PAX Practice Test

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PAX stands for Pre-Admission Exam. Nursing schools use the exam to determine if an applicant has the skills and aptitudes necessary to do well in a program of nursing education.

This page will cover the PAX exam administered by the National League for Nursing (NLN), including what information the examination covers, the number and type of questions you can expect, the score you need to pass, and everything you need to register for the assessment.

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PAX Practice Tests by Subject

If you need some extra practice in a specific subject, click one of the subjects below to get started on a subject-specific PAX practice test.

Pre-Admission Exam Outline

The PAX test contains 160 multiple-choice questions, and you will be given 2 hours and 5 minutes to complete it.

The test is split into three sections:

exam outline for the NLN PAX exam, which contains 160 multiple-choice questions and has a time limit of 2 hours and 5 minutes

I. Verbal (60 questions)

This section is divided into two subsections, and you will have 45 minutes to complete all of the questions.

Reading Comprehension (30 questions)
For questions in this subsection, you will be asked to read five passages, each being around 400 words in length, and each passage will have 6 questions related to it.

table showing which passages are at each reading level from 8th grade to 14th grade

The passages will be either general or scientific in nature and will test your ability to fully grasp the information presented. The difficulty of the passages increases as you go through this subsection, starting at an 8th-9th-grade reading level and ending at a basic college reading level

Word Knowledge (30 questions)
The questions in this subsection assess your ability to correctly identify the meaning of words in certain contexts within a sentence. The difficulty level of these words and sentences ranges from an 8th-grade reading level to a basic college reading level:

table showing how many questions are at each reading level from 8th grade to 14th grade

II. Mathematics (40 questions)

This section, which is timed at 35 minutes, tests your ability to solve a wide array of basic math problems, including problems that involve algebra and geometry.

There are two categories of questions in this section: computation and problem-solving. This means that you will be given the chance to perform mathematical operations and apply them to word problems. In total, there are 18 computation questions and 22 problem-solving questions.

These are the specific topics that will be covered:

  • Integers
  • Details
  • Fractions
  • Percentages
  • Ratios
  • Measurement conversions
  • Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Math concepts

III. Science (60 questions)

This section focuses on your knowledge and cognitive skills in relation to various fields of science, and you will be given 45 minutes to complete this section. These are the topics that will be covered:

  • Biology
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Health

Bloom’s Taxonomy is used as the basis for the questions in this section:

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Pre-Admission Exam Registration

While the exam itself is the same no matter where you take it, it is going to be administered by the school that you are applying to. So you will register for your appointment through the school. The exam fee also depends on where you are taking it but will usually range from $60 to $100.

When you register, you will have a range of dates to choose from. It is offered several times each month. Many locations will also offer a range of start times on each date so that you can find something that fits best with your schedule.

PAX Test Scores

When you receive your score report, you will see what percentage of questions you answered correctly in each section of the test, as well as a composite score and overall percentile rank. Since each nursing program has its own standard for acceptable scores, there is no standard passing or failing score.

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Online PAX Prep Course

If you want to be fully prepared, Mometrix offers an online PAX prep course. The course is designed to provide you with any and every resource you might want while studying. The PAX course includes:

  • 80+ Review Lessons Covering Every Topic
  • 1,100+ PAX Practice Questions
  • More than 300 Digital Flashcards
  • Over 280 Instructional Videos
  • Money-back Guarantee
  • Free Mobile Access
  • and More!

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The PAX prep course is designed to help any learner get everything they need to prepare for their PAX exam. Click below to check it out!

How to Study for the PAX

How to Study Effectively

Your success on PAX test day depends not only on how many hours you put into preparing but also on whether you prepared the right way. It’s good to check along the way to see whether your studying is paying off. One of the most effective ways to do this is by taking PAX practice tests to evaluate your progress. Practice tests are useful because they show exactly where you need to improve. Every time you take a free PAX exam practice test, pay special attention to these three groups of questions:

  • The questions you got wrong
  • The ones you had to guess on, even if you guessed right
  • The ones you found difficult or slow to work through

This will show you exactly what your weak areas are and where you need to devote more study time. Ask yourself why each of these questions gave you trouble. Was it because you didn’t understand the material? Was it because you didn’t remember the vocabulary? Do you need more repetitions on this type of question to build speed and confidence? Dig into those questions and figure out how you can strengthen your weak areas as you go back to review the material.

Answer Explanations

Additionally, many PAX practice tests have a section explaining the answer choices. It can be tempting to read the explanation and think that you now have a good understanding of the concept. However, an explanation likely only covers part of the question’s broader context. Even if the explanation makes sense, go back and investigate every concept related to the question until you’re positive you have a thorough understanding.

Comprehend Each Topic

As you go along, keep in mind that the PAX practice test is just that: practice. Memorizing these questions and answers will not be very helpful on the actual test because it is unlikely to have any of the same exact questions. If you only know the right answers to the sample questions, you won’t be prepared for the real thing. Study the concepts until you understand them fully, and then you’ll be able to answer any question that shows up on the test.

Strategy for PAX Practice

When you’re ready to start taking practice tests, follow this strategy:

  • Remove Limitations. Take the first test with no time constraints and with your notes and PAX study guide handy. Take your time and focus on applying the strategies you’ve learned.
  • Time Yourself. Take the second practice test “open book” as well, but set a timer and practice pacing yourself to finish in time.
  • Simulate Test Day. Take any other practice tests as if it were test day. Set a timer and put away your study materials. Sit at a table or desk in a quiet room, imagine yourself at the testing center, and answer questions as quickly and accurately as possible.
  • Keep Practicing. Keep taking practice tests on a regular basis until you run out of practice tests or it’s time for the actual test. Your mind will be ready for the schedule and stress of test day, and you’ll be able to focus on recalling the material you’ve learned.



How many questions are on the NLN PAX exam?


There are 160 multiple-choice questions on the exam


How long is the NLN PAX exam?


The time limit for the test is 2 hours and 5 minutes.


What is the passing score for the NLN PAX exam?


There is no set passing score for this exam. The nursing program of your choice will decide what scores they accept as passing.


How much does the NLN PAX exam cost?


The fee for the exam will be different depending on where you take the test. Generally, it ranges from $60 to $100.

By Kate Nockunas

Kate has been Mometrix’s Nursing and Medical Editor for over four years. She has a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Vanderbilt University, a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Marymount University, and a master’s degree in Education from Johns Hopkins. Kate is a critical care registered nurse who still works occasionally in the ICU and PACU.


by Mometrix Test Preparation | This Page Last Updated: March 5, 2024