Failed NCLEX 3 Times: What To Do Next

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Rebecca Nolan

Group Content Manager

Focused student studying for NCLEX in the library.
Diligent preparation for the NCLEX exam.

Failing the NCLEX exam not once, not twice, but three times can feel like a daunting roadblock in your journey to becoming a registered nurse. Moreover, it’s a situation no aspiring nurse wants to face. 

But take a deep breath; all is not lost. In this blog, we’ll explore what happens if you fail the NCLEX 3 times and, most importantly, what steps you can take to get back on track toward your nursing dreams.

What Happens if You Fail NCLEX 3 Times

Failing the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) three times can significantly affect your nursing career. Additionally, the impact of failing the NCLEX three times is a challenging and disheartening experience that can be emotionally and professionally draining. Here, we’ll dive into what this means for aspiring nurses in the United States.

Emotional Toll: 

Failing the NCLEX repeatedly can take a toll on your confidence and self-esteem. It’s common to feel discouraged, frustrated, and even question your career choice. Finally, the stress and anxiety associated with failing multiple times can be overwhelming.

Delayed Career: 

Each failure means a delay in starting your nursing career. You may have also invested years in nursing education, and having to wait to retake the exam can be both financially and emotionally burdensome.

Financial Implications: 

Preparing for the NCLEX, taking review courses, and paying exam fees can be expensive. Failing three times also means additional expenses and may require budget adjustments.

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Professional Doubts: 

Failing the NCLEX multiple times may lead to doubts from potential employers. They might wonder if you have what it takes to be a successful nurse.

Long-Term Goals: 

If you’ve dreamt of specialized nursing roles or further education, these goals may be postponed. Furthermore, many advanced nursing programs require NCLEX success as a prerequisite.

However, it’s essential to remember that failing doesn’t define you as a nurse. Many successful nurses also faced setbacks early in their careers. 

Failed NCLEX 3 Times: The Way Forward

Close-up of stressful NCLEX exam materials.
Navigating the challenges of the NCLEX.

Facing the challenge of failing the NCLEX three times is undoubtedly tough, but it’s not the end of your nursing journey. In this section, we’ll explore the path forward and what you can do to increase your chances of success.

1. Self-Reflection and Analysis

Before diving back into NCLEX preparation, take some time for self-reflection and analysis.

  • Identify Weak Areas: Assess which areas of the NCLEX you struggled with the most. This analysis will also help you focus your efforts on your weaknesses.
  • Study Strategies: Reflect on your previous study methods. Were they effective? If not, consider changing your approach.

2. Strategies for Effective Study

People studying together for the NCLEX exam.
Effective group study for NCLEX success.

To conquer the NCLEX after three failures, you’ll need a solid study plan.

  • Resource Evaluation: Consider using different study resources, such as NCLEX practice questions, books, and review courses. Choose the ones that also align with your learning style.
  • Group Study: Collaborate with peers who are also preparing for the NCLEX. Group study can provide valuable insights and motivation.

3. Leveraging Resources

Take advantage of available resources to enhance your preparation.

  • NCLEX Review Courses: Enroll in a reputable NCLEX review course. These courses are designed to provide structured content review and practice.
  • Mentorship: Seek out experienced nurses or mentors who can provide guidance and support during your preparation.

4. Staying Persistent and Resilient

Success on the NCLEX requires persistence and resilience.

  • Stay Motivated: Keep your long-term nursing goals in mind. Remind yourself why you started this journey in the first place.
  • Learn from Past Mistakes: Analyze your previous NCLEX attempts. Identify where you went wrong and avoid repeating the same mistakes.
  • Stay Healthy: Physical and mental health are crucial. Ensure you maintain a healthy lifestyle and manage stress effectively.
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US States with Different NCLEX Retake Policies

When it comes to retaking the NCLEX exam, various U.S. states have their own specific policies and guidelines. Here’s a breakdown of how some states handle retaking the NCLEX:

1. Alaska: Candidates in Alaska must pass the NCLEX examination within two years of their first attempt. If you find yourself struggling even after this period, completing a remedial course becomes a requirement before you can take another shot.

2. California: What happens if you fail NCLEX 3 times in California? Although some states limit the number of times aspiring nurses can take the NCLEX, California allows exam-takers to retake the test unlimited times, as long as they follow NCSBN rules.

3. Colorado: In Colorado, candidates can take the NCLEX three times within three years of their first test. However, if you wish to make a fourth attempt within two years of your third try, you’ll need to evaluate your deficiencies, undergo a course or review to refresh your studies, and submit a petition for the fourth attempt. If the fourth attempt is also unsuccessful, you must also enroll in and complete another nursing education program.

4. Delaware: Applicants in Delaware can continue to retake the NCLEX for up to five years, giving them a longer window for success.

5. Florida: What happens if you fail NCLEX 3 times in Florida? After three failed attempts in Florida, applicants are required to complete a remedial course approved by the Florida Board of Nursing to improve their chances of passing the NCLEX.

6. Georgia: Georgia applicants must pass the NCLEX within three years of graduating from a nursing education program to be eligible for licensure.

7. Hawaii: In Hawaii, candidates who fail the NCLEX three times must take a remedial course. After completing the course, they can retake the NCLEX exam within six months.

8. Illinois: Illinois grants applicants a three-year time frame to pass the exam after their initial application. If they do not succeed within this period, they must undertake also additional education and submit a new application for licensure.

9. Indiana: Candidates in Indiana who fail to pass the NCLEX after three attempts must undergo a board review procedure to identify areas for improvement.

10. Kentucky: If applicants in Kentucky remain unsuccessful for two or more attempts, they will receive a letter from the Kentucky Board of Nursing. To try again, they must reapply for licensure, pay the fee again, and also complete any required background checks and exams.

11. Louisiana: For practical nurses in Louisiana, applicants can take the exam up to four times within two years, but no later than three years, of finishing a practical nursing program. If they fail the NCLEX-PN, they must enroll in and also complete the entire practical nursing program again.

12. Michigan: Candidates in Michigan must pass the NCLEX within three years of graduating from their nurse education program. If they do not pass within this timeframe, they must either complete a certification of skills competency or request an extension from the board of nursing.

13. Minnesota: Minnesota does not limit the number of times candidates can take the NCLEX, but they require applicants to submit an examination retake request within eight months and repeat the test within a year.

14. Mississippi: In Mississippi, applicants can take the NCLEX up to six times within two years of graduating from their nursing education program.

what happens if I fail NCLEX 3 times

15: Missouri: To retake the NCLEX in Missouri, candidates must file a repeat examination application containing the required data and documents, and they must retake the test within one year from the date the application is notarized.

16. Nevada: Applicants in Nevada may take the NCLEX up to four times before additional measures are necessary.

17. New Hampshire: In New Hampshire, applicants can take the NCLEX up to five times, including attempts made in other states.

18. New Jersey: New Jersey candidates who fail to pass the NCLEX after three attempts must complete a board-approved remedial training before their fourth attempt.

19. New Mexico: Applicants can take the exam a maximum of three times within three years of their initial eligibility in New Mexico.

20. Oklahoma: In Oklahoma, candidates must take the NCLEX within two years of completing a nursing education program. If they fail to do so, they must take a refresher course or a supervised clinical experience before they can retake the exam.

21. Oregon: Candidates in Oregon have up to three years to pass the NCLEX.

22. North Carolina: Applicants who do not pass the NCLEX within one year of the first attempt in North Carolina must complete remediation plans approved by the South Carolina Board of Nursing before reexamination. If they do not pass within three years of graduation, they must requalify by enrolling in an approved nursing education program.

23. Tennessee: In Tennessee, the board of nursing may request that candidates who fail the NCLEX twice meet certain recommendations. The board determines this on a case-by-case basis. However, it applicants haven’t passed within three years of graduating from a nursing education program, they must complete another accredited nursing program.

24. Texas: What happens if you fail NCLEX 3 times in Texas? Applicants in Texas who do not pass the NCLEX within four years of graduation must complete an approved nursing education program before retaking the exam.

25. Utah: In Utah, applicants must pass the NCLEX within five years of graduation. If they fail to pass within this timeframe, they must complete another approved nursing education program.

26. Vermont: Candidates who do not pass the NCLEX within five years of graduation in Vermont must complete another nursing education program before testing again.

27. West Virginia: Test-takers who fail the NCLEX twice in West Virginia must participate in state-approved activities that help maintain and remedy deficiencies in their nursing knowledge. If candidates fail the exam four times, they must also provide evidence to the board that they’ve completed courses and assessments to help remedy their deficiencies.

28. Wyoming: Candidates in Wyoming can sit for the NCLEX up to ten times within five years following graduation.

Understanding your state’s specific policies is crucial to plan your NCLEX retake strategy effectively. Finally, be sure to consult your state’s nursing board for the most up-to-date information and guidance.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, failing the NCLEX three times may feel discouraging, but it’s not the end of your journey to becoming a nurse. You can overcome this challenge by reflecting on your past attempts, refining your study strategies, and also seeking additional support.

Consider Medic Mind’s expert NCLEX tutors to kickstart your preparation. Our personalized approach, tailored study plans, and access to comprehensive course materials have helped countless students succeed. With a 98.9% satisfaction rate, we’re dedicated to your success.

Don’t let past setbacks define your future. Invest in your NCLEX preparation today with Medic Mind’s NCLEX tutors, and take the first step towards your nursing career.

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Is failing the NCLEX three times at the end of my nursing career?

Answer: Failing the NCLEX three times is undoubtedly a setback, but it doesn’t have to end your nursing dreams. Many successful nurses also faced similar challenges early in their careers. It’s an opportunity to reflect, improve your study strategies, and seek additional support to increase your chances of success.

What are the emotional impacts of failing the NCLEX repeatedly?

Answer: Failing the NCLEX multiple times can be emotionally draining. It may lead to feelings of discouragement and self-doubt. It’s crucial to seek emotional support from friends, family, or a counselor to help you navigate these feelings and maintain a positive outlook.

Can I retake the NCLEX after failing three times?

Answer: Yes, you can retake the NCLEX after failing three times. However, there are specific requirements and waiting periods between attempts for different states. Ensure you understand your state’s nursing board regulations and also the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) policies for retaking the exam.

What should I do differently in my study approach after failing the NCLEX three times?

Answer: After multiple failures, it’s crucial to change your study approach. Identify your weak areas, seek professional help like tutors or review courses, and create a well-structured study schedule. Personalize your study plan to address your specific needs and focus on practice questions to build confidence.

How do I manage test anxiety when retaking the NCLEX?

Answer: Test anxiety is common, especially after multiple failures. To manage stress, practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and visualization. Stay physically and mentally healthy, and consider seeking support from a counselor or therapist for anxiety management strategies.

RNolan Profile picture
Rebecca Nolan
Group Content Manager
Certifications: BA History of Art, PGCE Education, PGC Advanced Educational Practice
Education: University: University of East Anglia
Lives in: London

Rebecca studied at History of Art at UEA before deciding on a career in education. Having worked with children from 3-18 years old, she has worked both in the UK and international schools including Dubai and Zurich, where she was Head of Primary. Rebecca has extensive knowledge in curriculum design and has worked with various curricular models including English National Curriculum and International Baccalaureate.

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