Lippincott Nursing Education Blog

Blog » Are We as Educators Doing Enough to Ensure that Our Students Are SUCCESSFUL on the NCLEX Exam?

Are We as Educators Doing Enough to Ensure that Our Students Are SUCCESSFUL on the NCLEX Exam?

Created Nov 21 2018, 10:38 AM by LIPPINCOTT NURSING EDUCATION

Author: Shelly Luhning RN BScN MN ENC(C)--NCLEX Education Canada

Students are often at risk of failing the NCLEX exam. Put yourself in the students' shoes—you work hard to earn a degree—taking two, three, four or even more years to finish. You are done! Excited, proud and ready to be a real nurse! One last step—pass the licensing exam, the NCLEX! No big deal. Right??---- Wrong! Many students are unsuccessful and struggle to pass the NCLEX exam. There are often many warning signs along the student’s educational path that the student may struggle with the NCLEX exam. Many of these warning signs are ignored or overlooked. If these warning signs were recognized and early intervention was possible, it could in fact change the outcome for the student.

There has been recent research and media attention discussing the mental health of healthcare workers and the impact their careers can have on their mental health. Nursing is an empathetic, caring profession that attracts a certain type of individual. This makes nurses at risk of burn-out and difficulty balancing life. We sometimes forget that the same goes for our students! They too, can have difficulty balancing school and their life outside of school. Many students work, have children, responsibilities, and commitments outside of school. We know that nursing is one of the most difficult degrees to obtain. When combined with the caring, giving, empathetic, nature of our students and the added pressures that many students have---this can lead to a student who not only struggles to obtain their degree but in fact struggles to pass the NCLEX.


The NCLEX Student Success Assessment

Students frequently complete assessments upon entrance to a nursing program but many do not do any post assessments following their degree. In nursing education, the student is regularly assessed early on for things such as reading and comprehension level and their math abilities. Many schools do not assess the students on their overall ability to study and maintain a school-life balance. There is also little to no post assessments done on completion of their degree. I have always said as nurses we are in the assessment business----which is why I find it troubling that we are not routinely assessing our students on their ability to successfully pass the NCLEX.

If we completed a comprehensive NCLEX success assessment on each and every student about the issues and factors that could impact their educational path, this could drastically change the student’s journey and outcomes. By completing a comprehensive assessment, not only would it identify the issues or perceived issues the student may encounter but it will also allow discussion and opportunity to understand these issues or factors and address them early with the appropriate interventions. Instead, the issues or factors are often dismissed and the student struggles through the nursing program, and then is unsuccessful on the NCLEX. The feeling of failure and the negative emotions that coincide with their unsuccessful result commonly causes students a realm of emotions. I have had students report feelings of frustration, anger, disappointment, hopelessness, decreased self-confidence, depression and even suicide.


The Importance of Self-Assessment & Reflection

Self-Assessment is a term that we as educators are familiar with. We frequently promote self-assessment to our students and incorporate it in our teaching. We may also use it in our own nursing practice.

Education research discusses the importance of self-assessment, but do you know why it is necessary and how it can impact your students? Here are the ways:

  • It is a necessary skill for lifelong learning- it is important to develop the ability to judge our own performance and to efficiently assess our own learning. Learning can only occur when we can assess what is known, what remains to be known, and bridge the gap between the two. We also need to understand all of the factors that impact our own learning. This is a necessary skill in order to continue to learn.
  • It needs to be developed during undergraduate education- self-assessment is a skill that most students do not have upon entering their nursing education. This is a skill that needs to be developed and learned. It is a skill that nurses need to acquire and refine to be an effective member in their profession. As registered nurses we need to proficiently assess ourselves and our practice, therefore this skill needs to be established during our nursing education.
  • It is essential for successful learning- self-assessment is a key to successful learning. When a learner can fully assess their capabilities and limitations it will significantly impact their outcomes. A learner needs to become self-directed to be truly successful. This starts with a comprehensive self-assessment and in the case of NCLEX, a NCLEX Student Success Assessment.


Did you know that nursing graduates who cultivate the skills of self-assessment are more likely to?

  • Continue their learning—which is necessary for our students who will not only need to write the NCLEX upon completion of their education, but who will need to continue to learn in their professional role.
  • Evaluate their own practice and scope—competent self-assessing nurses are less likely to compare themselves to others and will often seek assistance when necessary.
  • Be accountable for their actions and engage in ethical conduct


Possible Questions on a NCLEX Student Success Assessment

There are several crucial assessment questions to ask on a NCLEX Student Success Assessment. Here is just a taste of questions included in the assessment:

  1. What qualities and work/life skills do you possess that you think will be a positive benefit to your NCLEX preparation?
  2. What tendencies, commitments, skill sets, etc. do you see as potential obstacles to your success? Life events?
  3. What tools and resources do you have or plan on using to successfully pass the NCLEX?
  4. When will you have time to study?
  5. When will you make time for studying, on a weekly and daily basis?
  6. When do you plan to write the NCLEX? Set a GOAL!
  7. How do you learn best?
  8. How do you prefer to organize yourself?
  9. Who are you as a learner?
  10. Why are you motivated to succeed?


In conclusion, I believe that one way we can assist our students to successfully pass the NCLEX is to do a NCLEX Student Success Assessment early on in the students’ nursing education. This assessment will assist in identifying actual or potential factors that can impact the student’s success. By identifying these factors early, both the student and faculty can address these factors and change the outcomes, thus positively impacting the student’s success on the NCLEX examination.