Hi there, and welcome to our insightful guide on how to pick the pieces if you failed the NCLEX.

Today, we want to give you expert tips on what to do after failing the NCLEX.

We’ll cover the requirements, preparation tips before the NCLEX exam, and test-taking tips during the test.

By the time you finish this article, you’ll have everything you need to know to retest for the NCLEX.

Here is an overview of what we’ll cover:

  • What happens if you fail the NCLEX?
  • Tips to prepare for NCLEX after failing the exam
  • Success tips for retaking the NCLEX

That said, let’s get started!

What Happens If You Fail the NCLEX?

What Happens If You Fail the NCLEX

Test-takers who fail NCLEX on their first or subsequent attempts often feel like it’s the end of the world.

The feelings of disappointment, failure, and frustration are normal.

Take some time to mourn, cry or scream if you have to, but dust yourself up after a while.

You are not a failure.

That’s just a mishap that you need to fix.

I mean, you graduated from nursing school.

Nothing can stop you from passing the NCLEX, although you didn’t pass the first time.

Focus on what’s next.

First, notify your nursing regulatory body that you failed the exam and would like to retake it.

They’ll guide you on what’s required.

You can also reach out to your nursing school.

Some nursing programs support students who fail to pass the NCLEX on the first try.

Next, review the candidate’s performance report.

Which content area did you perform the worst in?

Reflect on what you did right and wrong previously to inform your test preparation.

Requirements to Retake the NCLEX

Requirements to Retake the NCLEX

According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, test-takers have eight attempts to retest.

The eight attempts have 45 waiting days between each test.

While this is good news, the downside is that state nursing regulatory bodies have additional or different requirements.

Before you delve into studying again, consult with your NRB to know what’s required of you to retake the exam.

In some states like Pennsylvania, you only need to wait 46 days before retaking the test.

Once you’ve met the eligibility requirement, apply for the exam through Pearson VUE and pay the registration fee.

Wait for the ATT to schedule your exam date, time, and testing center.

Now you are set.

All that’s remaining is preparing for the exam.

Tips to Prepare for NCLEX After Failing the Exam

Tips to Prepare for NCLEX After Failing the Exam

Now that we’ve covered what happens when you fail the NCLEX and the requirements, it’s time to dig into NCLEX retake preparation tips.

Here are some of the tips that have worked for me.

Discover the Areas You Need to Improve

The first step here is to reflect on your study habits.

Chances are your study habits were not optimal.

You might have had a short study time and been forced to cram, or you were simply not confident you had mastered the eight content areas but did the exam anyway.

Whatever it was, you must re-evaluate and identify the areas to readjust for your retest preparation.

Apart from study habits, review the CPR to find out your performance in the eight NCLEX exam content areas.

My advice is to start with the “Below Passing Standard” content areas.

Return to your nursing school textbook, use your notes, listen to video lectures, and take practice questions.

Ensure you’ve thoroughly covered the topics in the content areas you performed poorly.

Next, go to the “Near Passing Standard” subject areas.

The good news is that you did fairly well here, although you didn’t answer enough questions.

Just like you did with the previous category, use a fine-tooth comb to cover the topics in this category.

Go the extra mile and research any areas you find difficult to understand online.

These are also the areas that you should take the most practice tests.

Finally, go through the “Above Passing Standard” content areas.

Although you performed well in this category, you still need to go over them.

The best way to do that is to use practice questions and go back to read more on the questions that you consistently get wrong.

The NCLEX test plan, i.e., CPR you received, should guide your test prep.

Please make the most of it.

Adjust Your Study Plan

Now that you’ve established the study habits that led to failing NCLEX the first time, adjust your plan for better results.

The main question you should ask yourself is, what can I do better this time?

You don’t necessarily need to scrap off your previous study plan and start from scratch.

You can move things around and see if they suit you better.

If you didn’t dedicate enough time last time, block more study time.

Depending on your test date, you can dedicate 2 hours a day or more.

Adjust your time per session depending on your study habits and other commitments.

Suppose you were studying for long hours.

Perhaps resorting to short bursts of 25 minutes will do you more good.

If you didn’t use a study guide in your last preparation, it’s time to scout the internet and find a good one.

I recommend sticking to one study guide throughout your preparation.

Again, you can incorporate additional study resources like NCLEX Qbank.

Since you failed the NCLEX, rectify all the gaps and errors and have a watertight study plan.

Make changes where necessary.

With an effective study calendar, you can effectively cover all the content areas in the National Council Licensure Examination.

Leverage the Right NCLEX Prep Course Materials

Apart from the NCSBN candidate performance report, the NCLEX test plan is another must-have tool to help understand the exam’s content areas and find the right study resources.

Most nursing students may assemble the many study resources online, which is great but can be overwhelming and confusing, as they are not streamlined.

After failing the NCLEX, the one thing you want to give priority is prep materials and so signing up for a prep course seems like the best idea.

You’ll get the right combination of study materials you need.

Suppose you previously bought a test prep course with a pass guarantee.

You can also go back and use the materials without paying.

If you didn’t, go online and check the reviews for the different online courses before settling for one.

Pick NCLEX courses that offer an array of materials, including a study guide, a question bank with rationales, flashcards that use spaced repetition, cheat sheets, and a study plan.

With the right resources, you can dedicate your time and cover exactly what’s needed to pass the NCLEX.

Plus, prep courses include additional tools like a performance tracker that helps you see how good or bad you’re doing in your preparation.

You can compare your performance with other NCLEX candidates and adjust accordingly.

In other words, settle for test preps with the right resources and additional tools to prepare for the exam.

Join a Study Group

Suppose you were studying alone previously.

It’s time to get a study partner or join a study group.

Studying with others will help you better prepare for the exam, as your peers can help you cover the difficult areas.

Study groups are beneficial when taking practice questions and revision after the test.

The different explanations from members will help you understand concepts better.

Generally, group discussions make you accountable and committed and help you get the most from your studies.

Take Practice Questions

Practice exams are excellent for preparing for the NCLEX.

With the candidate’s performance report at hand, you know where you should put the most effort.

Take many practice questions, especially in the “Below Passing Standard” content areas.

Familiarize yourself with the type of questions in these areas.

What’s the questions’ style, wording, structure, and format?

Once you’ve understood NCLEX questions, selecting the correct answer is easy.

Another strategy that has worked for many nursing students is reviewing rationales, whether you got the answer correct or incorrect.

The detailed answer explanations help you understand the logic behind the answer.

You’ll understand the content matter better.

Also, put some effort into test-taking strategies.

NCLEX Test Retaking Strategies

NCLEX Test Retaking Strategies

Since you failed the NCLEX, there is a high chance that you’ll feel anxious during the test because of the fear of failure.

Don’t let it get the best of you.

Walk confidently to the testing center because you’ve done the exam before, identified your mistakes, and prepared effectively.

In the exam, there are several strategies that can help you ace the exam.

First, reach the testing center in good time.

This will help you relax and pull yourself together before the test.

When taking the test, take your time.

Read the questions twice to understand what you are being asked.

Now, a good number of NCLEX questions require analysis before you answer.

So, take your time.

Also, ensure you pace yourself as the exam may shut down early or run for 5 hours.

All in all, prepare for the 5 hours.

Take breaks as they come.


Your mind needs a break to perform well.

You can use the washroom, meditate, or have a snack before returning to the exam room.

You’ll be more focused, I promise.

Once done with the test, you can wait six weeks for your results to be sent or request quick results service for a small fee.


Conclusion on if you failed the nclex exam

That’s it for today.

If you failed the NCLEX, that’s not the end of the world.

You’ve already shown your abilities in nursing school, and this exam is just another task you need to complete to jumpstart your nursing career.

The preparation before the exam will help you review the areas you failed.

So, brace yourself.

All is not lost.

You still have a chance to become a registered nurse or LPN.

So, give the next trial your best with our preparation and test-taking strategies.


Does NCLEX get harder when you fail?

No. The NCLEX doesn’t get difficult with each retest. The exam difficulty depends on how you answer the questions. Remember, it’s computer adaptive testing. The more you answer the questions correctly, the more challenging they become. You’d get simple questions if you got a question incorrect.

Can you work as a nurse if you fail the NCLEX?

No. You must pass the NCLEX-RN to become a registered nurse. If you fail the exam, you can retake the test until you pass. But, different states have different requirements when it comes to retakes. It will be best to consult with your nursing regulatory body.

How long after failing can you retake the NCLEX?

According to the National Council of State Board of Nursing, test-takers can retest 45 days after the previous test date. The board allows you eight attempts in a year. However, individual NRBs have different retake policies. The best you can do is to contact your NRB first.

Is it common to fail the NCLEX?

No. According to NCSBN, the pass rate for first-time test-takers is 86%. Only 14% failed on their first attempt. This shows that you can pass the exam on the first trial with the right preparation. And there are low chances of failing if you’ve prepared effectively.

What happens if I fail the NCLEX?

If you fail the NCLEX, you can always retake it. NCSBN gives test-takers 45 days rest period before retaking the test. So, contact your NRB for their specific requirements and start your exam preparation. Use the candidate performance report to identify where you need to focus more.

What are the steps to take to prepare for the NCLEX?

– Draw a study plan that helps you meticulously cover the content areas.
– Assemble the right study materials. A prep course will give you a wide range of study resources.
– Join a study group
– Take many practice questions
– Reinforce knowledge learned using flashcards and cheat sheets.

What are some examples of mistakes that people make on the NCLEX?

– Not reading the questions completely to understand
– Picking the answer without going through all the answer choices
– Trying to finish fast instead of pacing oneself
– Refusing to take a break even when it’s clear their concentration is dwindling
– Panicking during the test

What questions are on the NCLEX?

The type of questions on the NCLEX include:
– Illness and disease
– Prioritization
– Treatment Plans and Patient Communication
– Diagnosis
– People’s Skills
– Safety and Care Environment
– Interpreting Information
– Procedures and Physiological Adaptation
Take many practice questions to expose yourself to these types of questions.

What is the most popular reason for failing the NCLEX?

The most popular reason for failing NCLEX is not preparing enough. The NCLEX questions require test-takers to understand the questions to be able to analyze and give the correct answers. You may find the questions incredibly difficult to understand if you are under-prepared. You’ll make mistakes and fail.

Is it possible to pass the NCLEX for the first time?

Yes. 86% of test-takers pass the exam the first time, meaning it’s doable. All you need is an effective study plan and the right study materials. From there, dedicate ample time to understanding the core content of the eight categories of NCLEX before delving into practice questions.

How do you take the NCLEX?

The NCLEX is taken at the Pearson VUE testing center. It’s a computer-based exam that uses CAT. You cannot get into the exam room with personal materials, including phones, watches, pens, or calculators. You’ll answer all the questions online. You’ll get official results in six weeks.

What are the requirements to retake the NCLEX?

– Wait for 45 days from the test date (The waiting period varies from state to state)
– Notify your NRB
– Pay the application fee through Pearson VUE
– Get Authorization to Test
– Select the testing center and schedule the exam date and time




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