California Registered Nurse License Exam

To obtain licensure in California, Registered Nurses are required to take a nursing exam known as the National Council for Licensure Exam-RN (NCLEX-RN) which ensures the candidate is prepared for entry level nursing practice.

Need for a Registered Nurse License: A Registered Nurse is required to be licensed to practice nursing in the state of California.

Who Grants a Registered Nurse License: Licenses are granted by the California Board of Registered Nursing.

Qualifications to receive a License: Applicants must graduate from an approved and accredited nursing program (diploma, associate, or baccalaureate degree) and pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Applicants must have completed the following pre-requisite coursework:
  • Communication skills, six semester or nine quarter units to include principals of
    • Oral communication
    • Written communication
    • Group communication
  • Related natural sciences, sixteen semester or twenty-four quarter units to include:
  • Anatomy with lab
    • Physiology with lab
    • Microbiology with lab
    • Behavioral sciences (Psychology)
    • Social sciences
Applying for State Licensure and the NCLEX-RN Exam: The application process consists of two parts which are completed together: 1) applying for California Licensure and 2) registering for the NCLEX-RN exam.
  1. First, complete and submit an Application for Licensure by Examination with the California Board of Nursing. The forms may be completed online and attached via the California Board of Nursing website online application system.
    1. You will be required to complete and submit fingerprints, according to the directions within the application.
    2. Request an official copy of your transcript from your nursing school to be sent in a sealed envelope to the California Board of Registered Nursing (unofficial and/or electronic copies are not accepted). The address is Board of Registered Nursing P.O. Box 944210 Sacramento, CA 94244-2100.
    3. Request your nursing school complete and submit the Individual Candidate Roster form.
  2. Second, the NCLEX exam is administered by Pearson VUE. You must register to take the NCLEX exam, in addition to applying for Licensure. Registration can be done online via the Pearson VUE website. Alternatively, you may call Pearson VUE NCLEX Candidate services (toll-free) at1.866.49NCLEX (1.866.496.2539), Monday-Friday, 7 am to 7 pm, Central Standard Time.
  3. Once the California Board of Registered Nursing provides clearance to Pearson VUE, you will receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) notice from Pearson VUE. This allows you to schedule your exam at a convenient Pearson VUE location, typically within 90 days from receipt of the ATT.
Fees: There are fees for both a California RN license and the NCLEX exam.

NCLEX-RN Exam Content: The NCLEX-RN exam is a computerized test which utilizes “adaptive testing.” This means that the computer will determine your level of competency throughout the exam and the number of questions will vary based upon your competency level. A minimum of 75 questions and a maximum of 265 questions are administered. At minimum, 60 questions will be scored and 15 questions will be practice questions. The test taker will not know which are scored and which are not. You will have a maximum of 6 hours to complete the exam.

There are two optional breaks after 2.5 and 3.5 hours, respectively.

There are four subject categories and several sub-categories for the NCLEX-RN exam. They are as follows:
  • Safe, effective care environment
    • Management of care
    • Safety and infection control
  • Psychosocial integrity
  • Physiological integrity
  • Health promotion and maintenance
    • Basic care and comfort
    • Pharmacologic and parenteral therapies
    • Reduction of risk potential
    • Physiological adaptation
The percentage of questions per subject area and difficulty levels will depend upon each individual candidate.

The NCLEX-RN results are pass/fail. Results from the NCLEX-RN exam are delivered by the respective Board of Nursing within 2-4 weeks from the exam date. If you do not pass the exam, you will receive a diagnostic profile which outlines your performance on the exam. You will need to retake the exam at a later date.

Who Administers the Exam: The NCLEX-RN exam is developed and approved by the National Council for State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). The test is administered at Pearson VUE testing locations.

License Renewal and Continuing Education Requirements: In order to renew your California nursing license, you must complete 30 contact hours of CE courses through board-approved providers within the past 2 years. Renewal may be completed online here.

______________________________________________________

For more information on licensing and exam prep, go to Tests.com's NCLEX-RN Test Guide.

And take Tests.com's free NCLEX-RN Practice Test.

For nursing exam preparation products and services, such as study guides, practice tests, flashcards and courses, go to Tests.com's 
NCLEX-RN listings.


Bookmark Page