Failing the NCLEX isn’t a good feeling. It’s demoralizing and frustrating – just ask anyone who didn’t pass the first time.

You end up asking yourself (repeatedly) “What happened? What did I do wrong?” and inevitably, you start beating yourself up.


Yes, you have to pass the NCLEX to get certified and yes, it feels like your world just got crushed and you’ll never be a nurse. But you’re wrong and you’re not alone.

There are plenty of people just like you who put in the work, studied hard and didn’t pass – and guess what. They tested again, passed and are now working great nursing jobs.

We’re here to help.

We’ve gathered up a list of tips and resources to sharpen up your NCLEX skills and get the passing score you need.

Don’t Let It Get You Down

Perhaps the biggest hurdle you’ll need to overcome is getting out of your head and regaining your confidence. Don’t dwell on the fact that you didn’t pass. And know that you’re not the first person to fail – there are literally hundreds of stories by nurses who had to take the test multiple times before they passed.

Advice: Take a step away from everything and do something for yourself. Practice some self-care to take your mind off the NCLEX and recharge your batteries. Whether it’s getting a massage, meditating, eating a whole pint of rocky road ice cream or taking a long walk on a nature trail, do something nice for yourself and decompress.

Understand The NCLEX Test

How well did you understand the type of test the NCLEX is before you took it?

The NCLEX is a computer adaptive test (CAT). That means that what it’s looking for isn’t necessarily how many facts and figures you remember. When you get an answer right, it’s going to start asking you more difficult questions.

This means that you’re going to be faced with questions you don’t know the answer to. That’s OK, because the NCLEX wants to see that you can make competent decisions rather than that you know everything.

You’ll need to know the types of questions (mostly multiple-choice) along with the question formats.

Take An Inventory

Take an honest inventory of the time and effort you put into studying for the NCLEX. Did you study a little every day for 2 – 3 months or did you try to cram the week before the test?

True, some people can just do a quick refresher the week or two before the test, but most who took the test and passed the first time will tell you that they studied regularly for a month or two before they took the NCLEX.

Try Other Study Options

Everyone learns differently. Some people are visual learners; others need to work through the concept themselves. If you feel like you weren’t prepared, try different study methods, like:

  • Using an exam study app
  • Doing lots of practice questions (those who passed say they did hundreds, yes, hundreds)
  • Studying for 1 – 3 hours, at least five times a week
  • Joining a study group
  • Listening to NCLEX prep podcasts
  • Watching videos and online tutorials
  • Getting a study guide (Saunder’s and Kaplan are popular)

Find what works for you, but the overall consensus among nurses who passed is that doing lots of practice questions is your best bet.

And here’s an article with some great tips to help you study and advice for test day.

Talk To People Who Passed

If you know a nurse or someone who just passed the NCLEX ask them what they did. They might even have some resources you can use and helpful advice.

Don’t know any nurses? Check out online forums for NCLEX advice and you’ll find tons of helpful tips and personal stories.

Don’t Wait Too Long

Studies have shown the longer you wait to take the NCLEX after graduation, the lower your chances of passing are.

So, don’t wait too long – with one caveat: take the time you need to feel prepared.

Do everything you need to do to re-register and get a new test date within a timeframe that gives you time to study.

Just remember: you’re not the first person who didn’t pass the NCLEX the first time and you won’t be the last.

Show your grit, determination and passion for nursing by getting back in there and crushing the test.

For more NCLEX info, vital nursing news, education and resources visit

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