Test Construction and Preparation of Students for Licensure and Certification Examinations
One of the outcomes of prelicensure nursing programs is for graduates to pass an examination that measures their knowledge and competencies to engage in safe and effective nursing practice. At the entry level for professional nursing, graduates take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN® Examination), or if graduating from a practical or vocational nursing program, they take the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical/Vocational Nurses (NCLEX-PN® Examination). Certification validates knowledge and competencies for professional practice in a specialized area of nursing. As part of this process nurses take certification examinations, which evaluate their knowledge and skills in a nursing specialty such as acute care. There are certification examinations for graduates of associate/diploma, baccalaureate, and master’s/doctoral nursing programs. At the master’s and doctoral levels, the certification examinations measure knowledge and competencies for advanced practice in a variety of clinical and other areas. As students progress through a nursing program, they should have experience with tests that are similar to and prepare them for taking licensure and certification examinations when they graduate.
Because the focus of the NCLEX® and certification examinations is on nursing practice, the other advantage to incorporating items of these types in teacher-made tests is that it provides a way of measuring if students can apply their theoretical learning to clinical situations. Teachers can develop items that present new and complex clinical situations for students to critically analyze using relevant concepts and theories. Items can focus on collecting and analyzing data, setting priorities, selecting interventions, and evaluating outcomes as re-