How to Get Accommodations for the NCLEX-RN Exam

  • 13 May, 2022

Have you been receiving testing accommodations during your nursing program? Many college students receive testing accommodations during their college career, but did you realize those testing accommodations can also be provided while taking the NCLEX-RN exam? If you have received accommodations while taking tests in college, you will most likely want to ensure that you have those same accommodations while taking important licensure exams such as the NCLEX-RN. If you have a disability that you did not receive accommodations for during college, it is still possible to request accommodations for the NCLEX-RN exam.

How to Get Accommodations for the NCLEX-RN Exam


Who Qualifies for Accommodations?

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that testing accommodations be provided for any person with a disability or an impairment that "affects the condition, manner, or duration" it takes to perform an activity, making him or her eligible to request and receive accommodations.3 Disabilities may include physical or mental impairments (vision, hearing, reading, learning, thinking, or concentration) or body system impairments that may interfere with normal functioning (neurological, endocrine, and digestive). Side effects of medications can also be taken into consideration if the medication causes an impairment in either mental or physical functioning as well (such as drowsiness, slowed cognition or reaction times, etc.)

Anxiety is an approved diagnosis if it substantially limits a major life activity, so also remember to address that with your medical provider if it applies to you during testing and if there is a testing accommodation that can assist you with that (such as a separate testing room or more frequent breaks). But it is important to remember that even if you don't have diagnosed test anxiety, you are free to take breaks as needed during the exam once you notify your testing proctor. However, all breaks taken count against your total 5-hour testing time.

What is the Process to Request Testing Accommodations?

  1. Contact your Nursing Regulatory Body.
  2. Contact your medical or psychological provider for documentation.
  3. Contact your nursing program and/or school testing center for documentation.
  4. Apply for licensure with your NRB.
  5. Register with Pearson.
  6. Wait for written approval of accommodations.
  7. Wait for Authorization to Test.
  8. Schedule NCLEX-RN test date/time with Pearson Accommodations Coordinator.
  9. Take the NCLEX-RN exam with accommodations.

How to Request Accommodations

To request accommodations, you should contact your Nursing Regulatory Body (NRB, this is the state board of nursing for U.S. test-takers). Most states have a specific application form to request accommodations, and each state has their own requirements, so be sure to check with the NRB in the state where you are applying for a license after taking the NCLEX-RN exam. The application may request your medical or psychological provider to provide documentation of a disability and document what accommodations you will need. You will need to have a clearly stated diagnosis and be specific with the accommodations that are required in order for you to have a fair opportunity of success on the NCLEX-RN. The NRB also may request documentation from your nursing program showing what accommodations (if any) you have received - it's okay if you didn't receive any during your program, just note that on the form. The application to your NRB should be completed several weeks in advance as you need this approval prior to scheduling your NCLEX test at the testing center. Completing the application for accommodations is done in addition to the regular application required by your NRB and the registration process required by Pearson.

Some Examples of Approved Accommodations:

  • Extra testing time (1 hour, 2 hours, double testing time over 2 days)
  • Scheduling the exam at certain times of the day
  • Separate testing rooms
  • Extra breaks
  • Assistive personnel (a test reader, test recorder, sign language interpreter, etc.)
  • Specialized computer monitor (adjustable font or adjustable contrast)
  • Specialized medications or medical equipment (glucometer, insulin, etc.)

Comfort Aids Approved for All Test-Takers

The Pearson VUE testing sites want to ensure you are safe, comfortable (as comfortable as you can be while sitting at a computer taking a very important exam!) and successful. They have a list of approved comfort aids that do not require accommodation approval in advance. These items are all allowed into the testing room once inspected visually by the test center (this should not require they touch or handle the item and should not require you to remove any accommodation from your body). Examples of approved items that do not require pre-approval include EpiPen, bandages, orthopedic braces (neck, wrist, leg, etc.), cough drops, eyeglasses, glucose tablets, hearing aids, and mobility devices. Also approved are earplug or noise reducing headphones, face mask, gloves, and tissues. 2 You can review the full list of approved comfort aids on the Pearson website.

If you have any questions about a specific comfort or medical item, please call the Pearson testing center prior to your testing appointment to ask.

Accommodations for Nursing Moms

Finishing your nursing program with a new baby at home is challenging, but moms always find a way to make it happen! You've found a way to breastfeed or pump during classes and clinicals, and there is a way to do it when taking the NCLEX-RN as well! Pearson testing centers in the U.S. have private spaces (a private break room or a break room with a curtain or partition) at each location for nursing mothers to pump during your exam. Use of this room and your pumping supplies does require prior approval through the same accommodation process described above, so be sure to start that process early if you think you may still need to pump during your exam. It's also important to note that the break time used while pumping counts as a part of your total exam time, so unless you have had additional time approved, you will still have 5 hours to complete your exam. If you are breastfeeding only, and not pumping, please contact your NRB to ask if this is possible. Children are not allowed in Pearson testing centers, and breastfeeding without pumping may not be possible. But note, many test-takers report that if they either breastfed or pumped just prior to entering the testing center, they were able to complete their test in plenty of time for the next feeding. According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, the average time to complete the NCLEX-RN is 2 hours and 14 minutes 1, so this usually accommodates most breastfeeding or pumping moms even if you didn't arrange for accommodations.

Scheduling the NCLEX-RN Exam with Accommodations

You are able to schedule your NCLEX-RN exam with the Pearson testing center once you have received a written confirmation of approval for your accommodations from your NRB and have received your authorization to test (ATT). As a candidate with accommodations, you will not be able to use the online scheduling system and must call the phone number listed on your ATT for Pearson Vue NCLEX Candidate Services and then ask for the NCLEX Accommodations Coordinator. If you have had accommodations approved, you must carry through with them and can't decline them (you asked for them, now use them if needed to help you be successful!). Accommodations may affect the scheduling of your NCLEX-RN exam since each testing center only has a limited number of private testing rooms available, and the assistive personnel required may not always be available. Please be patient and cooperative with the Accommodations Coordinator as they schedule you - they want to provide a fair and successful testing experience for everyone who tests!

This may seem like a lot of extra work for an accommodation that you may or may not need, but remember that you've put a lot of time, effort, and money into taking this test. You want to give yourself every opportunity at success that you can. So, a little extra legwork to make that happen will be worth it when you pass your NCLEX-RN exam and become a working Registered Nurse! It's also important to note that no one else ever knows that you received any accommodations while taking your exam - it's not noted on your results in any way, and no future employers will ever know that you had extra testing time or had someone reading the questions to you out loud. They will only know that you are a highly competent and qualified Registered Nurse.

But before it's time to take the exam with your accommodations, you need to prepare for the actual exam. EduMind is here to help you get prepared and be successful! Contact us today to find out more about our NCLEX-RN Exam Prep Course to help you on your road to success!

References:

1 (2020). 2019 NCLEX Exam Statistics. Retrieved February 18, 2022, from https://www.ncsbn.org/2019_NCLEXExamStats.pdf.

2 Pearson VUE. (2022, February 22). Pearson Vue Comfort Aid List PDF . Pearson VUE Comfort Aid List. Retrieved March 9, 2022, from https://home.pearsonvue.com/Test-takers/Accommodations/Pearson-VUE-Comfort-Aid-List-PDF.aspx

3 U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division. (n.d.). Testing accommodations. ADA Requirements: Testing Accommodations. Retrieved March 9, 2022, from https://www.ada.gov/regs2014/testing_accommodations.html
About the Author: Lana Wilkins, MSN, BSN, RN

Lana Wilkins is a Registered Nurse with over 16 years of professional nursing. She is a nursing educator, consultant, Subject Matter Expert, and writer with a passion for helping students and new nurses. She holds a B.S. in Nursing from the University of Oklahoma and a M.S. in Nursing Education from Western Governors University. Outside of the world of nursing she can be found managing the chaos of 2 kids, a husband, and a cat, being crafty, or spending time with friends.

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