How Many Times Can You Take the NCLEX? State Rules

The NCLEX test is a big day for nursing students. However, failing the test on the first attempt is not the end of the world since you always have the opportunity to retake it. The question then arises: how many times can you take the NCLEX? Here is the correct answer!

How Many Times Can You Take the NCLEX?

The NCSBN (National Council of State Boards of Nursing) guidance says that the number of times you can attempt the NCLEX isn’t limited. You can take the exam up to eight times a year, with a mandatory waiting period of 45 days between attempts.

This guidance applies nationwide, but specific states may have additional requirements, time constraints, or other restrictions. You can read more about these nuances below.

How Soon Will You Know If You’ve Passed the NCLEX?

Your official NCLEX test results are typically revealed approximately six weeks after the day you take the test. Should you not receive your results within this timeframe, though, reach out to your local NRB (nursing regulatory body).

There is generally no limit to the number of times you can take the NCLEX.
There is generally no limit to the number of times you can take the NCLEX.

If the six-week wait feels interminable for you, you should know that many state NRBs offer a service that provides quicker but unofficial results. If you are lucky enough, you can get an idea of your score within two business days of taking the exam. Still, you must await the official results before practicing as a licensed nurse.

If you don’t pass the exam, you will get a CPR (Candidate Performance Report), which details your strengths and weaknesses in each content area. You can then use this report as a valuable resource to create a targeted study plan to enhance your prospects for success next time.

The NCLEX Retake Process

If you know you didn’t pass the test, based on either the official or fast-track results, you can start planning your retake immediately. When preparing for another attempt at the NCLEX (whether it’s the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN), follow these steps:

  • Inform your state’s Nursing Regulatory Body (NRB) about your intention to retake the exam. Retesting fees may vary by state.
  • Go to the Pearson VUE website to pay the re-registration fee.
  • Wait to receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) from your NRB.
  • Look up local testing centers and available test dates, then sign up for the exam.
  • Review your previous attempts. Go over your CPR, study, and complete NCLEX practice exams before your test date.

How Much Does It Cost To Retake The NCLEX?

For NCLEX retakes, the registration fee is $200, and there’s an additional reapplication fee of $75. Still, before you proceed with any payments, you should first reach out to your local NRB to understand your state’s specific guidelines and requirements for retaking the exam. The NCSBN offers a comprehensive directory of nursing state boards across the United States for reference.

Does NCLEX Get Harder The More Times You Take It?

The NCSBN maintains a consistent difficulty level for the NCLEX, regardless of how many attempts you make. Therefore, if the test seems more challenging on subsequent tries, it may be because of the extra pressure you’re placing on yourself.

Source: NCLEX

U.S. States That Apply Unlimited NCLEX Retake Attempts

Here are all the states that follow NCSBN rules and allow aspiring nurses to retake the NCLEX unlimited times:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • California
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Maryland
  • Montana
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Ohio
  • South Dakota
  • Rhode Island
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Washington
state board of nursing

Which States Limit the Number of Times You Can Retake the Exam? 

If your state isn’t in the previously listed ones, then it likely imposes extra guidelines or limits the time for retaking the test:

StatesNumber of Times
AlaskaYou are expected to pass the NCLEX within two years of your initial attempt. If they fail to pass within this timeframe, you need to complete a remedial course before they can attempt to retake the exam.
ColoradoYou can take the exam 3 times within  3 years from your first test date. If you take the exam a fourth time within 2 years following your third attempt, you must evaluate your weaknesses. This may involve taking a course or engaging in a review session to refresh your knowledge. If you can’t pass the test after four tries, you must enroll in and successfully complete another education program.
FloridaIf you fail three times, you must successfully complete a remedial course that is approved by the board before attempting the exam again.
DelawareYou can continue to join the test for up to 5 years.
GeorgiaYou should get the test done well within 3 years of graduating from an education program.
HawaiiIf you fail the NCLEX three times, you have to join a remedial course. Then you have the opportunity to attempt the exam one more time after you complete the course for 6 months.
IllinoisIf you don’t pass within 3 years, you are required to undertake an extra education course and submit a new application.
IndianaThose who fail the test after 3 attempts are required to undergo a review procedure by the board.
KentuckyIf you fail to pass the NCLEX after at least two attempts, you will get a letter from the board. To proceed, you have to apply for licensure again before paying the applicable fees again and completing both the background check and the jurisprudence exam again if sufficient time has elapsed.
LouisianaYou are allowed to take the NCLEX-PN up to 4 times within a two-year period but no later than 3 years after completing a practical program. And if you fail the NCLEX-PN test after these attempts, you must enroll and complete the entire practical program again.
MinnesotaThe state doesn’t limit the number of attempts for the NCLEX. However, you must submit a request to retake the examination within 8 months. Additionally, you are expected to retake the test within one year.
MichiganYou should pass the test within 3 years of graduating from your education program. If you don’t pass within this timeframe, you must complete a certification of skills competency or request an extension.
MissouriRegarding retaking the NCLEX, you must submit a repeat testing application with all necessary information and documents. Following this submission, you must rejoin the NCLEX within 1 year from when you officially notarized the application.
MississippiYou are allowed to take the test up to six times within two years of graduating from your education program.
NevadaYou can take the exam up to 4 times.
New JerseyIf you don’t pass the test after 3 attempts, you must complete a remedial training program approved by the board for a fourth attempt.
New HampshireYou are allowed to take the test up to 5 times, including attempts made in any other state.
North CarolinaIf you don’t pass the test within 1 year of your first attempt, you have to complete remediation plans before you can retake the exam. If you fail to pass the test within 3 years of graduating, you must requalify by enrolling in an approved education program.
New MexicoYou may try up to three times within 3 years of your initial eligibility.
OregonYou have a three-year period to pass the test.
OklahomaYou must take the test within 2 years of completing an education program. If you don’t take the test within this timeframe, you must complete a refresher course or undergo supervised clinical experience to regain eligibility for trying the test again.
TexasApplicants who fail to pass the test  within four years of their graduation need to complete an approved education program before they are eligible to retake the exam.
TennesseeIndividuals who fail twice may be subject to certain recommendations by the board, depending on the case. If they fail to pass the NCLEX within 3 years of graduating, they are required to finish another accredited nursing program.
UtahYou should pass the test within 5 years of your graduation. If you can’t meet this requirement, you’ll then need to complete another approved education program.
VermontTest-takers who fail to pass the test within 5 years of their graduation are required to finish another education program before trying again.
WyomingYou can take the NCLEX up to 10 times within a five-year period after graduating from your nursing education program.
West VirginiaIf you don’t pass the test after two attempts, you must engage in activities that are state approved and help maintain and address deficiencies in your nursing knowledge. If you fail the test four times, you must present proof to the board of completing assessments and courses that remedy your knowledge gaps.
States that limit the time you can retake test

Tips To Prepare For Retaking The NCLEX

Preparing to retake the NCLEX can be challenging, but with the right approach and mindset, you can turn it into an opportunity for growth and improvement. Here are some tips to help you prepare effectively:

#1. Reflect on Your Previous Attempt

  • Understand where you struggled. Was it content knowledge, test-taking strategies, time management, or anxiety? Identifying your weak areas will help you focus your preparation.
  • Review your NCLEX Performance Report for insights into specific areas that need improvement.

#2. Develop a Study Plan

  • Create a structured study plan that allocates time each day to reviewing content, practicing questions, and practicing self-care. Be realistic about how much time you can dedicate each day.
  • Focus on your weak areas, but don’t neglect areas where you’re already strong. It’s important to maintain a balanced approach.

#3. Use a Variety of Study Resources

  • Supplement your studies with various resources, such as NCLEX review books, online courses, practice tests, and study groups. Different formats can help reinforce learning.
  • Consider investing in a comprehensive NCLEX review course if you haven’t already. These courses are designed to cover all aspects of the exam in detail.

#4. Practice, Practice, and Practice

  • Complete as many practice questions as possible, focusing on understanding the rationale behind each answer. This will help improve your critical thinking and test-taking strategies.
  • Use simulation exams to familiarize yourself with the exam’s format and time constraints. This can also help reduce test anxiety.

#5. Work on Test-Taking Strategies

  • Learn and practice strategies for answering NCLEX-style questions, such as eliminating obviously wrong answers, looking for keywords, and understanding what the question is truly asking.
  • Develop a strategy for managing your time effectively during the exam.

#6. Address Anxiety and Stress

  • Implement stress-reduction techniques such as exercise, meditation, and deep-breathing exercises. Keeping your stress levels down is crucial for effective studying and test-taking.
  • Consider seeking support from a counselor or support group if you’re struggling with significant anxiety or stress about the exam.

#7. Seek Support

  • Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Join study groups, connect with peers who are also preparing for the NCLEX, or find a mentor who has successfully passed the exam.
  • Engaging with a supportive community can provide motivation, insights, and tips from those who have gone through a similar experience.

#8. Stay Positive and Confident

  • Maintain a positive mindset. Believe in your ability to pass the exam. Confidence can significantly impact your study efficacy and exam performance.
  • Celebrate your progress and small victories along the way. This will help keep you motivated throughout your preparation journey.
Failing the NCLEX isn't the end of the world
Failing the NCLEX isn’t the end of the world

Wrap Up

How many times can you take the NCLEX? You asked, and I answered. I also provided tips on preparing for retaking the test. Don’t feel bad if you fail the test since you always have a chance to rebuild your life. So good luck and do your best!