Passing Standard FAQs

When will the new RN passing standard go into effect?

The NCSBN Board of Directors voted on Dec. 17, 2012, to raise the passing standard for the NCLEX-RN Examination. The passing standard was revised from the current -0.16 logits to 0.00 logit. This passing standard was implemented April 1, 2013, in conjunction with the 2013 NCLEX-RN Test Plan. The new passing standard will remain in effect through March 31, 2016.

Find more information about the NCLEX Passing Standards.

If a candidate takes the NCLEX internationally, is it a different exam with regard to passing standard?

No, the passing standard is the same as in the U.S.

How will the change in the passing standard affect the pass rate?

Anytime there is a change in the passing standard there is an expected temporary effect on the candidate passing rate. Historically, pass rates tend to be lower immediately following a passing standard increase. These pass rates traditionally rebound within 3 years of a new passing standard being set.

Find more information about the NCLEX Pass Rates.

With the extent of the nursing shortage, how do you justify raising the passing standard?

Revising the passing standard is a policy decision that the NCSBN Board of Directors takes very seriously. As a matter of public protection, it is important that unqualified candidates are prevented from practicing nursing, but it is also important that competent nurses are not unnecessarily excluded. The board of directors weighs both of these considerations when they make their decision regarding the passing standard.

How is the passing standard determined?

In order to assure the NCLEX is adequately measuring the necessary nursing ability to competently practice at the entry level, NCSBN’s board of directors review the passing standard at least once every 3 years. When setting the passing standard, the board of directors considers a breadth of information including, but not limited to, the following:

  1. The results of a standard setting exercise undertaken by the Panel of Judges. Currently, this exercise consists of a criterion-referenced standard setting method, with additional statistical result compromise procedures. Also, a list of members on the Panel of Judges and their qualifications are included.
  2. A historical record of the passing standard and annual summaries of candidate performance on the NCLEX since the implementation of the CAT methodology in 1994.
  3. The results from the annual standard setting survey, which solicits the opinions of employers and educators regarding the competence of the current cohort of entry-level nurses.
  4. The educational readiness of high school graduates who expressed an interest in nursing. Currently, American College Testing service (ACT) provides this information.

Find more information about the NCLEX Passing Standards.