What Is on the NLN Exam?

The National League for Nursing (NLN) has developed an admissions examination for potential nursing students who are applying to nursing schools nationwide called the Pre-Admission Examination – Registered Nursing- better known as the PAX-RN Exam. This test is one of the most widely used nursing tests, so if you are thinking of becoming a nurse, studying for the NLN Exam should be your first priority.

How Hard is the NLN Pre Entrance Exam?

The NLN PAX Exam is challenging; as it is one of the top used pre-admission exams for nursing careers, it is one of the hardest. Due to the variety of topics the test covers, its time constraints, and the fact that not all the questions are graded, being 100% prepared is vital.

When is NLN PAX?

There are no universal dates for the NLN PAX Exam. The PAX can fall at any point throughout the year, depending on the university administering it. To find out the exact dates for the NLN Examinations, make sure to contact the academic establishment you are applying to as early as possible.

NLN PAX Format

The NLN Test is made up of three subjects: verbal skills, math, and science. The test takes approximately three hours to complete, with time limits for each section. All of the questions are multiple choice, with four answer options provided.

NLN PAX Exam Subjects

Section Test Score Course Placement
Verbal Skills 80 questions 1 hour
Mathematics 54 questions 1 hour
Science 80 questions 1 hour
  Total Questions- 214 Total Time – 3 hours

NLN PAX Verbal Skills

The verbal skills section of the NLN Test focuses on word knowledge and reading comprehension. You are tested on whether you reach the necessary level of reading as well as on your comprehension level. Some questions ask you to complete a sentence, while others include a short passage to read and analyze. The questions and reading passages do not relate to nursing.

NLN PAX Mathematics

The math section covers the following areas: basic calculations, algebra, geometry, and graphs. Other areas include the following: 
Unit conversions – moving from one unit of measurement to another, such as inches to centimeters.
Applied math – this refers to questions in which you are asked to solve a problem but must figure out yourself what method to use in order to find the answer. An example of applied math is a question for which you need to find the most efficient way to make a schedule that will reduce the cost of overtime.

A calculator is not permitted during the test. 

NLN PAX Science

The science section of the NLN includes general biology, chemistry, physics, and earth science, as well as a section on health and first aid.

Understanding your NLN PAX scores

A candidate’s qualification for an RN program is determined by his or her percentile scores, both collectively and individually. On each section, a student’s score must at least fall within the 30th percentile. A student’s composite score must meanwhile be 40% or higher.

The test is scored through one point per correct answer (keep in mind that only a certain percentage of the questions in each section counts towards your final score). You can find out how your composite score compares to others’ here.

Tips for How to Pass the NLN PAX RN Exam

Check out TestPrep-Online’s tips for passing the NLN PAX RN Exam.

  • Carry flashcards. In our day to day routines we often have plenty of moments in the day where we are idle. Instead of staring at your phone during this time, use it! Carry flashcards with you wherever you go so that you can revise at spare moments.
  • Schedule your studying sessions. It is undoubtedly tempting to postpone study sessions for as late as possible. Don’t let yourself do this- the earlier you study, the better.
  • Schedule your breaks. As with studying sessions, scheduling breaks is equally important. Make sure to schedule both long and short breaks to help you stay focused. Working yourself too hard will not benefit you in the long run.
  • Take practice tests. Practice tests are an excellent way to get used to both format and the content of the test. It is also highly useful for getting used to the time constraints of the test, which are rather strict.
  • Eat right, sleep right, study right. Body & Mind is an important motto when prepping for any exam- especially one as stressful as the NLN PAX. Therefore, while preparing and giving it your all make sure to also remember to get proper rest and nutrition. Sleeping and eating properly plays a vital role in boosting your ability to absorb and store new information.
  • Learn your study habits. Everyone’s study habits differ; make sure to find out yours in order to optimize each study session as much as possible. For instance, some work best with background music, others prefer complete silence. Pay attention to small details like these and act accordingly.
  • Prioritize. Some topics will be harder for you than others. Make sure to begin with these first before moving on to the easier subjects.
  • Set deadlines to the topics you cover. To avoid getting sucked into one topic and losing time to focus on the others, set deadlines to help you stay strict and organized with your schedule.
  • Study in groups. Studying with others is a great way of gaining information from others whilse staying focused. Talking about ideas is a great way to retain them.
  • Move around. Walking, running, cycling, jumping—whatever you choose—making sure you stay active is vital to making sure your brain does the same. In addition, regular physical activity makes for longer lasting mental strength.
  • Vary your studying techniques. Adding variety to your studying methods can stop your brain from getting bored and keep it focused. Did a lot of reading? Pick up a pen and start writing! Did too much writing? Make pseudo-presentations about the topics you are covering. Perhaps present them to others.
  • Stay positive! It’s easy to get disheartened when a challenging test is not so far away. Staying positive, however, can go a long way in keeping your head in the game. One way to do this is to stay positive about the material you are covering; keeping yourself interested in the topics you are covering is an excellent way to stay engaged.

Preparing for the NLN PAX with TestPrep-Online

As many nursing schools require the NLN Test for admission, being fully prepared for the exam is crucial. Practice drills and tests can help you in overcoming the challenging time frame and feel confident with both the format and content of the questions. To help, TestPrep-Online offers a variety of practice material designed to keep you motivated and focused. 


NLN and other trademarks are the property of their respective trademark holders. None of the trademark holders are affiliated with TestPrep-online or this website.

Need Help question mark
minimize close
Need Help question mark
Please fill out the form below and we will contact you soon.
Your message was sent. We will contact you shortly.
There was a problem sending your message. Please try again in a few minutes.