6 Keys to a Successful NCLEX Application

May 02, 2020  |  Unistaff

Smiling nurse pointing at NCLEX logo

Are you ready to begin your new career and become a US Registered Nurse?

You’ll need to prepare for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

If you’ve been working towards building your career as a registered nurse in the US, you’ll need to sort out your NCLEX Application. The process may seem complex at first, but we’re here to help. Let’s break this into manageable parts. Pay close attention to these 6 keys and you’re on your way to a successful NCLEX application!

6 keys to a successful NCLEX application


Key #1: Have Your Credentials Certified

CES logo

The first key is to have a  ‘Credential Evaluation’ from the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS). This is a prerequisite to some boards for the NCLEX exam.

Note: This means, that there are some boards that can directly take evaluation of documents into their own hands too. How does this affect your process? Know more by consulting our license processing partners mentioned at the end of this article. 

In this process, the CGFNS needs to review applicants’ nursing school transcripts and education history from their home country to make sure their education is comparable with the USA standards of education.

Know more about the The Credentials Evaluation Service (CES) Professional Report® in our article here.


Key #2: Choose the Right State Board of Nursing


In the United States, nurses don't get licensed for the whole country. The United States has 50 states and 54 Nursing Regulatory Boards, and each nurse is usually licensed to practice in one state at a time. Although, the compact state allows a nurse to obtain a compact license/multi-state license. With a compact license, nurses can practice nursing in other Nurse License Compact (NLC) states, without having to obtain additional licenses. That is why it's important for you to identify your target state first.

When it comes to searching for a state in which to apply for the NCLEX, be careful not to select a state simply for its popularity, or just because it has been your “dream destination.”

You need to make thoughtful considerations based on the requirements of the state’s board of nursing for foreign nurses. And more importantly, your ability and commitment to fulfilling these. Each state has its own set of requirements for nursing licensure, in addition to the NCLEX. If you have some thoughts about what state you’re planning to live and work in, you’ll need to do thorough research. Each state’s Board of Nursing has a website where you can find out the requirements.


Know more about the best states to apply for in terms of speed, requirements and the ease of overall process through our license processing partners mentioned at the end of this article.


No matter the target state, each aspiring U.S. registered nurse will need to take the NCLEX.


NCLEX logo

All 54 boards of nursing in the U.S require the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN).

Note: You must complete all the requirements of your preferred State Board of Nursing before you apply and register your license to the Nursing Regulatory Body.

If you don’t know yet what state you’d like to obtain your nursing licensure from and you’re open to opportunities, now is the time to review your options and choose which one you’d like to pursue. Check out this list of NCLEX Requirements by State.

Once you've made the decision, then you can start applying for your NCLEX.



The NCSBN is an independent, non-profit organization, created to guard the public’s safety. It is a nursing regulation leader that has helped boards of nursing across the U.S. to promote safe and effective nursing practice. It is a separate entity from the American Nurses Association (ANA) which supports nurses to manage the complexities of modern health care, and to deliver consistently excellent care.

To guarantee compliance on protective measures within the practice of nursing, all boards of nursing require candidates for licensure to pass an examination. This examination will measure the competencies needed to perform safely and effectively.


Key #3: Apply to the Nursing Regulatory Body (NRB)

map of USA

You need to submit an application for licensure / registration to the Nursing Regulatory Body (NRB) where you wish to be licensed / registered. This is required so that you will be made eligible to take the NCLEX.

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Key #4: Register and Pay for the NCLEX with Pearson VUE

Pearson Vue logo

After approval from your NRB, you need to register for the NCLEX with Pearson VUE.  You will need a program code to register, and an email address must be provided with your registration.

It’s important to note that Pearson VUE can only reach you via email. So make sure that you have a valid email address. After registration you will receive an acknowledgement receipt.


Key #5: Secure Your Authorization to Test (ATT)

ATT test screenshot
Sample ATT


After NRB declares you eligible, you will decide when you want to sit for the examination. (Candidates will not receive the ATT unless they proceed to Pearson Vue)

Here are some important notes about the ATT Validity Dates from the NCSBN:

  • Each ATT is valid for a period of time specified by the NRB (either 75 days or 90 days). 
  • Once the NRB has declared you eligible to test and you receive your ATT, you must test within the validity dates on the ATT. 
  • Call NCLEX Candidate Services if you've lost your ATT or if your NRB has made you eligible and you have not received your ATT. (ATT will not be issued by the NRB without payment through Pearson Vue)
  • The ATT contains the authorization number, candidate identification number and an expiration date. 


Key #6: Schedule Your NCLEX with Pearson VUE


Once you have been made eligible by the NRB and you have received your ATT email, you may schedule your examination by selecting either Sign in or Register with Pearson VUE.  You cannot schedule an appointment to take the NCLEX without your ATT email.

You must take your test within the validity dates of your ATT. These dates cannot be extended for any reason. Exam appointments may be made up to one business day in advance.

To gain access to the NCLEX on the day of your appointment, you will be required to present one form of acceptable identification (ID). The first and last name on your ID must match exactly the first and last names found on your ATT email.

REMEMBER: Throughout this process, please make sure that you check your spam and junk folders! It is possible that any emails from Pearson VUE might automatically go to one of these folders. All correspondence from Pearson VUE will end with “@pearson.com.”


[Bonus!] The Golden Key: Boost Your Application by becoming a USCDP Member


This process might look complex. But don’t worry, we’re here to support you! Check out the United States Candidate Development Program (USCDP).  By becoming a member, you can gain access to the latest information, job openings and expert advice to help you navigate the process of becoming a U.S. Registered Nurse and achieving your dreams of working abroad.

Become a member for free!

USCDP Start Your US Journey CTA

We hope that with these 6 keys (and especially the Golden Key!), you’ll feel more confident about putting together and submitting your NCLEX application. If you have any questions, or wish to seek guidance on your journey to working in the U.S., send us a message at usplacement@unistaff.us.


But if you still think your schedule's too packed, then take a look at our partner license processing agencies who could help you with this process:

1. IPASS Business Processing Services Incorporated

ipass logo
Website: https://ipassprocessing.com/


IPASS Processing was founded in May 2016 at Davao City. In April 2019 the company branched out in Manila and February 2020 in Cebu due to the market demand. The huge growth of the company was brought about the constant need for medical professionals abroad. The company is proud of its dedicated processing professionals who enjoy their work in helping the clients achieve their goals. It is a client-centered business service and it focuses not only on the document processing but also provides holistic client approach. Learn more.

2. NEAC Medical Exams Application Center Inc.

NEAC logo
Website: https://medexamcenter.com/


NEAC was established as a sole proprietorship in 2007 and has been incorporated in January 2014. NEAC is a legally established Company under SEC (Security and Exchange Commission). 

NEAC is specially geared to facilitate the application process by assisting international nurses with the task of preparing their applications to obtain US Nursing licensure by NCLEX-RN® Exam and sends the completed and error-free forms to the designated State Board of Nursing. NEAC facilitates application preparation, certification and fee transfers to various State Boards of Nursing, third party credential evaluators and to the exam coordinator. Learn more.







Pearson VUE:


American Nurses Association:




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Unistaff Content Team

This article was put together by Unistaff's team of researchers, creative writers and content creators. We pride ourselves by publishing the most updated pieces of content in our blog section to enable you to make well informed decisions.

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