Does a Nurse Have to Take the State Boards Before Starting a Job?


Quick Answer

Nurses are obligated to take the state board exam, known as the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses, to legally work as a nurse. The NCLEX-RN exam is multiple-choice test, and scores are determined on a pass or fail basis. Candidates who pass are granted a nursing license.

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Full Answer

To qualify for the exam, a student must obtain an undergraduate degree and complete a nursing program at an accredited school. Students must also gain work experience in a clinical setting. Students are required to fulfill a certain amount of time at a health-care facility, such as a hospital or nursing home.

After education and work experience requirements are met, students are eligible to take the NCLEX-RN exam. The exam consists of 265 questions that must be completed within a six-hour period, but candidates do not need to answer all 265 questions to pass. A pass is awarded to individuals who answer at least 75 questions in a correct and consistent manner that exceeds the passing standard. Students can take the exam as many times as necessary until they receive a passing grade.

Although nurses are able to legally practice after passing the NCLEX-RN exam, some states require nurses to complete additional education as their careers progress to maintain a valid state license.

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