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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.

### 15 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 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 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 says:

Hi Francessca,

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

4. Manni says:

Hi thanks for all the information above. I am taking prep exams online & is scoring 70% on average. What are the chances i will pass nclex rn?
I took the exam about an year ago & that time i was scoring 60% but i failed,although computer did not shut off & i reached 234 questions in 6 hours. My result said near the passing marks but didnt give any percentage.

• Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

Hi Manni,

The trouble with thinking about percentages is that the NCLEX has a ‘rolling percentage,’ where you need to answer correctly a percentage of the questions you’ve answered so far. As you can see here: https://www.ncsbn.org/2630.htm, you need to keep 0.00 logits. The reason you got so close to the maximum number of questions (265) is that you were probably right on the cusp. Everyone’s test is slightly different, so there’s no way to gauge what your chances are given a practice percentage. Given that you were close last time, if your practice scores have improved, your odds of passing have most likely increased as well. While I can’t give you a concrete number for your chances, I hope this helps a little 🙂

5. nursing it up says:

So I’ve heard that after the test you should try to sign back up for the exam. If it lets you then you probably failed and if it doesnt that means that you probably passed

• Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

Hi there!

It looks like what you’re referring to is called the “Pearson Vue Trick”. While we don’t have much experience with this, a quick Google search brings up a lot of personal anecdotes about it. If you’d like to learn more about the “PVT”, I’d recommend taking a look on Google yourself 😀

Although the “PVT” might work, I’d say waiting for your official scores is the only way to know for sure. 🙂

6. Drei says:

I just took my exam this morning. I’ve reached 122 items and stop. I remembered my last item and check if I got it right. Unfortunately I answered wrong. But, I’m still hoping for the result. What would be the expected outcome on that scenario? Thanks!

• Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

Hi Drei!

It’s hard to say what the outcome will be. The number of questions you received doesn’t really have an effect on whether you passed or failed. It only means that the computer required 122 questions to know with 95% certainty whether you passed or failed. Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait for your official test results to know for sure. 🙂

7. Z.W. Scott says:

You can find out if you passed or failed by checking the board of nursing licensure in your state. If you passed it will be posted within a couple of days. If you wait for them to mail conformation to you it will take weeks.

8. Arunkumar says:

Please let me know the process duration for registering NCLEX-RN and the total cost for the exam.

• Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

Hi Arunkumar!

Before you can register for the NCLEX, you’ll need to get authorization from your state’s Board of Nursing. The time it takes to get this authorization can differ from state to state. I’ve seen anything from a few days to an entire year! For more information about this, I’d recommend contacting your state’s Board of Nursing. After you get the authorization to test, the exam fee is \$200.

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