Learning from the NCLEX Pass Rates

Did you know that the NCSBN publishes the pass rate statistics for all of their exams?

Even with a limited amount of data there are some interesting patterns that emerge. 

In this post we will explore some of those patterns, what might be causing them, and how you might be able to do better than the average by avoiding certain problems.

Lower Pass Rates for Repeat Takers

For both the RN and the PN test, the pass rates are lower for repeat test takers than first timers.

What gives? Doesn't it make more sense for someone who is re-taking the test to do better?

It does, but there are a multitude of factors that might account for this.

If you have to retake the test, you're automatically in the group that was somehow at a disadvantage previously. Whether it's test anxiety, bad prep materials, bad study habits, or just an unfortunate day, there's something that made your performance very different from those who passed.

Not everyone will be able to get over the problems they faced on their second attempt, so it makes sense for repeat takers to do worse.

How might they deal with some of the above problems though? 

Bad prep materials is easy. Use the ones we recommend and you're set. 

Text anxiety is harder. There have been numerous scientific studies and articles on it, and while it's possible, it's still very hard to do. 

You can try out using TouchPoints right before the exam to decrease your stress, combined with some meditation and deep breathing techniques. Ideally you should practice these daily so it becomes second nature when you start getting anxious during the exam. 

As for bad study habits: this can also be fixed pretty easily. Create flashcards using a system like Anki that utilizes spaced repetition, test yourself constantly instead of re-reading or writing down notes, and use tips from websites like CollegeInfoGeek, Scott Young, and IlyaVP.

Lower International Student Pass Rate

The International Students suffer from both a lower retest pass rate, but also a lower first-time pass rate. 

The language barrier is an obvious problem facing these students, most of whom are incredibly smart, but face the doubly challenging task of taking a hard test in their non-native language.

One way to improve this is to focus on overall English improvement as much (if not more) than on studying for the NCLEX.

While a large part of the exam can be memorized/figured out without a high grasp of English, a large part of it requires in-depth understanding of English that not all international students have. Since many multiple choice questions have answers that are more correct than others, finding that more correct answer becomes that much harder when you're taking it in your non-native language.

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