is nclex pn easier than nclex rn

Is NCLEX PN Easier Than NCLEX RN? [2024 Fully Explained]

When deciding between NCLEX PN and NCLEX RN, consider your personal and professional aspirations. Learn more about is NCLEX PN easier than NCLEX RN here.

Updated at May 15, 2022

It is now time to prepare for your National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). You have a strong foundation of nursing knowledge and clinical abilities. The NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN are standardized examinations that determine if you are prepared to begin your nursing career. Any student wishing to obtain a nursing license must first pass the NCLEX test. Whether you want to be a practical nurse (PN) or a registered nurse (RN), you must take and pass the NCLEX. However, the examination for these two professional paths differs significantly. Let us investigate these distinctions and is NCLEX PN easier than NCLEX RN through this article.

Let’s get started with our free NCLEX PN practice test to pass the actual exam on your first attempt.



The National Council of State Boards of Nursing distributes information on who passes and who does not pass the NCLEX. On the website, you can examine how students educated in the United States compare to students educated in other countries, as well as how first-timers compare to repeat test-takers. Alternatively, you can just compare all of the students who took the test in a particular year.

Consider the following prior passing rates:

2015 (through June):

  • NCLEX-RN: 73 percent passed
  • NCLEX-PN: 67 percent passed


  • NCLEX-RN: 69 percent passed
  • NCLEX-PN: 70 percent passed


  • NCLEX-RN: 71 percent passed
  • NCLEX-PN: 74 percent passed

As you can see, the statistics for both the NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN are quite close, but they change from year to year. If one exam was easier than the other, you may anticipate the easier one to have a larger pass percentage.

What Is NCLEX Test?

is nclex pn easier than nclex rn

The NCLEX exam is a timed, computerized adaptive examination that lasts 5 hours (CAT). It is intended to assess the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for entry-level nursing care. To boost exam efficiency, the NCSBN modified the examination design in October 2020.

Each exam is distinct because questions are tailored to the test taker. When the examinee incorrectly marks a question, the next item will be simpler. When the correct answer is selected, the next step will be more difficult. Multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, and drag-and-drop items are used in questions.

To get a nursing license, graduates must pass one version of the NCLEX (RN or PN) after finishing a nursing program.

What Exactly Is The NCLEX-RN Exam?

The National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) is the exam that nursing graduates must pass in order to become a Registered Nurse. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing provides it (NCSBN).

Educational Prerequisites

You must have the following qualifications to take the NCLEX-RN: A high school diploma or equivalent is required, as is an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

The NCLEX-RN is more difficult to pass and needs more study. Most ADN programs last 18-24 months, whereas BSN programs last 3-4 years.

What Exactly Is The NCLEX-PN Exam?

The Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) test is administered by the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) (LVN). LVNs and LPNs are the same things, however, they have distinct state-specific designations.

Educational Prerequisites

You must have the following qualifications to take the NCLEX-PN:

  • A high school diploma or its equivalent is required.
  • Certificate of completion from a board-approved practical nursing program

The majority of practical nursing certificate programs involve one year of study.

What Is The Format Of The NCLEX Questions?

Client Needs have been divided into four areas since 2001: Safe and Effective Care Environment; Health Promotion and Maintenance; Psychosocial Integrity; and Physiological Integrity. For a total of eight areas of Client Needs, both the NCLEX PN vs NCLEX RN offer subcategories under two primary categories (Safe and Effective Care Environment and Physiological Integrity). Each category accounts for a specific percentage of the content on the exams. These percentages have been replicated in our practice examinations by Nurse Plus.


Safe and Effective Care Environment 

  • Management of Care 17-23% 
  • Safety and Infection Control 9-15% 

Health Promotion and Maintenance 6-12% 

Psychological Integrity 6-12% 

Physiological Integrity 

  • Basic Care and Comfort 6-12% 
  • Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies 12-18% 
  • Reduction of Risk Potential 9-15% 
  • Physiological Adaptation 11-17%


Safe and Effective Care Environment 

  • Coordination of Care 18-24% 
  • Safety and Infection Control 10-16% 

Health Promotion and Maintenance 6-12% 

Psychosocial Integrity 9-15% 

  • Basic Care and Comfort 7-13% 
  • Pharmacological Therapies 10-16% 
  • Reduction of Risk Potential 9-15%

Physiological Integrity 

  • Physiological Adaptation 7-13% 

What Is The Difference Between NCLEX RN And PN?

You’re undoubtedly worried about the kind of questions on the NCLEX. We have some good news: all of the questions have been created with the ideas you learned during your schooling and clinical training in mind. The content is similar for the NCLEX-PN and the NCLEX-RN; however, the NCLEX-RN focuses on the management of care and supervision of others, while assisting RNs and working under supervision is more central to the NCLEX-PN.

The NCLEX-PN tests that the candidate demonstrates knowledge in these two bodies of knowledge: Social Sciences (psychology and sociology) and Biological Sciences (anatomy, physiology, biology, and microbiology). 

Furthermore, clinical problem solving is tested in the following areas: Caring, Communication and Documentation, Teaching and Learning, and Culture and Spirituality. When you prepare for the NCLEX and take the Nurse Plus practice exams, you’ll be using what you’ve previously learned:

  • Biological Sciences: anatomy, physiology, biology, and microbiology 
  • Social Sciences: psychology and sociology 
  • Nursing Process 
  • Communication Skills 
  • Culture and Spirituality 
  • Teaching and Learning 
  • Caring 

Content for RN candidates will also incorporate knowledge and concepts from:

  • Physical Sciences (chemistry and physics) 
  • Communication and Documentation 

Each NCLEX question, regardless of category, must match four criteria:

  • It must be correct. 
  • It must be up to date with contemporary nursing practice. 
  • It must be something that a new nurse might learn. 
  • It must be linked to a test plan category.

Differences Between NCLEX RN and PN Roles

is nclex pn easier than nclex rn

There are a few things you should know to better understand the NCLEX PN vs. RN test subject differences. Because the objective of the RN is to be a leader, RN applicants are assessed on patient care management. An RN creates care plans, distributes work, and oversees patients. Because an LPN works under the direction of an RN or advanced practitioner, the NCLEX-PN focuses on coordinated care rather than management.

Furthermore, the NCLEX-RN includes questions about intravenous medicine and delivering blood or blood products. These questions are not on the NCLEX-PN since LPNs do not administer parenteral treatments.

What Are The Requirements For Taking The NCLEX-PN or NCLEX-RN?

Before taking the NCLEX PN or RN test, certain educational criteria must be satisfied.

Those with a diploma in licensed practical nursing or licensed vocational nursing may take the NCLEX-PN.

Graduates of a diploma program for RN licensing or a nursing program leading to an Associate Degree of Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing may take the NCLEX-RN (BSN).

NCLEX PN vs RN: Which Should You Take?

If you’re already in nursing school, you’ll know whether you should take the NCLEX PN or RN based on your program. Practical nursing students take the NCLEX-PN, whereas associate and bachelor’s degree students take the NCLEX-RN.

LPNs that desire to develop in their careers should participate in an LPN to RN program. These nurses would subsequently sit for the NCLEX-RN exam.

Finally, PN students are not eligible to take the NCLEX-RN. Similarly, ADN and BSN students do not take the NCLEX-PN.

Which Is Better for Your Career Objectives? NCLEX PN Or RN?

Because of the distinction between the NCLEX PN and RN licensures, each is ideally suited for certain tasks and professional objectives. Let us start with the NCLEX-PN.

NCLEX-PN and Your Professional Objectives

LPNs work with a wide range of medical experts in a number of situations. LPNs can even supervise nursing assistants (CNAs), but they must report to RNs and advanced practitioners like an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), physician assistant (PA), or physician. This one-of-a-kind position is well-suited to a range of dynamic nursing settings.

LPNs work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Doctor’s office

  • Long-term care institution or nursing home

  • Rehabilitation center

  • Health care at home

LPNs can also gain certification in certain areas to earn the designation LPN-C. Wound certification, gerontology certification, and IV certification are examples of these disciplines. The credentials frequently allow an LPN to conduct operations that would otherwise be outside the scope of their nursing profession. Remember that LPNs can return to school to become RNs if they so want.

An LPN’s hourly wage is $20.28, and the median yearly compensation is $43,391. Because nurses in many locations work all hours of the day, on weekends, and on holidays, they may be able to get additional pay on top of their base wage for these nonpreferred hours if their hospital provides it.

NCLEX-RN and Your Professional Objectives

RNs have additional job options, as well as more prospects for advancement. An entry-level registered nurse can pursue a master’s or doctorate degree. Many registered nurses go to management roles or branch out into other fields where their specialized expertise is valuable. RNs work under physicians, giving them an important role in the healthcare industry.

RNs work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Schools
  • Hospitals and surgical facilities
  • Outpatient clinics and community health clinics

An RN with extra certificates or degrees can work in a variety of areas, including:

  • Flight attendant
  • Registered nurse anesthetist certification
  • Certified midwifery nurse
  • APRN
  • Nursing instructor

RNs can also obtain multiple certificates to acquire new titles based on the certification they obtain. Certification in oncology or pediatrics are two examples. These credentials raise their pay and provide them with more employment alternatives.

An RN’s average hourly wage is $29.66, and the median annual compensation is $64,240. RNs, like LPNs, are eligible for pay differentials if that is a benefit provided by their facility.

Who Is In Charge of The NCLEX Process?

is nclex pn easier than nclex rn

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) is an independent, non-profit organization that regulates nurses. It is distinct from the Council on State Boards of Nursing of the American Nurses Association (ANA), which represents professional nurses.

Since 1978, the NCSBN has been comprised of nursing boards and other nursing regulatory bodies responsible with “providing regulatory excellence for public health, safety, and welfare, and safeguarding the public by ensuring safe and competent nursing care is given by licensed nurses.” Members come from all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

With this responsibility in mind, the NCSBN creates “psychometrically sound and legally defensible nurse licensing tests commensurate with contemporary nursing practice.” A detailed practice analysis evaluation is undertaken every three years to verify that the NCLEX is congruent with current entry-level nursing practice. For the 2019 NCLEX-RN, for example, guidelines include questions regarding caring for clients facing sorrow and loss, handling and delivering high-risk drugs, and caring for clients during procedures requiring moderate sedation.

The approach produces a list of topics that a new graduate or entry-level nurse should be familiar with in order to be regarded minimally competent. The NCLEX-RN cycle resulted in a new exam, which went into effect on April 1, 2019. The revised NCLEX-PN exam went into effect on April 1, 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many questions are there on each test?

  • The NCLEX-PN is a computerized adaptive test with a flexible duration that can range from 85 to 205 items. Twenty-five of these items are pretest items that are not scored.
  • The NCLEX-RN is a computerized adaptive test with a flexible duration that can range from 75 to 265 items. 15 of these items are non-scored pretest items.

How many times can I take the NCLEX test?

When it comes to NCLEX testing, most states will have certain restrictions. Some states limit the number of times you may take the NCLEX, while others limit the time period in which you must pass the NCLEX, and still, others have both.

Can I take the NCLEX in different language?

No, the NCLEX test is exclusively administered in English. The NCLEX is always conducted in English, regardless of the test center location or the Nursing Board.

How to prepare for the PN or RN exam differently?

Generally, each test covers the same material. The key distinction is that LPNs can avoid studying blood, TPN, and IVs. To be safe, continue to study those topics for the PN test.

How much does the NCLEX examination cost?

If you want to get a license in the United States, you may take either of the NCLEX examinations for $200. When you register, you will pay PearsonVue with a credit or debit card. Your state’s board of nursing may need additional registration fees depending on where you live.

The Takeaway

It’s time to apply to your state nursing board now that you’re ready to take the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN. With your application, you must include proof of schooling. When the state board approves your application, they will issue you an Authorization to Test (ATT), which will allow you to schedule your test. When you pass the NCLEX, all of your exam preparation and hard work will have paid off. Then it’ll be time to congratulate yourself and start hunting for your ideal career Hope that this information about is NCLEX PN easier than NCLEX RN and will help you to choose which test to take. We are pleased that you have chosen this rewarding profession and wish you luck!