What Happens If You Fail NCLEX 3 Times? Your Next Step

Have you ever wondered what happens if you fail NCLEX 3 times? As a nursing student who has been through the process, I understand the fear and anxiety that come with the prospect of failing. 

So, I will share my experience about what happens next and the steps to overcome failure. Jump in my post now!

What Are Signs You Failed The NCLEX? 

Knowing signs that you may fail the NCLEX is the first step toward preparing for a retest. Here are common signs you should consider: 

1. Difficulty Level Does Not Increase

The NCLEX uses a Computerized Adaptive Testing system, which means the questions should get more challenging as you progress if you’re doing well. 

If the questions stay at a low difficulty level or become easier as you continue, it may indicate that you are not performing as well as needed. 

2. The Exam Shuts Off At Or Near The Minimum Number Of Questions

The NCLEX exam will give you questions until you are 95% confident that your ability level is above or below the passing standard. 

For the NCLEX-RN, the minimum number of questions is 75, and for the NCLEX-PN, it’s 85. If the computer shuts off at or near the minimum number of questions, it can be a sign that you did not meet the passing standard. 

3. You Didn’t Recognize Many Questions

This exam is designed to test your knowledge and critical thinking skills. If you find that you are guessing the answers to many questions or if many of the topics are unfamiliar, it could mean you were not adequately prepared for the test. 

Signs of exam failure
Signs of exam failure

What Happens If You Fail NCLEX 3 Times?

If you fail the NCLEX exam three times, you can retake it five times a year. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing allows candidates to take the NCLEX up to eight times yearly, with a 45-day waiting period between each attempt. However, specific states may have additional requirements after three unsuccessful attempts. 

For instance, in some states, candidates may be required to complete a remedial or refresher course after failing the NCLEX exam three times before being allowed to retake it.

Testing Rules Of Different States

Testing regulations vary by state, some states may have stricter test retake policies. So, you must check your state’s policy for better preparation. 


In Michigan, candidates can retake six attempts if they fail three times. However, they must complete a remedial education program approved by the Michigan Board of Nursing before retesting the exam. 


In Georgia, candidates can retake the NCLEX up to five times a year. After three failed attempts, the Georgia Board of Nursing requires candidates to submit an NCLEX Re-examination application. 


The test-takers in Texas can retest the NCLEX after an application submission and applicable fee payment each time. 


In Colorado, the Board of Nursing allows students to retake the NCLEX as many times as needed. However, after three unsuccessful attempts, candidates must complete a board-approved nursing education program before applying for another exam attempt. 

South Carolina

South Carolina allows nurse students to retest the NCLEX exam every 45 days, up to 8 times a year. Yet, after failing three times, candidates must complete a remedial course before being allowed to retest. 

New York

In New York, there is no limit to the number of times a candidate can retake the NCLEX. Nevertheless, after failing the exam three times, the students must provide proof of remediation before they can retest. 


Louisiana nursing students can retake the NCLEX once if they can’t pass it the third time. Before retesting, they must complete a Louisiana State Board of Nursing-approved remedial course. 


After three unsuccessful attempts, the candidates must meet all the Kansas State Board of Nursing requirements. After that, they need to apply for Permission to Retest. 


For the state of Indiana, the State Board of Nursing requires candidates to have a presentation that indicates their serious plan before retaking the NCLEX the fourth time. 


If candidates fail the NCLEX exam three times in Florida, they must enroll and complete a Florida Board of Nursing-approved remedial course for the fourth attempt. 

Policies of states
Policies of states

When Will You Retake NCLEX After Failing 3 Times? 

After failing the NCLEX three times, you must wait a minimum of 45 days before you can retake the exam. This waiting period applies to each attempt after the third one. 

However, additional requirements can affect this timeline, depending on the specific regulations of the nursing regulatory body in your jurisdiction. 

What Is The Easiest State To Pass The NCLEX? 

The top three states with the highest NCLEX pass rates include New Hampshire, Louisiana, and North Dakota. 

  • New Hampshire: This state had an impressive NCLEX pass rate in 2023. With a pass rate of 96.55%, it stands out as one of the most accessible states to pass the NCLEX. 
  • Louisiana: In 2022, Louisiana had a pass rate of 86.58% for first-time, US-educated RN test-takers, making it among the most accessible states to pass the NCLEX.
  • North Dakota: In 2020, North Dakota had an NCLEX pass rate of 92%, making it another excellent state for nursing students. 

Does NCLEX Get Harder When You Fail? 

No! The NCLEX does not get more challenging if you fail and choose to retake it. Previous attempts do not determine the difficulty level of the test. 

The exam uses a complex mathematical model called the Computerized Adaptive Test model. It tailors the test according to the test-taker’s ability level. 

When you answer a question correctly, the computer will offer a more challenging question next. Conversely, the next question is more straightforward if you respond incorrectly. 

Therefore, the perceived difficulty of the NCLEX is subjective and varies, depending on the candidate’s performance during the test. 

The difficulty level is the same
The difficulty level is the same

What To Do After Failing NCLEX 3 Times?

Take a deep breath if you’ve failed the NCLEX exam three times. Here are tips to turn things around and come back stronger:

Don’t Panic

Take a step back and allow yourself to process what has happened. Many successful nurses don’t pass the NCLEX on their first, second, or third attempts. 

Focus On Self-Care

Ensure you eat well, get enough sleep, and engage in activities you enjoy, which will help you relax. A healthy body and mind can improve your ability to study and perform well in exams. 

Reframe Mindset

Instead of viewing your previous attempts as failures, perceive them as learning experiences. Analyze what went wrong and develop a plan to improve in those areas. 

Schedule Retake

Check the NCLEX retake policy in your state and register for the exam again. Having a set date can help you stay focused and motivate you to prepare better. 

Evaluate Score

To improve your next attempt, understand where you went wrong in the previous ones. Analyze your score report, identify the areas where you scored low, and focus on these areas during your preparation. 

Research Study Techniques

Different study techniques work for different students. If your previous techniques didn’t work, research and experiment with other methods. I recommend investing in a good NCLEX review course if possible. 

Create A Study Schedule

After having suitable study techniques, create a study schedule. It should be realistic and consistent, with ample time for breaks and relaxation to avoid burnout. 

Retake The Test

After all your preparation, it’s time to retake the test. Stay calm and confident. Remember all the hard work you’ve put into your preparation. 

In A Nutshell

What happens if you fail NCLEX 3 times? The National Council of State Boards of Nursing allows you to retake the test up to 5 times after triple unsuccessful attempts. 

However, you must wait for 45 days before retaking the exam. Besides, each state has different requirements for candidates who fail the NCLEX 3 times. 

If you find yourself in this situation, don’t panic. Stay determined and follow my tips to pass the exam on your next try!