Understanding Your BoardVitals NCLEX® CAT Score 

nclex cat score

The BoardVitals NCLEX-RN® and NCLEX-PN® question banks are equipped with Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT) technology. Users can create an unlimited number of CAT practice exams to get a feeling for the test conditions they will see on the NCLEX-RN® or NCLEX-PN®. The exam results are designed to help students understand which content areas they are weak or strong in, rather than predict the likelihood they will pass the NCLEX®. 

Understanding how you perform on these practice exams is essential to your test preparation success. We’ve put together a guide on your NCLEX® CAT score to help you understand how you did, and what that means for how you’ll perform on the NCLEX®. 

About CAT Technology 

For CAT testing, questions are sorted into difficulty levels based on each question’s average correct percentage by other BoardVitals users. Then, you are given questions until you have answered enough questions within a given difficulty level for the exam to determine your performance level. At exam completion, you will receive a performance evaluation with an NCLEX® CAT score that includes an indicator of the average question difficulty: easy, moderate, or hard. A peer rank within that difficulty band indicates how you have performed compared to all test takers who took items of the same level of difficulty.

NCLEX® CAT Score Report Example 

On your score report, you will see the following information: 

  • Total Questions
  • Your Rank
  • Student Score
  • Subject Performance  

cat testing
What does it all mean? Below we’ve broken down each element of the score report using the example report above to help you better understand your results.

Total Questions: 75 

The length of each test is the result of the student’s response patterns. The computer algorithm selects items that students have a 50% chance of answering correctly based on their previous responses. If an assessment terminates after a student has completed a minimum of 75 items, it indicates that the adaptive algorithm has enough information to accurately estimate the student’s ability level, without the need to administer more items.  

For students taking the NCLEX-RN®, your exam may end as soon as after a minimum of 75 questions. If the exam is unable to gauge your performance (for example, if a user keeps alternating between correct and incorrect questions equally), you must keep answering questions until you reach a maximum of 265 questions. For students preparing for the NCLEX-PN®, you may see as few as 85 items or as many as 205 items. 

It is important to remember that the length of your CAT exam has no bearing on the likelihood of you passing the NCLEX; it is merely the algorithm at work, and having to answer more questions is not necessarily a bad sign. 

Your Rank: 88th Percentile of Hard Difficulty 

Your rank indicates your overall performance in relation to your peers in a given difficulty category. “88th percentile” means that you did better than or equal to 88% of all test takers who received hard difficulty level questions. A higher percentile rank on difficult items is ideal. This rank means you are excelling at some of the hardest questions on the test. 

Student Score: 60% Correct 

The adaptive exam administers items that match a student’s ability level, which results in about 60% probability of getting the items correct. Given that, it is typical for a student’s overall percentage correct score to vary from 50% to 60%, regardless of the difficulty category.  

While a “0%” is typically considered to be a failing score, it is important to note that a 60% overall percent correct score does not indicate that a student is performing poorly. Rather, it indicates that the scoring algorithm has effectively minimized the error in estimating the student’s ability level and has been selecting items with the most appropriate difficulty level for the student. 

cat subjects

Subject Performance 

This section on your report provides, by subject area, the total questions you have responded to, your percentage correct scores, and percentile ranks. These results can be helpful in determining your strongest and weakest areas. Use them as a guide as you continue to prepare for your exam.

Prepare for your upcoming exam with the BoardVitals NCLEX-RN® or NCLEX-PN® question bank. Sign up for a free trial today. 

Still have questions on your CAT test performance? Comment below! 

The writing staff at BoardVitals is passionate about medicine, healthcare, and education. We’ve trained over 1.5 million physicians and work with more than 300 top teaching institutions. Learn more about our board review and continuing education products at boardvitals.com.

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