Taking the NCLEX for the first time

I’ve been scarce here because I took the NCLEX last week. I was busy studying and preparing for the NCLEX. The NCLEX is the national exam that nurses must take to gain licensure. Nurses cannot practice nursing or work as nurses without their license; it’s what makes a nurse a “registered” nurse.

After impatiently waiting, I received my authorization to test from the testing company on Monday, September 14, at 9:47 pm. I took the NCLEX for the first time on Thursday, September 24, at 1:00 pm. I wanted to give myself at least two weeks to study. However, I was anxious to take the NCLEX before the end of the month because a job application was closing on September 28. Additionally, starting on October 1, the minimum number of exam questions would increase from 60 to 75. I studied as much as I could in those ten days, taking a day or two off to say goodbye to a good friend who suddenly decided to move across the country. It would have been nice to focus solely on studying, but life happens even as we make plans.

On the day of the exam, my friend/old classmate/neighbor walked with me to my testing facility. Just a couple of weeks before, I had done the same for her when she took her NCLEX. I hadn’t received my authorization to test when so many of my classmates got to take the exam. It was finally my turn!

I took my time with the exam and spent over an hour answering the items presented to me. My computer shut off at 60 questions, the minimum number required to pass the NCLEX. I was relieved when it shut off at 60 questions since I knew the computer-adapted exam could be much longer. The four practice exams I took and passed also shut off at 60 questions. The one practice exam I took and failed reached the maximum of 130 questions before shutting off. I felt the computer shutting off at 60 questions was a good sign.

Me, right after the NCLEX, outside the testing facility, crossing my fingers that I passed!

The testing company does not share official results until 6-8 weeks after the exam. However, in California, nursing licenses post as little as two days after an NCLEX is taken and passed. License numbers are issued by the Board of Registered Nursing and listed publicly by the Department of Consumer Affairs. My friend shared she could search and find posted license numbers as soon as midnight, two days after an exam. I decided to look up my name on Saturday, September 26, shortly after midnight. My parents and husband were with me as I tried to search for my name. The video below is my recorded reaction.

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