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Are you a foreign educated nurse hoping to pursue a career in the United States? If so, you’ve probably heard of the NCLEX exam.

The NCLEX, also known as the National Council Licensure Examination, is a standardized exam that all nurses in the US must pass to obtain a nursing license. It’s administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), and there are two versions of the exam: 

  • the NCLEX-PN is designed for practical or vocational nurses, and
  • the NCLEX-RN, which is for registered nurses, and 

But why is passing the NCLEX so crucial for foreign-educated nurses? Simply put, it’s a requirement for obtaining a nursing license in the United States. Without a license, you won’t be able to practice as a nurse in the country legally.

For foreign educated nurses, NCLEX can also be a critical factor in obtaining a work visa or permanent residency in the United States. In addition, many employers require a nursing license as a condition of employment. Therefore, having a license can also increase your chances of being selected for a job over other candidates.

In addition to its practical benefits, for foreign educated nurse NCLEX can be a source of personal pride and accomplishment for foreign-educated nurses. It’s a rigorous exam that requires a deep understanding of nursing principles and practices. Passing it can be a testament to your dedication and hard work.

So, if for a foreign educated nurse NCLEX is the best hope for pursuing a career in the United States. 

What Is The Structure Of The NCLEX Exam?

If you are a foreign-educated nurse preparing for the NCLEX exam, don’t worry, you’re not alone! It is a computerized adaptive test assessing your nurse competency. It’s designed to ensure that the questions are not too difficult or too easy, based on your skill level.

The exam consists of a minimum of 75 questions and a maximum of 145 questions, and you’ll have up to 5 hours to complete it. The first question will be relatively easy, but don’t be fooled – it’s just the beginning! 

After that, the computer will select questions based on your previous answers, gradually increasing in difficulty until it identifies a definite pattern of your competency level.

The questions are divided into four major categories: 

  • health promotion and maintenance
  • safe and effective care environment, 
  • psychosocial integrity, and 
  • physiological integrity. 

To pass the exam, you’ll need to perform above the passing standard in all categories – one area cannot balance out a below area.

But don’t be discouraged! Remember, all state boards have the same passing standard for the NCLEX, so one state is not easier than another to pass. However, with hard work, dedication, and a thorough understanding of the exam format, you can pass the NCLEX and begin your journey as a licensed nurse in the United States.

What Are The Requirements for Foreign Educated Nurses to Apply for NCLEX?

The NCLEX process has standard steps that all internationally educated nurses must follow, regardless of which State Board of Nursing (BON) they apply to. However, the timing of your journey may vary depending on the board’s specific requirements.

Each BON has its own unique set of requirements and processing times. However, to get started with your application, you’ll need to meet some general requirements, including


  • submitting a complete State BON application, 
  • paying associated fees, 
  • completing a criminal history report, 
  • verifying foreign nursing licenses, and 
  • verifying your educational qualifications.

Some states may require proof of recent nursing work experience, so check with the specific board you’re applying to. If you meet all of the general requirements, you can take the eight steps necessary to complete the NCLEX process.

Prepare For NCLEX In Eight Steps

Start Studying And Stay Focused

Preparing for the foreign educated nurse NCLEX test while completing the application process is essential to achieve this dream. Don’t leave long gaps in your study program in the months leading up to your exam date. With proper preparation and dedication, you can conquer the NCLEX and start your journey as a licensed nurse in the United States.

Choose A BON and A Credential Evaluation Service (CES) for Nursing

To get started, choose a state where you’d like to be licensed and visit the Board of Nursing’s official website to determine their specific requirements.

Next, you’ll need to have your nursing education evaluated by an approved Credential Evaluation Service (CES) for nursing. You can contact the agency directly or visit their website to request a Full Education Course by Course or CES report.

Remember that the agency will charge you for their evaluation services, and it’s your responsibility to cover these fees. Once the evaluation is complete, the agency will send an original copy of the report directly to your chosen state’s Board of Nursing.

Submit The Application And Wait For The Eligibility Letter

It’s time to submit your licensure application to your chosen state’s Board of Nursing! This application is essential to determine your eligibility to take the NCLEX-RN examination. 

Remember that the application form and fee will vary depending on your chosen state.

Wait For Your Eligibility Letter And Keep Preparing For The Exam

After submitting your application for licensure, it’s time to wait for your eligibility letter or approval letter from the State Board of Nursing. This usually takes 2 to 6 months, but don’t worry – you can use this time wisely to prepare for the exam. 

Set aside several days weekly to study the content, practice exams, and review the rationale. Once you receive confirmation, you must register with Pearson VUE within the registration time limit. Your Pearson VUE registration will stay valid for one year only.

Register With Pearson Vue To Receive Your ATT

First, register with Pearson Vue using your BON approval and receive your ATT to schedule your exam date and location. The NCLEX Test Plan 2019 is being used, but remember that it will change in April 2023. 

To register, visit the Pearson Vue website and click “Register.” Then, fill out the application, including your school’s 10-digit code and a valid email address, and pay the $200 registration fee using a VISA, MasterCard, or American Express credit card.

Select Your Test Appointment Date And Center

Congratulations on receiving your Authorization to Test (ATT)! Now it’s time to schedule your exam appointment and prepare for the big day.

Your ATT contains your authorization number, candidate number, and expiration date. Ensure that your name on the ATT matches your identification exactly. If it doesn’t, contact Pearson VUE immediately.

You must test within the BON’s specified period, typically 90 days. If you have not received or lost your ATT, call NCLEX Candidate Services immediately at 1-866-496-2539.

To schedule your exam appointment, sign in to the Pearson VUE website with your username and password. Then, request a date and time at your preferred testing center. First-time exam takers will be given a 30-day window for scheduling, while repeat applicants will get a 45-day window.

In Conclusion

To fulfill your goal of becoming a registered nurse in the US, you must pass the NCLEX exam. Utilize all the resources, such as study guides, mock tests, and review courses, to improve your exam-passing chances. 

Lastly, stay focused, stay motivated, and believe in yourself. You can pass the NCLEX and become a registered nurse with hard work, determination, and dedication. Good luck!