About the Canadian NCLEX

All candidates wishing to apply for nursing licensure in Canada must take and pass the NCLEX exam. The NCXLEX exam is designed to evaluate a candidate’s basic knowledge to ensure they have the professional ability to work in healthcare facilities such as hospitals or care homes. The NCLEX is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).

Eligibility for the Canadian NCLEX Exam

To be eligible for the test, you must complete an accredited nursing program.

The NCSBN administers two types of NCLEX exams.

NCLEX-PN:  nurses start out as practical or vocational nurses (LPNs/LVNs). This is licensed nursing’s entry-level.

NCLEX-RN: This test is available for registered nurses who have taken advanced training.

Before you register for the NCLEX exam, you will require the following;

  • A bachelor’s degree in nursing
  • Proof of Authorization to Test (ATT)
  • You must register with Pearson Vue
  • Required application fees

How to Register for the Canadian NCLEX Exam

Here are the steps to apply for and register for the exam.

Step 1: Apply to the Nursing Regulatory Board (NRB)

First, apply to the regional or provincial board of nursing in the region you wish to practice nursing.

Step 2: Register with Pearson VUE

After confirming with the board of nursing that you have satisfied all regional requirements, next register and pay the NCLEX registration fees with Pearson VUE.

Step 3: Get the Authorization to Test

After registration, and assuming you are eligible, Pearson VUE will give you an Authorization to Test (ATT) document. Once issued, you must take the test within 90 days. The ATT has no extensions, so if you miss the deadline are required to re-register and pay. Your ATT will have your identity, validity date, and authorization number.

Step 4: Schedule your Exam

Scheduling the date, time, and location for the exam is the final step. The NCLEX exam is taken at a certified exam center where an appointment can be set up online or over the phone. Details such as your appointment date, time, and directions to the testing center will be sent to you via email.

Step 5: On exam Day

Candidates are required to report 30 minutes before the start of the exam and must have their ATT and an approved identification document.

NCLEX Test Format


The NCLEX exam framework is designed with the theme, “Meeting Client Needs.” The exam has four main categories and eight subcategories. Most nursing programs are modeled in a manner where learners go through separate surgical, obstetric, medical, psychiatric, and pediatric classes. The NCLEX exam integrates these categories into a test that is taken in a single sitting.

Types of Questions on the NCLEX-RN

The NCLEX is a four-choice multiple-choice exam, also with alternate question types. Alternate question types include hot spots, drag-and-drop, multiple responses, exhibit, and fill in the blank.

Taking the NCLEX CAT

Here, CAT is an acronym standing for “computer adaptive test,” a form of testing, where each question is based on your response to the previous question. Depending on your skills and competency, the CAT works to ensure the questions are not “too hard” or “too easy.”

The test starts with relatively easy questions that is probably below your level of competency. If you give a correct answer, the computer selects a slightly tougher question. If your answer is incorrect, the computer will respond with a slightly easier question. As this process continues through the test, the program can accurately determine a candidate’s competency level.  More on Computer Adaptive Tests

Safe and Effective Care Environment

This Client Needs category tests concepts of Management of Care and Safety and Infection Control:

Management of Care: This subcategory has 17 to 23 percent of questions including:

  • advanced directives
  • confidentiality
  • advocacy
  • the concept of management
  • delegation
  • ethics
  • supervision
  • legal responsibility
  • continuity of care
  • referrals
  • client rights
  • quality improvement
  • establishing priorities

Safety and Infection Control

This subcategory has 9 – 15 percent of the question including:

  • Error prevention
  • standard precautions
  • accident prevention
  • use of restrains
  • surgical asepsis  – AEPSIS Practice Questions
  • hazardous materials

Health Promotion and Maintenance

This subcategory has 6 to 12 percent of the exam, with questions including:

  • disease prevention
  • self-care
  • the aging process
  • health screening
  • developmental stages
  • lifestyle choices newborn care
  • high-risk behaviors
  • physical assessment techniques

Taking Vital Signs Practice

Psychosocial Integrity

This subcategory has 6 – 12 percent of the exam, with questions including:

  • mental health concepts
  • coping mechanisms
  • stress management
  • chemical dependency
  • family dynamics
  • stress management
  • spiritual influence on health
  • end-of-life care
  • grief and loss
  • sensory alterations.

Pharmacological and parenteral therapies

Questions in this subcategory cover 12-18% of the exam, including:

  • laboratory values
  • therapeutic procedures
  • diagnostic tests

Surgical, Diagnostic & Medical procedures practice

Physiological adaptation

Questions in this subcategory cover 11 – 17 percent of the exam, including:

  • medical emergencies
  • electrolyte imbalances
  • body systems
  • unexpected responses to therapies
  • hemodynamics
  • pathophysiology

How the Canadian NCLEX Exam is Scored

The NCLEX exam is designed to be flexible as it tasks a candidate with answering a minimum of 75 questions and a maximum of 145 in five hours. The exam utilizes computerized adaptive testing which ensures a balance between easy and difficult questions to avoid skewed results. It is common for candidates to leave the exam center feeling the exam was challenging, as it is designed to challenge the candidate by increasing the difficulty of the exam when they answer questions correctly.

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Date Published: Saturday, May 28th, 2022
Date Modified: Tuesday, May 31st, 2022