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Shut off at 75? You mostly likely passed!

NCLEX   (955 Views 11 Comments)
by BrentRN BrentRN, PhD (Member)

BrentRN has 39 years experience as a PhD and specializes in Pediatric Nursing and Educational Technology.

2,128 Profile Views; 55 Posts

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I often hear from graduates that worry the NCLEX shut off at 75 questions but remember having difficulty with some questions. They are convinced they must have failed. I am here to tell you that you most likely passed!

Remember that in a 75-question test only 60 questions were counted to your passing score. The other 15 are usually highly difficult or new questions being tested against your performance on the items that counted. Test takers are more likely to remember those 15 questions they struggled with than the ones they could answer pretty quickly. Those 15 questions represented 20% of your test so they seem like a large portion.

For the NCLEX-RN to shut off at 75 means you either did very well or very bad. It only fails an tester at 75 if they are unable to correctly answer more than a few questions in a row. If you struggled on most every question and it shut off at 75 then you probably did fail; but that happens rarely because you would have to be totally unprepared to do that badly. The test is designed to keep giving you chances to succeed (up until 265 questions).

I hope this will relieve some of the post-exam second guessing I see. Feel good because the odds are in your favor.

TL:DR If the test shut off at 75 questions then you most likely passed!

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15 Posts; 72 Profile Views

Great post because it gives some hope! Taking the NCLEX next month and hoping for the best 🙂

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mindofmidwifery is a ADN and specializes in ICU Stepdown.

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This is true!!! I passed in 75 questions and I figured I couldn't have done THAT BAD to have failed in 75.

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NICU Guy has 4 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in NICU.

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I am not sure if the format is the same as when I took it 5 yrs ago. 15 of the first 75 questions were beta questions (don't count). The first question is above the pass line. If you answer a question correctly, the next question is a higher level of difficulty. If you answer a question wrong, the next question is a lower level of difficulty. Theoretically, you could alternate between right and wrong answers and pass at 75 questions, which means you answered 30/75 questions correctly and pass. 

It blows my mind that there are graduates that graduated with a high GPA, studied 100-200 questions per day, and did well on their practice exams, take the NCLEX and have the test stop at 75. The proceed to do the PVT a dozen times and post on here freaking out about failing NCLEX based solely on a stupid trick that is very unreliable. Logically, a very well prepared person that did very well in nursing school would be very likely to have failed NCLEX so badly that the test would stop at 75. I would love to have the stats on graduates that were well prepared and graduated at the top of their class that failed NCLEX at 75. The percentage has to be extremely low. 

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BrentRN has 39 years experience as a PhD and specializes in Pediatric Nursing and Educational Technology.

55 Posts; 2,128 Profile Views

The tested questions are interspersed through the test so you don't know which ones are being tested. They are doing research on new format questions but they come after the test and you are informed that they are  being tested. 

What you describe is the adaptive test used since the 1990s. Your passing is based on how consistent you are in answering questions above the set difficulty level in each area of the nursing process.

It is very rare to be a well prepared student and fail at 75. I think you would have to gone into a panic attack, which is possible but you would also know that you were not answering well.

I never took the adaptive test. When I graduated we etched our answers into stone tablets. 🙂

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NICU Guy has 4 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in NICU.

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10 hours ago, BrentRN said:

It is very rare to be a well prepared student and fail at 75. I think you would have to gone into a panic attack, which is possible but you would also know that you were not answering well.

Only possibilities for a well prepared, high GPA graduate to fail at 75 questions would be: taking the test drunk, taking a narcotic pain med due to a recent injury prior walking into the testing center, or traumatic brain injury on the way to the test.

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10 Posts; 178 Profile Views

Not entirely true. I've read some posts that said the exam shut off at 75 but they ended up failing )=

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BrentRN has 39 years experience as a PhD and specializes in Pediatric Nursing and Educational Technology.

55 Posts; 2,128 Profile Views

7 hours ago, nurse nunu said:

Not entirely true. I've read some posts that said the exam shut off at 75 but they ended up failing )=

That's why I said "you most likely passed" and not "you passed". The vast majority of 75 question exam takers passed. 

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myoglobin has 11 years experience as a ASN, BSN, MSN and specializes in ICU, trauma, neuro.

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I would hypothesize  that if a test taker who's test turned off at 75 completed the phrase: I felt the NCEX was hard  has a very low chance of failing. That is because they would have spent much of their time (due to adaptive testing) at or above the passing standard (which makes the test seem hard, especially with the extra 15 questions thrown in).  A tester who finished in 75 questions and said I felt the test was easy. Might have a lower chance of passing because they spent most of the exam, at or below (because of adaptive testing) than the passing threshold.

Edited by myoglobin

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BrentRN has 39 years experience as a PhD and specializes in Pediatric Nursing and Educational Technology.

55 Posts; 2,128 Profile Views

52 minutes ago, myoglobin said:

I would hypothesize  that if a test taker who's test turned off at 75 completed the phrase: I felt the NCEX was hard  has a very low chance of failing. That is because they would have spent much of their time (due to adaptive testing) at or above the passing standard (which makes the test seem hard, especially with the extra 15 questions thrown in).  A tester who finished in 75 questions and said I felt the test was easy. Might have a lower chance of passing because they spent most of the exam, at or below (because of adaptive testing) than the passing threshold.

An interesting hypothesis. I think the NCSBN should do post-test research on candidates' state before and after the exam, and how they may correlate with success.

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Zookeeper44 has 8 years experience as a RN and specializes in Psych.

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I found the NCLEX to be phenomenally easier than nursing school itself.  I cut off at 75 questions in (if I remember correctly) about 45 minutes.

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