How to Interpret the NLN Test

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The National League for Nursing (NLN) is a well-renowned organization for nurse faculty, as well as leaders in the field of nursing. In addition to offering development programs, research grants and public policy initiatives, the NLN offers testing and assessment for a wide variety of topics that cover all facets of nursing. From preadmission nursing exams to the Nursing Acceleration Challenge Exam (NACE), which evaluates learning in order to assist nurses with job mobility, the NLN casts a wide net in nurse evaluation.

  • Evaluate your overall test results, looking for the following items: raw score, subscore, percentile score, percentile of subscores, percentage score, standard score and normalized percentile. These seven classifications are standard on all NLN exam results and will be available following the completion of your test. For computer-based tests, your results will be immediately available, and for paper-based tests, the results will come in the mail. When you receive your NLN results, an interpretation sheet will be included.

  • Determine the differences between each of the seven scores and how they relate to your particular test. Raw score is the number of questions answered correctly, percentage score is the percentage of questions answered correctly (e.g., a raw score of 50 out of 100 questions would give you a 50% percentage score). There is also a standard score and normalized percentile, which deal with the distribution of scores and how your raw score falls into a particular category, respectively.

  • Consider the scores among the three possible classifications of tests offered by NLN: achievement tests, comprehensive achievement tests and the NACE. For achievement tests, class reports, class/group mean, max score possible, analysis of responses and item descriptors are compiled. Comprehensive achievement tests look at individual student reports, total test scores, subscores, and summary data. The NACE includes individual student reports, decision scores, and advisory scores.

  • Determine the classification of your test and interpret the results. If you took an achievement test, look at the "class report," which includes a breakdown of the "class group/mean" and the "max score possible." According to the NLN, "a class report includes the names of students who are covered by the report in the first column." The "class/group mean," expressed in percentages, is equivalent to the average raw score. "Max score possible" is the maximum raw score possible on each test, represented by the total number of scored items in that test.

    For the comprehensive achievement test, total test scores and subscores are focal points. Total test scores could be a raw score, a standard score, or a percent-correct score. The bottom of the score report will indicate what total test score format is reported. Subscores are reported as advisory scores, while percent-correct scores represent the percentage of items in any given subscore that the student answered correctly.

    NACE exam results include individual student reports, decision scores, and advisory scores. Student reports include the examinee's name, test date, normative group information, decision score, and advisory scores. Decision scores vary by NACE test versions. NACE I reports the decision score as the total percentage of questions answered correctly, while NACE II uses a standard score of 100 and the standard deviation is 20 for all examinees in that norms group.

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