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The NCLEX is a very important test for anyone who wants to work as a nurse in the United States. Without passing the NCLEX, you cannot be employed as an RN in America. Therefore, aspiring nurses commonly want to know how NCLEX is scored. 

How NCLEX is scored

The NCLEX is probably unlike any test you have taken in the past. Most standardized tests include a series of questions that include right or wrong answer choices; your score is based on how many “right” or “correct” answers you are able to select on that series of questions. The NCLEX is not like this; instead, it uses computerized adaptive testing to determine your score.

What is computerized adaptive testing?

Computerized adaptive testing, or CAT, presents the test-taker with a unique set of questions. The NCLEX starts out by offering questions that are of medium difficulty—not too hard, but not too easy.

If the test-taker answers a question correctly, the next question will be slightly more difficult. On the other hand, if the test-taker answers a question incorrectly, the next question will be slightly less difficult. You may not notice that the questions are any easier or more difficult as you are taking the NCLEX, but computerized adaptive testing is making these decisions behind the scenes.

In order to pass the NCLEX, you need to answer a certain number of questions correctly. If you do very well, your test may include as few as 75 questions for the NCLEX RN exam. If you happen to not do very well, you may need to answer as many as 265 questions. You will only be presented with as many questions as needed to determine if you pass or you fail.

What is a good NCLEX score?

There really isn’t a grade on the NCLEX in the traditional sense. You either pass or fail. Since every person’s test contains a different number of questions, there isn’t really a good score or bad score—or any score at all.

In each of the eight subject areas, your NCLEX score report will show the number of questions:

  • Above the Passing Standard
  • Near the Passing Standard
  • Below the Passing Standard

This “passing standard” information is really only important if you have to retake the NCLEX, as you can see which subject areas you need to improve. In terms of licensure, getting a “pass” is all that matters.

A common question foreign-trained nurses often ask the PassportUSA team is, “Who grades the NCLEX?” The answer is that no one really “grades” the NCLEX. The computerized adaptive testing algorithm makes the determination of pass or fail based on the number of questions answered correctly in a given exam.

Whether you have taken NCLEX yet or not, it’s always a good idea to register with PassportUSA since we regularly send out updated information regarding NCLEX, English Exams, New Programs, and US Immigration News!

Register for PassportUSA

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