How do people fail the NCLEX ?

  1. 1
    First off I want to mention that I have not yet taken the NCLEX, nor am I saying its easy or insulting those who have failed it.

    However I wanted to make a thread focusing on what exactly goes wrong, which results in people failing the test.

    Looking at the statistics many people (90%~) pass on the first attempt, which means only a few dont.

    So rather focusing on the many many different ways that the majority of people pass, I was hoping people could share their knowledge and experiences of the most common reason why people dont.

    Going off the statistics that NCLEX offers being a foreign educated/non english speaking student obviously seems to be the biggest obstacle, but what else ?
    sm0205 likes this.
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  3. 46 Comments so far...

  4. 3
    DISCLAIMER: I passed NCLEX-PN in 2005 (1st attempt) and NCLEX-RN in 2010 (1st attempt). Here are some reasons for a test taker's possible failure:

    1. test anxiety
    2. reading into the questions too deeply
    3. poor reading comprehension & vocabulary
    4. taking so long to answer each question that you run out of time
    5. On multiple choice questions, two of the answers are going to be correct. However, the test taker must select the one that is most correct. This trips people up.
    Kdext_rn, SE_BSN_RN, and sMoLsNurse like this.
  5. 2
    I say the main reason is test anxiety.

    I failed my LPN Nclex the 1st time I took it in July 2003 bc of being stressed and having anxiety. Went back 45 days later after getting a grip on my testing anxiety and passed. Passed my RN Nclex January 2013 1st try.

    Test anxiety is very real......
    SE_BSN_RN and KimberlyRN89 like this.
  6. 1
    Quote from keepmovingrn
    I say the main reason is test anxiety.

    I failed my LPN Nclex the 1st time I took it in July 2003 bc of being stressed and having anxiety. Went back 45 days later after getting a grip on my testing anxiety and passed. Passed my RN Nclex January 2013 1st try.

    Test anxiety is very real......
    Any suggestions for test anxiety? This is something I have been struggling with as I near the end of my program. (Maybe nerves of everything I have invested so far?)
    ashleymRN2b likes this.
  7. 0
    There is actually extensive researcher into the topic especially as to what schools should do if a student fails found here: http://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4242&context=etd_theses

    There are many more if you look on (go to Google Scholar, search "students fail nclex"). The reasons run the gauntlet. "Test anxiety" is actually not listed - rather poor critical thinking skills and low GPAS (cumulative and nursing theory). And even then some of these studies, using this data/algorithm, are unable to predict whether or not a person will pass or fail.

    So the right answer to your question is: No one really knows. The answers you will see in this forum are anecdotal.
  8. 4
    To me, it seems like some of the failures are the result of way too much studying. This test checks to see if you are ready to become a safe year 1 nurse. You do not need the same knowledge base as a nurse with twenty years of experience. So bogging your brain down with too many details is overwhelming and defeating.
    Nikki0727, nes09, hudabelle, and 1 other like this.
  9. 0
    I'll take a guess at why people fail. I think it has to do with poor critical thinking skills and anxiety. The NCLEX is really not that hard. I think people over study and over think the exam. Everyone psyches themselves up that it is going to be the hardest thing in the world, but in reality it's not. Good critical thinking skills definitely come into play during the exam as without it the correct answer choice may seem completely wrong. Good luck.
  10. 0
    Quote from pknurse
    There is actually extensive researcher into the topic especially as to what schools should do if a student fails found here: http://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4242&context=etd_theses

    There are many more if you look on (go to Google Scholar, search "students fail nclex"). The reasons run the gauntlet. "Test anxiety" is actually not listed - rather poor critical thinking skills and low GPAS (cumulative and nursing theory). And even then some of these studies, using this data/algorithm, are unable to predict whether or not a person will pass or fail.

    So the right answer to your question is: No one really knows. The answers you will see in this forum are anecdotal.
    A few points to your post:

    The EBP you posted is 23 years old.

    Unless the sample size included subjects with document anxiety, learning disabilities, etc, one cannot say whether or not test anxiety does (or doesn't ) have an effect on passing the NCLEX.

    I have documented test anxiety, yet I passed the NCLEX the first time in 2005 and 2012 ( PN and RN, respectively) that is not to say the next individual will do the same. Obviously, a high percentage do well, regardless.

    I graduated from a program where they were including in their research about test anxiety and "novice to expert" in terms of a nursing student because they had a day (higher percent of traditional students) and evening (higher percent of "non-traditional" students) classes, and are measuring a correlation between the information. My professor is (because they are still researching, forgot that year they were going to stop at; I think my class was year 2 or 3 in a five-year study) a principal researcher; while two other professors I had talked about the pattern of what individuals use when test anxiety is suspected. One professor was able to identify my test anxiety; I never told anyone that I had it; I didn't mention it.

    Unless we are doing a quanta rice study, of course out posts are purely opinion, however, that doesn't diminish that a person's anxiety or pathology will not be dismissed. There are people who pass with 4.0's fail the NCLEX. My opinion is that it is the APPLICATION in answering the questions that trip people up more than anything.
  11. 1
    Quote from KJM-RN
    I'll take a guess at why people fail. I think it has to do with poor critical thinking skills and anxiety. The NCLEX is really not that hard. I think people over study and over think the exam. Everyone psyches themselves up that it is going to be the hardest thing in the world, but in reality it's not. Good critical thinking skills definitely come into play during the exam as without it the correct answer choice may seem completely wrong. Good luck.
    I agree.

    I passed on the first try. I studied for a few days ahead of time (I was an A/B student in nursing school) while many people studied for hours a day for months. I knew I didn't need to do that.

    Critical thinking is key.
    nes09 likes this.
  12. 0
    I am a new student starting in August. Should I be studying NCLEX review books all along? Or do instructors basically teach you all you need to know to pass the NCLEX?


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