Every quarter, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) releases the latest pass rate data for the NCLEX®. In April 2023, the exam was enhanced and rebranded as the Next Generation NCLEX (NGN), featuring new item types, a new scoring system, and more. With all of these test changes, it’s important to review how the new NCLEX is scored so you understand how to earn points and maximize your score on Test Day. In this guide, we break down what you need to know about NCLEX 2023 pass rates and the new scoring system.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- 2023 NCLEX Pass Rates
- Pre-Next Gen NCLEX Pass Rates by State
- Is the Next Gen NCLEX easier than the old NCLEX exam?
- How many questions are on the NCLEX?
- How is the NCLEX scored?
- Partial Credit on the Next Gen NCLEX
- What is the passing standard for the NCLEX?
- When should I expect my NCLEX results?
- Other Considerations for Passing the NCLEX
2023 NCLEX Pass Rates
The Next Gen NCLEX launched in April 2023, so examinees were still taking the old version of the NCLEX up until then. The NCSBN has recently released the pass rates for the second quarter of 2023, so we are able to see how examinees are performing in the first half of the year. In the tables below, we list 2023 year-to-date NCLEX & Next Gen NCLEX pass rate data for the RN and PN exams broken down by first-time test takers and repeat test-takers educated in the U.S. and abroad.
[ Learn More: All About the New Next Gen NCLEX ]
2023 NCLEX-RN Pass Rates
Below, we list the 2023 YTD (January-June) pass rate date for the NCLEX-RN & Next Gen NCLEX-RN.
|Type of Candidate||YTD Total Pass Percentages|
2023 NCLEX-PN Pass Rates
Below, we list the 2023 YTD (January-June) pass rate date for the NCLEX-PN & Next Gen NCLEX-PN.
|Type of Candidate||YTD Total Pass Percentages|
What percentage of first-time NCLEX test-takers pass?
As you can see in the data listed above, first-time NCLEX and Next Gen NCLEX test-takers consistently perform better than repeat test-takers. In 2023, first-time U.S.-educated test-takers have a pass rate over 83%, compared to their counterparts who repeated the test and passed at a rate of only about 42%. Many factors contribute to the low pass rate for repeat test-takers, but the bottom line is that it’s critical that you prepare properly and aim to pass on your first attempt for your best chance at passing the NCLEX—period. You need to have a solid study plan in place that blends content, test-taking strategies, and realistic practice with test-like questions.
Pre-Next Gen NCLEX Pass Rates by State
In the table below, you can review NCLEX pass rates by state from 2020, the most recent year the data was available from the NCSBN.
View NCLEX Pass Rates by State
|STATE||OVERALL PASS RATE %|
|District Of Columbia||94.8|
Is the Next Gen NCLEX easier than the old NCLEX exam?
A common question nursing students ask about the Next Gen NCLEX is whether or not the exam is easier than the old NCLEX. The short answer is no, the Next Gen NCLEX is not easier. The NGN is an enhanced version of its predecessor, with new item types and a new scoring system designed to better measure test-takers’ clinical judgment skills. While you can now receive partial credit for questions, the exam’s content is just as challenging as it has always been. This is why Next Gen NCLEX test prep is critical, as is familiarizing yourself with the new NGN item types.
How many questions are on the NCLEX?
In addition to the 15 unscored, pre-test questions, test-takers can expect to see anywhere from a minimum of 70 to the maximum of 135 scored questions on the NCLEX in the new next gen format. The NGN uses Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) so that questions are customized to each individual test-taker. CAT uses an algorithm to deliver different questions with varying difficulty based on how the test-taker performed on the previous question, which means no two NGN exams are exactly alike.
How is the NCLEX scored?
One of the major changes on the Next Gen NCLEX is how the new exam is scored. The old NCLEX used a dichotomous scoring method, meaning NCLEX items were scored as either correct or incorrect. Moving forward, the new NCLEX will use a polytomous scoring method to allow for partial credit on certain questions. The new scoring system allows for more precise measurement and takes into consideration the complexity of the new NGN item types. Having different ways to assign partial credit also reduces random guessing.
Partial Credit on the Next Gen NCLEX
Using a polytomous scoring method, partial credit on the Next Gen NCLEX can be assigned in three different ways:
- +/- Scoring: Test-takers receive one point for correct responses and lose a point for incorrect responses. If the total score is negative, the final score will be zero.
- 0/1 Scoring: Test-takers receive one point for correct responses but don’t lose points for incorrect responses.
- Rationale Scoring: Test-takers receive “all or nothing” credit for linked units within an item, meaning it’s either all correct or all incorrect.
How is each Next Gen NCLEX item type scored?
The Next Gen NCLEX features fifteen different item types. Each of these item types is scored in one of three ways. In the table below, we break down how each NGN item type is scored.
|+/- NGN Scoring Rule||0/1 NGN Scoring Rule||Rationale NGN Scoring Rule|
|Multiple Response – Select All that Apply (SATA)||Multiple Choice||Drop-Down Cloze Dyad|
|Matrix Multiple Choice||Matrix Multiple Response (MR)||Drop-Down Cloze Triad|
|Multiple Response (MR) Grouping||Multiple Response Select N (SATA-N)||Drag-and-Drop Cloze Dyad|
|Extended Drag and Drop||Highlight Text and Table Select N (SATA-N)||Drag-and-Drop Cloze Triad|
|Highlight Text & Table (SATA)||Drop-Down Cloze and Table|
What is the passing standard for the NCLEX?
The NCLEX passing standards reflect the amount of ability required for nurses to practice competently at an entry-level. Every three years, the NCSBN Board of Directors reevaluates the NCLEX passing standard to ensure it is aligned with current competencies. In December 2022, the board voted to uphold the current passing standard of 0.00 logits for the NCLEX-RN Examination and -0.18 logits for the NCLEX-PN through March 31, 2026. This means that while the Next Gen NCLEX has a new scoring system, the NCLEX passing standard will remain the same for the next three years.
When should I expect my NCLEX results?
You can expect to receive your Next Gen NCLEX results in about six weeks. While the computer scores your exam as you take it, your official results will not be released until they are graded a second time. You might be able to see your unofficial test results after two business days, if your state participates in the Quick Results program. However, please note that your Quick Results score is not your official score, which will be sent to you by the nursing regulatory body (NRB) six weeks after your exam date.
How many times can I retake the NCLEX?
The NCSBN allows test-takers up to eight retakes of the NCLEX each year as long as they have applied for licensure with a participating NRB. However, you have to wait 45 days in between each attempt. Some jurisdictions may have stricter limits on repeat testing than others. As previously discussed, pass rates for first-time NCLEX test-takers have historically been higher than repeat test-takers, which is why we recommend waiting to take the NCLEX until you feel confident you can earn a passing score.
Other Considerations for Passing the NCLEX
In order to pass the NCLEX, it’s not all about the number of questions you see; You’ll also be working within a time constraint. You will have five hours to finish the NCLEX (both RN & PN exams). As you are testing, remember that each question is as important as the next–despite the new scoring system for the different item types. Sometimes test-takers try to self-evaluate and guess how they are doing as they go along, but the exam doesn’t work that way. It is best to simply focus on the questions at hand and answer to the best of your ability to earn as many points as possible.