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Do you feel like you failed after coming out of the NCLEX exam? You are not alone. You probably passed.

Updated on December 6, 2012

NCLEX Results Poll

Immediately after taking the NCLEX, did you think you passed or failed?

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Relax. You probably passed.

Thousands of nursing students graduate from nursing schools every year and take the dreaded NCLEX exam. Unlike other exams, every single student who takes it gets a different set of questions than every other student. In addition, because it is a computer adaptive test (CAT), if you are doing well, the questions only seem to get harder. If you and your buddies come out of the exam, you can’t compare questions or answers because they got an entirely different set of questions than you did (it is also against the rules to disclose information from off of the test). For these reasons, many NCLEX test takers feel that they failed after coming out of the exam.

However, I have heard that 85% of first-time United States-educated applicants pass during their first attempt.

Different Types of Worriers

There are different types of students who take the NCLEX, and how they handle dealing with results differs between persons of these main categories:

The Over-Deliverer

We all know the type. These are the students who get freaked out when they don’t get a 100% on every test in nursing school. They are always saying, “I failed,” but in reality they always over deliver. These folks just don’t want to set expectations too high if they fail. However, you and I both know that these individuals didn’t fail.

The Worrier

There are those students who study constantly and are the B+ students who always study but just can never get into the 90’s on a test. They are competent, always pass their tests because they have a good grasp of the material. The reason they don’t score higher is because they worry too much and it clouds their mind. Unless they had a particularly bad time with anxiety during the test, they probably passed.

The One We All Love to Hate

There are always those students who slack off in class, come in late, and always seem to get B’s or C’s on their class exams. They go out and drink or party and never study, perhaps only cramming in the parking lot before class. Somehow, they always pull it off. Perhaps because they are relaxed or maybe they are just good at taking standardized tests, they always seem to pass by the skin of their teeth. People like me who study hard like to hate these people. Don’t hate. Be happy for them.

The Student Who didn’t study

Many students miraculously make it through nursing school without studying. Somehow they cannot tell you the difference between diabetes insipidus and diabetes mellitus, but they managed to make it through school anyway. Kudos to them. It is hard to cram everything from nursing lectures from a year or two or three into a few months, but some nursing students are able to pull it off. A slow and steady approach is always preferable to a cramming approach, but I have still seen countless nursing students pull it off. There is still hope.

The Overconfident One

We all know someone like this, too. These are the nursing students who are always cocky, think they know what they are talking about, and put everyone else down. When it comes down to it, though, they don’t deliver. Better they get knocked down a notch before they hit the nursing floor. These are the students walking out of the NCLEX saying that they passed and bragging about how easy it was. Anybody who has taken the NCLEX, even students who aced nursing school, often feel that they come out of the exam feeling like they failed. The questions are just so all over the place and are not tested by subject as they are in nursing school. One question could deal with diabetes, and the next question could deal with cranial nerves. The questions jump all over the place. It is meant to see if you can handle multiple and changing priorities.

The important thing to do is to keep yourself occupied and busy with activities so that you don’t think about it. That’s easier said than done, though, and probably only said by someone not awaiting results. I remember that I was very nervous while I was awaiting results. The best thing you can do is wait it out. Don’t study while you are waiting if you think you failed---you will just psyche yourself out. Exercise, eat right, get at least 7-8 hours of good, quality sleep, and be prepared for when the results come out…Best of luck!



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