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I am feeling unprepared. Should I take my NCLEX now or should I reschedule?

Updated on December 6, 2012

Did you/do you feel nervous when getting ready for the NCLEX?

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As a nursing instructor, this is a question that I get a lot from my students and others studying for the all-important NCLEX exam.

Three types of students generally ask this question. First, the student who barely passed their classes and wonders if they need more time to study because they don’t want to fail. Second, the student who is an A+++ student who wants to make sure that they pass because they are afraid of failure. Third, the student who just doesn’t want to waste another few hundred dollars to take the test again if they fail.

Believe it or not, the answer for all three of these types of students is the same. You might think that this is a hard question to answer, but it is not. The answer is: no, do not reschedule. Why should you not reschedule?

Reason #1: Early-Onset Alzheimer's

The more time that passes after you have finished nursing school, the more you will forget. It’s the law of diminishing returns. You will remember less at six months than you will at three months after finishing school, and you will remember less at a year, etc.

Reason #2: You can repeat the exam

If for some reason you actually do end up failing the NCLEX, it is not the end of the world. Yeah, it stinks to fail at something (take it from someone who has failed the California Bar exam which is required to be an attorney). However, if you fail, you just take the dang thing again. You can take it again in about three months. Nobody has to know whether you failed or not (though you should not lie to respective employers if they ask you). The worst that can happen? You are out a few hundred bucks to re-register for it. Essentially, in the time that you may have extended your exam test date, you could have taken the exam twice. Just take it. You never know what will happen. You will probably pass.

Reason #3: Money. Money. Money.

By delaying your NCLEX exam test date, you are delaying your salary. Many NCLEX-takers are CNAs or Nurse Techs. Do you really want to keep making between $8 an hour and $12 an hour (yes I know some make more, but this is the norm) or do you want to make $21 to $23 an hour to start? It is not a hard choice. You have to take the plunge and take the exam to pass it. If you don’t take it, you cannot pass it. You have to pay to play. You have to test to pass.


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