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Just How Difficult is NCLEX?


Specializes in med/surge. Has 2 years experience.

Hi all,

have read many of the UK->US forums in the last few years but nothing about the exam itself.... Is it difficult to pass if you are a UK trained RN? I see that about 85% of US nursing grads pass it the first time. What about Brits? I always think that according to the hype a US RN's job is more clinical? or is that just Too Posh to Wash propaganda?https://allnurses.com/forums/images/smilies/lol2.gif


Any real life experience would be interesting to read? Are the prep courses worth the time and money or could you do it through a book?



Specializes in Medical, Diabetes, ICU.


Well, the reason nobody ever talks about the NCLEX is that you are supposedly forbidden to repeat anything you saw in the exam. (Did you ever see 'Fight Club'? ("The first rule about fight club is that you do not talk about fight club"!!). Anyway, Yes, I do think the exam was difficult, I do think you can learn it from books, there are loads of threads with info for good books. I did pass first time at 75 questions, but found the whole thing depressingly vague. I was hoping I would see questions where answers 1,2 and 3 would be obviously wrong for example, but it was just not like that. Many of the questions I could have agreed with say, 3 of the answers. So, in the end I just had to go with my gut feeling. There seemed to be plenty of prioritising questions. But then I think you just remember the questions you felt a bit shaky on. Good Luck by the way!!


Silverdragon102, BSN

Specializes in Medical and general practice now LTC. Has 33 years experience.

Also I would say harder for a nurse with experience to someone just qualifying


Specializes in med/surg.

If you study hard you will pass but I think you need to take guidance on that study, especially if you are UK trained.

I passed 1st time with 75 questions but I worked really hard.

Suzanne does a good guide here - PM her your request and email address. She uses Saunders - which I think is very good for content and advice on finding the right answer.

Kaplan is definitely a good idea too. I did the 1 day live course -which really helped consolidate the info I had.

The main thing is practice, practice & practice. Use CD's & books & just do as many questions as you can! The thing with N-CLEX is learning how to find the right answer - the N-CLEX forum on Allnurses has lots of good advice & links so go check it out.

It's not impossible by any means but the 48% pass rate for foreign nurses tells it's own tale. It's not that you don't know the answers but you need to learn how to get there.

Personally I feel that taking the N-CLEX has made me a better, more knowledgeable nurse here in the UK while I await the end of retrogression (or the slow passage of my Visa through the regular channels!)

Silverdragon102, BSN

Specializes in Medical and general practice now LTC. Has 33 years experience.

before you pm Suzanne for her plan you do need to follow her guidelines which can be found in the NCLEX forum and once you complete the first tip then you can send her a pm


Specializes in med/surg.

Oh yeah - thanks SD, it's been some time now since I did my studying & I'd forgotten about that!!


Specializes in renal,peritoneal dialysis, medicine.

how slow am i? i didnt even know about it :)


Specializes in med/surg.

Yes, I think on-line courses are very helpful too. I did the NCSBN course for the shortest time available - 3 weeks I think - before I took the exam. There were some very similar questions on the actual exam.

I also took the Mosby CAT test on-line (avaiable from Elsevier & Amazon too I think), which simulates the real thing and gives you a percentage prediction of your likelyhood of passing. I took that the week before my actual exam & it gave me a 99% chance of passing so that was quite nice:lol2:

However, as I said I did do LOADS of study & I don't want others to think they have to go as OTT as me. Bear in mind I went to nursing school 1989-1992 so I was some way from original qualification and that was why I went overboard.

It really is a matter of working out how you pick out the right answer. There are certain words to look out for, learning to read the questions really well so that you don't get lured into answers that are right but not correct for the queation being asked etc. Kaplan & Saunders are particularly good for that IMO. By the time I took the exam I could get answers right even if I had no idea what the question was about or had forgotten details.

I would also say learn your electrolyte probs & meds really well. Suzanne' will tell you in relation to electrolytes it's not so much exact values you need to crib but more what you'd if a value was too low or high that matters & what is more dangerous a low or high reading etc.

Man I could go on for ages about this I think I'd better stop:trout: but do check out the N-CLEX threads on here - there's tons of excellent information there.


Specializes in ICU, SDU, OR, RR, Ortho, Hospice RN.

To be honest I did not think the NCLEX was really that bad.

I just went in there did the questions went home and cried LOL :lol2:

I WAS sick with Strep Throat and did not know it. Add to that relief I actually sat the steenkin' exam. Nahhhhhh it is not that bad. :)

you need to have a good understanding of the nursing content and get used yourself how to answer nclex questions.

out of the 75 questions (i am a first timer) i only had two answers which i was 100% correct.

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