Failed the NCLEX? Strategies to Put You Back on Track
Megan Malugani / Monster Contributing Writer
You’ve completed your nursing education but didn’t pass the test that signifies you’re ready to become a full-fledged nurse: The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). How do you bounce back after failing? Nurses who’ve been there, as well as experts, say it takes inspiration, dedication and diligence.
“Don’t give up,” advises Cheryl, a South Carolina RN who passed the NCLEX-RN in June 2005 on her second try. “You persisted until you graduated from nursing school, and you will also have to persist and apply yourself until you pass the state boards.”
These tips will help you bounce back and recharge for your next try at the NCLEX:
Realize You’re Not Alone
“It’s not necessarily something nurses talk about, but you might be surprised by how many people have failed [the NCLEX] once or even twice and gotten their careers on track anyway,” says Donna Cardillo, RN, a Sea Girt, New Jersey-based career coach and author of Your First Year as a Nurse. In fact, about 14.5 percent of US-educated and 48 percent of internationally educated RN candidates failed the NCLEX-RN on their first attempt in 2007, according to statistics from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Also in 2007, about 12 percent of US-educated and 51 percent of internationally educated LPN/LVN candidates failed the NCLEX-PN on their first try.
Analyze Your Failure
Figuring out where you went wrong can help you avoid similar mistakes next time. Cheryl knew she was failing while at the computer taking the exam. “My stomach was in knots,” she says. “I was miserable when I left.”
Cheryl immediately recognized the cause of her difficulties: Because she had taken several years to complete her RN education while working as an LPN, she had learned some of the concepts she was expected to know long ago, and she didn’t use them in her everyday practice.
Other reasons new graduates fail the NCLEX the first time include illness, lack of sleep, a family crisis, disorganized post-graduation study or being distracted in the test setting, according to Patricia S. Yoder-Wise, RN, EdD, a professor in the School of Nursing at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.