In 2011, CARNA and nine Canadian RN regulators issued a request for proposal (RFP) for the delivery of a national computer-adaptive test (CAT) with the goal of replacing our 40-year old paper-and-pencil format with a more innovative, flexible and efficient testing process.
In traditional tests, all candidates are exposed to the same questions and number of items. The exam evaluates the candidate’s ability to respond correctly to a fixed number of questions in a fixed period of time.
In contrast, computer-adaptive testing actively and continuously adapts to the test taker’s ability level and provides each writer with a unique set and number of questions. The NCLEX-RN measures the difficulty level vs. the number of questions.
Exam candidates do not waste time on questions that are too hard or too easy, and we fulfill our mandate to reliably assess an applicant’s ability to meet the competencies needed to practise safely, effectively and ethically as a newly registered entry-level RN.
The RFP for the exam included the following criteria:
A Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) completed in 2014 indicated that delivery of the NCLEX-RN complied with all Canadian legislation related to privacy, disclosure and information use.
The review and evaluation of the NCLEX-RN exam is ongoing and continuous.
Twice a year, CARNA staff review exam questions in both French and English and look for biases against Alberta writers. All Canadian regulatory colleges using the NCLEX-RN follow a similar process. This fall, the CARNA CEO participated and reviewed questions with other staff members.
In addition, NCLEX-RN test plans are reviewed and/or revised by the NCLEX Examination Committee (NEC) based upon results of practice analyses and other appropriate research studies. Canadian representatives from two of Canada’s largest regulatory colleges, Ontario and British Columbia, currently sit on the NEC.
An evaluation to assess the soundness of the CRNE was never conducted over the 40 years of its use. Evaluations consisted of surveying candidates on their experience of the exam.
Exam candidates in Alberta pay significantly less since the introduction of the NCLEX-RN, from $570 CAD for the CRNE in 2014 compared to $360 CAD for the NCLEX-RN since 2015.
CARNA does not incur any additional administrative costs to deliver the NCLEX-RN. With the previous exam format, CARNA paid for the rental of exam venues across the province, coordinated all exam logistics with candidates as well as recruitment and training of exam supervisors and payment of their expenses.
The selection of the exam is the responsibility of CARNA Provincial Council. In Alberta, the Health Professions Act states that CARNA Provincial Council must establish, maintain and enforce standards for registration to protect and serve the public interest. The Registered Nurses Profession Regulation states that all candidates seeking entry to the profession must pass a registration exam, which the Regulation defines as “a registration exam approved by Council.”
Transparent updates to all stakeholders will be provided on a regular basis.