How Many Nurses are Passing the National Licensure Exam?


Before a nurse is hired, credentialing offices must make sure that he or she is licensed. New nurses take the NCLEX examination, or National Council Licensure Examination, prior to beginning nursing jobs. The test determines readiness to begin practicing and caring for patients safely.

The percentage of nurses passing the exam on first attempt has dropped over the past three years, even as the actual number of nurses passing the test has risen. According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, 68.95 percent of all candidates taking the exam in 2014 passed, down from 71.12 percent in 2013 and 79.51 percent in 2012.

A closer look at nurses who graduated from U.S. nursing schools reveals a drop in percentage of pass rates, too: 81.78 percent of first-time U.S.-educated nurses who took the NCLEX exam in 2014 passed, down from 83.04 percent in 2013 and 90.34 percent in 2012.

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