Can an RN Student Take the LPN Exam?

In this article I’m going to answer the question “can an RN student take the LPN Exam?”

I’m also going to share my experience with taking LPN boards halfway through nursing school.

Can a nursing student take the LPN Exam? Yes, in some states an RN student can take the NCLEX-PN part ways through nursing school. You just need to check with your school and your state board of nursing to see if you can and when you’re eligible to do so.

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Can a Nursing Student Take the LPN Exam Before Finishing RN School?

Yes, you can (in some states).

I actually did just that.

When I was in nursing school I randomly found out that taking the LPN boards and becoming a licensed practical nurse was an option.

After thinking about it (I’ll share some of my thought process below) I decided to do it.

Pros and Cons of Becoming an LPN Before Graduating from RN School

Believe it or not, there are some pros and cons to this route and I’m going to list them below.

Pay attention to them because I think for each student the pros and cons will make a big difference as to whether or not you want to deal with this because it can be kind of a hassle.

Related Article: How to Keep Motivated in Nursing School

The Advantages of Taking the NCLEX-PN Before Graduating

Here are the reasons why I decided to take the exam. 

  1. I thought it would give me some real nursing experience before graduating from RN school.
  2. I was working a lot of hours so I was looking for some ways to make more than what I was making.
  3. Peace of mind (I’ll explain below).

1. Experience

One of the reasons why I decided to take the NCLEX-PN was that I wanted to get some hands-on experience as a nurse.

My thought process was that not only could I get some much wanted “real” nursing experience but I could also command a higher salary when I graduate RN school.

This actually worked out a lot better than I thought it would but not exactly the way I thought. 

You see I originally wanted it as negotiating leverage but I never worked long enough as an LPN for it to really count as experience. 

I had two jobs after graduating from RN school and one of my employers didn’t recognize the LPN experience while the other one gave me I think 1 year’s worth of experience.

Not a lot but it was enough to get me at a slightly higher hourly rate.

The Experience I Didn’t Think About

There are two experiences that I think made a big difference but I didn’t think about originally. 

1. Experience taking the NCLEX. 

Because I had already taken the NCLEX-PN when it came time to take the NCLEX-RN it was easier and I had less anxiety because I had already had the experience of taking the LPN exam.

2. I was less nervous as a new RN graduate. 

This one should not be understated because since I started working independently as an LPN before I graduated RN school I had already experienced some of the “freakout” moments new nurses normally have. 

Because of that my transition as a new RN was so much easier. 

2. Making More Money

Alright so I guess for one of my jobs when they moved me from a tech position to an LPN position I was making more money but it was marginal. 

It was like a dollar and change more money an hour working as an LPN as opposed to a tech. 

Actually I remember having a conversation with an ER tech who laughed at me and told me that he knew techs throughout the hospital making a lot more money.

I learned an important less.

Hospitals don’t pay LPNs anywhere near as much as what a nursing home or long term acute care (LTAC) would pay them.

So that didn’t really pan out as I had hoped.

3. Peace of Mind

This might not matter for most students but for me it was big.

I had a constant fear that I was going to fail out of nursing school.

You could easily argue that it was an irrational fear.

But it’s only irrational to those who aren’t experiencing it and I did have classmates who did fail classes.

Getting that LPN licensure gave me some peace of mind knowing that regardless of what happened I could always get a job as an LPN.

The Cons of Getting Your LPN While in Nursing School

I’ve touched on some of the cons already above but here’s a quick summary:

  1. You might not make as much as you would think.
  2. You have to pay for and sit for the NCLEX-PN only to turn around and do the exact same thing in a year for the NCLEX-RN. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Should You Get Your LPN While in Nursing School?

If you ask me I would say yes, if it is an option you should get your LPN license while in RN school.

If I had to do it all over again I probably would still get my LPN early for many of the reasons I said above.

I do recognize it’s not for everyone and for most nursing students they’re not going to want to devote the time or the money to it, and that’s ok. 

2. What are some of the Requirements for Challenging the NCLEX-PN?

If I remember correctly the way my program was structured I needed to have taken and passed:

  • Medical-Surgical Nursing 1
  • Medical-Surgical Nursing 2
  • Psychiatric Nursing
  • Pediatric Nursing
  • Obstetrics Nursing

Then I had to fill out an exception form.

Get a letter from my nursing school and get a background check done.

And of course, pay some fees.

This will probably vary with your state and not all states or programs will make getting your LPN during nursing school an option.

The best way to be sure is to talk to your nursing program faculty and reach out to your state’s board of nursing (BON). 

Conclusion

Becoming an LPN I think positively made a difference for me, but it’s not for everyone. 

Don’t feel like you have to become an LPN early but instead think about the pros and cons and see if it aligns with what your nursing goals are.

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