One of the hottest topics concerning the nursing world this year is the introduction of the Next Generation NCLEX exam, more commonly referred to as the NGN exam. This new change to the exam is in effect as of April 2023, and all new nurses expecting to be licensed will need to pass it. The following will educate you on the recent changes to the NGN exam and how you can prepare for them.

How Is the NGN Different From the NCLEX?

The NCLEX exam is the test all nurses must take to become licensed. It features between 60 and 145 questions and is designed to test future nurses on a wide range of scenarios they may encounter in a real-life nursing job site. Because the test is one of the only things keeping a nurse from becoming licensed, it needs to be flawless in its ability to test the skills and knowledge of a future nurse, which means from time to time, it needs to be updated to keep the information current and viable. The NGN is, most put, an updated version of the NCLEX, using the most recent information and case studies available.

The design of the NGN will also differ from the NCLEX in various ways, including question formation and the ability to choose multiple answers for the same question. There will also be a "highlight" feature that allows test takers to highlight information in the texts that gave them the answer to show their work.

Why Is This Change Happening?

Future nurses must have the necessary education and training to enter the workforce and begin treating patients. The NGN is designed to give test takers all of the information they need to make an educated response to the questions being asked. Its new formatting allows future nurses to make the most accurate responses and give a more fine-tuned answer, which allows a clearer picture of what the test taker is and isn't prepared for in the world of nursing.

Information for Nurse Educators

It's not just nursing students who will be affected by the recent changes to the NCLEX exam; nurse educators who will be issuing the exam will also need to familiarize themselves with the NGN so that they can adequately test the skill levels and knowledge of their students and help them prepare them for the world of nursing.

Nurse educators must also adjust their curriculum to ensure their students are ready for the NGN exam. This includes incorporating the clinical judgment measurement model into their lesson planning.


While any disruption to testing expectations can seem daunting, the changes implemented with the NGN exam are designed to help students and nurse educators and introduce more robust and better-prepared nurses to the workforce. With a little determination and flexibility in embracing the new changes in the exam, nurse educators can ensure that future patients will receive the care they need through the students they teach.

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Amy Kowalska, MSN, RN
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