The big Next Gen NCLEX change that everyone is talking about
What's the big deal regarding reference ranges on the Next Generation NCLEX?
Will the Next Generation NCLEX (NGN) include reference ranges?
This was one of the top questions asked of Jason Schwartz, Director of Outreach at the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), during the recent edition of “The ATI Talk.” The focus of the session was the NGN, and Schwartz focused primarily on a key aspect of the new version of the exam: the inclusion of 3 case studies that every candidate will answer.
As he walked the more than 1,300 attendees through a case study, he illustrated how it would move through the 6 cognitive functions that are outlined in the NCSBN’s Clinical Judgment Measurement Model. One of the example questions (referred to as item types in the testing profession) displayed reference ranges for several lab results.
THE NEXT GEN NCLEX REFLECTS THE REAL WORLD
Educators were caught off-guard in seeing the reference ranges. The current and previous versions of the NCLEX always required students to memorize this data; the NCLEX wanted to know that candidates could immediately recognize when a lab value was off in reviewing test results.
But that memorization will no longer be required.
The new version of the NCLEX will include reference ranges when referring to lab values.
“It’s a nice friendly change,” Schwartz said.
Schwarz explained that nurses in the real world no longer need to pull this information from memory; reference ranges are generally included when lab results are presented. And the NCSBN wants the new version of the NCLEX to more accurately reflect these changes in a nurse’s job.
“One of the things we’re doing [on the NGN],” Schwartz explained, “we’re trying to get much more real life.” And real-life nurses are presented with reference ranges when they review a client’s lab results. “Therefore,” Schwartz said, “ the exam will too.”
THE END OF ALL REFERENCE RANGES ON THE NCLEX
The next question from educators: Will all the questions on the Next Generation NCLEX also have reference ranges? Will knowledge questions also offer this information?
“We had to think a lot about that,” Schwartz said. “What we decided was, if we only provided [reference ranges] in the case study, then your graduates — when they got to a case study — would frantically write down all these reference ranges, because they might [think they would] need them later on in the test,” Jason explained. “That just seem[ed] silly to us.”
Therefore, the Next Gen NCLEX will always provide reference ranges — with 1 small exception.
“You could come to an item that says the nurse is working with the client who has a slightly elevated potassium level,” Schwartz illustrated. “Well, we may not tell you the level or the reference range,” he added. The exam will simply expect the candidate to have an understanding of what is meant by “slightly elevated potassium.”
“The point is,” he continued, “you don't need to memorize the reference ranges for the rest of the test. We just … crossed that off the list.”
DO YOU HAVE THOUGHTS ABOUT NO LONGER INCLUDING REFERENCE RANGES? SHARE THEM IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.