How to Pass the NCLEX-RN Third Time


In this article...

Passing the NCLEX-RN can be challenging, especially if you’ve faced setbacks on your first and second attempts. Here, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive guide filled with actionable steps, study strategies, and resources on how to pass NCLEX-RN a third time.

Understanding Why You Didn’t Pass

Before diving into study strategies, it’s essential to reflect on what went wrong in your previous attempts. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did I manage my study time effectively?
  • Was I familiar with the NCLEX-RN exam format?
  • Did I experience test anxiety?
  • Was I using the right study materials?

Identifying your weaknesses is the first step toward building a successful study plan.

Crafting a Study Plan

A well-structured study plan is crucial for success. Here’s how to create one tailored to your needs:

1. Set Realistic Goals

  • Daily Goals: Break down your study material into manageable chunks. Aim for specific, achievable daily goals.
  • Weekly Reviews: Allocate time each week to review what you’ve learned and identify areas needing improvement.

2. Use Quality Study Materials

  • NCLEX-RN Review Books: Invest in reputable review books such as Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination.
  • Online Courses and Practice Tests: Utilize online resources like Medical Hero, which offer practice tests and detailed rationales.
  • Flashcards: Tools like Quizlet can help reinforce your memory of key concepts.

3. Simulate Test Conditions

  • Timed Practice Tests: Regularly take full-length practice exams under timed conditions to build your test-taking stamina.
  • Question Banks: Use NCLEX-RN question banks to practice a variety of question types and difficulty levels.

Mastering Test-Taking Strategies

Knowing the content is essential, but so is understanding how to navigate the exam itself.

1. Understand the NCLEX-RN Format

  • Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT): Familiarize yourself with the CAT format, which adjusts the difficulty of questions based on your performance.
  • Types of Questions: Be prepared for multiple-choice questions, select-all-that-apply (SATA), and alternative format questions.

2. Develop Critical Thinking Skills

  • Prioritization Questions: Practice questions that require you to prioritize patient care, as these are common on the NCLEX-RN.
  • Elimination Strategy: Learn to eliminate obviously incorrect answers to increase your chances of selecting the correct one.

Managing Test Anxiety

Test anxiety can significantly impact performance. Here are some strategies to keep it under control:

1. Relaxation Techniques

  • Deep Breathing: Practice deep breathing exercises to calm your nerves.
  • Visualization: Visualize yourself successfully passing the exam to build confidence.

2. Healthy Lifestyle

  • Exercise: Regular physical activity can reduce stress and improve concentration.
  • Sleep: Ensure you get enough sleep, especially in the days leading up to the exam.

Utilizing Support Systems

You don’t have to go through this journey alone. Leverage the support around you:

1. Study Groups

  • Peer Learning: Join or form study groups to benefit from collective knowledge and support.

2. Tutors and Mentors

  • Professional Guidance: Consider hiring a tutor or seeking advice from a mentor who has successfully passed the NCLEX-RN.

Exam Day Tips

The day of the exam is crucial. Here’s how to prepare:

1. Pack Essentials

  • ID and Admission Ticket: Ensure you have all required identification and documentation.
  • Snacks and Water: Bring healthy snacks and water to maintain energy levels during breaks.

2. Stay Positive

  • Mindset: Approach the exam with a positive mindset and confidence in your preparation.


Learning to pass the NCLEX-RN a third time is entirely possible with the right approach, dedication, and resources. Reflect on past attempts, create a solid study plan, master test-taking strategies, manage anxiety, and utilize support systems. With perseverance and the right strategies, you can achieve your goal of becoming a licensed nurse.

Remember, each step you take brings you closer to success. Good luck!