If you’re like I was, you want to know if you failed the NCLEX as soon as it shuts off.

Unfortunately, they make you wait for what seems like forever for the official results.

As a response, nursing students have come up with some signs they can use to determine whether or not they failed the NCLEX.

I’m going to share some of those signs with you.

Signs You Failed the NCLEX

Before I get to the list of signs you failed the NCLEX, let me start by saying that you’re more or less reading the tea leaves for most of these tricks and hacks.

Except for #1 and #5, the only way to know with 100% certainty you passed is by getting the official letter from your state board of nursing.

1. You Run Out of Time Before Answering the Minimum Number of Questions

This one is pretty clear-cut and has to do with how the NCLEX timing system works.

According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), if you don’t answer at least the minimum number of questions before time runs out, you will fail the NCLEX.

Who’s the NCSBN?

The NCSBN are the ones who write or put together the NCLEX. It’s made up of the board of nursing from all the U.S. states.

Please note that the NCSBN is different from Pearson Vue. Pearson Vue is the organization with the testing facilities where you go and take the exam.

2. You Did Not Get an NCLEX Prep Course

I’m a firm believer every nursing student needs to purchase a good NCLEX prep course if they want to be successful on the NCLEX.

Does that mean you won’t be successful or that there are not students who pass without getting one?

Of course not.

But I do think getting one dramatically improves your chances of passing.

For example, the NCLEX prep course I recommend boasts an almost 100% pass rate, which is significantly higher than the national average of first-time NCLEX test takers.

Pass Rate For First Time NCLEX Test-Takers

The average pass rate for first-time NCLEX test takers is about 85-86%.

3. You Got Questions that Did NOT Get Harder

The NCLEX is a computer adaptive test.

That means as you answer questions correctly, you’ll get harder questions. If you answer a question incorrectly, you’ll get an easier question.

This keeps happening until the computer can determine (with a 95% confidence level) that you’ll stay above a predetermined passing line if it keeps asking you questions.

With all that said, if you’re doing well on the NCLEX, it stands to reason that the questions you get will progressively get more challenging.

Related Articles

I have separate articles where I go more in-depth over how the NCLEX is scored and what score you need to pass the NCLEX. Check out those linked articles for more information.

4. The Pearson Vue NCLEX Trick Gave You a Bad Pop-up

If you don’t know what the Pearson Vue NCLEX Trick is, I encourage you to check out the linked article.

The short version is that the Pearson Vue NCLEX trick allows students to tell if they passed by trying to schedule another exam date.

If the system lets you schedule an exam (aka the bad pop up), that’s a sign you didn’t pass the NCLEX.

5. The Pearson Vue Quick Results Reports You Failed

Some states participate in the NCLEX quick results service.

The quick result is a way for you to pay and get unofficial results of how well you did on the exam.

I have very mixed feelings about the quick results, but regardless if you order the quick results and it says you failed, it’s not a good sign.


Please note that although they’re considered “unofficial,” these do come from Pearson Vue and are considered to be accurate.

6. You Received a Lot of “Easy” Questions

As mentioned elsewhere in this article, because of how the CAT testing system works, if you’re getting a lot of easy questions, it’s not a good sign that you’re doing well on the NCLEX.

Related: What Does it Mean If the Last Question on the NCLEX Was Easy?

7. You Did Not Do Well on an NCLEX Predictor Exam

There are a lot of NCLEX predictor exams out there.

Many of them are attached to NCLEX review courses you purchase, and others are requirements for the last semester of nursing school.

As the name suggests, these predictor exams are supposed to predict how successful you will be on the NCLEX.

So if you don’t do well on a predictor exam, that’s supposed to mean you won’t do well on the NCLEX.


Just because you fail a predictor exam doesn’t mean you won’t be successful on the NCLEX.

For example, many students have failed the HESI exit exam and still passed the NCLEX.

8. You Don’t See Your Name on Your State Board of Nursing Website

Technically, official results could take up to 6 weeks to be sent to you.

But what most students will discover is that your state board of nursing will often post your name and license information on the website long before official results are sent to you.

If you check your state BON and don’t see your name, and it’s been several weeks, that may be a bad sign.

9. You Did Not Study For the NCLEX

I’ll be very blunt with this because this goes without saying if you did not study for the NCLEX.

By not studying for the NCLEX, I mean you didn’t get an NCLEX prep course, an NCLEX-PN or NCLEX-RN review book, or at minimum do practice questions that’s not a good sign of NCLEX success.

On the contrary, it’s probably a good sign you failed.

10. You Were Guessing on Most of the Questions

I understand after the exam that most students will feel like they didn’t know anything on the NCLEX.

I get that. I would argue that’s probably the case for most students.

With that said, there’s a big difference between feeling like you don’t know anything after the exam and not actually knowing anything during the exam.

If none of those question topics look familiar and you literally had to guess on every question, that’s not a good sign.


It could also be a sign of bad test anxiety. For students with bad test anxiety, I would imagine you know about it long before you ever have to take the NCLEX.

11. You Received an NCLEX Candidate Performance Report

The NCLEX candidate performance report (also called NCLEX-CPR) is a report the NCSBN sends to students who did NOT pass the licensure exam.

The NCLEX-CPR tells you how well you did in the 8 topic areas tested on the NCLEX.

What Happens If You Failed the NCLEX?

It can be demoralizing to find out that you didn’t pass the NCLEX, but I want you to know you do have options.

The first thing you need to do is give yourself some grace and realize that not passing the NCLEX does not define who you are.

Check out this article I wrote on life after failing the NCLEX so you can see what all your options are

Related Articles

Here are some articles related to signs you failed the NCLEX.

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