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8 Steps to Building the Next Generation NCLEX

Oct 17, 2018, 11:55 AM
<45-sec. read> The National Council of the State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) is taking an analytical look at the NCLEX to determine what changes are necessary to assess student nurses’ clinical judgment. The organization’s goal? Create the Next Generation NCLEX.

8 Steps to Creating the Next Generation NCLEX v2

The revolutionary, new version of the test would use a complex mix of item types that require nursing students to prove their clinical reasoning skills — to ensure novice nurses are prepared to work in real-life situations without putting clients at risk.

What’s the plan for Next Generation NCLEX?

NCSBN’s expert team of psychometricians and researchers will follow 8 very specific, evidence-based steps:


Over the last few years, NCSBN developed a model comprised of 5 interacting layers that illustrate the complex process involved in clinical judgment. The model accounts for the context in which decisions must be made, including both environmental and individual factors.


Being able to measure candidates’ skills in the clinical judgment process requires more complicated tests than a simple multiple-response item can measure. The NCSBN, then, is creating and testing complex item types that will likely require multidimensional scoring that gives partial credit based on how students answer — and could even penalize them for answers that show a lack of clinical judgment skills that could endanger clients’ health.


Students, nurses and educators are helping review new NCLEX item types and providing feedback to NCSBN. Part of their review process focuses on ensuring the content of item prototypes represents real-life clinical judgment scenarios that nursing students will face after graduation.


NCSBN has added a "Special Research Section" to the NCLEX-RN that includes new item types. Upon completion of their licensure exam, select students have the chance to voluntarily answer the questions. Their responses do not impact their NCLEX scores but do provide impactful insight on whether the questions provide meaningful information.


Psychometricians have already received tens of thousands of results from the “Special Research Section” on the NCLEX. Ongoing analysis of this data will help them ascertain which items accurately measure clinical judgment and nursing competence.


In about mid-2019, NCSBN expects to have enough information to determine whether it will continue moving forward with developing the Next Generation NCLEX. At that point, it will consider what types of technology may be needed to support the complex item types necessary to test clinical judgment in a new version of the exam and, thus, begin construction.


As with any rigorous examination, multiple evaluations will be necessary to compare test questions. NCSBN will be scrutinizing every item type to ensure only those providing the highest accuracy in measurement results are included on NCLEX-RN.


NCSBN expects that an operational phase of testing and building item types will take 3-4 years. Assuming the organization makes a positive decision to move forward in mid-2019, then a launch date of 2022-2023 is the soonest that it expects to release Next Generation NCLEX-RN.

Provide feedback about the Next Generation NCLEX to the National Council of the State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) at:

  • Mail: 111 East Wacker Drive, Suite 2900, Chicago, IL 60601-4277
  • Phone: 312.525.3600
  • International phone: 011 1 312 525 3600
  • Fax: 312.279.1032
  • Email: [email protected]
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