A nursing student must pass the National Council Licensure Examination before she can receive her license and begin nursing. Two versions of the exam exist: NCLEX-RN for registered nurse candidates and NCLEX-PN for practical nurse candidates. The NCLEX is a computer-adapted, multiple-choice test that assesses the student's ability to address a patient's health needs along with practical applications. Both tests consist of four main areas: health promotion and maintenance, safe effective care environment, physiological integrity and psychosocial integrity.

Health Promotion and Maintenance

Health promotion and maintenance focuses on assisting patients in making healthy choices that lead to a healthier body and lifestyle. This section comprises approximately 6 to 12 percent of the test. Subject areas include health and wellness, disease prevention, developmental stages and screenings, and lifestyle choices. A sample question could be: A child with hemophilia A has slipped on the ice and bumped her knee. What should the nurse prepare to administer?

Safe Effective Care Environment

Safe effective care environment focuses on management of coordinated care, safety and infection control. This section makes up approximately 21 to 33 percent of the test. Subject areas include ethical practice, advocacy, informed consent, management concepts, legal rights and responsibilities. A sample question could be: When prioritizing a patient’s care plan based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, what would be the nurse's first priority?

Physiological Integrity

Physiological integrity focuses on the fundamental role of a nurse: self care, vital signs, dosage calculation, personal hygiene and nutrition. This section accounts for approximately 38 to 62 percent of the test items. Subject areas include pharmacological therapies, reduction of potential risk, physiological adaptation, basic care and comfort. A sample question might be: What are the essential fatty acids that must be derived from a person's diet?

Psychosocial Integrity

Psychosocial Integrity focuses on the the psychological issues when dealing with patients and the communication of information. This section comprises approximately 6 to 12 percent of the test. Subject areas may include stress management, cultural diversity, mental health and coping strategies. A sample question might be: A woman in the emergency room states that she has been raped. Which statement best describes the nurse’s responsibility regarding written consent?