It’s a situation no aspiring nurse wants to face—seeing the official results say you failed the NCLEX licensure exam.

But take heart, a stumble is not the end of the road. In fact, it can serve as a stepping stone to success.

This article will guide you on what to do if you fail the NCLEX and how to prepare for your next attempt.

What To Do If You Fail The NCLEX

First of all, failing the NCLEX does not have to define you, but there are several steps to take. For starters, contact your state board of nursing to find out the requirements for a retest. Secondly, figure out what went wrong, and third, figure out your game plan moving forward. 

Below I’m going to break down each of these steps further, along with giving you some ideas on what your next steps should be.

NOTE: Read this First Before Scrolling Ahead

It’s essential only to trust the official NCLEX results or the unofficial NCLEX Results (i.e., quick results service) to confirm whether you have failed the NCLEX.

Relying on unreliable NCLEX result tricks, such as the Pearson Vue NCLEX trick, should be avoided.

For further details on this matter, please refer to the linked article, and additional information can also be found in this YouTube video.

1. Accept the Outcome

The initial wave of disappointment can be overwhelming.

With that said, it’s important to accept the outcome and understand that it doesn’t define your potential as a nurse.

In fact, I’ve written an article and have done a video on a nursing student who failed the NCLEX test not once, not twice, not even eight times, but 20+ times.

While I know this is unlikely to be you, I just want you to see that many others struggle and still overcome that set back.

2. Realize Failing the NCLEX Doesn’t Define You

It’s going to feel tempting, but you need to understand that failing the NCLEX RN or NCLEX PN does NOT define you.

Many have been in your shoes and gone on to have successful nursing careers.

The fact of the matter is that about 25% of all NCLEX takers fail the exam. While it’s not ideal, you need to realize that this is not the end of the road, and you do have options. 

So for sure, take your time to grieve, and then once you move past the grieving stage with clarity, you can make decisions for the next steps.

Related Article: How to Stay Motivated Finishing Nursing School

3. Identify What Went Wrong

This part is not to discourage you or to cast blame. I’m sure you did everything you possibly could.

But part of coming back from not passing the NCLEX is regrouping and thinking about what you could have done better or differently.

After that, making the necessary changes to give yourself a better chance of passing the exam.

Confucius said:

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.”

  • Is it that you waited too long after passing nursing school to take your NCLEX?
  • Did you not get the right study material for the NCLEX? 
  • Did you not study at all for boards? 
  • Did you focus on the wrong things when you were studying?

Regardless of what the case may be you need to figure out the necessary changes you need to make for next time.


If you’re struggling with the nursing school curriculum hiring a tutor from a service like Wyzant can go a long way to better equipping you for the exams.

4. Analyze the NCLEX Candidate Performance Report (CPR)

The next thing you need to do is to look at the Candidate Performance Report (aka the NCLEX CPR) whenever you get it.

If you don’t know what it is, check out the linked article.

In short, it’s something you get from Pearson Vue and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing that highlights your strengths and weaknesses.

The NCLEX CPR can seem overwhelming initially, but it serves as an invaluable guide to your performance, offering insights that can inform your study plan for your next attempt.

5. Get a Better Understanding of the NCLEX Computerized Adaptive Testing

The NCLEX is a pass-or-fail exam graded using a system called computer adaptive testing.

I won’t go too deep on this here since I already have articles and videos on this.

But understanding how the NCLEX is scored can help you better understand the NCLEX, which will help you do better.

6. Know Your NCLEX Exam Retake Policy

After a disappointing result, it’s essential to look ahead and identify your options for retaking the NCLEX.

As per the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), candidates can retake the exam 45 days after their previous attempt.

However, there might be variations depending on your state board, such as you can only take the exam eight times a year.

Be sure to verify the rules specific to your location.

7. Get a Tutor / NCLEX Prep

NCLEX Prep Academy

The only NCLEX prep you’ll need. Check out the nclex prep course that helps graduate nurses pass their state board.

What does it cover?

  • Test Taking Tips
  • Nursing Cheatsheets
  • NCLEX Topics Covered
  • Video Lessons
  • Practice Questions
  • Mobile App

Just to name a few.

Opting for a tutor or enrolling in an NCLEX preparation course can be a game-changer in your path to passing the NCLEX.

A knowledgeable tutor can provide a different perspective on complex topics, offer efficient study strategies, and clarify any areas of confusion you might have.

They can also help you build up your test-taking skills, such as time management and understanding the different types of NCLEX questions.

On the other hand, NCLEX preparation courses, whether online or in-person, offer comprehensive content reviews and a large number of practice questions that mimic the real exam.

They often come with added resources like study guides, flashcards, and performance trackers to monitor your progress.

Although these options might involve some extra costs, they can prove to be a worthy investment, providing you with targeted guidance and enhancing your overall readiness for the exam.

If you’re looking for an NCLEX tutor you can go here to search for vetted NCLEX tutors. If you would rather buy an NCLEX prep course, this is the NCLEX prep course I currently recommend with an almost 100% pass rate.

If you’re looking for an NCLEX tutor, you can go here to search for vetted NCLEX tutors.

If you would rather buy an NCLEX prep course, this is the NCLEX prep course I currently recommend.

It has an almost 100% pass rate and for a limited time, has a FREE trial.

Get the NCLEX Prep Course.

8. Talk to Your Future Employer

Many nursing students will have a job or tentative job offer given to them contingent on them passing their boards.

Many of these offers have timelines associated with them. Not passing the NCLEX the first time might throw off that timeline.

It may feel daunting, but it’s important to discuss your NCLEX results with potential or future employers.

Many employers understand that not everyone passes the NCLEX on their first attempt, and they appreciate honesty and openness.

Start by informing them about the situation and your planned steps to retake the exam.

Assure them of your commitment to passing the NCLEX and your dedication to becoming a competent and caring nurse.

You’ll likely find that they’re supportive and may even offer resources or advice to help you succeed in your next attempt.

Remember, this conversation is an opportunity to demonstrate your resilience, determination, and professionalism – qualities that are highly valued in the nursing profession.

Open communication fosters a strong foundation for your future working relationship and shows your employer that you are a responsible individual who can handle difficult situations gracefully.

9. Give Yourself Some Grace

Failing the NCLEX doesn’t make you any more a bad nurse as passing the NCLEX the first time makes you a good nurse.

Thomas Uzuegbunem, BSN RN -nursemoneytalk

Experiencing failure can stir up a storm of negative emotions, including self-doubt and guilt.

But it’s crucial to remember that everyone stumbles at some point, and this is just a hiccup in your journey toward becoming a registered nurse.

Failing the NCLEX doesn’t diminish your potential or the valuable skills you’ve acquired in your nursing program.

Allow yourself some grace during this time.

Recognize the effort you’ve put into your preparation and the courage it took to sit for such a challenging exam.

Use this moment not as a point of self-criticism but as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Practice self-care, engage in activities you love, and surround yourself with supportive people who can uplift your spirits.

Don’t be too hard on yourself – it’s perfectly okay to take some time to heal and gather your strength.

This resilience and self-compassion will not only help you when you retake the NCLEX but will also serve as vital skills throughout your nursing career.

10. Register and Retake the NCLEX

If you didn’t pass, you might be scared to retake the NCLEX. It’s important to take a step back and re-evaluate some things so you’ll be better prepared to retake the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN.

After the preparation, self-reflection, and planning, it’s time to face the challenge head-on by registering to retake the NCLEX RN or retaking the NCLEX PN.

Remember, the key this time is to approach the exam with a new plan.

This plan should be based on your self-evaluation and the insights you’ve gained from studying your past performance.

Re-registration typically involves paying the NCLEX fee and scheduling your test with Pearson Vue.


You’ll need a new authorization to test (ATT) to retake the NCLEX. The ATT, if you remember, comes from your nursing regulatory body.

While setting up your exam test date, be sure to choose a time that’s far enough that you have enough time to study.

But is also soon enough to keep the information fresh in your mind. Balance is the key here.

Your new plan should encompass all aspects of preparation, from content review to practice tests and from mental readiness to physical well-being.

If you found a tutor or enrolled in an NCLEX prep course, align your study schedule with their guidance.

If you’re studying solo, ensure your plan includes a balance of subject-based studying, question practice, and rest days.

Make use of NCLEX prep books, online resources, flashcards, and any other tools that fit your learning style.

Most importantly, carry the lessons from your previous attempt into this retake.

If you rushed through questions, practice mindfulness and patience. If you felt unprepared for certain topics, devote extra study time to those areas.

Remember, this isn’t just about reattempting the NCLEX, it’s about doing it with an enhanced strategy and renewed mindset.

If You Fail the NCLEX, Try Again

Failing the NCLEX can be a tough experience, but it’s far from the end of your nursing career.

By understanding where you went wrong, taking time to recover, and devising an effective study strategy, you can turn this setback into an opportunity for growth.

Related Article

Frequently Asked Questions

According to the National Council of the State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), you can retake the NCLEX up to 8 times a year. If you’re retaking an exam, there have to be at least 45 days between when you last took the exam. The exception is if your jurisdiction offers the NCLEX fewer times a year.

After failing, to take the NCLEX again, you need to wait for 45 days before you can retake the exam.

There are no set limits to the number of times you can retake the NCLEX, but some states may have their own restrictions, so it’s best to check with your local nursing board.

The CAT system tailors each test to the test taker. It selects questions based on how you answered the previous ones, adjusting to your ability level.

Focus on the areas you struggled with in your previous attempt, as highlighted in your CPR. Also, incorporate strategies to manage test anxiety, if applicable.

Mindfulness exercises, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, and maintaining a healthy diet can all help manage stress during your study period.


  1. I failed the NCLEX PN. I am currently trying to lift myself up an get back in the game. God is amazing and I thank HIM for all HE has done foe me. I feel like , well I can’t feel anything but heart ache at the moment. I have a coach now to help with my anxiety and to help prepare me. I chose to stop using ATI and decided to do Uworld questions. Bad idea!! For me, I found that the NCLEX was so very similar to ATI. I ask GOd to guide me. Everyday is a struggle to continue. I know the material but the test was so intimidating.

    1. Hey Nickole, thank you for sharing your journey with us.

      It’s evident from your words that you are extremely determined and resilient, and it’s this spirit that will surely lead you to your goal. Remember, experiencing a setback such as failing the NCLEX PN is tough but also presents an opportunity for growth and learning.

      I applaud your decision to seek help from a coach to manage anxiety and prepare better. Handling exam stress is a crucial part of the process, and it’s fantastic that you’re addressing this.

      I can understand why you may have reservations about certain study materials, given your previous experience with Uworld. Rest assured, there are various other resources out there that can help you.

      One such is this NCLEX prep course that we recommend. It’s been found very useful by numerous students who had previously failed the NCLEX, as it provides a comprehensive content review, ample practice questions, and even tracks your performance to identify areas for improvement.

      While that’s the prep course I recommend and think it’s good, there are plenty of others on the market that other students have found success using.

      Each day may seem like a struggle now, but remember that every step you take brings you closer to your goal. You’ve mentioned you know the material. That’s awesome because that’s half the battle won.

      The next step is mastering the art of applying that knowledge in an exam setting, and the right prep course can assist you greatly in that.

      If you get a chance, watch this YouTube video. In that video, I talk about the story of a nurse who failed the NCLEX over 20x before passing.

      The point is not that you’ll fail the NCLEX that many times, but that perseverance is key.

      Keep your faith strong and continue to strive. You’re on the right path, and success is just around the corner.
      Hey Nickole, thank you for sharing your journey with us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *