by Kaye Wilson-Anderson, RN, CNE
I have taught nursing in baccalaureate programs for the past 32 years and have implemented a variety of NCLEX® preparation products. In 2013, when the NCLEX-RN passing logit increased by three, the ability of graduates to pass that test nationally was greatly challenged, and concern over NCLEX pass rates persists. New solutions and strategies seemed necessary to ensure graduates would be able to pass NCLEX and be eligible for employment. Our associate dean was introduced to Lippincott PassPoint in fall 2014. In spring 2015, our school of nursing began to phase in this product to facilitate senior nursing students preparing for NCLEX.
PassPoint is a one-of-a-kind tool that allows faculty to introduce computer adaptive testing to nursing students early in their program of study, provides a platform for faculty/students to examine each student’s individual testing performance, and promotes development of strategies to strengthen not only the student’s nursing content knowledge, but also his or her testing skills. While first-time pass rates are still not to the level faculty or our accrediting body desires, our graduates’ testing skills have improved with the use of PassPoint. Clearly, multiple factors influence first-time pass rates, with testing skills being a large component.
To further enhance our students’ testing skills prior to taking the NCLEX Preparation Course in their final semester, our school implemented PassPoint quizzes beginning the third semester of our five-semester upper division-nursing curriculum. By taking PassPoint quizzes in Med-Surg II, Maternal-Child, and the previously mentioned NCLEX course, our students validated and expanded their nursing knowledge and improved their testing skills. After this implementation, faculty in these courses noted that students’ course examination grades improved. Based on student feedback to provide earlier testing skill enhancement, in fall 2017 PassPoint will be implemented even earlier, in the second semester of upper division nursing courses.
Initially, during the NCLEX Preparation Course, students completed multiple Practice Exams and completed two 150-question proctored comprehensive Practice Exams, with the desired achievement of level 6 on at least one of these exams. Post-graduation analysis revealed that the overall graduate NCLEX pass rate was still not at the desired level. After interviewing several graduates who were not successful on their first NCLEX attempt, faculty decided to move up the proctored comprehensive Practice Exam requirement to level 8 (the highest level). They further decided that this assignment would consist of 265 questions (the maximum number of questions that graduates potentially might take for NCLEX). The rationale for these changes was based on reports from interviewees that they were becoming extremely anxious as they found themselves being required to complete 150 to 180 questions during their NCLEX. Furthermore, several of those who did not pass the first time reported failing the NCLEX after 265 questions. Faculty postulated that graduates who achieved a level 8 on a simulated proctored Practice Exam of 265 questions would develop strong testing stamina and improve nursing knowledge and confidence, which would ultimately enhance their ability to pass on their first attempt at NCLEX.
Following graduation, our graduates are encouraged to take two to three Practice Exams a week, with the goal of achieving level 8s, and to ensure that at least one Practice Exam contains 265 questions. The final steps of continued maintenance of testing skills have been found imperative. Even if graduates decide to further build their confidence prior to taking NCLEX by employing another NCLEX Preparation course, it has been noted that graduates who do not continue to weekly test, maintain level 8, and design at least one 265-question Practice Exam are much more likely to not succeed on their first NCLEX attempt. These graduates can use PassPoint to set up quizzes for the specific Client Need categories that the NCLEX report identifies as needing to be strengthened prior to retaking the NCLEX.
The introduction of Lippincott PassPoint into our nursing program has been a game changer for our graduates’ success on NCLEX. This product provides both student and faculty a robust tool to address assessment of nursing content, means to strengthen identified areas of weakness, and a resource to facilitate the simulation of the NCLEX experience for soon-to-be nursing graduates. Through using PassPoint, graduates gain confidence in their ability to be successful on NCLEX.