Massachusetts Registered Nurse License Exam

To obtain licensure in Massachusetts, 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 Massachusetts.

Who Grants a Registered Nurse License: Licenses are granted by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in 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.

Applying for State Licensure and the NCLEX-RN Exam: The application process consists of two parts which are completed together: 1) applying for Massachusetts Licensure and 2) registering for the NCLEX-RN exam.
  1. First, complete and submit an Application for Licensure by Examination with the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing. The application may be downloaded here and completed in ink.
    1. Your nursing school Director will need to complete the Certificate of Graduation form and affix the school seal. It should be sent with the completed application to: Professional Credential Services Attn: MA NursingP. O. Box 198788 Nashville, TN 37219
  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 Massachusetts Board of 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 Massachusetts 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: Massachusetts RN licenses require renewal every two years and can be completed online here. Continuing education requirements include 15 continuing education hours every two years.

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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.

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