Congratulations on finishing nursing school and completing the NCLEX. Below are the answers to some common questions that students have after taking the NCLEX. These answers are based on the information provided by NCSBN, the writers of the NCLEX.
The members and moderators here at Allnurses.com realize that the NCLEX can be one of the most stress-provoking events on the path to becoming an RN or LPN/LVN. By all means, if you have a question that isn't listed below or you just need some support, feel free to post in the forum.
1. What percentage must I answer correctly to pass the NCLEX?
Unlike standard nursing school exams, there is no grade on the NCLEX. The exam is set up so that both passers and failers tend to score around 50%. If a student begins scoring above 50%, the questions become harder. If the candidate's percentage begins to slip below 50%, the questions get easier. What determines pass/fail is the level of difficulty where the student is hitting the 50% mark. In fact, this is one of the reasons why students find the exam so overwhelming. We aren't used to getting 50's on exams.
2. Is the NCLEX harder in one state than in another?
No. The content and passing standard do not vary by state.
3. I got ___ (75, 265, any other number) questions. Did I pass or fail?
There is no way to determine pass/fail simply based on the number of questions. The exam keeps going until it is 95% certain that you are above or below the passing standard, until you answer 265 questions, or until you run out of time.
If you only got 75 questions for RN (or 85 for PN), it means that it was not difficult for the computer to determine pass/fail, but it doesn't tell us whether you passed or you failed. Likewise, getting 265 questions for RN (or 205 for PN) means that the computer required more time to decide, but it doesn't tell us what the decision was.
4. I got an odd number of questions. Is this a good/bad sign?
Neither. See question #3.
5. It seemed like I had several similar questions on the NCLEX. Does that mean I got them wrong the first time?
No. There are several reasons why similar questions might pop up on the exam. Some of the questions are not even scored and are being pretested for future use. See page 13 of the 2006 Candidate Bulletin
6. I finished the exam in an hour. Does this help my chances?
No. As long as you finished the exam, speed does not affect the scoring.
7. If I ran out of time, how does that work?
The computer calculates your level of performance (known as an ability estimate
) after each question. When you run out of time, the computer will look at your ability estimate over the past 60 questions. If your ability estimate remained above passing for each of the last 60 questions, you will pass. That doesn't mean that you had to answer each of the last 60 questions correctly.
8. The Pearson VUE staff member winked at me after the exam. Does that mean I passed for sure?
No. Official results are not even accessible to test center staff.
8. If I got math questions, does that mean I failed?
No. You can't tell pass/fail simply by the presence/absence of certain types of questions.
9. If I got priority or alternate format questions, does that tell me that I passed?
No. See the answer to the previous question.
10. Does getting the last question right or wrong tell me if I passed or failed?
11. I heard that one person in the room is always selected to get 265 questions. Is that true?
No, not true. See the second paragraph of question #3.
12. Can I determine pass/fail from the type of survey the computer gives me after the test?
13. I keep looking up the answers to my NCLEX questions and I'm missing quite a few of them. Does this mean that I failed?
No. For one, you're more likely to remember questions that gave you trouble versus questions that you instantly answered correctly. Also keep in mind that both passers and failers tend to answer around 50% correctly.
14. What is Quick Results? Does my state participate?
15. If I'm not in a Quick Results state, how do I get results?
Official NCLEX results come from your state board of nursing and they are often available online, although the waiting time varies widely among states.
Thanks for visiting Allnurses. For more information on how the NCLEX works, visit www.ncsbn.org
and click on the 2006 Candidate Bulletin
Best of luck as you wait for results!
* Thanks to the members of Allnurses.com whose ideas contributed to this FAQ. Although they are far too numerous to name, they are certainly appreciated.