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The Philippine Nursing Licensure Exam (NLE)

We understand that there is a lot to navigate after graduation. The next big step after getting your nursing degree is the board exam. In the Philippines, the Nurse Licensure Examination (NLE) is administered by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC). It is a written test that graduates of BS Nursing must pass in order to practice nursing in the Philippines.

This guide will go through all the details and particulars about the NLE.

Registration, Schedule, & Fees 

Registration for the NLE is done online, through the PRC Online Services portal. The PRC usually opens applications about 3 months before the exam.

So applicants aiming to take the exam in May, for example, can register online as early as March. For those who want to take the exam in November, registration opens by August. The deadline for filing one’s application to take the NLE is a month before the examination itself.

PRO TIP: Don’t put registration off! Even though the window for filing applications is quite large, you might miss it if you stay relaxed about the whole process. You don’t want to end up waiting for several months until the next board exam schedule.

After going through all the forms and verification processes on the website, applicants will then choose a date and location for their examination.

The NLE is held over two days, normally twice a year – once in May, another in November.  Here is a list of the testing locations:

  • NCR
  • Baguio
  • Cagayan de Oro
  • Cebu
  • Davao
  • Iloilo
  • Koronadal
  • Legaspi
  • Lucena
  • Pagadian
  • Pampanga
  • Rosales
  • Tacloban
  • Tuguegarao
  • Zamboanga

(as of January 2022) 

NEWS & UPDATES: In 2020, the NLE was altogether cancelled by the PRC in light of the pandemic. Nevertheless, the exam was conducted physically and in-person the following year 2021, with proper safety and health measures put in place.

Next, the applicant will have to process payment. First-time takers pay the full amount of 900 Pesos, while those who are repeating (conditioned/removal) pay 450 Pesos. There are a variety of payment channels, both online and offline. Once this is done, the exam application is ready to be printed and submitted along with other required documents to the PRC Regional Office or Service Center that was chosen upon registration.

The required documents are:

  • Transcript of records (TOR) with scanned picture and remarks “For Board Examination purposes only”
  • Birth Certificate from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Security Paper
  • Marriage Certificate from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) for married women.
  • 4 pieces passport size picture with complete name-tag in white background
  • Government Issued ID and/or any valid ID
  • Documentary Stamps

Source: PRC FAQs


The NLE is composed of 500 items that cover 5 subjects analogous to the four-year curriculum in nursing school. (Each part is made up of 100 items.)

Nursing Practice I – Community Health Nursing focuses on

  • care of normal and at risk families,
  • care of population groups, and
  • care of the communities

Nursing Practice II – Care of the Mother and Child, focuses on

  • care of the newborn infant,
  • care of the normal child and those with common alterations/illnesses,
  • care of the client with sexuality, reproductive health, and fertility problems,
  • care of the normal pregnant woman going through the various stages of pregnancy, and
  • care of the pregnant woman with complications of pregnancy

Nursing Practice III  – Care of Clients with Physiologic and Psychosocial Alterations (Part A), focuses on alterations in

  • oxygenation,
  • fluids and electrolytes,
  • nutrition and metabolism,
  • pain, and
  • perioperative care

Nursing Practice IV – Care of Clients with Physiologic and Psychosocial Alterations (Part B), focuses on alterations in

  • fluids & electrolytes and acid-base balances,
  • inflammatory and immunologic responses,
  • cellular aberrations,
  • acute biologic crisis, and
  • disaster and emergency situations

Nursing Practice V – Care of Care of Clients with Physiologic and Psychosocial Alterations (Part C), focuses on alterations in:

  • maladaptive behaviors,
  • age-related,
  • perception,
  • depression, mania, and sucicide,
  • stress and anxiety,
  • maladaptive personality patterns, and
  • substance abuse

The NLE essentially evaluates an examinee’s basic knowledge, skills, and attitudes in the major subject areas below, all the while integrating key lessons from Anatomy & Physiology, Pathophysiology, Pharmacology & Therapeutics, Nutrition & Diet Therapy, and Parasitology & Microbiology:

  • Fundamentals of Nursing including Professional Adjustments,
  • Maternal and Child Nursing,
  • Community Health and Communicable Disease Nursing,
  • Nursing of Adolescents, Adults and Aged, and
  • Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing

There are 11 key areas of responsibility identified in the Competency Standards of Nursing Practice in the Philippines, and the NLE will assess related skills, categorized as such:

Patient Care Competencies 

1. Safe & quality nursing care

  • demonstrates knowledge based on the health/illness status of individuals/groups
  • provides sound decision making in the care of individuals/ families/groups considering their beliefs and values
  • promotes safety and comfort and privacy of clients
  • sets priorities in nursing care based on clients’ needs
  • ensures continuity of care
  • administers medications and other health therapeutics
  • utilizes the nursing process as framework for nursing

2. Communication

  • establishes rapport with client, significant others, and members of the health team
  • identifies verbal and non-verbal cues
  • utilizes formal and informal channels
  • responds to needs of individuals, family, group and community
  • uses appropriate information technology to facilitate communication

3. Collaboration & teamwork

  • establishes collaborative relationship with colleagues and other members of the health team
  • collaborates plan of care with other members of the health team

4. Health education

  • assesses the learning needs of the client-partner/s
  • develops health education plan based on assessed and anticipated needs
  • develops learning materials for health education
  • implements the health education plan
  • evaluates the outcome of health education

Empowering Competencies 

5. Legal responsibilities

  • adheres to practices in accordance with the nursing law and other relevant legislation including contracts, informed consent
  • adheres to organizational policies and procedures, local and national
  • documents care rendered to clients

6. Ethico-moral-spiritual responsibilities

  • respects the rights of individuals/groups
  • accepts responsibility and accountability for own decision and actions
  • adheres to the national and international code of ethics for nurses

7. Personal & professional development

  • identifies own learning needs
  • pursues continuing education
  • gets involved in professional organizations and civic activities
  • projects a professional image of the nurse
  • possesses positive attitude towards change and criticism
  • performs function according to professional standards

Enabling Competencies

8. Management of resources & environment

  • organizes work load to facilitate client care
  • utilizes financial resources to support client care
  • establishes mechanism to ensure proper functioning of equipment
  • maintains a safe environment

9. Records management

  • maintains accurate and updated documentation of client care
  • records outcome of client care
  • observes legal imperatives in record keeping

Enhancing Competencies  

10. Research

  • gather data using different methodologies
  • analyzes and interprets data gathered
  • recommends actions for implementation
  • disseminates results of research findings
  • applies research findings in nursing practice

11. Quality improvement

  • gathers data for quality improvement
  • participates in nursing audits and rounds
  • identifies and reports variances
  • recommends solutions to identified problems
Care of Clients with Physiologic & Psychosocial Alterations – Part A 
Nurse Michelle should know that the drainage is normal 4 days after a sigmoid colostomy when the stool is:
A) Green liquid C) Loose, bloody
B) Solid formed D) Semiformed
A 77-year-old male client is admitted for elective knee surgery. Physical examination reveals shallow respirations but no sign of respiratory distress. Which of the following is a normal physiologic change related to aging?
A) Increased elastic recoil of the lungs C) Decreased residual volume
B) Increased number of functional capillaries in the alveoli D) Decreased vital capacity
Care of Clients with Physiologic & Psychosocial Alterations – Part B
Jestoni with chronic renal failure (CRF) is admitted to the urology unit. The nurse is aware that the diagnostic test are consistent with CRF if the result is:
A) Increased pH with decreased hydrogen ions C) Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) 100 mg/dl and serum creatinine 6.5 mg/ dl.
B) Increased serum levels of potassium, magnesium, and calcium D) Uric acid analysis 3.5 mg/dl and phenolsulfonphthalein (PSP) excretion 75%
Which of the following drugs would be ordered by the physician to improve the platelet count in a male client with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP)?
A) Acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) C) Methotrexate
B) Corticosteroids D) Vitamin K
Care of Clients with Physiologic & Psychosocial Alterations – Part C 
Meryl, age 19, is highly dependent on her parents and fears leaving home to go away to college. Shortly before the semester starts, she complains that her legs are paralyzed and is rushed to the emergency department. When physical examination rules out a physical cause for her paralysis, the physician admits her to the psychiatric unit where she is diagnosed with conversion disorder. Meryl asks the nurse, “Why has this happened to me?” What is the nurse’s best response?
A) “You’ve developed this paralysis so you can stay with your parents. You must deal with this conflict if you want to walk again.” C) “Your problem is real but there is no physical basis for it. We’ll work on what is going on in your life to find out why it’s happened.”
B) “It must be awful not to be able to move your legs. You may feel better if you realize the problem is psychological, not physical.” D) “It isn’t uncommon for someone with your personality to develop a conversion disorder during times of stress.”

Scoring, Results, & Passing Rate

A general average rating of at least 75% and no less than a 60% in any subject or part of the exam is required to pass the NLE. Results are typically released 10-12 working days after the last day of the exam (day 2). In the event that an examinee receives less than 60% in any subject, they can retake the exam only for the failed section of the exam to remove their previous score.

Here are the historical passing rates for the NLE over the past few years:

Year Number of examinees Number of passers Passing rate 
November 2021 11,828 6,086 51.45%
July 2021 7,746 5,008 64.65%
November 2019 13,816 7,627 55.20%
June 2019 9,691 5,059 52.20%
November 2018 12,033 4,811 39.98%
June 2018 9,873 4,326 43.82%

Examinations in 2020 were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We’ve included a cheat sheet at the end of this guide for the basic questions you might have about the NLE. Committed Health has partnered with NLE review centers to help you pass the board exam. Receive special prices, discounts, scholarships, and even free review books from top training institutions from our Affiliates (send us a message!).

Duration 2 days
Schedule May & November
Location NCR, Baguio, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Koronadal, Legaspi, Lucena, Pagadian, Pampanga, Rosales, Tacloban, Tuguegarao, Zamboanga
Examination fee 900 – first time takers

450 – removal/conditional takers

  1. Transcript of records (TOR) with scanned picture and remarks “For Board Examination purposes only”
  2. Birth Certificate from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Security Paper
  3. Marriage Certificate from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) for married women
  4. 4 pieces passport size picture with complete name-tag in white background
  5. Government Issued ID and/or any valid ID
  6. Documentary Stamps
Items  5 parts, 100 items each (total of 500)
Coverage Nursing Practice in 5 parts

  1. Community Health Nursing
  2. Care of Healthy/At Risk Mother and Child
  3. Care of Clients with Physiologic and Psychosocial Alterations (Part A)
  4. Care of Clients with Physiologic and Psychosocial Alterations (Part B)
  5. Care of Clients with Physiologic and Psychosocial Alterations (Part C)
Results turnaround time 10 working days after the last day of the exam
Scoring  minimum general average rating of 75%, no less than a score of 60% in any subject/part

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