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What is the Difference Between the NCLEX RN and the NCLEX PN?

Lilianna Parker

What is the Difference Between the NCLEX RN and the NCLEX PN?

difference between NCLEX exams

Fabiah Blog is supported by Fabiah.com, where you can purchase affordable, comprehensive malpractice insurance for nurses and healthcare professionals. If you are not already insured, you are uncertain about purchasing a personal policy, or would simply like to learn more about personal medical malpractice insurance, then please read this article. Now, here”s the difference between the NCLEX RN and the NCLEX PN. 

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There are many reasons why an individual may be wondering about what the difference between the NCLEX PN and RN tests are. However, new nurses considering the differences between being an RN or LPN are possibly the most inclined to wonder. After all, you have to take at least one of these tests to become a nurse, and you probably want to know if they are radically different or if they are similar. Here is the difference between the NCLEX RN and the NCLEX PN exams. 

The Fundamental Differences Between the NCLEXs

The Fundamental Differences Between the NCLEXs

The first and possibly most obvious difference is who the tests are for. The NCLEX RN has been created for aspiring RNs, and the NCLEX PN has been created for aspiring LPNs. The next differences involve the differences  between the two nurse positions. For example, LPNs collect data about patients and only delegate to UAPs. On the other hand, RNs assess patients and they can delegate to both UAPs and LPNs. As a result the wording and content on both tests slightly alter to accommodate this. In addition, the NCLEX RN is the only test that has questions on topics such as blood, IV therapy, and TPN therapy. 

Are The Number of Questions on Each Exam Different? 

Are The Number of Questions on Each Exam Different?

Yes, the number of questions on the NCLEX RN and the NCLEX PN differ slightly. On the NCLEX RN you have the possibility of having to answer between 75 and 265 questions depending on the test taker. Meanwhile, on the NCLEX PN exam you may answer between 85 and 205 questions. Therefore, there is a small difference with the potential of the NCLEX RN having more or less questions depending on the test taker. This is due to their wider question amount range. 

Is The Content on Each NCLEX Different?

Is The Content on Each NCLEX Different?

The majority of content on both exams are pretty much the same. However, there are a few minor differences. The first is that wording on the two tests are different based on the differences in nature of the RN and LPN positions. For example, RNs are the only one out of the two that “assess patients”. In addition to this there are some minor changes entitled to sections depending on which test you take. However, the majority of the content in these sections is generally the same. 

The major content that is left out of the NCLEX PN and is included in the NCLEX RN are system specific assessments, hemodynamics, and illness management. In addition to this, the NCLEX RN is the only exam that involves questions on blood, IVs, and TPNs. Other than these topics, the two tests are very comparable and have extremely similar content. 

Do You Need to Study Differently Depending on Which NCLEX You Take?

Do you need to study differently depending on which NCLEX you take?

There are no differences in strategy that is recommended for studying for either NCLEX exam. The content of both exams are mostly the same. Of course, if you are planning on taking the NCLEX PN then you do not have to study the few topics that will not be on your exam. For example, LPNs do not need to worry about studying topics such as blood and IVs. If you are interested in NCLEX study tips, you may be interested in our previous article about that here

The Main Takeaway 

NCLEX test differences main takeaway

The main takeaway from all of this is that there are small differences between the NCLEX RN and the NCLEX PN. There is slightly different content due to the differences in nature between RN and LPN job titles. These differences in content include topics like blood, IV and TPN therapy, hemodynamics, illness management, and system specific assessments.

Otherwise the differences between the two tests are minor and only include trivial things like question wording and altered section titles. As a result the two exams are very comparable and require the same amount of studying. Of course, this excludes the topics that are only included in the NCLEX RN for NCLEX PN test takers. Regardless of which test you have to take, passing the NCLEX is an amazing achievement. Both exams also require a lot of work. Good luck if you are planning to take this exam soon, and congratulations if you have passed this test already.