NCLEX Exam Duration: How Long is the Test?

NCLEX Exam Duration: How Long is the Test?

As you prepare to complete the NCLEX-RN exam, it is important for you to be aware of test duration. You will need to be cognizant of how long you have to complete the entire exam.

NCLEX-RN Testing Length

NCLEX-RN test takers are allotted a total of six hours to complete the exam which also includes a short tutorial, two pre-programmed optional breaks and any unscheduled breaks you require. The first scheduled break will occur two hours from the initial start time.

Time per NCLEX-RN Question

When you are preparing to take the NCLEX-RN, you should practice answering questions and budgeting your time adequately. Considering the total time allotted to complete the NCLEX-RN exam, you should pace yourself to spend one minute per question. Typically nursing schools will help prepare you by allowing 60 to 90 seconds per question on tests and exams throughout your training. You do not want to rush, and obviously questions which require calculations may require additional time, but you should keep the one minute per question in mind. If you are struggling on one question, choose the best answer and continue to move forward. Spending to much time on one question may force you to rush through others as the time runs out. The total number of questions on the NCLEX-RN that you will be required to answer varies from a minimum of 75 to a maximum of 265.

When you complete practice questions, keep this time frame in mind and see if you are on target. If you are requiring additional time, think about what is slowing you down and focus on strengthening your weaknesses. Are you struggling with the basic facts, the calculations, delegation of tasks or some other particular area. If you are finishing quickly, look at the percentage you have answered correctly, if it is low consider slowing down to see if this helps you think through each question more and improves your overall score.


You may wonder if you are required to take breaks or you can just continue on. Well, breaks are optional and you will need to make the decision during your exam. If you feel that you are in a good groove and a break might disrupt this then you should continue testing. On the other hand, if you are tired or frustrated, a break can be very helpful as for it can allow you to take a deep breath, relax and refocus. Again this will be a personal decision which you make at the time depending on how you feel.

Preparation is the key to succeeding on your NCLEX-RN exam, so study hard, stay focused and be confident. You are on the road to success and ready to enter the fascinating field of nursing.