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Test Policy Info

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NLN Test Policy and Procedures

There is increasing awareness and concern in the field of educational assessment regarding the problem of test security. The repercussions from a test breach affect other institutions administering the same exams and compromise the utility of the test for future administrations. Interpretation of exam results can also be jeopardized. The National League for Nursing has built into its testing program a number of measures designed to protect the integrity and security of its exams.

When administering any version of an NLN test — whether in experimental or final form — the test administrator becomes responsible for protecting and maintaining test security. With every purchase, instructions are provided for maintaining test security during the storage, administration, proctoring, and return of NLN tests. The NLN depends on all test users to safeguard NLN exams by incorporating security measures in their settings and following NLN instructions and procedures. Below is a summary of key NLN procedures.

Test Use and Misuse

Each NLN Achievement Test is constructed with a specific purpose in mind. Some tests are designed to measure students' knowledge in a specific content area, and would normally be given after completing the unit of instruction covering that content. Other tests, for example Comprehensives, are designed to measure overall achievement at the end of the curriculum. NLN Achievement Tests are not designed for use in selecting applicants for admission to a program. Nor should achieving a certain score on a standardized test be considered to be a minimum requirement for awarding a course grade, for graduation, or for awarding a degree. Using a test for purposes other than those for which it was designed is inappropriate, and is likely to provide misleading information about students. If a test is used for another purpose, it is the users' responsibility to independently validate the test for that use.

Because of the diversity in nursing programs and curricula, it is extremely unlikely that any one standardized test reflects totally the content and objectives of any one course or curriculum. Therefore, any standardized test should be considered to be just one source of data about student ability, and should be used in conjunction with other sources of information when making judgments about students' ability in the content domain covered by that test.

Caution is urged in the use of data from the analysis of students' responses and review of test questions. It is important that faculty consider the questions in their broad context and not attempt to "teach to the test," remembering that the questions are only a sample of all that might have been included from the field being tested. The purpose of NLN Achievement Tests is to help schools evaluate the extent to which their students are attaining the generally accepted objectives of nursing education in the subject matter covered by the test. NLN Achievement Tests are not intended for use in setting educational objectives within any program.

Experimental Questions

Some of the tests contain experimental questions which are included for future test development purposes only. These questions are not scored or reported; nor are they included in the analysis of responses mentioned elsewhere in NLN Testing Services information materials.

Repeating a Test

Any individual test is only a sampling of the hundreds of questions that might have been asked on the subject matter in the general content area covered by that test. For this reason, it is not useful to have students repeat an examination to improve their scores. Learning the answers to the specific test questions might raise scores, but would not necessarily indicate an increase in students' knowledge of the content area covered by the test. A higher score on the second testing would therefore have little meaning.

Score Reporting In our efforts to maintain confidentiality, scores will not be given to students by phone, fax, or email.


Storage of Test Materials

Test administrators must take measures to properly keep PBTs and supplemental materials in locked facilities until they are used. Only limited and authorized individuals may review test forms and perform administration or proctoring duties. After a test is issued, proctors or other authorized individuals must collect all test forms.

Test Administration

The test administrator is accountable for every test booklet that is sent to the institution, even if the test is unused. Every examinee issued a test booklet must return it before being dismissed from the testing session.

Test proctors must also focus on ensuring the security of test booklets as they oversee examinees during a testing session. If an examinee takes a break during a test or leaves the test room for any reason, test booklets, answer sheets, and scrap paper must always be held by the proctor until the examinee returns. Examinees may not take testing materials out of the secure test setting for any reason.

Returning Tests

All tests — whether used or unused — must be returned immediately after administration by a traceable shipping method. The tests should be handled only by test administrators and other authorized people who must take measures to ensure that tests are secure during the packing and mailing procedure. Test booklets must be sent to a separate address than answer sheets for destruction.

All testing materials remain the property of the NLN and must be returned unless otherwise stated. Be sure to follow directions and procedures outlined in the Order Process and Test Policy notice that accompany your exams.

Thank you for taking the time to read through NLN test policy and procedures on test security. Customers' continued cooperation and assistance in helping to safeguard exam security is crucial for continued usefulness of NLN assessment tools and helps to ensure the highest quality of testing content.


Nursing Education
Nursing Education
Nursing Education
Nursing Education