Should there be a limit on # of tries for NCLEX?

Students NCLEX


Considering that 85% of people pass the NCLEX the first time do you think there should be a limit on the number of times a person can take the NCLEX or maybe a required remediation after the second fail?

I am just playing devils advocate here, 85% pass the first time but I see many post on here "Failed NCLEX for the 4th time...passed NCLEX after my 5th try"...that seems like a lot to me. Do you think there is a difference in performance between the nurse that passed the first time and the nurse that took say five or six times to pass like some of the postings we see on here? Is it just by chance and statistics that these people finally passed or is it because they finally took a review course that turned on a light bulb?


231 Posts

Specializes in Flight RN, Trauma1 CVICU STICU MICU CCU.

Some people, by nature are poor test takers. I could agree to a license with oversight... such as BON doing QA/QI reviews of charts and patient outcomes of those who fail too many times.

But to make a max limit / fail, that's pretty harsh to crush someone's dream, especially if they passed nursing school. Then again... there were a few in my class who i wouldn't wish on my worst enemy...

slippery slope... especially, since i haven't received my ATT yet!

Jolie, BSN

6,375 Posts

Specializes in Maternal - Child Health.

Some states have these limitations.

I graduated and originally worked in IL. I haven't been there for years now, so I'm not sure if these restrictions still hold, but back in the 1980's in IL, you could take NCLEX 3 times. If you failed a 3rd time, you had to show evidence of remedial education (usually a course of study in conjunction with your former school of nursing.) That gave you 3 more tries. If you failed a 6th time, you had to completely repeat nursing school in order to qualify for NCLEX again. I don't know of anyone who failed that many times.

I believe that some restrictions are necessary to prevent an otherwise incompetent candidate from "learning" how to successfully take NCLEX. I do believe it is possible to be trained to reason one's way thru a test, even if the person's grasp of the content is not good. Since RN licensure is not based on an objective clinical evaluation, then I believe that limits on NCLEX are necessary.

llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

I strongly agree with the general direction this thread seems to be taking -- that there be some requirements to get some remedial nursing education (not just test-taking skills) after a certain number of failures. But that people allowed to try again if they have taken additional education.

My personal experience as a long term Staff Developmnt Specialist is that a lot of good nurses fail the first time because they weren't prepared for that type of test, weren't feeling well that day, etc. In other words, for temporary problems that can be corrected fairly easily. So, I am fine with allowing people to try 2 or 3 times without requiring additional education. However, those new grads I have worked with who failed more than twice struggled with everything we tried to teach them. The problem wasn't just "test-taking skills" or "test anxiety" both of which can be simply excuses for lack of knowledge or inability to engage in critical thinking that allow the person to "save face." Those new grads had bigger problems related to their nursing knowledge and/or their abilities to apply it.

That's the main reason I think remedial education should be required after the 2nd or 3rd failure. That education would give those students a chance to enhance their actual knowledge and skills, which would not only help them with the NCLEX, but also help them be successful on the job.

Another reason is that those people who spend 6 months, 12 months, etc. try to pass NCLEX "get rusty" in their knowledge and skills. The remedial education would help couter-act that ... which once again, would help them succeed on the job.


6 Posts

Specializes in CVICU.

The Georgia BON requires licensure within 3 years of graduation and a waiting period of 90 days between attempts to pass the NCLEX. To reestablish eligibility, an applicant would have to reenroll and graduate from an approved nursing a limitation of sorts

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