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NCLEX Raises the Passing Standard

The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.  - Mark Twain

No foolin’ - NCLEX Raises the Passing Standard

Although on April 1 it’s easy to be tricked by the silly pranks our friends can pull (maybe that’s at least part of what Mark Twain was alluding to), I assure you that the timing of this announcement is merely coincidental. Starting April 1, there will be some noticeable changes to the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).

In an attempt to keep up with nursing practice, the passing standard has been raised and nursing students will find that the test is just a bit more difficult to pass.

Now, I’m not telling you this to make you (more) nervous about your NCLEX exam. I am a firm believer of giving out factual information, just as we nurses do when caring for our clients (think of informed consent). If anything, I feel that this information should decrease your level of stress and should help to squelch any rumors and untruths that have already surfaced about the exam.

Now, for the good news…


You’ll be relieved to hear that the format of the Test Plan remains pretty much the same, with only a few minor edits. For example, the new exam will include slightly more emphasis on the subcategory: “management of care.”

Another change is that audio formats have been added to the list of alternate items format, which already includes:

  • multiple-response
  • fill-in-the-blank
  • hot spots
  • chart/exhibit
  • drag-and-drop
  • graphic options

In case you don’t already know this, any of the item formats (including standard multiple-choice items) may include multimedia, charts, tables or graphic images. Many students write to me and ask if there are a certain percentage of alternate items on NCLEX or if these types of questions have replaced the current NCLEX items. The short answer is: No!

For more information about alternate item types:

Preparing for the NCLEX exam… and a high standard of practice

My advice as you prepare for the NCLEX:

  • Move quickly! — Take the exam as soon as possible after graduation, while the information is still fresh in your mind.
  • Better prepare — If your school requires you to take an exit exam before you are allowed to apply for the NCLEX exam, use the results to identify areas of weakness.
  • Check out our Web site — See what other students are writing about NCLEX and how they are preparing for the big day!

And, of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t put in a plug for our RN Review course, which has over a thousand practice questions, including alternate item type questions.

Going back to Mark Twain, I like to think of these changes as a reflection of the standard of nursing care we aspire to year round. In other words, one day (the day you take the new NCLEX) can be a demonstration of your commitment to high standards as you practice the other 364 days of the year.

And high standards benefit our profession and our patients!

Now, It’s Your Turn!

What rumors have you heard about the new NCLEX?
What is the silliest April Fool’s prank you’ve experienced? Read here about April Fool’s Day History and traditions in various cultures

  • All i can say is pllllllllllllllllllllllllllease pray for me. 3rd try and ive been out of school for a loooooong time, This review is my key, i hope