Hello there! Welcome to our comprehensive guide to higher level questions on NCLEX.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the questions categorized as higher level on the NCLEX and also give tips to help answer these questions.

By the end of this read, you’ll be well conversant with higher-level NCLEX questions and how you can go about them in the NCLEX RN and NCLEX-PN exams.

In brief, here is what we’ll talk about:

  • NCLEX exam questions
  • What are considered higher-level questions on the NCLEX?
  • Strategies to prepare and pass the higher-level questions

Without further ado, let’s get started.

NCLEX Exam Questions

NCLEX Exam Questions

The National Council Licensure Examination questions use Bloom’s Taxonomy, which categorizes learning skills into six levels.

The taxonomy was developed by Benjamin Bloom, a psychologist at the University of Chicago, in 1956.

Educators have used it worldwide to design and assess learning outcomes.

At its inception, Bloom’s Taxonomy had six learning objectives: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

The six levels of objectives were recently updated to reflect the current learning needs.

The six levels now include: remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create.

And so the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, with its computerized adaptive testing, seeks to establish potential registered nurses and LPNs’ abilities to perform entry-level nursing duties using Bloom’s Taxonomy.

The skills level progressively requires test-takers to apply knowledge, use critical thinking, and explore decision-making skills to solve complex situations/cases in the exam.

The NCSBN uses CAT, where the exam questions get tough the more the test-takers answer the questions correctly.

This will continue until they get a question wrong, and the difficulty level will decrease until they can get a question right again.

The pattern continues as the test steadily progresses toward challenging questions.

So, how does Bloom’s Taxonomy work with NCLEX?

At the bottom of the hierarchy is, remembering, which requires memorizing concepts like lab values, anatomical names, vital signs, and so on.

As the hierarchy progresses, the complexity of the questions increases, and learners are required to apply the knowledge learned, develop relationships between concepts, find solutions, and deduce meaning.

According to Bloom, learners’ ability to solve problems or analyze information increases with each objective or skill level.

Learners’ level of subject mastery is tested through questions that adapt to their competency level.

What Are Considered Higher-Level Questions on NCLEX?

What Are Considered Higher-Level Questions on NCLEX

From Bloom’s Taxonomy, higher level NCLEX questions come from these three objectives: analyses, evaluate and create.

Analyzing, evaluating, and creating questions in the NCLEX-PN and NCLEX-RN tests require test-takers to go beyond memorizing and thoroughly understanding the exam content.

It focuses on the mastery of the NCLEX material.

To pass these questions, test-takers must analyze the information given and apply the knowledge learned.

The higher-level questions on NCLEX require critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills to answer the questions.

Mostly, students are tasked with inferring from their experience and knowledge.

These questions test nursing students on their application and mastery of nursing processes.

When working with patients, can nurses prioritize their needs according to their health situations?

Can they analyze and apply knowledge and clinical experience to provide safe care for clients?

These are some items that analyze, evaluate, and create skills level NCLEX questions try to establish.

You can quickly notice higher-level questions on NCLEX (although this is not your call during the test) because they usually come wrapped in scenarios requiring critical thinking to find the correct response.

That said, let’s jump into the three higher-level questions on NCLEX.


Here, you are required to break down the information given into components or parts to find an answer.

You’ll be looking for patterns or how the different components relate, for example, looking into data from medical records to make a deduction or connecting symptoms to a condition or prescription.

These questions require you to know the explanation behind concepts to make deductions.

Questions that require analysis usually have keywords such as determine, detect, examine, compare, investigate, calculate, analyze, and categorize.


Evaluation questions are higher-level questions you should be conversant with.

These questions require you to make a judgment or provide a solution based on the criteria, standards, or evidence given.

Depending on the information provided, you’ll need to give your insight, which may be task delegation, verifying client teachings, interventions, or client status.

Look for words such as consider, relate, compare, grade, determine, justify, assess, contrast, rank, select, recommend, or evaluate.


As the name suggests, this skill objective is geared towards testing learners on using their skills, knowledge, and experience to create new ideas, structures, or patterns, such as quality improvement projects or even plans of care.

The keywords to look out for here include create, plan, modify, develop, prepare, propose, or manage.

Passing questions at these three levels of conceptual understanding shows that learners have sufficient knowledge to deliver as a nurse and cope with the job demands.

In other words, they are above the minimum level of competency required for NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN.

Now that you know what higher-level questions on the NCLEX mean and how to identify them, let’s focus on how you can prepare for these questions and pass the exam.

Strategies to Prepare and Pass the Higher Level Questions on the NCLEX Exam

Strategies to Prepare and Pass the Higher Level Questions on the NCLEX Exam

According to NCSBN, the pass rate for first-time test-takers is 86%.

That means only 13.8% fail the exam.

That’s good news because it shows that passing the exam on the first trial is possible even with the higher-level questions.

So, how do you go about preparing?

First things first, have a study plan ready once you’ve gone through the NCLEX test plan.

Write down what you want to achieve (as in goals) and by when.

Ensure you have time to review the study materials, particularly a study guide and practice questions.

Practice questions are crucial because they’ll help you familiarize yourself with the phrasing of higher-level questions and how to dissect and answer them.

That brings me to my next point, answer explanations.

The rationales will help you better understand the logic behind the incorrect or correct answers for questions that require you to analyze, evaluate or create.

This knowledge will come in handy on the test date.

When it comes to the exam, be at the testing center 30 minutes before the test time to familiarize yourself with the environment and shake off the anxiety.

When taking the exam, read the questions word for word.

Don’t make assumptions about what you are asked before you’ve read the whole question.

Focus on the keywords and data presented to understand the questions.

Is the data provided correct, or are there some abnormalities?

Which words pop out?

These two items will help you determine what exactly the question is asking.

It will also help to mentally note which subject area the question is coming from to narrow your focus.

Next, is the question positive or negative?

Finally, avoid altering the meaning of the questions by asking yourself, “what if…”

Stick to the question as it is.

All these items will take you one step closer to understanding the question and choosing the right answer.

When it comes to the answer choices, read all the multiple-choice answers.

Use the elimination method to remove the two outrightly wrong choices.

Some tips to help you: eliminate answer options that are alike or can substitute each other.

Close-ended words are mostly incorrect choices.

The answer choice that summarizes all the answer choices, i.e., an umbrella term, is most likely the correct answer.

Given the number of questions in the NCLEX exam, you want to time yourself accordingly.

Start pacing yourself early during the practice exams to get used to the time limit.


Conclusion about higher level questions on nclex

To pass NCLEX, you’ll need more than what you learned in nursing school.

And yes, you already have the foundational knowledge in check, but that’s not enough.

You must be able to apply this knowledge in real-life nursing practice scenarios since higher-level questions on the NCLEX test your competency level.

These questions require you to analyze situations and come up with solutions.

Hence, memorization won’t work.

You need to understand the exam content and take as many practice exams as possible to have any chance of passing this level of questions.


FAQs about higher level questions on nclex

What level are priority questions on NCLEX?

Priority questions require test-takers to analyze the questions and the answer choices to find the correct answer—the questions at this level test nursing students’ conceptual comprehension. Priority questions are integral to the NCLEX exam. To pass the exam, you must answer these questions correctly.

Are prioritization questions higher level NCLEX?

Yes. Prioritization questions are written at the analysis level, which requires test-takers to evaluate the situation in a question and make the right decision about patient safety, care environment, priorities for care, or management of care. Usually, the questions test learners’ ability to choose the correct order of priority.

What is considered a hard question on NCLEX?

All the categories of questions on the NCLEX test require an increasing level of critical thinking. That is to say, in all the categories, you’ll find higher-level questions that need analysis and evaluation to answer. These questions test practical nursing skills.

What does it mean when you get a lot of SATA questions on NCLEX?

Select all that apply questions is not an indicator of whether you are passing or failing. Since the difficulty level of this type of question is subjective depending on the test-takers skill level, ability, and knowledge, it doesn’t indicate your performance on the test.

What is the best question to ask to determine if a question is higher level on NCLEX?

Ask yourself whether the questions require you to analyze a situation or evaluate a condition. Higher-level questions require learners to apply critical thinking skills to provide the correct answer. To answer these questions correctly, you must understand the NCLEX exam content in-depth.

What is the difference between a priority question and a regular question on NCLEX?

Priority questions require students to analyze the questions and apply their knowledge to find the correct answer. These questions usually have words like “initial response,” “best,” “most important,” and “first.” Regular questions don’t require analysis. You’ll mostly need to memorize basic concepts and facts.

What are some of the most difficult questions on NCLEX?

Analyze, evaluate, and create skills questions are the most difficult. These questions test nursing skills. Hence, you must have a thorough knowledge of the NCLEX content areas and be able to apply that knowledge. The difficult questions test critical thinking skills.


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