Check out Magoosh test prep!

Peter Poer

What is a Good NCLEX-RN Score?

 

Unlike other standardized tests you might be familiar with, the NCLEX-RN is a pass/fail exam.  That means that the actual numerical score you get doesn’t really matter — all that matters is that you pass.  But scoring the NCLEX is more complicated than simply counting up your number of correct answers and giving you a grade.  

 

Computer Adaptive Testing

Before talking about how the exam is scored, it’s useful to understand the format of the test.  The NCLEX exams (both RN and PN) are computer adaptive, meaning that you’re going to get different questions based on how you answered previous questions.  The goal of the NCLEX is to figure out what your level of ability is.  To do that, the test gives you questions that it thinks you’ll have a 50/50 chance of getting right.  If you answer a question correctly, then the test will give you a harder question next.  If you answer it incorrectly, they’ll give you an easier one next.  The test will go on like this until it has pinpointed your ability level where you are answering 50% of questions correct.  

 

How is the NCLEX-RN Scored?

Since the NCLEX wants to figure out the difficulty of questions that you will answer correctly 50% of the time, the “score” in the traditional sense is meaningless.  In fact, the passing score on the NCLEX-RN is actually zero!  But that obviously doesn’t mean that you can leave everything blank.  

The score you receive on your NCLEX-RN exam is called a “logit,” which is a unit of measurement that compares your ability to answer questions to the difficulty of the questions.  The harder the questions you’re getting, the higher the logit score.  According to a recent release from the NCSBN, the passing logit score for the NCLEX-RN (through 2019) is 0.00.  Basically, this means that you need to be answering the medium difficulty questions correctly at least 50% of the time to pass.

 

The NCLEX and Confidence Intervals

Up to now, everything I’ve shared has been accurate but incomplete.  If you really want to get into the weeds of how the NCLEX is scored, read on.  But beware — statistics lay ahead!

Since the NCLEX gives different people different questions, it doesn’t just rely on a simple score.  Instead, the test calculates a confidence interval for what your logit score is.  If you didn’t take (or don’t remember!) enough statistics to know what that is, it essentially just means that the NCLEX wants to be really sure that you’re a competent nurse.  So they’re going to keep giving you questions until they are sure that your real ability is above the passing standard.  This means that you don’t know how many questions you’re actually going to see on the NCLEX-RN.  You could see as few as 75 questions (15 experimental and 60 actually scored) or as many as 265, but you’ll see enough for the test to maker to be at least 95% confident that your real ability is above the 0.00 logit score needed to pass.  The more questions you see, the more confident the test becomes.  

There’s a lot more to learn about the way that you’ll work through questions on the NCLEX.  Check out the related links below to keep learning about the exam!

About Peter Poer

Peter helps make sure Magoosh students have the best possible content. A proud Arizona Wildcat and Teach for America alum, he worked as an instructional coach before getting an MBA at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. He is passionate about student achievement and educational equity. Also prime numbers. Peter enjoys cooking, running (slowly), and going to bed comically early.


6 Responses to “What is a Good NCLEX-RN Score?”

  1. Frances abati says:

    Hi, I took nclex rn simulation exams (CAT) my exam shut off at 75questions and I had 53% what does it mean.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

      The NCLEX CAT gives a different amount of questions per test depending on how you preform, with a minimum of 75 questions, and a maximum of 256. The test ends either when you have consistently demonstrated minimum competency, defined as answering more than half of the medium-difficulty questions correctly, or when you have consistently demonstrated that you are below minimum competency, by consistently answering less than half of the medium difficulty questions correctly.

      At 53% for 75 questions, you presumably passed if all or nearly all of the 53% of the questions you answered correctly were at medium-difficulty level. However, if your 53% right had a significant number of easy questions, then you may have missed more than half of the medium questions. In that case, you failed the simulation.

      The only way to know for sure is to get a simulated score report for the practice CAT. Hopefully that was generated for you at the end of the practice test.

  2. Ogachi says:

    I’ve just done my exam and had all the maximum number of questions,what does that mean

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

      The NCLEX’s standard “maximum number of questions” notification indicates that your performance was very close to the passing benchmark (either just above passing, or just below it), and that as a result, the computer gave you some extra questions to measure your performance in more detail, since it was close to the borderline. For more details on what “maximum number of questions” means, see this official NCSBN web page regarding score reporting.

  3. Francessca Simon’e Pillay says:

    I am fom south africa
    Can i do the NCLEX test online

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

      Hi Francessca,

      You cannot take the NCLEX online. It is an in-person exam at approved centers. See what is currently available here.

Leave a Reply

Magoosh blog comment policy: To create the best experience for our readers, we will approve and respond to comments that are relevant to the article, general enough to be helpful to other students, concise, and well-written! :) If your comment was not approved, it likely did not adhere to these guidelines. If you are a Premium Magoosh student and would like more personalized service, you can use the Help tab on the Magoosh dashboard. Thanks!