What Is the NCLEX Pass Rate? [2020 Edition] (2024)

Written on May 19, 2020

Have you ever wondered what the actual NCLEX pass rate is? Many nursing students just like you have frantically searched for this same phrase.

That’s because when you’re wrapping up your last couple of years of nursing school, there’s almost a sense of dread knowing what awaits you when you’re done. The NCLEX feels like the biggest exam of your life (and likely is up until this point) so of course, worrying about the NCLEX pass rate is only natural.

The good news is it’s much more likely you’ll pass the NCLEX the first time than fail. The odds are in your favor. We’re going to break it all down so you can see the exact NCLEX pass rate for your specific nursing program. But first, let’s begin by looking at how the NCLEX is designed so that you know what you’re getting into.

How the NCLEX Is Set Up

Before diving into the statistics regarding the NCLEX pass rate, here’s a brief overview of how the NCLEX is laid out. This helps you know what to expect on exam day.

For starters, the NCLEX uses computerized adaptive testing (CAT) format. CAT is a comprehensive way of determining your ability level. For example, if you’re consistently getting questions correct, your next questions will be more difficult. If you’ve got questions incorrect, your test questions won’t increase in difficulty. In addition, all testees begin at the pass line. You must consistently rise and stay above the pass line to pass the exam.

Because of this testing format, no score is given at the end. You either pass or you fail. In addition to the CAT format, there are a few other things to keep in mind in regards to how the NCLEX works:

  • The test closes out at 75 questions or when you’ve shown 95% competency.
  • You’ll receive up to 265 questions (NCLEX-RN) or 205 questions (NCLEX-PN) total. Only a small percentage of people receive the maximum amount of questions.
  • If you haven’t proved competency by 75 questions, additional questions are given until you do.
  • The test is updated every three years to ensure it’s in line with the current standard of care.
  • You have six hours to complete the NCLEX-RN and five for the NCLEX-PN. So be aware there’s a time constraint so you can pace yourself for each question.

NCLEX Pass Rate for First-Time Test Takers

The statistics on the NCLEX pass rate for first-time test takers vary a bit by what nursing program you’re enrolled in. It’s important to note that the NCLEX pass rate goes down by over 44% for NCLEX-RN repeat test takers and by over 48% for NCLEX-PN repeat test-takers according to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). Yikes! For this reason, it’s incredibly important you spend ample time preparing for your NCLEX exam so you don’t have to take it again.

Here are some United States national averages for the NCLEX pass rate to take into account when preparing for nurse licensure.

NCLEX-RN Pass Rates for First-Timer Test Takers by Program

January-March 2020

  • Associate degree — 86.53%
  • Diploma — 87.40%
  • Baccalaureatedegree — 92.83%
  • Total first-time pass rate — 89.61%

Annual total for 2019 academic year

  • Associate degree — 85.17%
  • Diploma — 87.89%
  • Baccalaureate degree — 91.22%
  • Total first-time pass rate — 88.18%

NCLEX-PN Pass Rates for First-Time Test Takers

January-March 2020

  • 86.01%

Annual total for 2019 academic year

  • 85.63%

As you can see, it’s much more likely you’ll pass than fail, especially with the right preparation. Beginning to study early and often gets you far when it comes to acing the NCLEX and increasing your own NCLEX pass rate.

What’s the NCLEX Pass Rate for Your Nursing Program?

What Is the NCLEX Pass Rate? [2020 Edition] (1)

Don’t forget that while the above pass rates provide a great overview, the NCLEX pass rate varies from school to school and state to state. Ideally, you’d ask what your school’s NCLEX pass rate is when applying, but if you’re already there, make sure you ask now. This helps you see how your school is doing in comparison to other schools and locations. Plus, it helps you have a good idea of what to expect from your nursing program.

Here are a few different nursing education programs’ NCLEX pass rates:

  • Central Oregon Community College — 97.78% for ADN program
  • Concordia University, Portland — 91.67% for BSN program
  • Texas A&M University — 83.79% for BSN program
  • University of Alaska, Anchorage — 86.7% for ADN program
  • University of Nebraska Medical Center — 92.36% for BSN program
  • Wayne Community College, North Carolina — 94% for LPN program
  • Wytheville Community College, Virginia — 77.14% for ADN program

As you can see, the NCLEX pass rate for licensure is not the same across the board. Even individual state scores have big differences. In Mississippi, the average NCLEX pass rate is 85.9% for a BSN while Nebraska’s NCLEX pass rate is 96.3% for the same degree.

While these pass rates are really interesting, they’re in no way the only determining factor in whether you pass the NCLEX or not. Passing the NCLEX takes more than a great school. It takes grit, determination, and skill. And if you’ve made it this far, it’s likely you already have what it takes.

Other NCLEX Licensure Exam Factors to Know About

There are a few other factors to consider when preparing for taking the NCLEX exam that affect your NCLEX pass rate. A few of these include:

  • Average test length — 115 questions
  • Average test time — 2 hours, 11 minutes
  • Percent of examinees taking the minimum number of items — 55%
  • Percent of examinees taking the maximum number of items — 16.1%
  • Percent of examinees taking the maximum amount of time — 1.4%

Most nursing graduates won’t end up answering the maximum amount of questions or take the maximum amount of time. So while it can be intimidating to imagine sitting in a test room for six hours answering 265 questions, it’s very likely this won’t happen to you. With that being said, that doesn’t mean it won’t.

When you go into the NCLEX examination knowing what to expect, you can work on pacing yourself. So while it isn’t common to take all exam questions, it’s best to go into the exam preparing for this outcome because of the time constraint on the test. To break it down, if you had to answer all exam questions in the allotted time you’d have 1.36 minutes per question for the NCLEX-RN and 1.46 minutes per question for the NCLEX-PN.

Preparing for all testing session possibilities with regular practice helps you answer accurately — getting your personal NCLEX pass rate to 100%.

Study Smarter, Not Harder

Here are a few practical pointers for taking the NCLEX in a way that helps you answer quickly and efficiently. Use these tips to feel empowered and confident on test day:

  • Pick an optimal test date, time, and location. Don’t settle for a time that doesn’t work for you.
  • Don’t wait to test! Evidence proves you must test as soon as possible after graduation to ensure a secure an ideal NCLEX pass rate.
  • Study a little each day — don’t cram.
  • Remember airway, breathing, and circulation (ABCs), utilize the nursing process, and visualize Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
  • Pick the best answer, as a few answers may be correct. Focus on choosing the one that’s the most correct.
  • Always assess the patient and situation first. Never leave your patient and call the doctor before assessing.
  • Systematically eliminate known incorrect answers then choose the best of what’s left.
  • Draw from your knowledge and intuition even if you’re unsure. If you’re unsure of a question, choose the answer that’s most logical or feels correct. You often know more than you realize.
  • Use deductive reasoning when looking for the correct answer. You’ll do this by learning specific facts through generalization. For example, all men having a heart attack have tightness in the chest, fatigue, lightheadedness, and anxiety. (Based on research) Mr. Jones, a 67-year-old male, is admitted to the Emergency Department with a diagnosis of a heart attack. (Verified clinically) Conclusion: The nurse can expect Mr. Jones to have tightness in the chest, fatigue, lightheadedness, and anxiety.
  • Identify keywords, odd answers, and opposite answers to eliminate the wrong choices. Keywords and odd answers often indicate they may be the correct answer because they stand out. Also, if two answers are opposite it’s likely that one of them is correct.

Use NCLEX Pass Rates to Make the Most of Your Exam

What Is the NCLEX Pass Rate? [2020 Edition] (2)

The outcome of your licensure examination is ultimately in your hands. This is fantastic because it means you have so much control over your future.

And speaking of it being in your hands, one of the absolute best ways to prepare for the NCLEX is to take practice questions. Daily NCLEX Challenge is a completely free tool that sends you one NCLEX question per day via email. If you choose to invest in the premium version, you’ll get access to answer rationales, your question bank of previous challenges, and even get to follow friends. But we didn’t stop there, the premium version also allows you to compete for awesome nursing-related prizes by earning achievements each time you answer your daily question.

Daily NCLEX Challenge was designed as a resource to save you time, frustration, and help you feel confident in taking on the big exam. This computerized testing preps your brain for the big day and helps you develop good study habits. The truth is, taking your NCLEX exam prep seriously separates you from the nurse you’re meant to be.

Having to retake the NCLEX doesn’t have to happen to you. Your future is in your hands. You can do it!

What Is the NCLEX Pass Rate? [2020 Edition] (2024)


What Is the NCLEX Pass Rate? [2020 Edition]? ›

According to the NCSBN, the national first time NCLEX-RN pass rate for US educated

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nurses in 2020 was 86.5% and the PN pass rate for the same period of time was 83%.

What percentage of answers do you need to pass NCLEX? ›

This means that you have to answer difficult questions correctly for at least 50% of the time in order to pass.

What is the passing score for NCLEX 2020? ›

Currently, to pass the NCLEX-RN, the standard is 0.00 logits–or answer questions correctly at least 50% of the time. The NCLEX-PN standard is -0.18 logits. Logits are measurements used to determine the differences between your nursing ability and question difficulty.

How many of the 75 questions do you have to get right to pass the NCLEX? ›

To pass the NCLEX RN or PN, test takers must correctly answer at least 85 questions (the minimum amount). Unfortunately, that means you can also fail the exam within those 85 questions or items.

What does it mean if you get all 145 questions on NCLEX? ›

Answering all 145 questions on the NCLEX-RN alone does not mean you failed the exam. However, with each correct answer you provide, the test should give you a question that becomes increasingly more difficult than the previous one.

How many hard questions do you have to get right on the 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.

Did you get all right if you pass the NCLEX in 75 questions? ›

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.

How likely is it to pass NCLEX with 145 questions? ›

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.

How many questions can you miss on the NCLEX? ›

Candidates must answer at least 75 questions in the five available hours or fail the test. The maximum number of questions in both exams is 145. Therefore, test-takers typically answer between 75 and 145. Since the test is adaptive, the NCLEX percentage to pass will vary for each candidate.

Is 90% chance of passing NCLEX good? ›

Specifically, nurse educators viewed students with predicted probabilities of passing the NCLEX-RN/NCLEX-PN greater than 90% as “on track” and therefore “low risk.” Nurse educators further categorized students with predicted probabilities of passing NCLEX-RN/NCLEX-PN between 80% and 89.9% as having “moderate need of ...

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.

What are considered higher level questions on NCLEX? ›

Each category of questions requires an increasing level of critical thinking skills. 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.

How many questions can you miss on a 75 question test to get a 70? ›

A score of 70 out of 75 on a test, assignment or class is a 93.33% percentage grade. 5 questions were wrong or points missed.

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.

Has anyone failed NCLEX at 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.

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.

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.

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.

How many questions should I do a day to pass NCLEX? ›

We recommend that you complete about 2,800 practice questions before your exam. If you are giving yourself a month to study, that means that you would be doing about 100 NCLEX practice questions per day.

Is NCLEX shutting off at 75 good? ›

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.

What is the most accurate NCLEX predictor? ›

Most school considers the ATI Predictor Exam a clear indicator of NCLEX success. Those who take the ATI Predictor Exam usually do better on the first administration of the NCLEX than those who do not. The ATI Predictor Exam helps nursing students prepare to take the NCLEX.

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 soon can I do the Pearson trick? ›

Sources vary regarding how long you should wait to try the Pearson Vue NCLEX trick after testing. While some people try the trick within an hour or so after completing the NCLEX exam, giving yourself a two-to-four-hour post-test window seems to be the best.

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.

Do the first 15 questions of the NCLEX count? ›

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.

What if I have failed the NCLEX 3 times? ›

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.

Which state has the hardest Nclex exam? ›

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.

What is the average NCLEX pass rate? ›

NCLEX Pass Rates by State
47 more rows
Apr 1, 2023

Can NCLEX SATA be only one answer? ›

Select-all-that-apply (SATA) questions on the NCLEX can now include any number of correct responses.

Does NCLEX do partial credit for SATA? ›

According to the latest NCSBN meeting, you can receive partial credit for “select all that apply” (SATA) questions which will have a minimum of 5 answer choices and a maximum of 10. Also, there are six questions per case study.

Can all NCLEX SATA be correct? ›

According to the NCSBN website's FAQS on alternate format questions(go ahead, check it out), SATA questions have a minimum of 2 correct answers and there is no upper limit. This means that all of the options could be correct… or 3, or 4, but certainly never less than just 2.

How many questions did I get right if I got 75% on a 20 question test? ›

Answer: Answer is 15 questions.

What is a 70% on a 75 question test? ›

Answer and Explanation: 70 percent of 75 questions is 52.5%.

What is a 70% on a 70 question test? ›

A C is 70% to 79%; A D is 60% to 69%; and finally.

Can Pearson VUE quick results be wrong? ›

Are NCLEX Quick Results Accurate? The NCLEX Quick Results/Pearson Vue Quick Results are believed to be 100% accurate. However, the quick results are computer-generated and unofficial. Official results are released by the state board of nursing, not the NCLEX Quick Results Service.

What is the passing score for the NCLEX 2023? ›

The 2023 passing standard for the NCLEX-RN is 0.00 logits and -0.18 logits for the NCLEX-PN.

Has anyone passed NCLEX with bad pop up? ›

Yes, you can get the bad pop and still pass the NCLEX. Many students have reported this happening to them. That's why it's best to either get the unofficial quick results or wait for the official results.

Is it OK to fail NCLEX first time? ›

It is possible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) tests again if you fail the first time. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), which administers these exams, allows test-takers to retake the exam up to 8 times per year.

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.

How many questions out of 75 do you have to get right on the NCLEX? ›

To pass the NCLEX RN or PN, test takers must correctly answer at least 85 questions (the minimum amount). Unfortunately, that means you can also fail the exam within those 85 questions or items.

What does it mean if your NCLEX shuts off at 85? ›

In other words, if the computer shuts off at 85 questions, the only thing that means was that the computer had a high enough confidence to determine that you either passed or failed at that point. You may have done really well or horribly. You won't know until you receive your results.

How accurate is the NCLEX trick? ›

The NCLEX trick is not 100% accurate. Some students have reported getting “a bad pop-up” when they passed and getting “the good pop-up” when they failed.

Is 75 questions on NCLEX pass or fail? ›

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.

Is 145 questions on NCLEX bad? ›

Nope! And it does not mean you failed. Even at 75 questions can have a failed result.

Can you pass NCLEX with 150 questions? ›

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

What is a good NCLEX predictor score? ›

ATI Predictive Scoring
ATI Comprehensive Predictor ScoreNCLEX-RN Pass Probability
8 more rows
Apr 26, 2023

What is the average NCLEX score? ›

Therefore, test-takers typically answer between 75 and 145. Since the test is adaptive, the NCLEX percentage to pass will vary for each candidate. The test will constantly challenge the test-taker until it finds the kind of questions that they will have a 50% chance of passing.

Do most nursing students pass the NCLEX? ›

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 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.


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