An LPN is a licensed practical nurse. In order to become a licensed practical nurse you must attend nursing classes at a community college or school of nursing. Classes typically last from nine to 18 months. Once you graduate from an LPN program you must take pass a state licensing exam in order to practice nursing. The state licensing exam is called the NCLEX-PN or National Counsel Licensure Exam-Practical Nurse. Passing the exam requires careful advanced preparation and study.

Exam Structure

All state boards of nursing require LPN candidates to pass the exam. The exam is given by computer at select locations throughout the year. Answers are in the form of multiple choice questions and the final grade is either a pass or fail. Candidates may take the exam more than once if they fail it. Questions focus on material that should have been covered in your undergraduate nursing classes. Candidates have up to five hours to complete the exam.

Material Covered

The NCLEX-PN covers the following subjects: health promotion and maintenance; safe effective care environment-coordinated care and safety and infection control; psychosocial integrity and physiological integrity-basic care and comfort, reduction of risk potential, pharmacological therapies, and physiological adaptation. The number of questions based on each subject covered in the exam varies. For example Safe and Effective Care Environment accounts for roughly 11 to 17 percent of the exam material. Safety and infection control should compose between 8 to 14 percent of exam questions. Health promotion and maintenances covers about 7 to 13 percent of the material on the exam. Psychosocial integrity is about 8 to 14 percent of the final material covered. Basic care and comfort should be touched upon by about 11 to 17 percent of the test. Pharmacological Therapies account for about 9 to 15 percent of the test. The rest of the test 10 to 16 percent, covers Reduction of Risk Potential and Physiological Adaptation.

Use Resources at Your Disposal

As a nursing student you should make use of all potential resources to help you prepare for the exam. Read all your notes from nursing school carefully. Look closely at material you do not understand. Find answers to potentially tricky questions by re-reading all textbooks. Start a study group to help you prepare for the exam. Members of the study group should meet at least twice a week and agree to take the exam on the same date if possible. Get a copy of the exam. Take at least one practice test in a quiet area free from distractions. Note all particular areas of weakness and work to shore them up before you take the test. Make sure that you have all paperwork prepared in advance to avoid problems on the day of the exam.