New passing standard for the NCLEX-RN Examination

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc. (NCSBN®) voted on Dec. 10, 2009, to raise the passing standard for the NCLEX-RN® Examination (the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses). The new passing standard is -0.16 logits on the NCLEX-RN logistic scale, 0.05 logits higher than the previous standard of -0.21. The new passing standard will take effect on April 1, 2010, in conjunction with the "2010 NCLEX-RN® Test Plan."

After consideration of all available information, the NCSBN Board of Directors determined that safe and effective entry-level RN practice requires a greater level of knowledge, skills, and abilities than was required in 2007, when NCSBN implemented the current standard. The passing standard was increased in response to changes in U.S. health care delivery and nursing practice that have resulted in the greater acuity of clients seen by entry-level RNs.

The Board of Directors used multiple sources of information to guide its evaluation and discussion regarding the change in passing standard. As part of this process, NCSBN convened an expert panel of nine nurses to perform a criterion-referenced standard setting procedure. The panel's findings supported the creation of a higher passing standard. NCSBN also considered the results of national surveys of nursing professionals including nursing educators, directors of nursing in acute care settings and administrators of long-term care facilities.



  1. michelle michelle United States says:

    "NCSBN Board of Directors determined that safe and effective entry-level RN practice requires a greater level of knowledge, skills, and abilities than was required in 2007"

    I find it difficult to believe that increasing the passing standard will fill this need.  What really needs to happen is to better prepare nurses on the educational end.  I know this is a controversial issue in our field, but it is truly time to require that all nurses are BSN prepared. It is not about us, but our patients. The critical thinking emphasis provided in a BSN program provides skills needed to navigate the complex nature of nursing care.  In any case, the "2-year" degrees really take nearly 3-4 years to complete, and those graduates deserve to receive credit for the number of years truly involved in their training.

    • Sue Sue United States says:

      Increasing the passing rate will make certain schools accountable to teach nursing students. Some ASN and BSN schools are just interesting in getting students out there because of the questionaable nursing shortage....making it a challenge for hospitals to waste more money and time training basic skills. The NCLEX rate at some schools are a shame and these schools year after years are not looking at why the passing rates are so low....

  2. john john United States says:

    It simply does not make political sense to try and limit the entry to nursing practice to the BSN. There are not enough educational facilities to do it, and the community college route is too valued a commodity by politicians.

    Perhaps the greatest un-asked question is why the healthcare environments have gotten so complicated? If nursing controls its practice environment, then this makes no sense at all. Nursing administration has been a gross failure over the decades, and allowed nursing practice to be shaped by the AHA, not by our field.
    The ratios are too high, and the redundant non-nursing paperwork too tedious. It took me 24 sheets of paper to admit a patient to my ICU!

    Why don't we just take back our field????

    • Margaret Margaret United States says:

      I totally agree, John. We are a major stakeholder in the health care industry. We are the ones who work directly with patients and their families for longer periods than most members of the health care team. Paper requirements are taking us away from our patient's bedside and quality care suffers. Are we turning into "glorified secretaries?"

      Most often nursing administration failed to advocate the role and value of nurses in the over-all performance of the hospital corporation. Our voices are simply wanting !

  3. Isha Zafar Isha Zafar United States says:

    I dont think this is right to be honest!!! Some of us are bad test takers. I graduated May 2009 and have taken my boards twice and have been unsuccessful and I am going to take them again on December 30, 2009. I think they are alreayd hard enough and I even know some collegaues of mine that took them six to seven times to pass. I am praying that I pass this time and can then put this all behind me and look for my future as a RN-BSN ahead of me!!  

    • Aman Thandi Aman Thandi United States says:

      The real thing is when u deal with patient .there should
      Only interviews. .only certain questions can't judge the ability nd knowledge of nurse.the actual knowledge is that which is used at time.

  4. Lorna Lorna United States says:

    Many are not good test takers and the only thing this does is show how good you can take a test.I  have worked with book smart nurses that have no practicality on the floor. Many are hands on learners and nurse need to not only have the knowledge base but the skill to work well with their patients and families. They can't test compassion and there are alot out there that lack it. Most things learned are after the fact, when you actually take what you have learned and take it to the real world. Many things are learned with experience also. Just because you can pass a test does not make you a good nurse. Wake up and give everyone a fair chance like the old days when everyone got a fair test and the same amount of questions. Looks like a money racket to me.  

  5. margaret margaret United States says:

    NCLEX and the NCSBN had a lot of deliberation about this new standards. It has been discussed with experts. There are many factors why a nursing graduate cannot pass the NCLEX. We have to look at the nursing curriculum of their school. The NCSBN and NCLEX have published their test plan 2010 way ahead of schedule and the school has the responsibility to prepare the students to pass the standards.

    The purpose of the NCLEX is not measure one's nursing skills. The skills will be developed over time and that is understandable. NCLEX measures the basic competency of the entry level  nurses to deliver care safely and so that NCSBN will be able to determine who will be licensed to practice professional nursing. Patient safety means we know what we are doing, why we are doing it, what decisions are to be made in a clinical situation, what is our accountability, what can be delegated and what is the best practice. We are not robots but thinking individuals who have to make clinical judgments stat and prn.  AS professionals, we have to have a body of knowledge and critical thinking skills for us to be called professionals.
    Recent trends in nursing requires evidence-based practice. This makes us different from all the other nurses (CNAs, for example). WE are not just a body to fill in the nursing shortage and give bed baths and medications.

  6. BSN BSN United States says:

    It is all just the appearances.  

    It looks like that something is improving for the profession and and better patient care/outcome when in fact it is not.

    Changing the test, does not improve patient care, does not increase the survival rate, does not decrease error, does not improve patient-to-nurse ratio, does not decrease the shortage (on the contrary).

    I do not understand why the entry level to be a RN is not at the BS level!  "Anyone" in scrubs is a "nurse".  What are they thinking?

    Why they don't work on a national standard BSN curriculum so everyone gets the same education across the country?
    The problem is not only on schools cutting corners, the problem is that we lack national standards... No one should be called a nurse without a BSN degree.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
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