What if you failed the NCLEX Exam 2023 (2023)

Hi there, and welcome to our insightful guide on how to pick the pieces if you failed the NCLEX.

Today, we want to give you expert tips on what to do after failing the NCLEX.

We’ll cover the requirements, preparation tips before the NCLEX exam, and test-taking tips during the test.

By the time you finish this article, you’ll have everything you need to know to retest for the NCLEX.

Here is an overview of what we’ll cover:

  • What happens if you fail the NCLEX?
  • Tips to prepare for NCLEX after failing the exam
  • Success tips for retaking the NCLEX

That said, let’s get started!

Table of Contents

What Happens If You Fail the NCLEX?

What if you failed the NCLEX Exam 2023 (1)

Test-takers who fail NCLEX on their first or subsequent attempts often feel like it’s the end of the world.

The feelings of disappointment, failure, and frustration are normal.

Take some time to mourn, cry or scream if you have to, but dust yourself up after a while.

You are not a failure.

That’s just a mishap that you need to fix.

I mean, you graduated from nursing school.

Nothing can stop you from passing the NCLEX, although you didn’t pass the first time.

Focus on what’s next.

First, notify your nursing regulatory body that you failed the exam and would like to retake it.

They’ll guide you on what’s required.

You can also reach out to your nursing school.

Some nursing programs support students who fail to pass the NCLEX on the first try.

Next, review the candidate’s performance report.

Which content area did you perform the worst in?

Reflect on what you did right and wrong previously to inform your test preparation.

Requirements to Retake the NCLEX

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According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, test-takers have eight attempts to retest.

The eight attempts have 45 waiting days between each test.

While this is good news, the downside is that state nursing regulatory bodies have additional or different requirements.

Before you delve into studying again, consult with your NRB to know what’s required of you to retake the exam.

In some states like Pennsylvania, you only need to wait 46 days before retaking the test.

Once you’ve met the eligibility requirement, apply for the exam through Pearson VUE and pay the registration fee.

Wait for the ATT to schedule your exam date, time, and testing center.

Now you are set.

All that’s remaining is preparing for the exam.

Tips to Prepare for NCLEX After Failing the Exam

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Now that we’ve covered what happens when you fail the NCLEX and the requirements, it’s time to dig into NCLEX retake preparation tips.

Here are some of the tips that have worked for me.

Discover the Areas You Need to Improve

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The first step here is to reflect on your study habits.

Chances are your study habits were not optimal.

You might have had a short study time and been forced to cram, or you were simply not confident you had mastered the eight content areas but did the exam anyway.

Whatever it was, you must re-evaluate and identify the areas to readjust for your retest preparation.

Apart from study habits, review the CPR to find out your performance in the eight NCLEX exam content areas.

My advice is to start with the “Below Passing Standard” content areas.

Return to your nursing school textbook, use your notes, listen to video lectures, and take practice questions.

Ensure you’ve thoroughly covered the topics in the content areas you performed poorly.

Next, go to the “Near Passing Standard” subject areas.

The good news is that you did fairly well here, although you didn’t answer enough questions.

Just like you did with the previous category, use a fine-tooth comb to cover the topics in this category.

Go the extra mile and research any areas you find difficult to understand online.

These are also the areas that you should take the most practice tests.

Finally, go through the “Above Passing Standard” content areas.

Although you performed well in this category, you still need to go over them.

The best way to do that is to use practice questions and go back to read more on the questions that you consistently get wrong.

The NCLEX test plan, i.e., CPR you received, should guide your test prep.

Please make the most of it.

Adjust Your Study Plan

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Now that you’ve established the study habits that led to failing NCLEX the first time, adjust your plan for better results.

The main question you should ask yourself is, what can I do better this time?

You don’t necessarily need to scrap off your previous study plan and start from scratch.

You can move things around and see if they suit you better.

If you didn’t dedicate enough time last time, block more study time.

Depending on your test date, you can dedicate 2 hours a day or more.

Adjust your time per session depending on your study habits and other commitments.

Suppose you were studying for long hours.

Perhaps resorting to short bursts of 25 minutes will do you more good.

If you didn’t use a study guide in your last preparation, it’s time to scout the internet and find a good one.

I recommend sticking to one study guide throughout your preparation.

Again, you can incorporate additional study resources like NCLEX Qbank.

Since you failed the NCLEX, rectify all the gaps and errors and have a watertight study plan.

Make changes where necessary.

With an effective study calendar, you can effectively cover all the content areas in the National Council Licensure Examination.

Leverage the Right NCLEX Prep Course Materials

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Apart from the NCSBN candidate performance report, the NCLEX test plan is another must-have tool to help understand the exam’s content areas and find the right study resources.

Most nursing students may assemble the many study resources online, which is great but can be overwhelming and confusing, as they are not streamlined.

After failing the NCLEX, the one thing you want to give priority is prep materials and so signing up for a prep course seems like the best idea.

You’ll get the right combination of study materials you need.

Suppose you previously bought a test prep course with a pass guarantee.

You can also go back and use the materials without paying.

If you didn’t, go online and check the reviews for the different online courses before settling for one.

Pick NCLEX courses that offer an array of materials, including a study guide, a question bank with rationales, flashcards that use spaced repetition, cheat sheets, and a study plan.

With the right resources, you can dedicate your time and cover exactly what’s needed to pass the NCLEX.

Plus, prep courses include additional tools like a performance tracker that helps you see how good or bad you’re doing in your preparation.

You can compare your performance with other NCLEX candidates and adjust accordingly.

In other words, settle for test preps with the right resources and additional tools to prepare for the exam.

Join a Study Group

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Suppose you were studying alone previously.

It’s time to get a study partner or join a study group.

Studying with others will help you better prepare for the exam, as your peers can help you cover the difficult areas.

Study groups are beneficial when taking practice questions and revision after the test.

The different explanations from members will help you understand concepts better.

Generally, group discussions make you accountable and committed and help you get the most from your studies.

Take Practice Questions

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Practice exams are excellent for preparing for the NCLEX.

With the candidate’s performance report at hand, you know where you should put the most effort.

Take many practice questions, especially in the “Below Passing Standard” content areas.

Familiarize yourself with the type of questions in these areas.

What’s the questions’ style, wording, structure, and format?

Once you’ve understood NCLEX questions, selecting the correct answer is easy.

Another strategy that has worked for many nursing students is reviewing rationales, whether you got the answer correct or incorrect.

The detailed answer explanations help you understand the logic behind the answer.

You’ll understand the content matter better.

Also, put some effort into test-taking strategies.

NCLEX Test Retaking Strategies

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Since you failed the NCLEX, there is a high chance that you’ll feel anxious during the test because of the fear of failure.

Don’t let it get the best of you.

Walk confidently to the testing center because you’ve done the exam before, identified your mistakes, and prepared effectively.

In the exam, there are several strategies that can help you ace the exam.

First, reach the testing center in good time.

This will help you relax and pull yourself together before the test.

When taking the test, take your time.

Read the questions twice to understand what you are being asked.

Now, a good number of NCLEX questions require analysis before you answer.

So, take your time.

Also, ensure you pace yourself as the exam may shut down early or run for 5 hours.

All in all, prepare for the 5 hours.

Take breaks as they come.


Your mind needs a break to perform well.

You can use the washroom, meditate, or have a snack before returning to the exam room.

You’ll be more focused, I promise.

Once done with the test, you can wait six weeks for your results to be sent or request quick results service for a small fee.


What if you failed the NCLEX Exam 2023 (10)

That’s it for today.

If you failed the NCLEX, that’s not the end of the world.

You’ve already shown your abilities in nursing school, and this exam is just another task you need to complete to jumpstart your nursing career.

The preparation before the exam will help you review the areas you failed.

So, brace yourself.

All is not lost.

You still have a chance to become a registered nurse or LPN.

So, give the next trial your best with our preparation and test-taking strategies.


What if you failed the NCLEX Exam 2023 (11)

Does NCLEX get harder when you fail?

No. The NCLEX doesn’t get difficult with each retest. The exam difficulty depends on how you answer the questions. Remember, it’s computer adaptive testing. The more you answer the questions correctly, the more challenging they become. You’d get simple questions if you got a question incorrect.

Can you work as a nurse if you fail the NCLEX?

No. You must pass the NCLEX-RN to become a registered nurse. If you fail the exam, you can retake the test until you pass. But, different states have different requirements when it comes to retakes. It will be best to consult with your nursing regulatory body.

How long after failing can you retake the NCLEX?

According to the National Council of State Board of Nursing, test-takers can retest 45 days after the previous test date. The board allows you eight attempts in a year. However, individual NRBs have different retake policies. The best you can do is to contact your NRB first.

Is it common to fail the NCLEX?

No. According to NCSBN, the pass rate for first-time test-takers is 86%. Only 14% failed on their first attempt. This shows that you can pass the exam on the first trial with the right preparation. And there are low chances of failing if you’ve prepared effectively.

What happens if I fail the NCLEX?

If you fail the NCLEX, you can always retake it. NCSBN gives test-takers 45 days rest period before retaking the test. So, contact your NRB for their specific requirements and start your exam preparation. Use the candidate performance report to identify where you need to focus more.

What are the steps to take to prepare for the NCLEX?

– Draw a study plan that helps you meticulously cover the content areas.
– Assemble the right study materials. A prep course will give you a wide range of study resources.
– Join a study group
– Take many practice questions
– Reinforce knowledge learned using flashcards and cheat sheets.

What are some examples of mistakes that people make on the NCLEX?

– Not reading the questions completely to understand
– Picking the answer without going through all the answer choices
– Trying to finish fast instead of pacing oneself
– Refusing to take a break even when it’s clear their concentration is dwindling
– Panicking during the test

What questions are on the NCLEX?

The type of questions on the NCLEX include:
– Illness and disease
– Prioritization
– Treatment Plans and Patient Communication
– Diagnosis
– People’s Skills
– Safety and Care Environment
– Interpreting Information
– Procedures and Physiological Adaptation
Take many practice questions to expose yourself to these types of questions.

What is the most popular reason for failing the NCLEX?

The most popular reason for failing NCLEX is not preparing enough. The NCLEX questions require test-takers to understand the questions to be able to analyze and give the correct answers. You may find the questions incredibly difficult to understand if you are under-prepared. You’ll make mistakes and fail.

Is it possible to pass the NCLEX for the first time?

Yes. 86% of test-takers pass the exam the first time, meaning it’s doable. All you need is an effective study plan and the right study materials. From there, dedicate ample time to understanding the core content of the eight categories of NCLEX before delving into practice questions.

How do you take the NCLEX?

The NCLEX is taken at the Pearson VUE testing center. It’s a computer-based exam that uses CAT. You cannot get into the exam room with personal materials, including phones, watches, pens, or calculators. You’ll answer all the questions online. You’ll get official results in six weeks.

What are the requirements to retake the NCLEX?

– Wait for 45 days from the test date (The waiting period varies from state to state)
– Notify your NRB
– Pay the application fee through Pearson VUE
– Get Authorization to Test
– Select the testing center and schedule the exam date and time




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Is the NCLEX really changing in 2023? ›

What's Changed on the New NCLEX in 2023? The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) decided to update the current NCLEX to adapt to the evolving demands of the healthcare system and to better assess students' clinical judgment skills.

Is the NCLEX shut off at 75 questions 2023? ›

Yes, you can pass the NCLEX-RN by answering only 75 questions. Keep in mind, the number of questions you answer may be a sign you passed, but it is not a definite sign. If your questions got progressively more challenging until the test stopped, this is one of the good signs you passed NCLEX in 2023.

What happens if I just failed the NCLEX? ›

To reapply after you failed NCLEX, contact your Nursing Regulatory Board/State Board of Nursing and notify them that you plan to retake the exam. The BON will advise you of any documents or fees you need to submit before you can retest. Log in to your Pearson VUE account and re-register for the NCLEX exam.

What percentage do you need to pass NCLEX 2023? ›

To pass the NCLEX, you must answer at least 60% of the questions correctly. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing uses a minimum standard score of at least 0.

Will NCLEX 2023 be harder? ›

This increased client acuity means that new NCLEX questions are more difficult, with an increased focus on caring for more critically ill clients.

How to pass the new NCLEX 2023? ›

Here's how to get ready if you're taking the NCLEX exam.
  1. Review Case Studies. For years, the mainstay of standardized test preparation are study guides. ...
  2. Organize and Prepare Early. ...
  3. Assess Your Critical Thinking Skills. ...
  4. Make a Solid Study Plan. ...
  5. Get ready for test day.
Feb 24, 2023

How many questions do you need to get right on 75 NCLEX? ›

You must get at least 75 questions correct, or achieve a 95% confidence level, to pass the NCLEX.

Can you fail NCLEX at 83 questions? ›

So, a test-taker can pass or fail the NCLEX-RN/PN with 60 questions, 145 questions, or any number in between.

How many questions are on the NCLEX-RN 2023? ›

The NCLEX-RN has a minimum of 75 questions and a maximum of 145, and you have five hours to complete the exam. If the maximum amount of time has elapsed and you have not answered the minimum number of questions, this indicates you failed the NCLEX in 2023.

What if I have failed the NCLEX 3 times? ›

If they fail, they'll need to wait 45 days before retesting. After failing three times, though, they'll need to complete a board-approved remediation program before the next retake. test-takers have six attempts to pass in total.

What does it mean if I had all 145 questions on NCLEX? ›

Does 145 questions on NCLEX mean you failed? No, if you answer all 145 questions on the NCLEX, that does not mean you fail. In fact, if you answered 145 questions and each question was progressively more challenging, then that is a good sign that you passed.

Can I fail NCLEX with 75 questions? ›

There are a total of 265 questions on the NCLEX, but test-takers only need to answer between 75 and 145 questions in order to pass. If you don't answer enough questions correctly, you will not pass the NCLEX. The minimum passing score for the NCLEX is set by each individual state board of nursing.

Does NCLEX give partial credit for select all that apply 2023? ›

Effective with the launch of the Next Generation NCLEX (NGN) on April 1, 2023, Multiple Response (MR) Select All That Apply (SATA) items will be scored using the polytomous model. This allows partial scores of items with multiple points to evaluate partial understanding.

How many questions do you have to get right to pass NCLEX? ›

Failing the test can result in not answering the minimum amount of 70 questions within the allotted time. You can answer the first 69 questions correctly, but you will automatically fail the exam if you don't reach number 70.

What state has the lowest NCLEX pass rate? ›

9, 2022. Last year, 63.88 percent of registered nursing students passed the NCLEX, down from 64.79 percent in 2021 and 68.92 percent in 2020. Florida has had the lowest NCLEX pass rates in the country since 2017, according to The Tampa Bay Times.

Which state NCLEX is the hardest? ›

None. There is no “easy” state to take the NCLEX. The NCLEX is a national exam administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). Because it's national, the NCLEX will be the same regardless of what state you choose to take it in.

How many times can you attempt NCLEX-RN? ›

If you happen not to pass the exam, you can retake it after 45 days. And if you are wondering how often you can take the NCLEX, the NCSBN retake policy allows for a retake eight times a year, ensuring 45 exam-free days between each test.

How long should I give myself to study for NCLEX? ›

HOW LONG SHOULD YOU STUDY FOR THE NCLEX? To pass the NCLEX, students should plan to spend a minimum of 1-2 months studying.

How can I increase my chances of passing the NCLEX? ›

How to Pass the NCLEX-RN: 7 Key Tips
  1. Know The NCLEX Content. ...
  2. Make A Study Plan. ...
  3. Familiarize Yourself with Question Types. ...
  4. Remember to Use the Nursing Process. ...
  5. Utilize Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. ...
  6. Rest the Day Before the NCLEX Exam. ...
  7. Be Early and Stay Calm on the Day of Your NCLEX Exam.
Mar 17, 2023

What score do I need on RN exit exam to be ready for NCLEX? ›

The HESI Exit Exam score range is between 0 to 1500. The acceptable HESI score is 850 while the recommended HESI score is 900. You need to earn a minimum score of 850 in order to be considered ready to take the NCLEX licensing exam.

How to pass NCLEX after failing 4 times? ›

If you're an aspiring nurse who failed the test, there are strategies you can employ to help make your retake successful.
  1. Step 1: Determine Why You Didn't Pass. ...
  2. Step 2: Familiarize Yourself with the Exam. ...
  3. Step 3: Schedule Study Time. ...
  4. Step 4: Take Test Preparation Courses. ...
  5. Step 5: Find a Study Partner or Study Group.
Apr 17, 2023

Does the NCLEX shut off at 75 if you fail? ›

The NCLEX only shuts off at 75 if you did well or very very poorly. If you did really poorly you would have felt like you were struggling with every question.

How do you tell if you passed the NCLEX early? ›

The only way you will receive your official results is through your nursing regulatory body. This takes place approximately six weeks after you take the NCLEX. Some things to note: If you have not received your results after six weeks, contact your nursing regulatory body.

Can you pass NCLEX with near passing standard? ›

The maximum-length rule: If your performance is too close to the passing standard, you'll have to answer the maximum amount of questions–which is currently 145 questions on the NCLEX. The run-out-of-time rule: The computer can't determine pass or fail if you don't answer the minimum amount of questions.

What are considered hard questions on NCLEX? ›

Analysis, synthesis and evaluation questions would be considered higher-level NCLEX questions. Synthesis questions are based on creating or proposing solutions, such as a plan of care.

Does the last question on NCLEX matter? ›

If the last question is below the level of difficulty needed to pass, the candidate fails. If the last question is above the level of difficulty needed to pass, the candidate passes.

Do the first 15 questions count on NCLEX? ›

The first fifteen questions are pretest items and are not used to score the exam and determine if a test-taker has passed the NCLEX-RN. Not all candidates will answer the maximum number of questions. However, everyone who takes the exam must complete a minimum of 75 questions.

Is it common to fail NCLEX in 145 questions? ›

While you can fail the NCLEX PN or NCLEX RN exam in 145 questions, it's unlikely. Most students are more prepared than they think, hence why most students pass the NCLEX exams.

Why do I keep failing my NCLEX? ›

Failing the NCLEX may indicate that your study habits were not optimal. Identify your areas of opportunity, and be clear about how you will alter your approach for your next attempt. You may have tried to cram too much studying into too short a time, or you might have not studied enough.

Does everyone get the same NCLEX questions? ›

Unlike your math exams where everyone had to answer the same questions, the NCLEX is dynamic. It's a test that watches you, reacts to you, and tailors itself to you, which means it's very unlikely any two test takers will have the same NCLEX experience.

What are the three pass fail rules for NCLEX? ›

There are three pass/fail rules for the NCLEX examinations: the Run-Out-Of-Time rule, the Maximum-Length Exam Rule and the 95-Percent Confidence Interval Rule.

Why did I get all 265 NCLEX questions? ›

If a student got all 265 questions, that would mean they are really straddling the competency line. The NCLEX algorithm is complicated, but it's a very smart, adaptive test. After you get past 75 questions, once it determines whether you're above passing or below passing, it will shut off.

What if the last question on the NCLEX was easy? ›

If the last question on the NCLEX was easy, it means you got a question that was easy or a topic you knew very well. While that could be a sign you passed, you won't know for sure until the official results are available.

What happens if you get 75 questions on NCLEX? ›

When the NCLEX-RN shuts off at 75 questions, it means you either did very well or very poorly—enough so that the CAT model is 95% confident in your success or failure after only one-third of the possible 265 exam questions. Further, in a 75-question test only 60 questions are counted toward your passing score.

How many SATA should you get on NCLEX? ›

You may get around 10-25 SATA questions in total, but that will depend on how you're answering your NCLEX questions.

Has anyone got the good pop up and failed NCLEX? ›

3. Can You Get the Pearson Vue Good Pop Up and Still Fail? Unfortunately, the only way to know for sure if you have passed the NCLEX is to wait for your official results. Although it does not always happen, the Pearson Vue trick can give you a good pop-up even if you failed the NCLEX exam.

How does NCLEX scoring work? ›

You will be given either a PASS or FAIL mark.

In simplified terms, getting a correct answer gives you 1 point, while a wrong one is equal to –1. A score of zero means that 50 percent of your answers were correct. However, you will only be given a PASS or FAIL mark when the results arrive.

What month in 2023 will NCLEX change? ›

The earlier you begin preparing, the more equipped you will be to pass your exam on the first try. And the answer to the question “When is the NCLEX changing?” is April 1, 2023.

Do you get partial credit for SATA on NCLEX 2023? ›

When the new NCLEX rolls out in 2023, the SATA will change. You will be able to get partial credit on a SATA. This means that if you choose one of the correct answers you will get a point. But if you choose an incorrect answer you will get a point taken away.

How is the NCLEX scored 2023? ›

Scoring Structure

Currently, the NCLEX items are scored as either all incorrect or all correct. Using a scoring model that accounts for multiple answers will allow for partial credit. It will go into effect in April 2023. Educators should keep up to date and prepare their students with NCLEX practice questions.

What is the pass rate for the NCLEX first time? ›

Find out the reasons and what you can do as a student or nurse educator. For first-time test-takers, the pass rate fell to 79.9% and for all test-takers to 63.4%.

What state is the hardest to get a nursing license? ›

ALASKA. The Last Frontier is calling! While that may be the case, a nurse interested in working in Alaska must first go through the (on average) 8-week nursing license process. Alaska, like all the aforementioned states, requires fingerprints and a background check from nurses applying for a license.

Which state is easiest to get RN license? ›

Easiest states to become a nurse – Length of licensing process
  • Maine: 1-2 weeks.
  • Maryland: 2-3 days.
  • Missouri: 2 weeks.
  • Nevada: 1-2 weeks.
  • North Carolina: 1-2 weeks.
  • North Dakota: 1-2 weeks.
  • Texas: 2 weeks.
  • Vermont: 3-5 business days.

What are they changing about NCLEX? ›

These newer concepts focus on patient safety and effective nursing practice within the context of the NCSBN Clinical Judgment Measurement Model. The NGN will also introduce new features, including but not limited to, extended multiple response questions, matrix/grid items, and a partial scoring system.

What will be on the next gen NCLEX? ›

What Types of Questions Are on the Next Generation NCLEX? The NGN features a mix of current NCLEX question styles and new NGN items designed to demonstrate entry level nursing skills, clinical judgment, and overall knowledge. The exam also continues to use computer adaptive testing (CAT) technology.

Is it rare to fail NCLEX in 75 questions? ›

While it is certainly possible to fail the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN evaluation in only 75 questions, this rarely happens because most nursing students are far more prepared than they believe they are.

What is the passing score for the NCLEX? ›

While it's possible to pass the NCLEX after answering all 135, it's also possible to pass the test with a minimum of 70 questions or any number in between. Keep in mind NCLEX has a time limit of five hours. If you haven't answered enough questions correctly when the clock runs out, you will fail the test.

Do you have to get above passing in all categories on NCLEX? ›

The NCLEX-RN exam requires you to be above the passing standard in all of these areas. That means you could ROCK all of the above areas, except the Pharmacological and Parental Therapies section, and still fail this exam. The first step to passing the NCLEX-RN exam is knowing and understanding the exam itself.

What answers to avoid on NCLEX? ›

Never choose an answer that contains the following words: always, never, all, and only. These words do not allow for the possibility of an exception, and therefore the answers that contain these words can be automatically eliminated. Never choose an answer that describes the nurse's actions as "vigorous."

How soon can you take the NCLEX after failing? ›

What Happens If You Do Not Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam the First Time? Though the vast majority of candidates pass the exam the first time, those who fail are permitted to retake it after 45 days from their original test date. Candidates may retest as many as 8 times in a year.

Are NCLEX pass rates dropping? ›

From 2019 through 2022, NCLEX-RN pass rates dropped more than 8 percentage points—from 88.18% to 79.90% for all first-time U.S.-educated candidates. For all candidates, including internationally educated students, and repeat exam takers, the passing rate declined from 72.8% in 2019 to 63.39% in 2022.

How long should I study for NCLEX? ›

HOW LONG SHOULD YOU STUDY FOR THE NCLEX? To pass the NCLEX, students should plan to spend a minimum of 1-2 months studying.

How many times can you take the NCLEX? ›

If you happen not to pass the exam, you can retake it after 45 days. And if you are wondering how often you can take the NCLEX, the NCSBN retake policy allows for a retake eight times a year, ensuring 45 exam-free days between each test.

How many times can you take the next gen NCLEX? ›

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) allows National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) test-takers up to eight retakes per year with a forty-five-day wait period between each test. These extra opportunities can often bring nursing school graduates a sigh of relief.


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