NCLEX RN Pass Rate Insights: Scoring and Passing Criteria

Nurse using a tablet for NCLEX data.
Staying updated on NCLEX RN pass rates.

Stepping into the world of nursing? Understanding the NCLEX RN passing score is crucial. In the ever-evolving landscape of nursing education, where passing this exam is the gateway to your career, you need insights. Let’s delve into the essentials: what it takes to score well and meet the passing criteria for the NCLEX RN. It’s not just a test; it’s the bridge to your dream job.ย 

Join us on this journey to grasp the nuances of a passing score for NCLEX-RN and ensure your nursing career takes off on the right foot.

NCLEX RN Pass Rates Explained

The passing score for NCLEX RN is more than just numbers; they’re the gatekeepers of your nursing career. These rates signify the percentage of candidates who successfully pass the NCLEX RN exam. Understanding them is crucial for aspiring nurses.

Pass rates are dynamic and influenced by exam content changes and candidate demographics. They reflect the difficulty of the exam, and therefore, securing an NCLEX RN passing score is no small feat.

But why should you care? Because your future as a nurse hinges on these rates. A solid grasp of NCLEX RN pass rates will help you navigate this pivotal exam and ultimately achieve your dream of becoming a registered nurse in the US.

NCLEX-RN Exam Pass Rate Data

The NCLEX-RN exam pass rates play a vital role in assessing the success of candidates. These rates are divided into categories based on candidate demographics and educational backgrounds, offering insights into pass rate variations. Here’s a detailed breakdown:

1. First-time, U.S.-educated Candidates

  • Diploma: In the first quarter, 78.45% passed, while in the second quarter, this percentage significantly improved to 94.93%. The year-to-date (YTD) total stands at 86.82%.
  • Baccalaureate Degree: For this group, the first quarter saw a pass rate of 83.26%, which increased to 95.34% in the second quarter. The YTD total is 89.52%.
  • Associate Degree: In the first quarter, 79.14% passed, and in the second quarter, this rate improved to 93.94%. The YTD total is 86.82%.
  • Invalid or Special Program Codes: This category saw a pass rate of 15.63% in the first quarter, which increased to 27.93% in the second quarter. The YTD total is 19.58%.
  • Total First-time, U.S.-educated Candidates: The overall pass rate for first-time, U.S.-educated candidates was 80.48% in the first quarter, rising to 94.32% in the second quarter. The YTD total pass rate is 87.62%.
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2. Repeat, U.S.-educated Candidates

For this group, pass rates vary significantly. In the first quarter, 40.66% passed, while in the second quarter, this percentage improved to 62.15%. The YTD total pass rate is 48.12%.

3. First-time, Internationally Educated Candidates

Pass rates for this category started at 39.86% in the first quarter and improved to 57.69% in the second quarter. The YTD total pass rate stands at 46.03%.

4. Repeat, Internationally Educated Candidates

The first quarter saw a pass rate of 28.85%, which significantly improved to 51.33% in the second quarter. The YTD total pass rate is 36.18%.

5. All Candidates

When considering all candidates, the pass rate was 57.79% in the first quarter, which increased to 81.61% in the second quarter. The YTD total pass rate is 68.23%.

What Is the Passing Score for NCLEX-RN?

Nurse and doctor reviewing files.
Teamwork in tracking pass rates.

The passing score for the NCLEX-RN is not a static number. The exam employs Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT), which adapts to your performance. The goal is to determine whether you consistently demonstrate competency above a predetermined passing standard. This standard is not disclosed to candidates, making it essential to approach each question with diligence and aim to answer correctly at a difficulty level that consistently exceeds the passing standard.

The adaptive nature of the test ensures that each candidate faces a unique set of questions tailored to their abilities. To pass the NCLEX-RN, you must answer a sufficient number of questions correctly, demonstrating your competence in nursing practice. While the passing score is not set in stone, a strong performance throughout the exam is the key to success.

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 Factors Affecting NCLEX RN Pass Rates

1. Academic Factors:

Academic factors are significant contributors to NCLEX pass rates. The report highlights the importance of academic preparation for students entering nursing programs. Specifically, students’ performance in science courses, such as Biology, Anatomy, Physiology, and Chemistry, plays a critical role in predicting how they will fare on the NCLEX exam. 

Higher grades in these courses are correlated with higher NCLEX pass rates. Additionally, selective admissions criteria to predict success can result in lower attrition rates, higher graduation rates, and increased licensing exam pass rates. Therefore, academic preparation, both in terms of prerequisites and admissions criteria, is a fundamental factor affecting NCLEX outcomes.

passing score for NCLEX RN

2. Non-Academic Factors:

Non-academic factors also play a role in an NCLEX RN passing score. These factors include demographics, such as age, gender, ethnicity, primarily language, and critical thinking skills. Notably, while critical thinking measures can predict students likely to pass the NCLEX, they are poor predictors of those likely to fail it. That suggests that a combination of academic and non-academic factors influences pass rates.

3. Academic Rigor:

The rigor of the nursing program’s academic curriculum is another significant determinant of a passing score for NCLEX-RN. Programs with more challenging educational content and instruction may lead to better learning outcomes and, in turn, higher pass rates. The level of academic rigor within the curriculum is crucial for preparing students adequately for the NCLEX.

4. Nursing Student Issues:

Doctor and nurse preparing for work.
Ensuring NCLEX success in the US.

The report also delves into non-curricular experiences and demographic traits of nursing students, which can be evaluated as potential issues affecting pass rates. For instance, the time that lapses between graduation and taking the NCLEX has been found to negatively correlate with pass rates. Non-traditional students, defined as those working full-time, financially independent, and possibly having dependents, face unique challenges that may affect their success on the NCLEX. Balancing family commitments, employment, and academic responsibilities can be particularly challenging.

5. Nursing Curriculum:

Changes in the nursing curriculum can have unintended consequences on pass rates. If changes are made without considering the content mapping to the NCLEX, essential content may be dropped, potentially leading to lower pass rates. The report highlights the importance of ensuring that curriculum changes align with the NCLEX content.

6. Faculty Knowledge:

Faculty members’ awareness of the current NCLEX test plan and the importance of practice testing are critical. Faculty knowledge and guidance are essential in preparing students for the NCLEX. Practice testing, including exams like the Health Education Systems, Inc. (HESI) exit examination, has proven to strongly predict NCLEX pass rates. That emphasizes the role of faculty in shaping student preparedness for the exam.

In Conclusion: Unlocking Your NCLEX Success

Preparing for the NCLEX is a significant endeavor, and understanding the intricate factors influencing your journey is key. Academic rigor, preparation, and faculty support are vital. As you embark on this path, remember you’re not alone.

For a more tailored approach and expert guidance, consider NCLEX tutoring. Medic Mind‘s top 1% tutors team offers personalized study plans, expert insights, and a wealth of resources to bolster your preparation. With proven success, a money-back guarantee, and a focus on your unique needs, they are here to help you succeed. You can also utilise free NCLEX practice questions to boost your revision.

Don’t let the challenges of the NCLEX deter you. It’s your gateway to becoming a registered nurse. Take that crucial step nowโ€”book a free call with an NCLEX tutor to kickstart your NCLEX preparation and unlock your potential.

Your success story starts with Medic Mind’s NCLEX tutors. Let’s make it happen together!


Q1: Is there a specific timeline for preparing for the NCLEX, or should I start early?

The timeline for NCLEX preparation varies based on individual readiness. Some students may need several months of focused study, while others may require a year. It’s crucial to assess your strengths and weaknesses through baseline testing to determine your preparation needs. Whether you have 3 or 12 months, a personalized study plan will help you make the most of your preparation time.

Q2: How can students balance the challenges of non-traditional student responsibilities with NCLEX preparation?

Non-traditional students, including those working full-time, financially independent, and with dependents, face unique challenges. The literature suggests that juggling responsibilities can be exhausting. Time management, family support, and developing a structured study plan are essential strategies for these students to balance responsibilities while preparing for the NCLEX.

Q3: What are the advantages of having personalized NCLEX tutoring?

Personalized NCLEX tutoring offers several benefits, including tailored study plans to address your specific needs and timeline. It matches you with expert tutors who are subject matter experts, ensuring you receive the most relevant guidance. With personalized tutoring, you can access a wealth of course materials and receive invaluable feedback and strategies for success.

Q4: Are practice exams and review materials essential for NCLEX preparation?

Yes, practice exams and review materials are essential for NCLEX preparation. In addition to studying the fundamentals from your nursing school courses, using outside sources such as study guides, practice exams, and old exam papers is crucial. These resources help solidify your comprehension of the material and prepare you for the exam’s format and content.

Q5: How do academic factors like GPA and course performance affect NCLEX pass rates?

Answer: Academic factors, such as GPA and performance in science courses, can significantly impact NCLEX pass rates. Higher grades in relevant courses, like Biology, Anatomy, Physiology, and Chemistry, are associated with better NCLEX outcomes. Nursing programs often consider these academic factors when selecting candidates to predict success and ensure higher pass rates.

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