What to Know About Next Generation NCLEX®

Changes are imminent for the NCLEX®, and this has nursing programs and nursing students alike scrambling to make sure they are adequately prepared for a significantly different test. 

There is no doubt that the Next Generation NCLEX (NGN) is the buzz of the nursing community right now, but, for many, it seems there are more questions than answers.

Whether you are apprehensive or excited, it is important to know the how, what, when, where, and why of Next Generation NCLEX. Let’s look at the answers to these questions based on the current information the NCSBN has made available.

Why is the NCLEX changing?

Simply put, the purpose of the NGN is to ask better questions. 

In 2013-2014, the NCSBN did an analysis of the knowledge and skills needed in modern nursing. This analysis (NCSBN Strategic Practice Analysis), along with accompanying research, revealed an increasing minimal level of knowledge and skill required to practice as a generalist nurse.

As technology expands and patients experience more acute and compounding illnesses, healthcare is growing increasingly more complex. As a result, a significant percentage of medical errors are occurring due to poor clinical decisions.

This is the impetus for Next Generation NCLEX—to ask better questions meant to determine learners’ clinical judgment in order to provide a better method of assessing this critical nursing skill.

What is changing about the NCLEX?

Next Generation NCLEX is not a complete overhaul of the NCLEX. The new material will utilize case studies and a variety of question types that focus on assessing clinical judgment, but the NCSBN still plans to test using a majority of their current content. 

The predominant way the NGN will assess clinical judgment is through unfolding case scenarios.

Each case study is associated with six items that test students’ cognitive processes that lead to clinical decision making. The exact number of scenarios each test taker will encounter is still to be determined, but will potentially be between 2–5 cases per exam.

The NCSBN has approved five new item types for these case studies that can be used to measure nursing clinical judgment. According to the Fall 2019 NGN Newsletter, those types are:

  1. Extended Multiple Response
    1. Similar to previous SATA questions
    2. More options
    3. Partial credit scoring
  2. Extended Drag and Drop
    1. Similar to existing drag and drop
    2. All options may or may not be used
    3. May be more options than needed
  3. Cloze (Drop-Down)
    1. Choose from a drop-down list of options
    2. May be more than one drop-down list per item
    3. Lists may appear within sentences, charts, or tables.
  4. Enhanced Hot Spot (Highlighting)
    1. Correct options are chosen by highlighting pre-defined words or phrases
    2. May be within a medical record (eg, notes, history, labs, medical record)
  5. Matrix/Grid
    1. May be 1 or more correct options per row (single best vs. SATA)

With these changes on the horizon, it is more important than ever to stay abreast of the current trends in nursing education and begin preparing your program now for Next Generation NCLEX.

When will the next generation NCLEX launch?

There has been much speculation about when this new version of the NCLEX will be administered; however, the NCSBN has given no launch date as of yet. That being said, they have clearly stated that NGN will not happen before 2023. 

2023 is the earliest year we will see the Next Generation NCLEX.

How can I begin adjusting my program in advance of the next generation NCLEX?

You don’t have to wait until NGN launches to make adjustments in your nursing program; you can start now.

An important first step is to familiarize yourself with the NCSBN Clinical Judgement Measurement Model (NCJMM) as you administer your curriculum in the years to come.

The NCJMM is an assessment and testing framework that measures a candidate’s clinical judgment abilities. This framework is designed to work alongside the Nursing Process and other nursing theories/models to measure an NCLEX candidate’s competence in clinical judgment.

Consulting NCJMM will help you guide content creation and align evaluation methods with clinical judgment in the style of the Next Generation NCLEX.

You can read more about preparing your program for the Next Generation NCLEX here.

Where can I find resources to prepare me for next generation NCLEX success?

Look for online learning platforms, like UWorld Nursing, that accompany their practice questions with content-rich rationales, paired with vivid illustrations, to develop clinical judgment.

Any resource you use should be doing these four things:

  1. Actively producing content utilizing the NCSBN Clinical Judgment Measurement Model and approved item types to guide development
  2. Building an in-house repository of unfolding case scenarios around which to build sets of practice NGN questions
  3. Continuing to regularly update their question banks in line with the most recent detailed test plans
  4. Staying up to date with the latest NCSBN NGN updates through the NGN newsletter, conference presentations, and NCSBN webinars

For more information on resources that will have you, or your program, best prepared for the Next Generation NCLEX, learn how UWorld Nursing can help. Over 700,000 nursing students have chosen us for their NCLEX prep since our launch in 2015. Come see why your students have chosen us in the past and why we are the preferred option to help you prepare the next generation of nurses.

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