Testing Policy

Testing in the School of Nursing is a high-stakes process for students, an essential component of student learning, and a formal component of program curriculum. Testing is one essential method of assessing student learning, program outcomes, and program quality. As such it must be managed with purpose, integrity, consistency across the curriculum, and accountability for the education we provide.

Testing also provides feedback to the students, which is particularly important in their mastery of the curriculum, development of critical thinking skills and as professionals, and preparation for the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. Test results indicate areas of mastery as well as gaps in learning and performance; they also provide important feedback to the faculty as to areas for curricular, communications, and pedagogical improvements.

Testing in the SoN must be appropriately utilized in terms of content alignment, expected outcomes, the learning domain being evaluated (cognitive/affective/psychomotor), the level of learning and thinking expected (knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation), the style of test questions, and the quality of exam questions. We need reasonable consistency across the faculty in terms of the length of exams, unit vs. cumulative, offering review sessions, evaluating test item quality, incorporating NCLEX-style questions, test-taking conditions, exam grading, responding to students’ questions on exam items, rounding of scores, applying curves, allowing extra-credit, providing make-up exams, and the like.

The following principles are established for testing in the PLU School of Nursing:


Course Exams administered in nursing courses will maximally account for 80% of the total course points.

Test questions are derived from the course Learning Outcomes which support overall BSN Program Outcomes and Nursing Competencies. Each semester is designed to expand upon the knowledge gained in the previous semesters; therefore, questions may reflect outcomes and expectations from previous courses within the Nursing Program and pre-requisite courses, such as Anatomy and Physiology.

Weighting of exams and other assignments is established in the criteria for grade determination found in each course syllabus. Students must achieve an average of 71% or higher on exams to pass the course. Grades from other assignments will then be calculated to obtain overall course grade.

Nursing exams use Bloom’s Taxonomy with some application and analysis style questions beginning the first semester.  The number of application and analysis style questions on each exam will progressively increase throughout the program.

Nursing exams are modeled after the current NCLEX-RN Test Plan (https://www.ncsbn.org/testplans.htm ). All question types may include exhibits of multimedia, tables, graphics, sound and video. Question types may include but are not limited to:

o Multiple Response

o Multiple Choice

o Fill-in-the-Blank

o Calculation

o Hot-spot

o Drag-and-drop/Ordered Response Item

Next Gen NCLEX-RN questions


The Examination Development Committee (EDC) is an ad hoc committee composed of members of the SoN Faculty dedicated to supporting examination development and analysis. The BSN program coordinator facilitates faculty activities/opportunities to develop test items, proofread exams prior to use, assist with test analysis, and provide guidance for post-analysis decisions.  This committee can also provide inter-rater grading assistance for written assignments, rubric development, and other forms of faculty support as indicated.  Membership is predominantly faculty teaching in the pre-licensure programs, but all SoN faculty are encouraged to participate.  The pre-licensure admin assistant supports committee activities, distributes the EDC’s scheduled meetings calendar to the SoN faculty, is the point of contact of examination software administration, develops the final examination schedule and maintains documents.


It is at the faculty’s discretion if a study guide or test-preparation review is provided. The format, depth, duration, date and time is also at the faculty discretion.  Faculty wishing to utilize the services of the EDC should be diligent to submit requests by the deadlines specified in the EDC calendar.  All requests submitted after the deadline will be reviewed at the next scheduled meeting.


No additional items should be brought to the testing room by the student unless approved by the instructor. Any items brought into the testing area should be placed in the designated area away from the student’s computer.

  • Head coverings (hats/hoodies/scarves) are not allowed in the testing area, with the exception of religious head coverings.
  • All documents or items brought into the testing area must be pre-approved by faculty prior to the day of the exam.
  • All non-approved items, such as cell phones, smart watches, and all other electronic devices may not be used during the test and must be turned off and stored in the designated area.
  • Written, electronic or other material is not allowed to be used during the exam unless specified by the instructor.
  • If scratch paper is needed for the exam, it will be provided by the faculty and the student must clearly write their name on each sheet. All Scratch paper MUST be turned into faculty when the exam is completed.
  • Verification of submission of tests conducted in-person using electronic software is required prior to the student leaving the classroom.
  • If the test is not administered electronically, Mtest packets and answer sheets MUST have student name and ID clearly written on the first page, be turned in to the instructor at the end of the test period and be accounted for prior to students leaving.
  • All borrowed laptops and/or calculators must be returned to the instructor and accounted for prior to student dismissal.
  • No exam assistance (asking questions or clarification about test questions or answers) by the instructor and/or proctor is allowed. Computer and technical assistance are allowed for computerized exams.  Students are responsible for ensuring electronic devices (laptops, tablets, etc.) are fully charged and in good working order prior to the exam.  Students should complete the mock test to verify that the software is properly installed prior to the class exam.  The time allotted to complete the exam will not be adjusted.
  • Scheduled tests and pre-announced quizzes must be taken on the scheduled date, at the scheduled time. Please see the excused absence and make-up procedures below.
  • Public communication about test questions is a violation of the Academic Code of Conduct and the rules governing this violation will be upheld. This includes discussion in public venues or on social media.  In the event that a student who has taken the exam discusses the exam with a student who has not taken the exam, both parties will be found to be in violation of the Academic Honesty Policy and the rules governing this violation will be upheld.
  • Grades will be entered and calculated based upon the formatting of the Learning Management System. The nursing program does NOT round grades.
  • Group testing may be utilized. Guidelines for group testing will be provided at the time of test administration.
  • All exams are to be completed at the regularly scheduled time. A student may take any exam or test one time only. It is the responsibility of the student to be prepared for all testing.
  • The student will be required to come to campus for all exams.
  • Most quizzes and exams will require use of online testing software (e.g. ExamSoft) While using testing software, students are unable to print, copy, go to another URL, or access other applications. Once an exam has been started, it must be finished in the same session.
  • Quizzes and exams will have set time frames for access availability. They will also have a set time for completion once the quiz or exam is accessed. These time frames will be set by the individual instructor of the course.
  • Students are expected to adhere to the academic standards and policies set forth in the Student Handbook.
  • All exams are to be proctored.

Absences from Exams and Make-up Procedure (The grading policy for missed exams within a course is specified in the course syllabus.)

  • All exams are to be completed at the regularly scheduled time. A student may take any exam or test one time only. It is the responsibility of the student to be prepared for all testing.
  • In the event of an unexpected situation that is beyond the student’s control (serious illness, accident, death of an immediate family member, etc.), the student must notify faculty using the preferred method of contact as specified on the course
  • syllabus prior to the beginning of the scheduled examination to request an excused absence prior to the exam.
  • If a test is missed and the absence is excused, students must be prepared to take the examination that was missed on or before their first day back in class. Make-up exams are scheduled outside of class time. Students are expected to arrange their work and family schedules accordingly.


Testing Environment expectations for remote proctoring

  • A quiet, secure, fully lighted room. Overhead lighting is preferred.
  • Clean desk or table (not on a bed or sofa). Do not have anything except computer and external cameras (focused on the individual test taker) on the desktop or tabletop. Remove all books, papers, notebooks, or other materials, unless specifically permitted in written guidelines for a particular exam.
  • Students are not allowed to use the following unless specifically approved by the instructor prior to the test date: Excel, Word, PowerPoint, calculator, textbooks, notes, pen and paper, other websites.
  • There should be no writing visible on the walls, desk, or table. No other people are allowed in the room during testing.
  • No talking out loud or communicating with others by any means during testing, with the exception of a proctor or instructor if necessary.
  • No leaving the room for any reason.
  • Do not play music and/or television.
  • Do not have any other computers or digital devices running in the room where test taking will take place.


The specific objective to be attained by the student and the method of calculating the final course grade is written in each course syllabus. Students are responsible for reading each course syllabus to apprise themselves of the particular objectives and grading system for each course.  While the overall course grade may consist of exam points combined with other course assignment points and/or extra credit points, the average of the designated course exam scores must be at least 71% before other scores are added to determine the final grade for the course. This 71% average will be calculated by averaging the scores for all course exams. Failure to obtain an 71% average for course exams will result in course failure regardless of the number of points earned for other course activities.


It is at the faculty’s discretion if a post-examination test review is conducted. The format is also at the faculty discretion.  Students will not be allowed to take any notes and may only discuss questions with other students who have also completed the exam or the faculty during the review. Exam review may focus on specific concepts identified as weaknesses by the majority of the class. Individual test scores will not be discussed.  Test grades will be posted in the online grade book no later than one week after test administration.  Students with concerns regarding their individual exam score must submit questions/concerns in writing to the lead faculty within 2 business days (48 hours) following the posting of exam scores.   The faculty member will respond to the student’s concern regarding exam questions within one week.  Grade changes are not guaranteed.

All students earning less than 71% on two consecutive exams or who have an overall exam average of less than 71% are encouraged to make an appointment with their course faculty for an individual review of the tests.  • Any student with an exam score of less than 71% should meet with their advisor to develop a study plan and consider utilizing Nursing academic tutors.


Following each exam, the faculty member SHOULD perform an item analysis on question items.  The following statistical information may be considered during the test analysis:

  • Mean. Average score: Total sum of scores divided by the number taking the test.
  • Median. The middle score: 50% of test takers above and 50% below this number
  • Standard Deviation . The standard deviation indicates how much scores vary from the average, ranging from 0% to 100%. A high standard deviation indicates that scores are spread out from the average, whereas a low standard deviation indicates that scores are close to the average
  • Discrimination Index . The discrimination index indicates how well a question differentiates between high and low performers. It can range from -100% to 100%, with high values indicating a “good” question, and low values indicating a “bad” question.
  • Point Biserial Correlation Coefficient. The point biserial correlation coefficient is an analysis only applied to multiple choice and true/false question types that have only one answer with weight 100%, and all others with weight 0%. Similar to the discrimination index, the point biserial correlation coefficient relates individuals’ exam scores to whether or not a correct answer was given. It ranges from -1.00 to 1.00, with high values indicating a “good” question, and low values indicating a “bad” question.

Following this analysis, the faculty member will determine what action will be taken if the stats are unacceptable.  Options include, but are not limited to:

  • Give credit for more than one choice.
  • Nullify the test item by giving credit for all choices.
  • Delete the test item from the exam and recalculate with one less total item.