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Exam information

What you need to know about the NLN PAX

The National League for Nursing (NLN) Pre-Admission Examination (PAX) is used by some nursing schools to assess the academic abilities of student applicants. It is not the only evaluation tool but is used in conjunction with other criteria.

The test consists of three sections that evaluate your reading comprehension, math, and science skills. There is no penalty for incorrect answers. The Verbal and Science sections contain 60 questions each, and there are 40 questions in the Math section. No calculator is allowed.

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Exam facts

Answers to all your questions about the NLN PAX

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What are the costs?

The cost to take the NLN PAX is listed as $52.50 by the test producers. If a separate testing facility is used, the price may be as much as $87.50. Alternatively, the cost may be reduced if your institution has a supplemental fee support program.

What should I bring?

Since the testing locations vary, the requirements and restrictions for items brought to each test site may be different. It’s best to check with your testing provider to learn which items you will need and those that are not allowed.

How is it scored?

While there may be some questions that are not scored, your highest possible score for each test section is the number of questions in that section:

  • 60 for the Verbal section

  • 40 for Math

  • 60 for Science

You will also earn a composite score from 0 to 200 for the entire test. This is determined by a weighting process based on your performance in each test section.

Your score report will also indicate your percentile rank, which compares your performance to that of a selected “norms” group of test-takers.

We have not listed a passing score because that is determined by each individual nursing institution to which you apply.

What kind of job can I get?

For people who have innate or nurtured abilities in math and science and who thrive when helping others, the field of nursing can be quite rewarding. There is a wide variety of sub-fields in nursing, and there are numerous advanced certifications available. A nurse has a high degree of responsibility when caring for others and promoting their health.

Am I eligible?

You will probably access the NLN PAX as a part of the entrance requirements to a nursing school, so a high school diploma (or equivalent) is required. There are no minimum age requirements. Retakes are allowed every six months, and your score will be valid for two years.

Why does it matter?

Even though it’s not the only measure used by nursing schools to evaluate prospective students, your NLN PAX score is important. A good score can improve your chances of admission.

What salary can I expect?

It may seem like a long way in the future, but there will come a time when your yearly salary is a major concern. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual salary for a registered nurse is around $90,000. Salaries for specialty nurses will be higher, and they will vary for nurses in support capacities.

When is it available?

You will usually take the NLN PAX through the institution to which you are applying for nursing school. Some institutions may use outside testing centers and/or provide remote online testing opportunities.

How much time is allowed?

The total time allowed to take the NLN PAX is 120 minutes (two hours), and each section of the NLN PAX is timed as follows:

  • Verbal—40 minutes
  • Math—40 minutes
  • Science—40 minutes
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