Failed my exit exam, what now?

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Hello Nurse Beth I finish all my credits (128) for a associate science in Nursing from a accredited college, but the instructor withdrew me from the program saying I fail the exit exam what can I do to obtain my degree.

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Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

I'm very sorry you didn't pass the exit exam despite completing all your credits.

Exit exams as a predictor of success for the NCLEX

It is common practice for nursing schools to administer an exit exam to evaluate their students' preparedness for the NCLEX. Additionally, some schools are experiencing issues with their accreditation because of low pass rates and have implemented a policy of only passing students who are likely to pass the NCLEX.

Failing the exit exam does not define you or your abilities as a future nurse.

Passing the exit exam does not guarantee success on the NCLEX-RN. Students who pass their exit exams may still fail the NCLEX. Likewise, failing the NCLEX on one's first attempt does not define your future as a nurse.

You are not alone. Many individuals who failed their exit exams or NCLEX have become successful practicing nurses.

I bet everyone here on allnurses knows at least one amazing nurse who failed but persisted. If we made a list, it would be extensive!

An RN I'm thinking of, "J," is hands down one of the best nurses I've ever worked with. She took the NCLEX 3 times.

So, know that one exam does not determine your future as a nurse unless you let it.


However, you need to understand why you failed. If you can't answer that question, you are less likely to succeed when you retake it.

Do you find it challenging to understand certain subjects like Pharmacology or Pediatrics? Did this one poor result blindside you, or did you notice any warning signs from your instructors beforehand? How did you do in your clinical rotations? Were your evaluations satisfactory?

Talk to your instructor or academic advisor to understand why you did not pass the exit exam. Your exit exam scores can provide helpful information for studying.

Knowing where you fell short can help you focus your efforts on improvement.

If you struggled with certain exam areas, consider seeking tutoring or joining study groups to strengthen your understanding of the material.


Talk to the director of your program about your options.

Your school should have a policy outlining options for students who fail the exit exam. This may include allowing students to retake it until they pass, perhaps with a waiting period, providing remedial resources, repeating the module or course in which you had the lowest exit exam score(s), and just using the information to counsel on where to focus study in preparing for the NCLEX. 

You can appeal your case if there were extenuating circumstances or it was unfair. You would need evidence to support your claim.

Get Support

Feeling hurt, anger, embarrassment, and grief is expected in your situation. I recommend seeing a counselor to process your feelings. Your school may have a counselor at little or no cost. Try to stay positive. Remember that setbacks are a natural part of life. This, too, shall pass. Stay determined and focused on your goals, and don't hesitate to seek support from friends, family, or academic advisors.

Make a Plan

It's not over yet. The next step is to develop a success plan. Making a plan will focus your energies and give you a sense of control.

If retaking the exam or appealing the decision is not feasible, you may explore other accredited programs where you can transfer your credits and complete your degree. Consider transferring your credits to a different school.

Each situation is unique, so assessing your options carefully and making decisions that align with your goals and circumstances is essential.

Good luck, and I hope you find a resolution that allows you to become an RN!

Nurse Beth

Specializes in EMT since 92, Paramedic since 97, RN and PHRN 2021.

What college requires 128 credits for an associates?   Usually when you're in the 120-130 range you get a Bachelors.