NCLEX Retake: Is It Worth Considering?

Motivational notes, keyboard, and pencils on a dark surface.
Preparing for the NCLEX retake takes dedication and inspiration.

Picture this: You’ve invested countless hours in nursing school, burning the midnight oil, and enduring the nerve-wracking NCLEX exam once. The result? A not-so-desirable outcome. It’s frustrating, disheartening even. But here’s the kicker: You’re not alone. 

Statistics reveal that a significant number of nursing graduates face this same crossroads. So, what now? Is retaking NCLEX worth your time, energy, and, yes, your sanity?

In this guide, we’ll dive deep into whether or not to give that NCLEX exam another shot. Let’s unravel the mystery and see if a retake is the right move for you.

Reasons for Initial Low NCLEX Score

A stressed NCLEX candidate sitting alone on a city bench.
Retaking NCLEX can be stressful.ย 

Facing a failed attempt at the NCLEX exam can be disheartening, but understanding the reasons behind it is the first step toward improvement. Let’s explore some common factors contributing to initial NCLEX failure:

  • Test Anxiety: Many aspiring nurses succumb to test anxiety, causing them to underperform on the exam. The pressure of the NCLEX can be overwhelming.
  • Inadequate Preparation: Some candidates may need to adequately prepare for the NCLEX, underestimating its rigor and depth. Effective study strategies are crucial.
  • Lack of Familiarity: Being unfamiliar with the NCLEX format and question style can catch test-takers off guard. Familiarizing oneself with the exam’s structure is essential.
  • Time Management: Poor time management during the exam can result in incomplete sections or rushed answers. Learning to pace oneself is critical.
  • Content Knowledge Gaps: Insufficient understanding of core nursing concepts and content areas can lead to failure. Identifying weak areas for further study is vital.
  • Stress and Distractions: External stressors and distractions can affect concentration during the exam. A calm and focused mind is essential.
  • Misinterpretation of Questions: Misinterpreting or overthinking answers can lead to incorrect responses. Developing strong critical thinking skills is key.
  • Overconfidence or Underconfidence: Striking the right balance between confidence and humility is crucial. Overconfidence can lead to overlooking details, while underconfidence can erode self-assurance.
  • Health Issues: Personal health issues or illness on exam day can negatively impact performance. Ensuring one is physically and mentally well-prepared is essential.

Understanding these reasons can help you pinpoint where improvement is needed. In the upcoming sections, we’ll delve deeper into how to address these issues and increase your chances of success if you retake NCLEX.

1-1 NCLEX Tutoring
Personalised study plan and expert NCLEX tutoring with regular feedback and progress updates

Benefits of a Retake

Retaking the NCLEX may not be your initial plan, but it can offer several compelling benefits:

1. Increased Career Opportunities: 

Passing the NCLEX opens doors to various nursing positions and specialties. A retake can lead to better job prospects and more career choices.

2. Higher Earning Potential: 

Licensed nurses typically earn higher salaries than those who aren’t. A successful retake can translate into a higher income throughout your career.

3. Professional Growth: 

Navigating the challenges of a retake demonstrates determination and resilience. Employers value these qualities in nurses, contributing to your professional growth.

4. Personal Satisfaction: 

Overcoming the NCLEX hurdle through a retake can boost your self-esteem and sense of accomplishment. It’s a testament to your commitment to nursing.

5. Specialization Options: 

Passing the NCLEX is often a prerequisite for pursuing specialized nursing certifications. A retake can be your gateway to becoming a certified nurse in a chosen field.

6. Improved Confidence: 

Preparing and succeeding in a retake can enhance your confidence in your nursing skills and knowledge.

7. Community Impact: 

As a licensed nurse, you can positively impact your community by providing essential healthcare services.

8. Long-Term Stability: 

Nursing is a stable and in-demand profession, offering job security even in uncertain times.

While retaking the NCLEX may seem like a setback, these benefits demonstrate that it can be a strategic move toward a rewarding nursing career. 

Strategies for Success

A reminder for preparation for the NCLEX retake.
Getting back on track with effective study strategies for NCLEX retake.

Success in your NCLEX retake is attainable with the right strategies. Here are practical steps when thinking about how to retake NCLEX to increase your chances:

  • Assess Weak Areas: Identify the specific content areas where you struggled in your initial attempt. Focus your study efforts on these topics to improve your understanding.
  • Effective Study Plan: Develop a structured study plan with clear objectives and milestones. Allocate dedicated study time each day to stay on track.
  • Review Resources: Utilize reliable NCLEX review materials, such as textbooks, online courses, and practice exams. Make use of official NCLEX prep resources.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice: Regularly practice with sample NCLEX practice questions. That helps improve your test-taking skills and familiarizes you with the exam format.
studying to retake NCLEX
  • Study Groups: Consider joining or forming study groups with fellow nursing graduates. Discussing and teaching concepts to others can enhance your understanding.
  • Time Management: During practice tests, practice time management to ensure you can answer all questions within the allotted time.
  • Healthy Lifestyle: Maintain a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and get sufficient sleep. Physical and mental well-being are crucial for optimal performance.
  • Seek Support: Don’t hesitate to contact mentors, nursing instructors, or counselors for guidance and support during your retake journey.
  • Positive Mindset: Cultivate a positive attitude and self-belief. Visualize your success and stay motivated throughout your preparation.
  • Simulated Exams: Take full-length simulated NCLEX exams under timed conditions to simulate the testing experience.
  • Learn from Mistakes: Analyze your previous mistakes and learn from them. Avoid making the same errors in your retake.
  • Exam Day Preparation: Plan your exam day meticulously. Ensure you have all required documents and arrive at the test center well-rested and early.

By implementing these strategies, you can build a strong foundation for your NCLEX retake and increase the likelihood of achieving success. Remember, consistent effort and dedication are key to passing the exam on your second attempt.

1-1 NCLEX Tutoring
Personalised study plan and expert NCLEX tutoring with regular feedback and progress updates

Making Your Decision

Now that we’ve explored the reasons, benefits, and strategies related to retaking the NCLEX, it’s time for you to make an informed decision. Here’s a clear-cut guide to help you decide:

  • Self-Reflection: Begin by assessing your determination and commitment to becoming a registered nurse. How much do you want it? Your motivation plays a vital role.
  • Analyze Your Performance: Reflect on your performance in the initial NCLEX attempt. Identify specific areas of weakness and strengths. Are you confident in addressing those weaknesses?
  • Resource Availability: Consider the resources at your disposal. Do you have access to quality study materials, support from mentors or study groups, and ample time for preparation?
  • Financial Situation: Assess your financial situation. Can you afford the costs of retaking the exam, including study materials, registration fees, and potential travel expenses?
  • Support System: Do you have a strong support system in place? Friends and family who understand the demands of your retake journey can provide invaluable emotional support.
  • Career Goals: Think about your long-term career goals. How essential is passing the NCLEX for achieving them? Consider the job market and your desired nursing specialization.
  • Readiness: Gauge your readiness for retaking the NCLEX. Are you emotionally prepared to face the challenges and uncertainties of a retake?
  • Alternative Paths: Explore alternative paths to your career goals. Are there other options or certifications to help you achieve your desired nursing career without retaking the NCLEX?
  • Consultation: Seek advice from trusted mentors, nursing instructors, or professionals in the field. They can provide valuable insights based on their experience.
  • Decision Time: After carefully considering these factors, it’s time to decide. Trust your instincts and choose the best path with your goals and circumstances.

Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. What matters most is making a decision you believe is right for you. Whether you retake the NCLEX or pursue an alternative path, your dedication and commitment to your nursing career will ultimately determine your success.

The Bottom Line: Your NCLEX Journey Awaits

Retaking the NCLEX is a strategic move in the quest for nursing licensure. Trust your abilities, stay dedicated, and remember, a supportive community can make all the difference. 

If you’re ready to embark on this journey, contact Medic Mind US NCLEX tutors today. Your nursing career is just an exam away.


1: Can I retake the NCLEX immediately after failing?

Answer: No, you cannot retake the NCLEX immediately after failing. Each state nursing board has specific rules regarding retake waiting periods. Typically, you must wait 45 to 90 days before scheduling a retake. During this time, improving your knowledge and test-taking skills is essential to increase your chances of success.

2: Will my previous NCLEX scores be visible to potential employers?

Answer: Your previous NCLEX scores are confidential and not disclosed to potential employers. Only you and your state nursing board have access to this information. When you pass the NCLEX, your future employers must only verify your licensure status, not your specific scores.

3: Can I apply for jobs as a nursing graduate while preparing for my NCLEX retake?

Answer: Yes, you can apply for nursing positions as a graduate nurse, even if you haven’t passed the NCLEX. Many healthcare facilities offer graduate nurse programs or temporary positions for individuals awaiting licensure. That can be a valuable experience and source of income while you prepare for your retake.

4: Are there any limits to how many times I can retake the NCLEX?

Answer: Yes, there are limits, but they vary by state. Most states have a limit on the total number of attempts you can make. It’s important to check with your state nursing board for specific regulations. If you exceed the allowed attempts, you may need to complete additional education or meet other requirements before retaking the exam.

5: Can I request accommodations for a disability during the NCLEX retake?

Answer: Yes, you can request accommodations for a documented disability when retaking the NCLEX. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) provides a process for requesting accommodations. Ensure you provide all necessary documentation and make your request well before your exam date to allow time for review and approval.

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