special circumstances, like changing the NRB after registration. 
  • Other Fees - Additional fees associated with obtaining your Credentials Evaluation, fingerprints for a background check, Board of Nursing (BON) application, and whether CGFNS is used.
  • Test Prep - Test preparation is essential to passing the NCLEX, so account for the costs of practice exams, study groups, workbooks, and other resources.
  • Travel Costs - If you must travel to take the NCLEX, factor in transportation, food, and lodging costs.

Partnering with an Agency

As you can see, the cost of taking the NCLEX-RN for international nurses can add up quickly. Partnering with an agency gives you the support you need for a smooth registration and helps ease costs so you can focus on doing your best on test day.

When you partner with Health Carousel International, we help empower you to succeed and be one step closer to living your dream as a nurse working in the U.S. Our PassportUSA program provides free NCLEX preparation resources, administers practice exams, and covers the cost of test registration.

At HCI, we believe that money should never be in the way of reaching your goals. That’s why we cover NCLEX test prep, the exam fee, the international scheduling fee, and additional U.S. State Board of Nursing application fees. Plus, we offer complimentary, best-in-class preparation resources so you feel confident in yourself on test day. With support from HCI, you’ll be on your way to achieving your American dream and making an essential contribution as a healthcare provider!

Chapter 8

Next Gen NCLEX-RN: Test Centers and Traveling Tips

Depending on where you’re located, there may not be an NCLEX test center close by. Or in some cases, your closest test center may be experiencing a backlog for exams, causing serious delays. If you want to take the NCLEX soon, here’s what you need to know about finding the right test center.

Test Center Locations Around the World

The NCLEX has test centers worldwide, and you can browse location options here. Even if you take the NCLEX in an international location, the registration process is still the same.

It's important to note that some countries have limited test center locations. If you're in a country with only one or two test centers, schedule your exam early to ensure you get your preferred test date.

How to Choose a Test Center

When choosing a test center, think about factors like distance and convenience. If you can choose a test center that’s familiar to you, you may feel more comfortable on exam day. Remember to review your chosen test center’s policies before your exam date to make sure you know what you can bring.

Tips for Traveling to the Test Center

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Some nurses may not have the option to take the NCLEX close by, so they’ll need to travel to a test center. In this case, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Plan ahead and make sure you know the location and hours of your test center. Arrive at least 30 minutes early, just in case.
  • Look into different transportation options and choose the one you’re most comfortable with (car, taxi, public transportation, etc.)
  • If needed, plan for overnight accommodations beforehand. Then, after a long day of testing, you’ll have somewhere to relax.
  • Pack wisely, and bring everything you need for the test. Remember your ID, documentation, admission ticket, and a few healthy snacks for test breaks!

When you partner with HCI, count on our team to help! We understand that the NCLEX isn’t offered in every country, and we don’t want this to be a hurdle for international nurses seeking US licensure. If you seek support in taking your NCLEX in a different country or location, our team will provide guidance and support in this process.

Chapter 9

Next Gen NCLEX-RN Exam Format and Scoring

Now that you know how to register for your NCLEX-RN, let’s review the exam format and scoring to help prepare you for test day!

Overview of the Exam Format

The Next Gen NCLEX-RN includes a new case study format and 15 new question types. The case study format seeks to measure clinical judgment and decision-making in the context of a high-stakes exam. The emphasis on clinical reasoning is meant to test nurses’ ability to make fast decisions using their knowledge of medicine to improve patient outcomes.

The NCLEX-RN is primarily composed of multiple-choice questions, though the Next Gen exam may include new formats such as ordered response items and fill-in-the-blank questions. There are different versions of the NCLEX-RN, but the number of questions ranges from 75-265. For more information on the Next Gen NCLEX format, visit their website.

Types of Questions on the Exam

The NCLEX-RN includes a range of question types, such as:

  • Multiple Choice
  • Fill-in-the-Blank
  • Drag and Drop Questions
  • Chart/Exhibit Questions
  • Graphics Questions

These questions span various topics and test a candidate's critical thinking, clinical reasoning, nursing judgments, and more.

How the Exam is Scored

Disclaimer: This scoring information refers to the Next-Gen NCLEX, implemented April 2023.

Unlike other standardized tests, the NCLEX is scored using computerized adaptive testing (CAT). The exam begins by offering questions of medium difficulty (not too hard, but not too easy). If you get the question right, the next is slightly more difficult; if you get it wrong, the next question is easier. 

The CAT technology works behind the scenes to decide what questions to give you. To pass the NCLEX, you need to answer enough questions correctly. You may get as many as 265 questions or as few as 75. The number of questions you receive is not necessarily an indication of how well you perform. If you demonstrate high proficiency, the system may only give you the minimum amount of questions. If you demonstrate low proficiency, the system may also only give you a minimum number of questions, as it will determine that you need to review more before taking the exam. Also, note that there is no “grade” on the NCLEX; instead, you either pass or fail the exam.

What Passing the Exam Means

If you pass the NCLEX-RN, congratulations! This accomplishment demonstrates your ability to work as a nurse and your impressive understanding of the field. Upon passing, you will be approved for a nursing license and become a registered nurse.

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Chapter 10

 Preparing for the Next-Gen NCLEX Test

Preparation is the key to passing the Next-Gen NCLEX. If you take the time to find study strategies that work for you and use your test prep resources, you will set yourself up for a passing NCLEX score and can continue on to make a vital difference in the healthcare field.

Importance of Test Prep

Here are some of the main reasons why test prep for the NCLEX is essential:

  • Increase your chances of passing the exam. The NCLEX is a challenging exam, and proper preparation can help you increase your chances of passing.
  • Learn the test format and style of questions. As mentioned, the NCLEX is a computer-adaptive test, which means that the difficulty of the questions you are asked will increase or decrease based on your performance. It is important to be familiar with the test format and style of questions to answer them correctly.
  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses. By taking practice tests and reviewing your results, you can identify the areas where you need to focus your study time. As an international nurse, certain areas of the NCLEX and test-taking process may be unfamiliar or uniquely challenging. During preparation, you can identify these areas and create targeted study strategies to succeed. 
NCLEX Academy by PassportUSA

PassportUSA is committed to providing international nurses with the resources to pass the NCLEX and confidently find work that fulfills them. That is why we offer extensive NCLEX study resources, including our partnership with ATI Nursing Education. ATI is a hub of NCLEX preparation resources that includes practice exams, sample questions, virtual test coaching, and more. Through this partnership, PassportUSA offers our nurses complete access to exam prep materials that can be tailored to study strategies that work for them.

Support You Get with an Agency Versus Alone

By working with an agency for NCLEX preparation, international nurses benefit from an extensive support network that provides coaching, resources, and financial help when needed. Some of the key advantages to working with an agency include:

  • Expertise - Healthcare agencies like PassportUSA have professionals who are familiar with the NCLEX and can give you resources to prepare for the exam. For international nurses, this support helps alleviate the stress of taking and passing a difficult exam not in their native language.
  • Personalized attention - Healthcare agencies can provide personalized attention and help you develop a study plan that meets your needs.
  • Resources - Healthcare agencies have access to a variety of test preparation resources. At PassportUSA, our partnership with ATI gives you access to a hub of test prep materials and practice exams to help you succeed.

Test Prep Strategies 

When it comes time to start studying for the NCLEX, you need to find a strategy that works for you. From crafting a study plan to connecting with other candidates and forming a study group, here are some test prep strategies to remember.

Creating an Effective Study Plan

Start by creating an effective study plan for the NCLEX. Make a schedule for your studying and factor in breaks where you can reset and refocus. Then, consider the resources you have available (like study guides and practice exams), and list how you want to review the material.

You can divide your studying by concepts if it helps break down the material. For example, spend a week on care management, then move to infection control, mental health, and so on. As you study, take note of areas where you struggle so you can make time to review these concepts more and ensure the information sticks.

Essential Study Material and Resources

You can use many NCLEX test resources to prepare for the exam. And, when you partner with PassportUSA, we provide you with the material and test prep tools you need to succeed. Here are some NCLEX study resources to have when you begin to prepare:

  • NCLEX review books - There are many NCLEX review books available on the market. Choose a book that is comprehensive and covers all of the topics that are covered on the exam.
  • NCLEX practice questions - Practice questions are a great way to assess your progress and identify areas where you need to improve. Plus, they give you an idea of how questions will be worded on the exam.
  • Flashcards - Flashcards are a great way to memorize key concepts and information. Consider making a deck of cards for each section of material so you can quickly review key concepts. 
  • NCLEX study groups - Study groups can be a great way to stay motivated and learn from others. Find a group of students who are also preparing for the NCLEX and meet regularly to study together.
Tips and Strategies for Effective Test Preparation

With these resources in mind, here are some of our tips for effective test preparation:

  • Start studying early - The NCLEX is a challenging exam, so it is important to start studying early. This will give you ample time to review the material and identify your weaknesses.
  • Create a study schedule - There is no one-size-fits-all study schedule. Find a schedule that works for you and stick to it. As mentioned, you can break up different sections of the material and spend a week on each, then make time to go back and review them again.
  • Take breaks - It is essential to take breaks when you are studying. This will help you stay focused and avoid burnout.
  • Get enough sleep - Getting enough sleep is essential for good test performance. Make sure to get rest in the months leading up to the exam and the night before.
Review and Practice Resources

There are tons of NCLEX practice resources available to test takers, so take advantage of what is out there. Here are some exam prep tools to keep in mind. 

Online and Offline Practice Test Options

Practice tests are a great way to prepare for the NCLEX because they give you an idea of the question styles and materials. You can print off practice tests and take them by hand or explore online options that let you take the exam on a computer.  

Utilizing Mobile Apps for Preparation

There are tons of mobile apps available designed for NCLEX prep. Applications like Nursing.com and NCLEX Mastery are easy to download and give you thousands of practice questions to review. Because mobile apps are easy to access, you can study from anywhere. If you find yourself with extra time on your hands, simply open the app and start reviewing!

Finding a Support System: Study Groups and Online Communities

Having the support of fellow nursing students can make all the difference. Look for study groups in your community or connect with other international nursing students preparing for the NCLEX. Then, schedule a time to meet in person and quiz each other. Having the support of fellow nurses is a great way to stay motivated while you prep for the test.

Next-Gen NCLEX Prep Centers Around the World

If you are not located in the U.S., you can still find NCLEX prep courses and classes around the world. The team at PassportUSA can help you find exam prep resources near you so you can get the support you need to do your best.

Online Test Prep Centers

If there is no NCLEX prep center near you, explore online test prep centers. Many online resources, classes, and study groups are available to nursing candidates. Plus, having an online option is convenient since all you need is a computer and Internet connection.

Chapter 11

Navigating Test Day: What to Expect 

When it comes time to take the NCLEX, it’s important to know what to expect on test day. Let’s review what you need to know!

What to Expect on Exam Day

On the day of your exam, arrive at the test center at least 30 minutes early. You may need to reschedule if you’re more than 30 minutes late. Dress comfortably, but be mindful that you must leave all outerwear (coat, gloves, scarves, etc.) outside the testing room.

Once you arrive, you’ll check in. You’ll need to bring an acceptable form of identification and provide your biometric information, which includes a signature, photograph, and palm vein scan. Learn more about the scanning process here.

Here’s what to remember about the NCLEX check-in process:

  • Personal Devices: Candidates are required to store electronic devices (cell phones, tablets, etc.) in sealable plastic bags that the Pearson VUE test center will provide. 
  • Receive Materials: You’ll receive an on-screen calculator and erasable note board/marker at the testing center for taking notes.
  • Visitors: Friends, relatives, or children are not allowed to wait in the test center or contact the candidate while they’re taking the exam.
  • Technical Issues: Sometimes, technical problems require the exam to be rescheduled. If issues cause a delay of more than 30 minutes, candidates can wait or reschedule their appointment with no additional fee.
  • Candidate Statement: All nursing candidates need to read the NCLEX Candidate Statement and provide an electronic signature agreeing to the terms of the NCLEX.

Once you’re checked in, you’ll be directed to the testing room. You’ll have 5 hours to complete the NCLEX, so don’t rush. Read every question carefully and take time to consider your answers.

Tips for Staying Calm and Focused

It’s normal to feel stressed on exam day, but remember that if you’re prepared and know what to expect, you can feel confident in your abilities. If you’re worried about showing up to the testing center nervous, here are some tips to stay calm and focused:

  • Get Good Sleep: Get a good night's rest before exam day. Having enough sleep will help you feel rested, focused, and ready to do your best.
  • Eat a Healthy Breakfast: Eat a well-balanced meal in the morning. Avoid sugary foods or drinks, which can make you feel jittery.
  • Arrive Early: Get to the testing center at least 30 minutes early to give yourself time to check in and relax.
  • Focus on One Question at a Time: Don't worry about the questions you've already answered or the questions you have left. Just focus on the question in front of you.
  • Take Breaks: There will be time during the NCLEX exam to take breaks. Use this time to relax, take deep breaths, and refocus.
  • Don’t Rush: Remember, you have 5 hours to complete the exam. Take your time with each question.

What to Bring to the Test Center

Gather the right materials the night before the NCLEX so you are prepared in the morning. Here’s what you need to bring to the test center:

1. Authorization to Test (ATT): Your ATT email is the message you receive from your NRB to schedule your NCLEX. Bring a copy of this message with you to the exam.

2. One Form of Valid Identification: You must bring one non-expired, government-issued ID to the NCLEX. Acceptable forms of identification at domestic testing centers include:

  • Passport book and cards
  • Driver’s license
  • Permanent residence card
  • Military identification card
  • Provincial/territorial or state identification card

At international testing centers, you must bring a passport book or card. Learn more about acceptable NCLEX ID materials here.

3. Your NCLEX Confirmation letter.

Chapter 12

What to Expect After the Exam

Once you’ve finished your NCLEX exam, take a moment to celebrate! You worked very hard to get to this point, so appreciate the time, energy, and effort you’ve dedicated. Then, it’s time to be patient and wait for your results.

How to Get Exam Results

Your official NCLEX exam results will be issued by the nursing regulatory body (NRB) within six weeks after the exam. If six weeks have passed and your NRB hasn’t contacted you, you should reach out. Never contact Pearson VUE or test centers for exam results. 

Some candidates seeking U.S. licensure can access unofficial test results two business days after their exam. Note that the quick access results do not authorize you to work as a licensed or registered nurse. Only the NRB results can do that.

There are many states that participate in the quick results system, and you can view them here. If the state where you seek licensure is part of this group, you can access your quick results in a few steps:

  1. Sign into the Pearson VUE website with your username and password.
  2. Under the “My Account” tab, click “Quick Results.”
  3. Next, if the results are available, click “Purchase.”
  4. Then fill in the payment information. The current cost of quick results is $7.95.
  5. Click “Next” and confirm your order by clicking “Submit Order.”
  6. Your quick results will appear on the receipt page.

How to Request Your NCLEX Pass Letter

To request your NCLEX pass letter, you must contact your state board of nursing. The contact information for your state board of nursing can be found on the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) website.

Once you have contacted your state board of nursing, they will provide instructions on requesting your pass letter. Typically, you must provide your name, NCLEX registration number, and date of birth. You may also be asked to provide a copy of your driver's license or other government-issued ID.

Your pass letter will be mailed to you within a few weeks of your request. The pass letter will include your NCLEX registration number, exam date, and pass/fail status.

Here are the steps to request your NCLEX pass letter from the NCSBN website:

  1. Go to the NCSBN website and log in to your account.
  2. Click on the "My Account" tab.
  3. Under the "My Exams" section, click on the "Request Pass Letter" link.
  4. Fill out the request form and submit it.
  5. Your pass letter will be emailed to you within a few weeks.

Here are the steps to request your NCLEX pass letter from your state board of nursing:

  • Find the contact information for your state board of nursing on the NCSBN website.
  • Call or email your state board of nursing and request a pass letter.
  • You will be asked to provide your name, NCLEX registration number, and date of birth.
  • You may also be asked to provide a copy of your driver's license or other government-issued ID.
  • Your pass letter will be mailed to you within a few weeks.

What to Do if You Did Not Pass

Pass or fail

If you didn’t pass your NCLEX, there’s no need to worry. You can keep studying and retake the exam when you’re even more prepared. Candidates who don’t pass the NCLEX will also receive a Candidate Performance Report (CPR), which shows their areas of strength and weaknesses in the exam. You can use this as a guide to help you prepare for your next try.

There needs to be at least 45 test-free days between each exam, so use this time to continue studying. You can contact your NRB for the right forms and information to re register anytime. Once your NRB declares you eligible, your new Authorization to Test (ATT) won’t be valid until the 45-day period passes.

Chapter 13

Ready to Take the NCLEX-RN Exam?

If you are an international nursing candidate looking to take the NCLEX and work in the U.S., PassportUSA can help. From providing study sources to covering testing fees and ensuring you are properly registered, we are here to give you the support you need to achieve your dream of working as a nurse in America.

Mastering the NCLEX: Key Takeaways for Success

We hope this NCLEX guide can help you navigate each step of the Next-Gen NCLEX process. Here are the key takeaways to remember:

  • Registration: Ensure you meet the requirements for registering to take the NCLEX. The team at PassportUSA can help you meet these requirements and can help you navigate language barriers and other challenges.
  • Stay Organized: Keep track of your ATT email and other documents. Ensure you have proper identification, and find a testing center that you can easily get to.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: Find a study routine that works for you. Whether that means reviewing practice exams, forming a study group, or seeking online help, do what works best for your study style, and practice, practice, practice!
  • Stay Calm: As your exam date approaches, remember to get plenty of rest, eat a balanced diet, and stay calm. Seek out resources from PassportUSA, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Have faith in yourself and your ability to practice as a nurse.
  • Follow Up: After the exam, follow up with your NRB and get your results. If you’ve passed, it’s time to find your dream job! If you need to retake the exam, review areas where you struggled and keep pushing. 

Why You Should Take the NCLEX-RN Exam

Passing the NCLEX-RN opens up a world of opportunities for those who want to work as registered nurses in the U.S. There are so many reasons to take this exam, including:

  • To become a licensed RN. To practice as an RN in the United States, you must pass the NCLEX-RN exam.
  • To increase your job opportunities. Many employers require RNs to have passed the NCLEX-RN exam. Passing the exam will make you more competitive in the job market.
  • To earn a higher salary. RNs who have passed the NCLEX-RN exam typically earn a higher salary than those who have not.
  • To improve your job satisfaction. RNs who feel confident in their knowledge and skills are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs. Passing the NCLEX-RN exam can help you feel more confident in your abilities to make a positive impact on your patients as a registered nurse. 

The NCLEX-RN exam is challenging, but it is possible to pass with hard work, dedication, and support. If you put in the effort, you can achieve your goal of becoming a licensed RN.

PassportUSA Program for NCLEX Sponsorship

When you decide to embark on the journey of becoming a registered nurse in the U.S., one of the first hurdles is passing the NCLEX-RN. Health Carousel International (HCI) is here to help you achieve this goal through our PassportUSA program, providing free NCLEX preparation resources, practice exams, and financial assistance. 

HCI stands out in our industry because of our commitment to helping you pass the NCLEX. We are here to spend time supporting you because we believe that you should have a clear path to your dreams. When you partake in our program, we’ll help alleviate the stress and worry that comes from registering for the exam, covering fees, and studying. Let us help you with our best-in-class resources so you can make a difference in healthcare. Learn more about our program today.

NCLEX sponsorship candidate photo

Additional Resources

If you’re interested in learning more about the NCLEX-RN and requirements for international nurses, here are some resources to explore:

  • PassportUSA: The PassportUSA website has tons of information and resources about how HCI helps global healthcare professionals achieve their dreams through services like NCLEX prep, IELTS Academy, HCI Clinical Residency, and more.
  • Next-Gen NCLEX website: This website has a variety of information about registering for the NCLEX, what to expect on exam day, getting results, and more.
  • NCSBN website: The NCSBN website includes information about nursing regulatory bodies, how to contact them, state-specific requirements, and more.
Apply with PassportUSA Today!