KATTS Framework and Kaplan Resources Remain Effective for NCLEX-RN® Success After 2013 Passing Standard Increase

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Maria Flores-Harris, DNP
Nursing, Kaplan Test Prep, Marietta, SC, USA


The purpose of the study was to identify the predictive value of Kaplan NCLEX-RN® Prep resources on first-time NCLEX-RN® examination test takers after the increase in the passing standard in 2013. Consequently, five independent variables were examined, Diagnostic Exam scores, Readiness Exam Scores, Question Trainer 6 and 7 scores, and QBank scores, to determine their predictive value of the independent variable, NCLEX-RN® examination success. Logistic regression analysis was used to examine predictors of first-time success on the NCLEX-RN® examination after the increase in the passing standard on April 1, 2013.

First-time NCLEX-RN® examination pass rates are considered the key quality indicator of nursing programs. Nursing graduates must pass the NCLEX- RN® licensure examination to practice as registered nurses in the United States. Nurses make up the largest portion of health care providers in the country and are vital to the adequate and proper delivery of healthcare in the United States. In April of 2013 the passing standard for the NCLEX-RN® examination was increased. It was the largest one-time increase on record. In 2014 the lowest national pass rate on record was reported at 81.8 percent.

Nursing programs must deliver quality strategies that assist graduates with passing the licensure examination. This quantitative study examined retrospective student data gathered by a test prep company. The data included the scores on several tests and predictive examinations. The scores for tests named Question Trainer 6, Question Trainer 7, QBank, Diagnostic test, and Readiness test were examined utilizing logistic regression to determine each test scores predictive value on passing the NCLEX-RN® examination.

The Knowledge Base, Anxiety control, Test-Taking Skills (KATTS) framework was the theoretical framework for this study. This framework focuses on three components for NCLEX-RN® examination success – an adequate knowledge base, anxiety control, and effective test-taking strategies. All three components are equally needed for success and are found within the Kaplan resources.

Kaplan has several NCLEX-RN® predictor exams – the Diagnostic examination, the Readiness test, and the Secure Predictor One examination– that provide evaluation of students’ strengths and weaknesses based on the NCLEX-RN® test plan. The generated report for these exams identifies students’ knowledge deficits according to the NCLEX-RN® examination test plan. Based on this evaluation, students are guided to the Kaplan NCLEX-RN® Content Review Guide and Content Review videos, categorized by the NCLEX-RN® examination test plan, to increase their knowledge base.

Active anxiety control, the second component of the KATTS framework, includes eliminating the fear of the unknown by exposing students to NCLEX®-like conditions before they take the examination. Kaplan’s predictor exams provide a similar testing environment to the NCLEX-RN® examination. The Kaplan Strategy video provides information about the NCLEX® process and the exam itself to lessen students’ fear of the unknown on test day.

Effective test-taking skills, the final component of the KATTS framework, involves practicing NCLEX®-style questions, understanding rationales for correct and incorrect answers, and question drills. Kaplan provides nearly 2500 NCLEX®-style questions for practice and remediation, including the variables in this study, Question Trainer 6 and 7 and the QBank. Kaplan’s four-day prep course consists of one half day of learning critical thinking test taking strategies, two and one-half days of question drills and a final day of practicing the learned strategies. The Kaplan course and resources address all three of the components of the KATTS framework.


A quantitative, non-experimental, logistic regression design was utilized for this study. The study variable analyzed was NCLEX-RN® examination outcome which is defined as either pass or fail; therefore, it is dichotomous. The variables applied for this study were scores on the Kaplan Q-Bank questions, scores on the Question Trainer Tests, and scores on two predictor exams, the Diagnostic examination and the Readiness test. This study measured the predictive relationship between the scores on the specific Kaplan NCLEX-RN® prep resources and success on the NCLEX-RN® examination. There was no manipulation of subjects or variables. A retrospective review of student data gathered by Kaplan from April 2013 to December 2014 was analyzed for this study. The information was accessed electronically via the Kaplan Integrated Testing system platform and exported to an Excel® spreadsheet.

Data from the retrospective spreadsheet was analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), version 22, and included predictions utilizing logistic regression.


Logistic regression analysis showed that the Diagnostic exam, Readiness exam, and QT 7 are predictive of NCLEX-RN® examination success. The QBank and Question Trainer 6 are not as strong predictors when compared to the other resources. The Diagnostic and QT 7 have Significance values of 0.00 and, therefore, are major factors in the passing of NCLEX® examination. The Diagnostic, Readiness and QT 7 all have positive B values indicating that an increase in these scores results in an increase in the probability of passing NCLEX® examination.

The study findings support the use of the Kaplan Diagnostic exam, Readiness exam, and QT 7 as predictive of success on the NCLEX-RN® examination. The QBank and QT 6 were predictive when examined alone but not in conjunction with the other resources. The Diagnostic exam and QT 7 were the most significant predictors of NCLEX® success, followed by the Readiness exam.


The KATTS framework, a test success framework, consists of a sound knowledge base, active anxiety control and test taking strategies. The Kaplan resources map to areas of the KATTS framework. Results of the study show that addressing the areas of the KATTS framework continues to result in NCLEX® success even after the increase in the passing standard of the examination. The results of the study also provide support that the Kaplan resources continue to be predictive of NCLEX® success even after the increase in the passing standard of the examination. Though the creation of many of the Kaplan NCLEX® Prep resources predates the computer-adaptive exam, these results demonstrate that creation of new preparation resources and strategies are not necessary for students to be successful on the computer-adaptive examination. Many of the strategies and resources already in place, the KATTS framework approach and the Kaplan resources, continue to be effective when utilized.