top of page

"Breaking Down the Differences: OIIQ Exam vs. NCLEX Exam - Which Nursing Exam is Right for You?"

Aspiring nurses in Quebec, Canada, and the United States are required to pass their respective nursing board exams to become licensed practitioners. In Quebec, the OIIQ exam is administered to graduates of nursing programs in the province, while the NCLEX exam is administered in the United States and in the other provinces in Canada. While both exams assess the competency of nursing graduates, there are some key differences between the OIIQ exam and the NCLEX exam.

1. Exam Format

The written OIIQ exam comprises 40 to 45 clinical scenarios accompanied by 125 to 135 multiple-choice questions. The scenarios presented are reflective of the nursing profession and carry a certain weighting for each question, with each clinical situation accounting for 100 points. There are two examination booklets to be completed; one in the morning and one in the afternoon. During the exam, you may request to see a question in the other language (French or English). There will be a 60-minute break between the two parts of the examination.

The NCLEX exam, on the other hand, is a computer adaptive test that adjusts the difficulty level of questions based on the candidate's responses. The exam consists of a minimum of 75 questions and a maximum of 265 questions, and candidates have up to six hours to complete it.

2. Content Focus

The OIIQ exam concentrates on the crucial elements of every clinical scenario, particularly evaluating your ability to incorporate and utilize your knowledge, the proficiencies acquired in diverse clinical situations, and your capability to make clinical judgments and implement appropriate interventions. It's crucial to understand that the exam is more than just a mere assessment of your knowledge, as it is specifically designed to determine your competence to practice the nursing profession.

The NCLEX exam covers a broader range of nursing topics, but its content is based on the NCLEX test plan. This plan outlines four major categories: Safe and Effective Care Environment, Health Promotion and Maintenance, Psychosocial Integrity, and Physiological Integrity. These categories cover a variety of topics, including nursing care for different age groups, pharmacology, nursing process, and more.

3. Passing Scores

The OIIQ exam;

The Angoff Method, which involves a panel of expert teachers and professors, is utilized to establish the passing score. This method considers the level of difficulty of the exam and suggests a pass score to the Board of Directors. The Board ultimately decides on the passing score, and the results are subjected to a linear transformation based on a pass mark of 55%. It's worth noting that the grades are not standardized.

The NCLEX exam; In the United States or the other Canadian provinces, the passing score for the NCLEX exam is determined by the individual state boards of nursing. The passing score is based on a predetermined standard that is set by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).

4. Retake Policies

If a candidate fails the OIIQ exam, they may retake the exam for a maximum of 3 takes, provided they meet the eligibility criteria. However, there is a waiting period of 6 months between each attempt. The exam is held only in March and September every year.

If a candidate fails the NCLEX exam, they may retake it as many times as needed after a mandatory waiting period. The waiting period varies by state or Canadian provinces, but it is typically around 45 days.

5. Language of Examination

The OIIQ exam is offered in both English and French. It is the language of work and instruction for nurses in the province of Quebec. Candidates are able to choose their preferred language of examination when they register for the exam.

The NCLEX exam, however, is offered in both English and Spanish. To meet the needs of French-speaking, Canadian NCLEX-RN candidates, NCSBN offers the NCLEX-RN examination in French as well. Candidates are able to choose their preferred language of examination when they register for the exam.

In conclusion, while the OIIQ exam and the NCLEX exam both assess the competency of nursing graduates, there are notable differences between the two. The passing scores, retake policies, and language of examination differ between the two exams. It is important for nursing graduates to understand these differences and prepare accordingly for their respective nursing board exams.

To pass your Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec OIIQ-RN Exam go to:

To pass your Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers auxiliaires du Québec OIIAQ-LPN Exam go to:

Follow us on Instagram for more free nursing materials:

Recent Posts
bottom of page