What Happens If You Fail NCLEX 3, 4, 5, 10, 15 Times?

What Happens If You Fail NCLEX 3, 4, 5, 10, 15 Times?

Yiannis Panteli
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The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is a vital, career-defining examination that all nursing graduates must pass to practice as registered nurses (RN) or licensed practical nurses (LPN) in the United States. Given its importance, the prospect of failure often instills trepidation among candidates. This article explores the consequences of failing the NCLEX multiple times and provides guidance on the process of retaking the exam.

What Happens if You Fail the NCLEX?

Failure on the NCLEX is undoubtedly disappointing, but it is not the end of your nursing career. Following an unsuccessful attempt, you will receive a Candidate Performance Report (CPR) detailing your performance in each section of the test. CPR is a crucial tool that can guide your preparation for a retake by highlighting areas of weakness.

However, you should note that reapplying to take the NCLEX comes with a waiting period, typically 45 days, and an associated fee. Most importantly, every state board of nursing has its own policies regarding NCLEX retakes, including restrictions on the number of attempts and mandatory waiting periods. Hence, it is prudent to familiarize yourself with your state’s specific regulations.

What Happens If You Fail NCLEX 3, 4, 5, 10, 15 Times?

Though many candidates pass the NCLEX within the first two attempts, failing multiple times is not unheard of and does not signal a dead-end for your nursing career. However, the repercussions become more severe with repeated failures.

  • After three unsuccessful attempts, some state nursing boards may require you to complete remedial or refresher courses before your next attempt. These courses can vary from targeted seminars to comprehensive programs, depending on your CPR.
  • A fourth or fifth failure may trigger more stringent requirements, such as additional education or mandatory periods of practice under supervision. Some states may also impose longer waiting periods between attempts, usually ranging from 90 days to six months.
  • By the tenth failure, most states mandate intensive remediation or additional nursing education, requiring a demonstration of significant improvement in knowledge and competence before you can retake the test.
  • After the fifteenth attempt, some state boards may deny further testing attempts or place indefinite holds until substantial evidence of improvement and remediation is provided. This may involve returning to nursing school, acquiring further clinical experience, or undergoing rigorous training programs.

How Do You Retake the NCLEX?

Retaking the NCLEX involves a few steps. First, you must wait for the prescribed waiting period after your previous attempt, which can range from 45 days to six months depending on your state. After this, you need to reapply for licensure by examination through your state board of nursing and pay the associated fee. Once approved, you will receive a new Authorization to Test (ATT), allowing you to schedule your next exam.

Preparation is paramount for a successful retake. Review your CPR carefully and focus your studies on your weak areas. Consider using resources like NCLEX prep books, online courses, or hiring a tutor. Additionally, consistent practice with NCLEX-style questions can enhance your test-taking skills.


Failing the NCLEX, even multiple times, is not an insurmountable hurdle. While it does present challenges, it also offers an opportunity to refine your knowledge and improve your nursing skills. Each failure can serve as a stepping stone toward your success if you remain persistent, patient, and positive. Understanding the consequences and knowing the retake procedure can help alleviate your concerns and equip you to navigate this journey. Remember, becoming a nurse is not only about passing an exam, but also about resilience, continuous learning, and dedication to patient care.

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