Nurses are highly valued members of our society, and the nursing profession has indeed been named one of the most credible. Nurses advocate for and take care of those in vulnerable situations. In order to protect the public, the nursing profession must meet high entry standards. Potential nurses must be able to demonstrate competence and the ability to practice safely and compassionately. For these reasons, the NCLEX must be difficult but not impossible to pass.

You may be wondering, Is the NCLEX hard? How hard is the NCLEX?” In fact, approximately 90% of test takers pass the NCLEX on the first try, and you can be one of them! Follow these six tips to boost your confidence before taking the NCLEX.

1. Why Is The NCLEX So Hard?


There are several reasons why people may wonder “Is the NCLEX hard to pass?” or “how hard is the NCLEX?”, and here are some of the reasons why the NCLEX is so hard.

1.1 The NCLEX requires you to think critically, not just memorize knowledge


If you’ve ever been in nursing school for a week, you’ve probably heard how the exam questions in nursing school aren’t assessing your memorizing abilities, but rather your critical thinking skills. The same may be said for the NCLEX. The capacity to look at problems and evaluate them utilizing the nursing process is stressed rather than rote memorizing.

In fact, during the NCLEX test, the questions will bring about several correct options, and you have to choose the best suitable one, which is the most logical, reasonable and relevant, and specific to the scenarios. 


1.2 It includes many areas and categories of knowledge 


Almost everything you learned from the first day of nursing school to your last class is up for grabs. For the record, that’s a lot of information.

To make things more challenging, the majority of the material studied in nursing school builds on itself. So, if you don’t understand a concept, it may come back to bother you later in another topic that builds on the one you didn’t master. This reason may be the answer for people who are wondering “Is the NCLEX hard?”. Surely, with that huge amount of knowledge included, it will be very challenging for any nursing student. 


1.3. Nursing students are wondering too much about “How hard is the NCLEX?”


So many other students’ fear will pass to others, and it’s like the gatekeeper for what you’ve been working towards for the previous few years of your life. It is surely right to say it’s a difficult exam, but try not to create a mental boundary that it’s impossible to pass the NCLEX. Is the NCLEX really that hard? Yes and No. It will be impossible if you don’t prepare for it properly but it is achievable when you are ready and you understand deeply about the test and what to do with it.


2.1. How Hard Is It To Pass The NCLEX?


2.1 NCLEX Pass Rates


From the data collected by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, the first-attempt NCLEX passing rate for U.S nursing students was 87 percent in 2017. The second-attempt pass percentage for domestically educated students taking the test was 45.56 percent. These scores show that it is a challenging test. The questions are meant to measure your critical thinking ability, knowledge about the nursing process, and evaluation abilities.

this information is provided by the national council of state boards of nursing
This information is provided by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. In the past, NCLEX pass rates ranged about 80-85 percent depending on the year.


2.2 Why Do Some Nursing Students Fail the NCLEX?


In case your answer to the question “is the NCLEX hard?” is “Totally!”, here are 3 main scenarios when people fail the NCLEX:

Time runs out but you cannot answer the minimum number of 75 questions.

You answered all 265 questions but did not demonstrate a sufficient level of competence and understanding.

Even before you completed all of the questions, the computer assessed that your level of skill and knowledge is insufficient.

Failing the NCLEX isn’t the end of the world. Many nurses had to retake it, but they’ve been giving nursing care successfully ever since.


Some Nursing Students Fail the NCLEX
Passing the NCLEX is indeed difficult, but again, not impossible at all

3. Tips for Being Ready for the NCLEX


3.1 Don’t try to cram


You should start studying for the exam at least three months ahead of time. This allows you to go over all of the sections that will be covered in the test. Cramming means cramming too much information into your brain in too little time. 

3.2 Make a Study Plan and begin studying on time


 Most nursing students begin studying one to two months before the exam and follow a detailed study schedule to stay on track. On the NCLEX, there is so much material that can be covered. What really helps is having a good study plan that details what you’ll cover and when until your test date.

>> Read more: NCLEX Study Guide

3.3 Look for practice tests


Seeing how the exam will look before the test will help you understand what to expect and how to prepare ahead of time. Also, keep a good pace of studying. Your effort spent on studying is useless if you do not retain the information. Pace yourself and take breaks every couple of hours or so to stay refreshed to ensure you’re working smarter, not harder.

3.4 Make use of digital resources


 You can find almost anything online, including free quizzes and tests to help you assess your knowledge, as well as workbooks and student materials. To enhance your chances of passing, use as many different materials as possible.

Check our NCLEX practice questions here for more details.

3.5 Exercise, Sleep, and Eat Well


Make sure you’re getting enough rest and staying healthy throughout the process. Not only will eating, sleeping, and exercising help you study, but you’ll also feel better overall. Try not to think in a way like “Is the NCLEX hard?”, just practice properly and rest well, be confident and trust yourself. There is no exam that is too difficult to pass. 

3.6 On test day, arrive early


 Arriving early gives you a better chance of becoming acquainted with the testing environment. Check what you should bring to the NCLEX and what you should leave at home.


If you still think about “how hard is the NCLEX?”, remember that it is sure that the NCLEX is among the most challenging examinations. but as you’ve seen, it’s not quite as difficult as you’ve been led to believe. As long as you prepare for the test with a good plan of action. Remember the fact that most people pass the NCLEX on their first try, and careful preparation and confidence are the main keys. You Can Do It!