School of Nursing Nursing Education
University of Northern Colorado
Type of Resources
Place of Publication
University of Northern Colorado
Numerous studies have examined the association between pre-admission and/or during nursing program variables and the outcome on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN®; National Council of State Boards of Nursing [NCSBN]; 2015) but very few studies have examined post-graduation variables. This study examined post-graduation variables associated with the outcome on the NCLEX-RN® examination. The purpose of this exploratory field study was twofold. The first aspect was to identify the benchmark score on a post-graduation test (the Kaplan RN Readiness Exam; Sanders, 2014) correlated with passing the NCLEX-RN® examination. The second aspect was to explore factors that the outliers (those candidates who met the benchmark score on the Kaplan RN Readiness Exam yet failed the NCLEX-RN® examination on the first attempt and those candidates who scored 4% or more below the benchmark on the Kaplan RN Readiness Exam and passed the NCLEX-RN® examination on the first attempt) identified as contributing to their outcome. The variables examined in this study were graduates’ gender, age, previous degree, first-generation college student, type of nursing program, end of program grade point average, amount of recommended NCLEX® (NCSBN, 2015) prep completed, the average score on the recommended NCLEX® preparation tests, the Kaplan RN Readiness (Sanders, 2014) exam score, outcome on the first attempt on the NCLEX-RN® examination, and factors candidates identified as contributing to their outcome on the NCLEX-RN® examination. The sample for the first phase of the study consisted of 284 pre-licensure baccalaureate nursing program graduates from a private, not-for-profit health sciences college in the Midwestern United States between May 2016 and May 2018. The sample for the second phase of the study consisted of seven participants from the first phase of the study. The findings of this study identified the Kaplan RN Readiness Exam (Sanders, 2014) as a test that accurately (with 95% confidence) predicted passing the NCLEX-RN® (NCSBN, 2015) examination. Yet, there were some outliers: those who met the benchmark Kaplan RN Readiness Exam score and yet failed the NCLEX-RN® examination and those who scored 4% or more below the Kaplan RN Readiness Exam and passed the NCLEX-RN® examination. The common factor for these outliers was anxiety. All the outliers reported anxiety leading up to the NCLEX-RN® examination and some identified the “check in” process for the licensure examination increased their anxiety. However, those who had scored 4% or more below the benchmark on the Kaplan RN Readiness Exam reported their anxiety subsided while taking the NCLEX-RN® examination and they were able to stay focused while taking the licensure examination. Whereas, those who had met the benchmark score on the Kaplan RN Readiness Exam reported they continued to have anxiety and were distracted by either movement or noises in the testing environment or by thoughts in their head while taking the NCLEX-RN® examination, which prevented them from being able to focus while taking the licensure examination. This study provided rich data about determining post-graduation readiness to take the NCLEX-RN® (NCSBN, 2015) examination. Very little publicly available published data exist regarding post-graduation factors associated with NCLEX® success so much of the data were new and enlightening with implications for both nurse educators and graduates. The results of this study could lay the groundwork for further research on preparing nursing graduates to be successful on their first-attempt on the NCLEX-RN® examination.
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