What To Do When You Fail The NCLEX-RN

First I should say this is what I have seen in North Carolina as I am sure there are some differences by state. I took the NCLEX and did not pass, and after some time reading I found there is a lot of encouraging post but nothing that tells you what to do or expect next. So I thought I would share what I have learned so far. Students NCLEX Article


What To Do When You Fail The NCLEX-RN

The test just shut off

The next 48 hours is waiting till your "unofficial results" can be purchased from PearsonVue. There are options before that 48 hour hits including "the trick." I am not listing the trick as there is already a 1,000 page post on this site about it, but I will say it worked for me and for my classmates 100% correctly. Still it is a trick and no matter what it says you will still not believe it completely till you buy the results at the 48 hour mark.

48 hours later you log on PearsonVue pay the $7.95 and then...

Grade: Fail

Even if you did the trick, reality just hit. You just failed the Nclex and it sucks. You told everyone you knew when you were taking it, maybe you even posted it on Facebook. And for the past 2 days they all have ask "Have you heard anything?" and now the last thing you want to do is talk to anyone, but the phone calls and txt are about to start. Just remember most of those people truly are just concerned and excited for you and want to help when they find out. Asking a friend or two to tell others for you can give you a break. At this point I turned my phone off and slept for the next 24 hours or so. That's just what works for me, so do what works for you.

72 hours

Had lots of messages so I did my best to respond, usually by txt.

I also remember I have an accepted job offer at a local hospital. It's Sunday so really nothing I can do now but I know I have to call them tomorrow. At this point I am freaking out, and everything is worst case scenario. I keep thinking about the test and what I could have done wrong.

  • Breathe... You can't change it but it is really not as bad as it feels.
  • Start getting your thoughts together.
  • Organize things. Are there things you have to do or people you have to call? (job offers ect)
  • Write things down you have to do and when (You have a lot going on it's easy to forget things)

96 hours

It's Monday so my first chance to call the hospital and tell them I failed the NCLEX and find out what's going to happen or what I need to do. For me I got a "It's ok we will work it out" but a few hours later they revoked the job offer. Ok so maybe I am going to freak out all over again... no I will call someone (you know the person you can call that will tell you the truth and break it down so even the worst case scenario does not look so bad anymore)

  • Even with the economy down nurses are still in high demand. If you have a job offer maybe you will lose it maybe you won't, but there are other jobs and this is not the end of the world even if your brain keeps saying otherwise.
  • Start working on a plan. Does your school offer its graduates support if they don't pass? Even if they don't you still need a plan. Think about what works for you and what doesn't. Do you have problems with knowledge, application, certain areas (medications ect), or is it just the way the test are worded. Whatever it is start writing it down so you know what you need to work on. If you don't know what you need to work on many of the review courses have test to help determine where you need the most work.
  • Don't wait for someone else. I hear the state will mail you a form that tells you what areas you need to work on based on the test. I have no doubt this will be helpful but I have yet to receive that in the three weeks since. (Not a complaint just saying don't wait for it to start planning.)
  • Stay positive the outlook won't start to look better until you get up and do something about it. And don't forget to get plenty of rest.

One week

At this point I'm feeling much better. I had a lot of help from friends and former instructors, and after talking to them and doing some research I chose a review course that looked like it would work for me. I am using the NCSBN's Comprehensive Online Review and I like it, but I have heard good things about the Kaplan and many others.

I wanted to get the process for signing up to retake the NCLEX started and could not find much information on where to start. I tried my state board of nursing site and found little information other than I need to reapply so I tried that and kept getting a message that there was already an application so I could not sign up. It also gave me a phone number to call for help. Of course this was to my states board of nursing and I was directed to voice mail every time I called so I left a message explaining my call several times. I don't know about other states board of nursing, but here at least getting a live person on the phone or a return phone call is like pulling teeth. To date I have never talked to anyone there or received a return call (Not a complaint I know they are busy, just putting the info out there) I kept researching and looking stuff up but found nothing concrete on what to do, so I just started working on studying.

I decided to also email the nurse recruiter where I had the job offer previously and thank them for the opportunity, and express my understanding for unforeseen events and my hope to work with them again in the future.

  • Again stay positive, breathe, take a break when you need it.
  • Find what you need to work on.
  • Sign up for a review class that works for you. There are many out there that range in type, duration, and cost; and there is a lot of information out there on what different reviews offer.
  • Don't forget to say thanks where it is deserved. It really can go a long way later and it will make you feel better too.
  • Stop freaking out; what's done is done. There is only one way to go... forward.
  • Be patient the Board of Nursing is very busy especially after graduation time.

Two weeks

I have been working on my review course and I have a study plan to stay on track. The world is definitely not ending and maybe I have told myself that enough because my brain even agrees now haha. Still not sure what is going on over at the NCBoN but I have decided not to stress over it or anything else for that matter. When I do start to stress I stop, take a breath, and remind myself that stressing won't help and put whatever it is out of my mind. I made sure my study plan allowed extra time to work on problems as needed, and I try to stay on target with it, but if I need more time somewhere I adjust to fit. I also got a call this week from the nurse recruiter I emailed, it was to thank me for the email and offer me the same job with a new start date; Needless to say I was very excited.

  • Continue to customize your study plan and stick to it as much as possible
  • Utilize the nursing process haha... Is what you are doing working? Do you need more time? Do you need to change something about the way you are studying and if so what?
  • Reduce stress. We all have different ways of doing this taking a break, venting, or just clearing your head, whatever works for you do it.
  • Relax and rest, retention of information is much better when rested.

Three Weeks

Still no information from the board of nursing, but I tried to sign up again this week and it finally went through. It seems my old application was finally processed out. Once again this is North Carolina so I don't know differences by state. I applied on the NCBoN website and marked it as a reapply (have taken the test, have not been licensed, ect) and paid the $65 dollar reapplication fee. The only form I had to mail in was a new identification document (remember the one that needed a 2x2 passport photo, and a notary stamp) and it says it will take up to 14 days to process. All the other information remains on file (criminal background check ect) from my first application. It also directed me to reschedule with PearsonVue which I did, and paid the $200 exam fee. Still have to wait for a new ATT before scheduling the date.

  • For North Carolina it seems to take a few weeks before you can reapply so give it time and try again.
  • The reapplication fee for NC is $65 and the exam fee is $200.
  • You will need to mail a new identification document to the BON. You will get the document and information on what to do when you are applying on the NCBoN website. You will need a 2x2 passport type photo and it will have to be notarized.
  • You will need to wait for a new ATT before you can schedule a date to take the exam.
  • Keep working on your study plan. Even when you get a new ATT make sure you leave yourself enough time to study everything you need to. If you are unsure wait until you are sure before scheduling the date. You can also reschedule your exam up to 24 hours before your scheduled time.


Well on the date I am posting this message this is where I am, just beyond the three week mark. All the information here is from my experience not anything official. When I found out that I failed the NCLEX I didn't find much information other than bits and pieces of what to do or expect, and I felt completely lost at first. I hope someone will find this post helpful, and even if it's only one person it will have been worth it.

Good luck and stick to that study plan.

RN; Cardiac/Adult Nursing

1 Article   10 Posts

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462 Posts

Hey there NcSn sorry that you were not successful on your first attempt. I was not either, I took mine on June 10th.

I am awaiting my new ATT once I forked over more "dough"

Reading your message was inspiring and I appreciate it. I took about 4 days off then I jumped back into studying. When I got my official results it said "Near Passing Standard" but that really doesn't help about what to focus on, or what my weakness is.

I realized though I did more content review the first time and not so many questions so I purchased Exam Cram and really enjoy the questions, some are challenging and I feel that it has helped me alot. I also bought a 5week subscription from teh NCSBN's website and found this to be great!

I actually have two interviews on Monday and two different hospitals and really hoping for the best. They know I don't have my licensure yet but will be testing at the end of July (45 day wait period).

I too also told everyone when I was testing and it was so hard to tell them about my failure. Everyone was truely sincere and apologetic and encouraging. This time I'm not telling anyone!! Well.... except my husband, my mama, my 6 year old, and if I get offered a job... that person too!

Just wanted to tell you Keep you head held high. Good Luck and you can do this.

: )


139 Posts

Hi. I also did not pass the first time(before the new changes) so i have an idea of how you are feeling. I decided to refocus as quickly

as possible so as remember and work on the areas where i was weak in. INFECTION CONTROL, SATA, and PrIORITY. I did alot of those questions in a test format just by themselves. LaCharity's book helped me alot, the mneumonic on infection control(thanks to the genius who came up with it) was soo much help.

I took in on june 9th and was successful...................any Qs just holla


1 Article; 130 Posts

:yeah::yeah::yeah:great post!!!

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail."

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


38,333 Posts

Good luck next time around.


41 Posts

Thanks NcSN52010 for the encouragement. The exact same thing happened to me. It is going on week number 3 and I still have not heard from the board. I am not paying my money again until I receive my blueprint from Pearson Vue because the same thing happened to some other people, but they received a license in the mail instead of their failure result. This money is not refundable!!


1 Article; 10 Posts

Specializes in Cardiac - Adult.
Thanks NcSN52010 for the encouragement. The exact same thing happened to me. It is going on week number 3 and I still have not heard from the board. I am not paying my money again until I receive my blueprint from Pearson Vue because the same thing happened to some other people, but they received a license in the mail instead of their failure result. This money is not refundable!!

Hey apatt2. North Carolina does paperless license so they are issued and anyone can access them online. Eventually they pulled my old application without issuing a license, which is what let me sign back up.

Thanks everyone for the responses. Like I said before just hoping that it might help someone else and let them know they are not the only ones feeling the way they do. :)


90 Posts

I just found out that I failed the NCLEX-PN exam and I am so crushed and bummed out right now I was under the impression that i passed my exam becuase my name was on the BON website under licensee verification, but today I got the letter stating that I had failed the NCLEX-PN. I'm just so sad right now and in tears, jsut devastated, all my plans are up in smoke now I have to take it again. Your message is inspiring and I will continue to study again. I will not tell anyone when I will take my exam either, that was one of my biggest mistakes telling people when I was going to take it.





21 Posts

Hey i failed my nclex rn and i live in va...do i have to wait 45 or ninety days to retest?


21 Posts

i wish someone would help me:crying2:

Silverdragon102, BSN

1 Article; 39,477 Posts

Specializes in Medical and general practice now LTC.
Hey i failed my nclex rn and i live in va...do i have to wait 45 or ninety days to retest?

Should state on the BON website how long you have to wait. What i would say is do not rush to resit the exam.


21 Posts

Oh Im going to study much much more!!! I had alot of distractions the night before i tested so i know that had some to do with it but yes in deed i do need to study prioritizing and select all that apply questions. Do you recommend Kaplin or what would you suggest to get ive already reviewed with ATI and Saunders....thanks for replying im pretty sure it is 45 days!!

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