Varsity Tutors helps aspiring nurses prepare for and pass the NCLEX exam.
Nursing school taught you everything you need to know about nursing. Acing the NCLEX is different, and we'll teach you how. No matter how you prep best, we have something that will help you pass the exam.
Prep for the NCLEX with Varsity Tutors and get results.
hours of experience coaching the NCLEX
Customer Satisfaction Rating
of instructors make it through our vetting process -- you're getting the best of the best.
Pass the NCLEX with the strategic guidance of exam experts.
Study only what you need to with our single-topic classes.
3 hours of live instruction
NCLEX Strategy Course
End-to-end expert guidance in a classroom environment.
20 hours of tailored live instruction
860 practice tests, including diagnostic assessments
If you’ve already taken the NCLEX once, we guarantee we can help you pass or your money back.
We guarantee we can help you pass the NCLEX.
Only 10% of NCLEX instructors who interview make it through our rigorous vetting process--we give you access to the best of the best.
Over 5,200 5-star Reviews
NCLEX-RN Prep Customer
"I was distraught when I failed my NCLEX the first time, I didn't know what to do. I passed the NCLEX a second time with flying colors and I credit that to Varsity Tutors and my tutor who believed in me when I didn't believe in myself."
NCLEX-RN Prep Customer
"I failed the NCLEX, took this class, and passed with flying colors."
NCLEX-RN Prep Customer
"I am studying to take my NCLEX and have used several different methods. I found Varsity Tutors and have had the best experience with them."
How many questions do you need to pass the NCLEX?
As with so many things related to the NCLEX’s computer adaptive format, the answer is “it depends.” Some students finish and pass the NCLEX in the minimum 75 questions while others end up answering all 145 possible questions. Unlike most tests you’ve probably taken in school, the NCLEX isn’t graded solely based on finding the percentage of how many questions you get right or wrong. While that might be easier to plan for, the actual test is a lot more forgiving than your standard course exam.
Instead of waiting until the last question to judge how you did, the NCLEX scoring algorithm is checking after every question to estimate how well you know the material. As soon as it’s 95% confident that you know the material (given that you’ve seen the minimum 75 questions), it will determine your result. If the test can’t be 95% sure of your ability level, the test will end after 145 questions and it will calculate your ability level at the end of those questions. Don’t read too much into how many questions you get. If the test ends after 75 questions, that’s because it was getting consistent results from you. If it keeps going, that just means that it’s giving you more questions to be more confident in your ability level before it decides whether you passed or failed. And that’s a good thing! It means that the test is fair and won’t pass someone for a few lucky guesses or fail you because of a single careless mistake.
How is the NCLEX scored?
The NCLEX isn’t scored in the same way that a lot of your previous tests were scored. In fact, you won’t actually get a score at all! Instead, the NCLEX uses something called a passing standard. If you’re above that standard, you pass and if you’re below the standard, you fail. For each portion of the exam, you’ll be given one of three outcomes: “Above the passing standard” (passing), “Near the passing standard” (just slightly below passing), or “Below the passing standard” (failing).
The NCLEX determines where candidates are on this scale using something called an adaptive scoring algorithm. Each time you answer a question, the algorithm adapts to your response. Get the question right and you’ll get a slightly harder one. Get it wrong and you’ll get a slightly easier question. The computer will keep serving you questions until you’ve passed the minimum number of questions and one of three things happen: It’s 95% sure that you are above the passing standard. In this case, the test ends and you pass. It’s 95% sure that you are below the passing standard. In this case, the test ends and you fail. It can’t get above 95% certainty that you are above or below the passing standard before it administers the maximum number of questions. In this case, the test will end and the algorithm will calculate its estimate of your ability.
What percentage do you need to get on the NCLEX to pass?
Because the NCLEX is a computer-adaptive test, you don’t actually need to get a certain percentage of questions overall in order to pass. Instead, what the test is looking for is an overall ability level. As you answer questions, the scoring algorithm is estimating your ability level. If you get a harder question right, the estimated ability level goes up and the next question will probably be a little harder. If you get it wrong, then your estimated ability level goes down (or stays where it was before) and the next question will be a little easier.
Don’t worry too much about the exact percentage of questions you’re getting right or wrong, or whether the test feels hard or easy. Because the NCLEX is adaptive, it’s going to feel hard no matter what. The computer is aiming to give you questions that it thinks you have a 50% chance of getting right, so most test takers are going to get some questions wrong. However, a good rule of thumb is that in order to pass the NCLEX you need to be acing questions that are at least of medium to medium-hard difficulty. That said, because the test should always be testing you at your level, it can be hard to tell how difficult the questions you’re getting actually are, so it’s best not to overthink how you’re doing and instead just focus on answering one question at a time.
What happens if I fail the NCLEX exam?
Most candidates get their official results from their nursing regulatory body (NRB) within six weeks of taking the NCLEX. If you didn’t pass the exam, those results will include a NCLEX Candidate Performance Report (CPR). Your CPR will include how you performed in each of the NCLEX’s eight testing areas and whether you were at, above, or below the testing standard in each of these areas. Use the CPR to prioritize your study plan as you get ready to re-take the exam.
Test takers must wait at least 45 days between test dates, and sometimes more depending on the local NRB’s rules. As soon as you know you failed and need to retake, you’ll need to take the following steps: Get in touch with your local NRB to let them know that you need to retake the test. They’ll help you figure out any fees due to the NRB for retesting. Reregister with Pearson VUE for a new exam. You’ll need to pay a new testing fee. Once you receive your Authorization to Test from your local NRB, go ahead and reschedule your exam. Make sure that you leave enough time to study in between testing dates so that you feel confident going into your next exam!
What is on the NCLEX RN Exam?
The NCLEX is divided into eight content categories. These categories, the percentage of the test they make up, and a brief description are given below. 1. Management of Care (20%) – Creating a safe and effective environment that protects health care patients and personnel 2. Safety and Infection Control (12%) – Protecting patients and personnel from potential health hazards 3. Health Promotion and Maintenance (9%) – Providing care that incorporates an understanding of human development and that fosters the prevention and/or early detection of health issues 4. Psychosocial Integrity (9%) – Providing care that supports the social, emotional, and mental health of patients undergoing stress or experiencing mental illness 5. Basic Care and Comfort (9%) – Providing assistance to patients to perform daily living tasks 6. Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies (15%) – Providing care related to administration of medications/parenteral therapies 7. Reduction of Risk Potential (12%) – Providing care that reduces the likelihood of of complications or health problems 8. Physiological Adaptation (14%) – Providing care and management for acute, chronic, and life-threatening health conditions
What is the NCLEX exam?
The NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) is a licensing exam that state regulatory boards use to test whether entry-level nursing candidates are proficient in the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful entry-level nurses.
There are two versions of the NCLEX. The NCLEX-PN is taken for licensure as a vocational nurse (LVN) or a practical nurse (LPN). The NCLEX-RN is taken for licensure as a registered nurse (RN).
Who takes the NCLEX exam?
NCLEX test takers are prospective nurses who have finished their nursing programs and are ready to enter the workforce. While exact eligibility requirements vary from region to region based on local regulations, what is common across all areas is that test takers must have finished their programs before they can take the NCLEX. In general, prospective new nurses must have finished their programs at least 45 days prior to taking the exam and must have received an Authorization to Test from their local Board of Nursing.
There are two versions of the NCLEX: the NCLEX-PN and the NCLEX-RN. The NCLEX-PN is for prospective nurses who have completed a practical nursing program and have received a diploma in either practical nursing or vocational nursing. The NCLEX-RN is for prospective nurses who have completed a RN licensure program, or have received an Associates or Bachelors in nursing.
What is the computer adaptive format?
The computer-adaptive format is a way to figure out how well prepared you are faster and more accurately. Let’s look at how it does this by looking at the name again: computer adaptive. Because the test is administered on a computer, it has the ability to adapt to your performance after each question. Basically, if you get a question correct, it will adapt by giving you a slightly harder question and if you get a question wrong, it will give you a slightly easier question. By increasing or decreasing the difficulty of the questions based on your performance, the NCLEX scoring algorithm is getting a better understanding of your abilities than it would if it gave you the same test as it gave everyone else.
Why is a computer adaptive format better? Let’s say you want to figure out how proficient a teenager and math professor are at math. You could give them both a third grade math test, but that wouldn’t be a good test for either of them. If the test was computer adaptive, you could see that the teenager can do algebra and that the math professor can do multivariable calculus. In the same way, the NCLEX computer adaptive format can hone in on exactly how proficient you are at each skill tested on the NCLEX.