Types of NCLEX Questions: The Ultimate Guide

The NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) is a standardized exam that provides licensure to nurses. The NCLEX is a significant milestone and the final step before beginning a career in nursing. Preparation is crucial to success on this exam. One of the best ways to prepare for the NCLEX is to become familiar with the kinds of questions you’ll encounter. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the various types of NCLEX questions so you’ll be able to navigate through them confidently. 

Here’s what you can expect to see on the exam. 

The Ultimate Guide to NCLEX Question Types


Multiple-choice questions are the most common type of question on the NCLEX. Multiple-choice questions typically present a clinical scenario followed by four multiple-choice options. There’s one correct answer for these questions, while the other choices are distractors. 

To excel at these kinds of questions, you must carefully read each question, identify keywords, and reduce the answer choices as you determine which are incorrect. Remember to think critically and take your time to identify the best answer. 

Select All That Apply (SATA)

Select all that apply, or multiple-response questions, require you to select all the correct answers from a list of choices. These questions require critical thinking and a comprehensive understanding of the topic. 

Previous versions of the NCLEX exam did not allow for partial credit, but that’s changed! You may now receive partial credit for the correct answers you selected, even if you didn’t select all the correct answers or one incorrect answer. When answering these questions, it’s essential to carefully evaluate each option and ensure it aligns with your topic or scenario. 

Next-Generation NCLEX Questions

Since the introduction of the NCLEX Next Generation (NGN), there have been a few updates to the types of questions that are on the exam. Let’s review the new kinds of questions you might see on the NCLEX. Here they are, in no particular order: 

Case Study

There’s approximately three case studies per exam. Each case study has six NGN-style questions within it. When completing a case study, you’ll work through client scenarios on a screen with several tabs that you’re able to click through. 

Tabs may include: 

  • Assessments
  • Nurses’ notes
  • Lab or test results 


You’ll be asked to highlight your answer from specific selectable text. You may see this in a:

  • Paragraph 
  • Table
  • You may be asked to highlight critical actions or signs and symptoms. Think of this as a different version of SATA!


A matrix question is a multiple-choice question! You’ll be given a client scenario and a grid. The grid will have 4-10 rows with 2-3 columns. 

You’ll have to go through each row and select the correct answer (there’s only one). 

For example, you may be given a client scenario. From there, you may have a matrix with a column titled “Symptoms,” with a list of symptoms in each row. From there, the remaining columns may say “Improved,” “Worsened,” or “No change noted,” and you’ll need to select the corresponding column to match the symptoms in each row.


Think of this as a more complex drag-and-drop question! You’ll be given client information on the left side of your screen, with a drag-and-drop question on the right side of the screen. 

This drag-and-drop format is in the shape of a bowtie! 



When you hear “cloze,” think “Fill in the blank.” It sounds way less scary, right? 

You’ll be provided a client scenario and asked to fill in segments of it with answer choices from a drop-down menu.


You’ll be given a table with a few rows for this question type. In each row, you’ll have a question with a drop-down answer to select. Each drop-down question will have 3-5 choices to pick from. 

Don’t let this scare you! Just think of it as a multiple-choice question, with 3-5 answer choices, but in a drop-down menu format!


In these questions, you’ll be providing rationales! Consider a client scenario where an urgent intervention by the nurse is necessary.

You’ll need to select, from a drop-down menu, what the intervention is, then select why the nurse must complete that intervention based on the client scenario provided to you.

Drag & Drop


There’s that word again…cloze! Remember, it just means a fill-in-the-blank question. So this question type is precisely what it sounds like. You’ll need to drag and drop your answer into a sentence. 


Similar to the rationale drop-down questions, you’ll need to provide rationales. This time, you’ll select from multiple answer choices and drag and drop them to fill in a sentence. 

For example, if a client’s heart rate reading is ______, the client is at the highest risk of ____ and ____. 

From there, you would drag and drop your answers into place!

Multiple Response

Select “N”

(This question is just multiple SATA questions grouped together!)

Further Reading

And so, those are the questions you can expect to see on your NCLEX Next Generation exam. Check out our YouTube channel if you’re looking for more examples and visuals of these question types. You’ll find many great resources to help you get ready for your exam!

Or, if you prefer to read another article, check out these other posts on the Blueprint Nursing blog!

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