NCLEX Pass Rate: First & Repeat Attempts (New Updated)

In 2023 specifically, the pass rates were 69.66% for NCLEX-RN and 74.54% for NCLEX-PN

In this analysis, I delve into the updated NCLEX pass rate for first-time and repeat attempts spanning 2020 to 2023. 

By examining trends and variations in pass rates over this period, you’ll get valuable insights into the performance of nursing candidates and the factors influencing their success on the exam. Keep reading for details!

NCLEX Pass Rate 2020 – 2023

Throughout 2020 to 2023, the NCLEX pass rates have generally hovered around seven in ten test-takers successfully passing the exam. In 2023 specifically, the pass rates were 69.66% for NCLEX-RN and 74.54% for NCLEX-PN.

Notably, pass rates vary significantly between first-time candidates and those attempting the exam again, as well as between candidates who attended nursing schools in the US versus international students.

Overall Pass Rates

Exam2024 (%)2023 (%)2022 (%)2021 (%)2020 (%)
Overview NCLEX Pass Rate from 2020 to 2023

For the NCLEX-RN exam, the pass rates have shown a fluctuating trend over the years. In 2020, the pass rate was relatively high at 72.35%, but it dropped to 68.85% in 2021 before slightly increasing to 63.39% in 2022 and further rising to 69.66% in 2023.

Conversely, the NCLEX-PN exam demonstrates a different trend. While there are fluctuations, the pass rates generally show an upward trend. In 2020, the pass rate was 70.89% and notably increased to 74.54% in 2023.

It can be seen that the average passing rate is about 70%, which is quite a high rate for such a challenging exam. Now, let’s look at the data for more details about these numbers!

Pass Rates In The US

ExamAttempt2024 (%)2023 (%)2022 (%)2021 (%)2020 (%)
NCLEX-RN FirstUpdating88.5679.982.4886.57
NCLEX-PN FirstUpdating86.6779.9379.683.0
NCLEX first attempts pass rate in US

For NCLEX first attempts, the pass rates show a generally positive trend, with percentages ranging from 79.6% to 86.67% in 2023; this suggests that many candidates are passing the NCLEX exam on their first try.

However, repeat attempts display lower pass rates than first attempts, ranging from 35.42% to 51.15%. While there are fluctuations, the overall trend indicates that a considerable portion of candidates struggle to pass the exam on repeat attempts.

Pass Rates Outside The US

ExamAttempt2024 (%)2023 (%)2022 (%)2021 (%)2020 (%)
NCLEX-RN First Updating52.643.1846.6843.71
Repeat Updating42.3527.7527.7524.84
NCLEX-PN First Updating54.0350.4951.4954.82
Repeat Updating29.1322.7818.1825.04
NCLEX first attempts pass rate outside US

The most notable thing in this table is that the pass rate outside the US is much lower than the overall and within the US rate.

Like in the US, the pass rate in the first attempt is significantly higher (around 50%), while the pass rate on retakes is less than 30% over the years.

However, in 2023, the repeat exam passing rate is 42.35%. It can be seen that candidates in this test are more prepared.

Source: NCSBN

Top 3 States With The Highest Pass Rates In NCLEX

States With The Highest Pass Rates In NCLEX
3 States With The Highest Pass Rates In NCLEX

The pass rates of this exam vary from state to state and are indicative of the quality of nursing programs and the preparedness of nursing graduates. Here are the top 3 states with the highest pass rates from 2018-2022.

#1. New Hampshire

New Hampshire leads with an impressive pass rate average above 94%. The state’s commitment to nursing excellence is evident in its high pass rates across associate and bachelor degree programs.1

With a strong employment outlook for RNs, boasting over 20 nurses/1,000 residents, this state provides ample opportunities for nursing graduates to enter the workforce promptly.

#2. Louisiana

Despite grappling with the highest nurse shortage in the US, Louisiana maintains a commendable pass rate average of around 92%.2

Efforts to mitigate the nursing shortage, including initiatives to expedite nurses’ entry into the workforce, contribute to Louisiana’s success in preparing nursing graduates for licensure. 

#3. North Dakota

North Dakota boasts a strong pass rate average of above 92%, supported by exemplary performance from institutions.3 

The state’s proactive measures to address nursing shortages, such as the Nursing Staff Clearinghouse, demonstrate a commitment to enhancing nursing career opportunities.

What Is The Passing Standard For The NCLEX? 

The passing standard for the NCLEX has a scoring system based on logits. Logits are a mathematical measure used to assess the difference between a candidate’s performance and the difficulty of the questions. 

This scoring method uses computer-adaptive testing (CAT), where each test-taker’s examination experience is uniquely tailored based on their responses.

The passing standard is at a logit score of -0.18 or higher. As candidates progress through the test, their logit score dynamically changes in response to their answers to questions.

The examination concludes when the computer program reaches a 95% confidence in determining whether a candidate has passed or failed. 

If you meet or exceed the passing threshold of -0.18 logits, you’re notified of your success without further detail. 

Tips To Pass Your NCLEX

success story nclex

Do you want to increase your chances of passing the NCLEX and starting your career as a licensed nurse? Here are some simple tips to help you prepare and increase your chances of success:

  • Start early: Begin your preparations early to give yourself enough time to cover all the material. Don’t wait until the last minute to start studying.
  • Understand the format: Familiarize yourself with the format of the exam. Understand how many questions there are, how much time you have, and the types of questions you’ll encounter.
  • Create a study plan: Develop a study plan that outlines what topics you need to cover and when you’ll study them. My tip is to break down review sessions into small chunks.
  • Use multiple resources: Don’t rely on just one study resource. Use textbooks, online courses, practice exams, and flashcards to reinforce learning.
  • Focus on weak areas: Identify your weak areas and focus on them during your study sessions. Invest more time in challenging subjects.
  • Review content areas: Review content areas such as pharmacology, anatomy and physiology, and nursing procedures. Ensure you understand all fundamentals.
  • Take breaks: Don’t forget to take regular breaks during your study sessions to rest and recharge. Overloading yourself with information can lead to burnout.
  • Join study groups: Consider joining a study group with other nursing students preparing for the NCLEX. Studying with others can help reinforce your learning and provide additional support.
  • Stay positive: Maintain a positive attitude throughout your preparation. Perhaps few people tell you this, but confidence accounts for 50% of your success rate.
  • Simulate test conditions: When practicing with sample questions, try to simulate test conditions as much as possible. Time yourself and work on pacing to ensure you can complete the exam within the allotted time.
  • Seek help when needed: Don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you’re struggling with topics. Your instructors, peers, or online resources can provide additional support and clarification.
  • Get enough rest: Make sure you get enough rest leading up to the exam. A well-rested mind will help you perform better on test day.

On the exam day, stay focused and calm. Take deep breaths if you feel nervous, and approach each question confidently.

Study For The NCLEX
Study For The NCLEX

Eligibility Requirements For NCLEX

NCSBN oversees the NCLEX. But each state in the US, province in Canada, or country sets rules for who can take the test. So, if you want to take the NCLEX, you need to check with the nursing board in your area to see if you’re eligible.

In the US and Canada, you must ask your local Nursing Board for an application. This application usually asks for proof of education and training. 

After the Board reviews the application and approves it, you will get an ATT saying you’re allowed to take the NCLEX.

But getting an ATT doesn’t mean you can take the test immediately. You still have to schedule the exam on Pearson VUE. The ATT will have instructions on how to do this, including where and when you can take the test.

Wrap Up

In this analysis of the NCLEX pass rate, I have uncovered some interesting insights into how nursing education and licensure are shaping up in recent years. Now that we have a clearer picture of the trends and challenges. 

Are you confident that you will pass this challenging exam? Please comment to let me know!

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