Registered Nurse: Entry to Practice

The Dalhousie School of Nursing is committed to nursing excellence and regularly reviews its curriculum to ensure the curricular integration of all entry-to-practice competencies articulated by the NSCN, that students are prepared to be successful on the entry to practice exams and that graduates are prepared to meet the health care needs of Canadians.

Nova Scotia College of Nurses:  First Time Registration for Nova Scotia Educated New Graduates:

As of 2015, the 11 provincial/territorial RN regulators chose the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) as the provider of the Canadian RN entry-to-practice exam.  The NCLEX-RN exam is designed to test knowledge, skills and abilities essential for the safe and effective practice of nursing at the entry level. For more information on the NCLEX-RN test and registration process, please refer to:

The CNA, NSCN and NCSBN all provide resources to guide student in both their studies and registration process.


Examination Waiver Effective March 29, 2023

How do students apply for the exam?

Candidates requesting accommodation to take the exam must do so in writing to the regulatory body before applying to Pearson VUE. Please skip to the following question for more details. 

NCLEX-RN exam registration is now open for both NSCN and Pearson VUE. There are two steps exam candidates must complete before being eligible to write the NCLEX-RN exam:

Step One: Apply to NSCN

Step Two: Apply to Pearson VUE

Exam candidates won't be given an exam date by Pearson VUE until Pearson VUE receives confirmation from NSCN that candidates have completed their nursing program. Therefore it is encouraged that exam candidates wait until they’ve received graduation notice before applying to write the exam. For more information on the registration process overview, please visit the NSCN website and page 3 of the NCLEX Examination Candidate Bulletin.

Who do students contact and what is the process for submitting an exam accommodation request?

Exam candidates, who believe the administration of the NCLEX-RN exam discriminates against them on a ground prohibited by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act, may request in writing that they be provided accommodation to eliminate or reduce the effects of the prohibited discrimination during the exam.

Exam candidates are responsible for submitting a written request for accommodation to NSCN to take the exam. Contact NSCN Registration Services at if requesting an exam accommodation. 

What topics do students need to know for the exam?

The 2016 NCLEX-RN Test Plan focused on four major client needs categories:
• Safe and Effective Care Environment
• Health Promotion and Maintenance
• Psychosocial Integrity
• Physiological Integrity
The NCLEX-RN exam has been modified from its original format, as all exam questions have been reviewed by Canadian nursing peers to ensure it reflects Canada’s current entry-level nursing practice.

For more information on exam content, test development and test plans, please visit page 13 of the NCLEX Examination Candidate Bulletin.

What is a computer adaptive test?

The NCLEX-RN exam uses Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) to administer the exam questions. CAT is able to produce exam results that are more stable using fewer questions by targeting questions to the candidate’s ability.

The computer’s goal during the exam is to determine the ability of the candidate in relation to the passing standard. Every time the candidate answers a question, the computer re-estimates the candidate’s ability. With each additional question answered, the ability estimate of the candidate becomes more precise.

For more information on CAT, including the benefits of this type of testing, please read page 14 of the NCLEX Examination Candidate Bulletin.  

Where can students find more information?

The NCLEX Examination Candidate Bulletin is integral as an NCLEX-RN exam preparation guide. The bulletin has information on:
• Registering for the Exam
• Scheduling Your Exam
• What to Bring to the Test Site
• Test Site Rules and Regulations
• The Day of the Exam
• NCLEX Content, Test Development and Test Plans
• NCLEX Psychometrics
Exam candidates are strongly encouraged to visit the NSCN website frequently for new and updated information on the exam.

When and where can students write the NCLEX-RN exam?

Beginning in January 2015, NCLEX-RN exam appointments are available year around at Pearson VUE Professional Centers. The following two locations are available in Nova Scotia.

Permanent Test Center:
Pearson Professional Centre
6960 Mumford Road
Suite 220
Mumford Professional Centre
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3L 4P1

Temporary Test Center:
Hampton Inn Sydney
60 Maillard Street
Sydney, Nova Scotia B1S 3W3
Six days in June (dates to be confirmed) 

When are exam candidates notified of their results?

Although the exam is scored as the candidate completes each item, no results are released at the test center. In fact, test center staff do not have access to the exam results.

Examination results are available only from NSCN. At this time, NSCN anticipates that exam results will be released to candidates within 2 weeks of their exam.

What resources are available to students who don't pass the exam?

Students who are not successful on their first writing have the opportunity to re-write the exam 45 days later. When a candidate fails, NSCN sends the candidate a Candidate Performance Report (CPR). This report identifies among a number of things, a summary of the candidate’s relative strengths and weaknesses based on the test plan. This CPR is intended for unsuccessful candidates to use as a study guide before retaking the exam.

During the interim, students are encouraged to get in touch with Prof. Shauna Houk if they have any questions or concerns about how to prepare for the exam.

How has the Dalhousie School of Nursing prepared students for the new exam?

Dalhousie has a strong nursing program and faculty and staff at the School of Nursing have been proactive in preparing the first cohort of students for the NCLEX exam:
• In Winter 2012, when the first cohort of NCLEX writers were in their second year of studies, the School of Nursing adopted NCLEX-style questions in all first- and second-year courses. The first cohort of students have now been working with NCLEX-style questions for two years.
• In Spring 2014, the first cohort of NCLEX writers had access to an online program with progressively difficult quizzes on all aspects of the nursing curriculum. The students answers NCLEX-style questions and were able to assess their preparedness in key curriculum areas.
• This year, during their final year of studies, all fourth year nursing students have access to three NCLEX practice exams and online software that gives them feedback on their performance on the practice exams as well as targeted resources for areas where they may need to do more work.
• In Winter 2015, all fourth year students will be invited to an NCLEX information session lead by NSCN.
• Additionally, all professors within the School of Nursing have had the opportunity to attend NCLEX question writing seminars.

Do you expect there to be any impact on pass rates?
Dalhousie’s School of Nursing have worked proactively to ensure that the first cohort of NCLEX writers are adequately prepared for the exam. It is important to note that these students will not know the difference between the CRNE and NCLEX, since they have been working with NCLEX-based material since their second year of studies.
The School of Nursing has confidence in the high quality of its nursing education program, however, it is difficult to predict how the first cohort of students will fare in any exam.

Currently, there is no fixed percentage of candidates that pass or fail the NCLEX-RN exam. For more information on NCLEX’s pass/fail decision rules for individual exams, please read page 15 of the NCLEX Examination Candidate Bulletin.

If students have additional questions, who do they contact?
The NCLEX-RN exam is administered in collaboration with NSCN, Pearson VUE and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

Contact NSCN for questions regarding:
• NSCN NCLEX-RN Registration
• Licensure/Registration
• Name or Address Change
• Name Corrections
• Testing Accommodation
• Approval to take examination

Contact Pearson VUE for questions regarding:
• Pearson VUE NCLEX-RN Registration
• Methods of payment
• Authorization to Test Email
• Scheduling/Re-scheduling of Exam Appointment
• Acceptable Forms of Identification
• Comments about the Test Center

Contact the National Council of State Boards of Nursing for questions regarding:
• NCLEX Development
• General NCLEX Information
• General Questions/Inquiries Relating to Examination Administration


The Dalhousie School of Nursing has worked to prepare students for the exam and they should also be used as an exam resource when appropriate.

Contact information for any of the above organizations is on page 1 of the NCLEX Examination Candidate Bulletin.