How Many Questions Are on the NCLEX Exam?


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Owning a proper exam study plan can be the difference between an aced exam and a below-average performance. The ideal study guides are dynamic! And here is one you can create for the NCLEX exam based on the questions and topics covered in the exam.

NCLEX exams have around 85 to 150 questions. It includes case studies and unscored questions. There is no fixed number of questions for each participant. The total number of questions in the exam depends on individual performance.

In this article, I will help you craft the best study plan for the NCLEX exam by covering the type of questions in the NCLEX exam. 

What’s the Number of Scored Questions on the NCLEX Exam?

Before we get to the questions, I’m sure you know there are two types of NCLEX exams: the NCLEX RN exam and the NCLEX PN exam. 

The NCLEX RN format is the final test before you acquire your licensing and become a Registered Nurse (RN). And the NCLEX PN exam format is for Licenced Vocational Nursing (LVN) or Licenced Practical Nursing (LPN) practice.    

The content plan and the number of questions you will be tested on vary based on the exam and your skill in answering exam questions. If you’re preparing for the NCLEX exam, here is the overview of the exam format and its questions:


So how many questions are on the NCLEX RN exam? Just putting out a disclaimer to make things easier: it depends! In general, you are expected to answer at least 85 questions. In it, there are three case studies to test your clinical judgment skills and unscored questions.  

But based on your proficiency with the exam topics, you can expect to be tested with up to 150 questions. And all of this happens within five hours, the official time limit for the exam. 

Questions are based on the client’s needs within the healthcare industry (your employer or the patient). Here is what the content plan for the NCLEX RN looks like:

Exam Syllabus for the NCLEX RN 

The NCLEX board organizes the exam content into four main categories. And here is a quick overview of things you can expect in the exam as questions:

Safe and Effective Care Environment

This section is the first topic of the exam, and it’s subdivided into two additional categories. They are:

  • Management of care: 15 to 21 percent 
  • Safe and infection control: 10 to 16 percent 

You can expect questions based on the content covered percentage of the exam. For example, for this first major section, its subsection “Management of care” alone could take up to 21 percent of the overall question from the 85 to 150 questions. 

In this section, most questions are tailored towards achieving perfect healthcare delivery outcomes for clients and yourself as a registered nurse. Here is an example question from this major section, so you get the idea:

“Assess the client for allergies and intervene as needed.”

Health Promotion and Maintenance

It’s the second major section of the exam; it has no subdivisions and takes up to 6 to 12 percent of the overall 85 to 150 questions of the exam.   

With this section, you can expect questions on the detection and prevention of health alignments and maintaining optimal conditions for nursing care. Here is another example question from this section:

“Educate clients about prevention and treatment of high risk health behaviors.”

Psychosocial Integrity

The third major section of the exam carries around 6 to 12 percent of 85 to 150 questions of the exam. That mainly focuses on the emotional and mental well-being of the patients. And here is an example of a question from this section:

“Provide end-of-life care and education to clients.”

Physiological Integrity

The final major section of the exam is one of the most important as it has many subdivisions and carries a lot of marks as a percentage. Here are the subdivisions and their percentage breakup:

  • Basic care and comfort: 6 to 12 percent 
  • Pharmacological and parenteral therapies: 13 to 19 percent 
  • Reduction of risk potential: 9 to 15 percent 
  • Physiological adaptation: 11 to 17 percent  

Although it’s unlikely, this part of the exam alone has the potential to make up over 50 percent of all 85 to 150 questions. Here is an example question from this major section:

“Maintain optimal temperature for the client.”


The number of questions you’re expected to answer for NCLEX PN is the same as for the NCLEX RN. That is, it ranges from 85 to 150 questions. And the time limit for the exam is also set to five hours. There is a lot of parallel between the two exam formats, and below I will explain their differences and commonalities.

The NCLEX PN and RN exam syllabus is the same except for one big exception on the first major content section. Significant differences start showing up within the percentages in which some topics get special attention in the NCLEX PN exam. 

Exam Syllabus for the NCLEX PN

Identical to the NCLEX RN exam, four main categories make up the content plan. They are: 

Safe and Effective Care Environment

This first major section needs a clear explanation as this is where the NCLEX PN exam differs from the NCLEX RN exam. Within this major section, there are two subsections. Here is how they will be covered in the exam:

  • Coordinated care (unique to the PN exam): 18 to 24 percent
  • Safety and infection control: 10 to 16 percent   

The PN exam-specific content section “Coordinated care” deals specifically with LPN and LVN topics related to collaborative care with healthcare teams. And it makes up the biggest chunk of the exam. 

Other Differences

For the rest of the three major content sections, there are some differences in the percentage allocated within the topic covered for the exam, but the content topics remain the same as the NCLEX RN exam. I’m covering it here:

  • Health Promotion and Maintenance: 6 to 12 percent 
  • Psychosocial Integrity: 9 to 15 percent
  • Physiological Integrity
    • Basic care and comfort: 7 to 13 percent 
    • Pharmacological and parenteral therapies: 10 to 16 percent 
    • Reduction of risk potential: 9 to 15 percent 
    • Physiological adaptation: 7 to 13 percent 

Here is the official document from the NCLEX website RN and PN. Effective: April 2023.

Wrapping Up

Exams can be stressful! But with the right study plan and preparation, you can ace any exam. There are 85 to 150 questions in the NCLEX exams. Each with their case studies and unscored questions. Your performance determines the number of questions you will take in the exam.  

And the number varies for each person! If you’re stressed about the NCLEX exam, fear not! Use our free resources, such as our simulated tests to monitor your performance when studying. I’m also inviting you to check out our comprehensive study guide that guarantees an over 97 percent pass rate on the first try.