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You need to take the NCLEX to get your nursing licensure and work as a nurse.

The road to the NCLEX is long and difficult. But does that always have to begin with a nursing degree? Here's the answer.

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Can I Take the NCLEX Without a Nursing Degree?

You cannot take the NCLEX without passing a nursing program. You either have to pass an LPN program, get an associate's degree in nursing (ADN, ASN, AAS), a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN), or pass one of the few remaining diploma programs in the country.

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You Have to Get a nursing Degree to Take the NCLEX

holding a graduation hat

There's no way around it. You have to graduate from an accredited nursing program to sit for the NCLEX.

If you want to sit for the NCLEX-PN, you must pass an accredited LPN nursing school.

If you want to sit for the NCLEX-RN, you have to pass an accredited RN nursing school. Plain and simple.

What's the Difference Between the NCLEX-PN and NCLEX-RN?
The difference between the two NCLEX exams is that the NCLEX-PN is the LPN licensing exam, and the NCLEX-RN is the RN licensing exam.

There are also some differences in the material covered in both exams.

There is one exception to this, and I don't really think it's that much of an exception.

There's a handful of diploma nursing programs in the country. If you get into one of those diploma programs and complete the program, you can sit for the NCLEX.

I say it's not much of an exception because you would still have to pass a nursing program.

The only difference is that you're not really earning any college credits in a diploma program.

Therefore if you decide to go back and become an advanced practice registered nurse, you wouldn't have any college credits to apply to that degree.

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Frequently Asked Questions

You cannot take the NCLEX without attending a nursing program. You either have to get ADN, a BSN, or pass one of the few remaining diploma programs in the country.

You cannot take the NCLEX without going to nursing school. You either have to get an associate's degree in nursing (ADN), a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN), or pass a diploma program.

You cannot challenge the NCLEX exam without going to nursing school. If you're in an RN program, some states may let you challenge the NCLEX-PN part ways through RN school to become an LPN.

You cannot become an RN without going to nursing school. The one exception will be going to a diploma program.

No, you cannot take the NCLEX without hospital experience. Even if you don't have work experience, to graduate from an accredited nursing program, you would have to pass nursing school clinicals. Clinicals would give you some supervised hospital experience.