Next Generation NCLEX Project

The right decisions come from the right questions

  • A new and improved NCLEX exam is coming.  The Next Generation NCLEX (NGN) exam asks better questions to help nurses think critically when providing care and make the right decisions.
  • NGN is about protecting the public and achieving the best outcomes for clients, nurses and institutions.

The New NCLEX Exam Asks Better Questions

The NGN exam uses case studies like you would see in the real world to reflect the kinds of critical decisions nurses have to make in a variety of healthcare settings. It focuses on interactions between nurse and client, the client’s needs and expected outcomes.

About the NGN

The 2013-2014 NCSBN Strategic Practice Analysis highlighted the increasingly complex decisions newly licensed nurses make during the course of patient care. NCSBN is conducting research to determine whether clinical judgment and decision making in nursing practice can be reliably assessed through the use of innovative item types. This objective is the NGN. 


The NGN consists of several phases of research, which are delineated in the model below. If the evidence during any individual step indicates that potential innovations will not support the rigor and quality of the NCLEX, the project will be reexamined at all levels.

Special Research Section

Beginning in July 2017, NCSBN started the Special Research Section as part of the NCLEX administration. By participating in the Special Research Section, candidates will be making valuable contributions to the future development of NCSBN examinations as well as to the enhancement of the nursing profession.

The Special Research Section will be given to select candidates taking the NCLEX and will take approximately 30 minutes to complete. This section will be administered following the regular exam and will not count as part of the NCLEX score.

If selected to participate, an introductory screen will indicate the beginning of the Special Research Section. This section will also continue to be numbered in accordance with the completed exam – for example, if your exam ended with question 125, the first question on the Special Research Section will be numbered 126. Despite the consecutive numbering, these new questions will have no impact on your NCLEX scoring or results.

Candidates may take the entire allotted five hours to complete the NCLEX. All questions on the NCLEX examination and the Special Research Section are confidential.