How to Pass the NCLEX with 75 Questions in One Attempt

How to Pass the NCLEX with 75 Questions in One Attempt

One question is at the forefront of the mind of nearly every nursing student “How to pass the NCLEX?” Some even lust about the possibility of finishing the exam at the 75 question mark so they can be done with the agony of the dreaded “nursing boards” as quickly as possible. No one wants to pay the $300 (and up) fee to take the test again. So passing the NCLEX on the first attempt is a huge priority

Nursing school is a challenging experience. As if the rigors faced during your nursing education weren’t enough, you then have to take your professional licensure exam. Whether you have completed an RN or LPN program, you still must take your “boards” in order to practice as a nurse.

If you’ve stumbled onto this page in a nervous effort to find any tips or advice you possibly can in order to do well on the NCLEX, then you’ve come to right place. If you’re worried about your NCLEX test preparation, you are not alone. You wouldn’t be a good nurse if you didn’t think things through (nursing process, anyone?).  But since you’re already thinking like a nurse, then I’m sure you’ll do fine. However, just to be on the safe side, here are a few NCLEX tips and strategies that will give you a little extra confidence.

Tips to Pass the NCLEX

Stop Stressing.

The hard part is over. You’ve completed nursing school and put in the time and effort needed in order to be worth of taking your state boards. The tests you take in nursing school are meant to mimic the types of questions you will see on the NCLEX. In my experience, the questions on nursing school test my senior year were far more difficult than 70% of what was on the NCLEX.

You passed those right?

Don’t Cram

By now you know most of what you’re going to know. Attempting to go over every detail you’ve learned in the last 2 years in a month is not going to get you anywhere. You should retouch on areas you had difficulty during school, but only briefly. Do not attempt to memorize your entire drug book! Do not license to MP3s of lab values when you’re going to sleep.

Just don’t!

Review an NCLEX Strategy Guide

Saunders Strategies for Test SuccessI personally think that the best NCLEX guide is Saunder Strategies for Test Success: Passing Nursing School and the NCLEX. This book will give you the foundation you need to approach any NCLEX question (whether you know the material or not) with the tools you need to select the right answer. It’s impossible to remember every single lab value or medication, but it is possible to eliminate wrong answers and then make use of deductive reasoning to find the best possible answer of those that remain. I wish I had know about this book before I started nursing school, because it really teaches you how to answer the types of questions that are on all the tests in nursing school. Those tests are designed to prepare you for the NCLEX.

Review Questions and Take Practice Tests

Don’t spend every waking hour of every day with your nose in a book or computer screen taking practice tests. But do spend some time keeping your testing skills in peak performance. There are several good resources online for practice NCLEX questions as well as books.

Online Resources


Don’t Study On Your NCLEX Test Day

You’ll just end up stressing yourself out if you try to cram in “just a few more questions.”  We’ve already discussed how at this point you really shouldn’t be trying to cram in content. Try to find a relaxing activity to fill your day with. But avoid anything NCLEX on NCLEX day, except well… the NCLEX itself.

Show Up Early

The last thing you want do to do is fail your test by missing your appointment. Make sure that you know your way to your destination and arrive in enough time to use the restroom, drink some water, and sit down and relax. You don’t want to be running around like a chicken with your head cut off trying to get to your testing appointment.

Go with Your Gut and Don’t Doubt Yourself

I cannot tell you the number of times I thought to myself “It’s supposed to be harder than this,” while I was taking the NCLEX. I found myself in doubt that I knew the answers, but I had to tell myself to stop doubting. If I knew the answer, then why would I try and tell myself I didn’t? You have to be confident in your decisions on the test. Read all the answers, but go with your gut.

CAT : Computerized Adaptive Testing

The NCLEX uses computerized adaptive testing technology. What that basically means is that is choose your next question based upon if you successfully answered a question. Once you answer a certain amount correct in a certain level you bump up to the next level. You then have to answer a certain amount correct to bump up again until you get to a minimum of 75 questions. Every question you answer makes the computer recalculate your probability of success. So based upon how many you get correct it predicts if giving you more questions will help you pass or not. So getting past 75 questions does not mean you fail the NCLEX, it actually means it’s pretty sure you can pass it. However, it needs you to answer a few more questions correct before it can be sure.

Don’t Psych Yourself Out Trying to Figure Out the CAT Process

But don’t freak yourself out trying to figure out if the question you are answering is easier or harder than the one you just answered. In addition to the fact that you’re just wasting time and it doesn’t make a difference, somewhere along the lines of 30 questions will be “test” question for use in future NCLEX tests. So you make be freaking out because you got an easy question after a serious of select all that apply and thinking that you bombed them, when in reality the computer is just throwing in a “test” question (that doesn’t count) at random.

Do Your Best and Forget the Rest

Do your very best and have confidence in yourself. There is no use trying to incorporate any and all what-if’s. You know this this stuff, and you can and will pass the NCLEX and practice as a nurse.

Use your critical thinking skills you’ve developed in nursing school. Trust me when I say, if won’t be the last time you use your brain.

Hang on tight, this nursing ride can be a crazy one, but we are thrilled to have you!

How was your NCLEX experience?

Please Comment below and share with us!


  1. lyndsey says

    I’ve taken the NCLEX 3 times, i did kaplan, hurst, and the nsbsn review. i don’t know what else to do. i used the lippencott text as well. I’ve spend so much money on reviews and can’t even think to spend more. I’m so upset i thought i had it this time.

  2. mary Swan says

    If you don’t prepare you won’t likely pass its that simple. Not all nursing schools are challenging, ours should have failed handfuls of people but needed the money so didnt. Teachers would give us answers on tests and would walk us through answers if we were stuck. Crappiest school ever, I’ve failed the NCLEX twice and have finally bought a review program so I can pass the 3rd time. Hoping Kaplan can help me as I have a job in already training at. Good luck to everyone!

  3. Barry says

    I was the first graduating class to take the NCLEX-RN on computer. I passed with only 75 questions. This was about 18 years ago… but my advice as a seasoned nurse mirrors the blog post. Realize that all the tests you’ve already taken and passed are designed to prepare you for the NCLEX. I chose not to take a review course. I had peers who did take a review course and felt it was worth the time and money. At the end of the day, you ARE ready for this! You’ve got this!

  4. Maggie heinen says

    My computer turned off at 75 questions first attempt I prepared with Kaplan. Think like he ivory towers. I love being an rn

  5. NursingStudent15 says

    I am graduating in a couple months, but the NCLEX in my state is offered around the time I graduate. I heard it takes about 5 weeks to get everything processed in order to take the NCLEX, and the next test date isn’t until 5 months later. Can I take my NCLEX in another state? Or do I have to take it in the state I wish to be hired. Thank you in advance!

    • says

      I have never heard of only having the test at a certain time. It’s an computerized and individual process. And you’re right, it takes between 3 to 5 months for all the paperwork to process.
      However, since you are a senior in nursing school they should be walking you through all the steps you need to submit the needed paperwork to the BON and actually register for a testing date and time.

      I would recommend reaching out to your nursing faculty advisor and confirming this information. If they do not normally lay it out for you like, that I would ask them to do that for you, as the process can be complicated without guidance.

      • Barry says

        You certainly can take the nclex-rn in any state… however you will have to endorse back to your state of practice… so probably not going to move things along quicker… And as far as I know, you can schedule the test at your convenience once you’ve been approved by the BON to do so.

  6. Suzanne says

    I am about to start my last semester of the RN program and am overwhelmed about which nclex review book to buy. I was thinking about Saunders NCLEX review, but I’m not sure. Everyone seems to have an opinion on which is best and why. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated!

  7. Allison T says

    At a recent Calif Nursing Student Association convention, I sat in on a short sample of the Hurst Review course, which I liked. The approach was easy and informal, and I felt like I had a better understanding of both hypervolemia and diabetes insipidus than when I walked in … and I’m not even in clinical rotations yet! After returning home, I checked out the Hurst website, where they have another section on video. It was the same, informal and informative. That seems like an approach well-tailored to my individual tastes. The instructors consistently emphasize the importance of knowing core content “without doubt or hesitation” so that we really comprehend the reasons for pathophysiology. Makes perfect sense to me! Given Hurst’s “repeat the live class for free” policy, I can imagine taking it before and after my final semester, to really cement this info before the NCLEX approach.

    • Kathy says

      I took the Hurst Review about 2weeks prior to my NCLEX date. While I thought the review of the core content was helpful, I must say the balance of my NCLEX didn’t even brush the vast majority of the core content that Hurst says know without doubt and hesitation. One question about SIADH was where the core content came in handy.

      I passed NCLEX with only 75 questions. I know a gentleman that did fail with 75 questions. I didn’t feel like I had passed when I left the exam, but I passed. It was the most agonizing wait ever to find out if I had.

      I believe practice questions and studying the rationale for the missed questions is beneficial too.

  8. MommynatorRN says

    The Kaplan Review (paid for by our school) and their decision tree was totally awesome. I made it to 90 questions and done. Even if you can’t do a Kaplan review, do lots and lots of questions.


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