Taking the NCLEX examination is one of the most important milestones for any nurse before developing their careers. Therefore, it’s sure that everyone will expect to get their desired scores after attending the test. Additionally, the NCLEX scoring mechanism is very distinctive from other types of tests, so that the definition of “desired score” will be absolutely different among candidates. Especially when the numerical result you get doesn’t show whether you fail or pass. Below is some information that will help you to understand the NCLEX passing score, how it is calculated and what score you need to pass it.

the NCLEX passing score


1. The importance of passing the NCLEX


Passing the NCLEX is one of the fundamental requirements for any nurse before going to any further nursing practice, which means that if you don’t get this examination done, it is illegal for you to work as a nurse officially. Therefore, you can call the NCLEX the legal foundation for your nursing career, and the higher score you get, the more credible you are as a nurse. You will also feel very confident whenever people look at your curriculum vitae and portfolio.

Additionally, you may consider several benefits after you pass the NCLEX to get more motivation. For example, when you get this test done, your test result is nationally recognized, so you can apply for jobs in all of the states in the USA. Furthermore, after this test, you will be able to pursue higher degrees like doctorate or master’s. Having these degrees will surely raise your salary level and job opportunities. 

By the reasons listed above, now you know why you should pass the NCLEX, but you may question what score you need for passing it. Keep scrolling down for more clues. Let’s take NCLEX Practice Test to get the highest score!


2. The format, structure, and scoring mechanism of the NCLEX


2.1. The NCLEX’s format


For achieving high scores, you firstly have to understand the format of the NCLEX test. For both types of NCLEX test, RN (for registered nurse) and PN (for practical nurse), the mechanism is called “CAT” which is an acronym for Computerized Adaptive Testing. This technology creates a unique questions list for each candidate, based on your capability. Also, when you get a correct answer, the next question will be slightly more difficult, and if you give an incorrect answer, the computer will lower down the difficulty on the next question. This format helps contestants to prove their skills and competence level.


2.2. The number of questions in the NCLEX RN and PN test


In spite of having the same format and scoring mechanism, the NCLEX RN and PN however have different numbers of questions on each type. For the NCLEX-PN, there are at least 85 questions and at most 205 questions, with 25 pre-test questions. With the NCLEX-RN, contestants must finish a number of questions that vary from 75 to 265 questions, and also include 25 pre-test questions.

There is no exact number of questions since the CAT technology design specific test for each person. However, there are two cases when the test will stop giving you more questions: when you get above 95% of satisfaction recognized by the computer (which means you pass it), or when you are under 95% of satisfaction (which means you fail it). There is also another case when you have to stop your test is when you run out of time but you haven’t got above 95% of certainty, this also means you fail it. 


2.3. The scoring mechanism of the NCLEX


Since the CAT technology recognizes your result by evaluating your ability to deal with the difficulty of questions, the way this test is scored is absolutely different from other standard tests. The numerical score you receive after finishing the exam is called “logit”, a measurement unit that shows the relation between a contestant’s ability and question’s difficulty. 

To be more specific, the more difficult the question you have to deal with, the higher logit number you may receive. The way the computer calculates your logit score is called the confidence interval. Recently, the logit score you need to pass the NCLEX test is 0.00, which means you give correct answers to 50% of the total answers. When you give more than 50% correct answers, the logit score will be positive, and it will be negative in the opposite situation. The confidence interval will evaluate your competency by keeping giving you more questions until it makes sure that you are totally qualified or unqualified. 


passing score nclex


In case you ran out of time while you haven’t finished the test, there is a rule called Run-out-of-time that is used to consider your result. For example, if you ran out of time but you haven’t reached the minimum number of questions, you will automatically fail. 




According to the latest data from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, the table below demonstrates NCLEX pass rates for each state in 2020.

Alabama 87.5
Alaska 88.5
Arizona 91.4
Arkansas 83.4
California 90.9
Colorado 90.7
Connecticut 89.5
Delaware 93.6
District Of Columbia 94.8
Florida 68.8
Georgia 88.8
Hawaii 91.3
Idaho 89.2
Illinois 86.7
Indiana 87.7
Iowa 86.6
Kansas 86.1
Kentucky 88.8
Louisiana 92.8
Maine 89.1
Maryland 87.4
Massachusetts 89.8
Michigan 89.0
Minnesota 83.8
Mississippi 88.5
Missouri 90.0
Montana 89.1
Nebraska 90.1
Nevada 93.2
New Hampshire 96.2
New Jersey 87.6
New Mexico 85.7
New York 83.2
North Carolina 92.0
North Dakota 91.6
Ohio 84.4
Oklahoma 85.3
Oregon 90.1
Pennsylvania 91.7
Rhode Island 87.8
South Carolina 90.4
South Dakota 92.4
Tennessee 91.7
Texas 90.7
Utah 88.7
Vermont 87.7
Virginia 87.0
Washington 90.6
West Virginia 90.2
Wisconsin 88.7
Wyoming 80.8

NCSBN Inc. 2021



4. The criteria to pass or fail the NCLEX?


The result of your test will be based on your own logit score. This means if you get a logit score of 0.00 or higher, you will pass, and if you get a logit score lower than 0.00, you will fail. 

For the situation if you pass, you may answer the minimum amount of questions then run out of time, but the computer recorded your last 60 questions with good answers so your competency is still evaluated as above the passing standard. Another situation for passing the NCLEX is if you have done the maximum number of questions and proved your logit score being higher than 0.00, you will also pass the exam.

Turning to the bad scenarios, you will fail when you answered all the questions brought up but you couldn’t reach the passing standard or you haven’t reached the minimum amount of questions. 



Passing the NCLEX is surely among the biggest challenges for any nurse. That’s why you have to get yourself ready for it by having very careful preparation. There are many NCLEX study guides and tips you can look for so you can start building up your personal plan. Remember to put as much effort as you can into it so you will take the NCLEX exam with no regret. You should always stay confident and calm, don’t rush and keep a good pace. By reading this article, you can understand more about NCLEX passing score, how your score is calculated then you’ll know what to do to achieve a good logit score.