alt="NCLEX CAT Cheat Sheet: How the Computer Adaptive Testing method works on your NCLEX exam ">

The NCLEX is not your average exam, as you will know if you’ve ever heard of it (which we’re sure you have). It requires a generous amount of study and preparation to pass, unlike your college and local licensure exams. 

This article will discuss the NCLEX computerized adaptive testing (NCLEX CAT) method, along with how it works and why it is applied to what is unquestionably the most important licensure exam for aspirant USRN candidates. Let’s begin by defining what the NCLEX CAT is.

1. What is NCLEX Computerized Adaptive Testing?

The NCLEX Computer Adaptive Testing, often known as CAT, is a test administration method that optimizes exam effectiveness by fusing computer technology with contemporary measurement theory.

2. Why does the NCLEX use computer adaptive testing?

  • It lessens the number of simple questions provided to high-ability test-takers because simple questions don’t disclose anything about a taker’s aptitude.
  • Low-ability applicants are given fewer challenging questions; candidates often guess too many difficult questions, which impacts results.
  • It minimizes item exposure and the security issues that go along with it.
  • It improves the accuracy of measuring the NCLEX candidate’s nursing skills.
  • It provides a reliable and valid assessment of nursing skills.

3. How does the NCLEX’s computer adaptive testing work?

  • The computer will re-estimate the ability based on prior answers and the items’ difficulty level for each response to a question.
  • The computer selects the next question, and you should have a 50% chance of answering it correctly. The following item should, therefore, not be overly easy or challenging. It seeks to gather as much as it can about your actual level of aptitude. The fact that each item is specific to your skill level may make it difficult for you to complete them all.
  • The computer increases its estimate of your skill with each response.

4. What rules apply to the pass/fail NCLEX CAT?

The computer applies one of three rules to assess if you passed or failed the NCLEX exam: 

  • 95% Confidence Interval Rule

This rule applies the most frequently. The computer will stop providing you with items once it is 95% certain that your ability is either plainly above or below the passing standard.

  • Maximum-Length Exam Rule

The computer will keep giving you items until your ability is very close to the passing standard or when you have gotten the maximum number of items. At this point, the computer ignores the 95 % confidence rule and determines whether you pass or fail based on your final ability estimation.

A. If your final ability evaluation is higher than the passing mark, you pass.

B. If your final ability falls at or below the passing mark, you fail.

  • Run-out-of-time Rule

The computer cannot identify whether a candidate passed or failed with a 95% certainty if they run out of time prior to finishing the maximum number of items.

In that case, an alternate set of rules has to be used:

1. If the candidate doesn’t answer the required number of questions, the exam will be considered failed.

2. The exam is graded according to the final ability estimate produced from responses to all completed items if the candidate has completed the required items.

3. If your final ability evaluation is higher than the passing level, you pass.

4. If your final ability falls at or below the passing level, you fail.

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