The 5 States with the Best (and Worst) NCLEX Pass Rates [MAP]

You’ve worked long and hard through nursing school, and the finish line is so close you can taste it. But before you earn those coveted credentials, one final hurdle stands in your path: the NCLEX. It’s the single most critical examination of your nursing career — one to solidify your budding expertise and to qualify you to join the great ranks of the nursing profession.

You may be nearing graduation, but the NCLEX is surely on the forefront of your mind. But we have good news — NCLEX pass rates are likely higher than you think. In fact, the 2015 national pass rate for nurses of all levels was 84.53 percent!

Take a look at how nursing students from your state in LPN, ADN and BSN programs performed on the NCLEX on their first try.

How the map works

We analyzed the NCLEX results on three exams — the NCLEX-PN taken by LPN students, the NCLEX-RN taken by ADN students and the NCLEX-RN taken by BSN students.1 Click on each state to see the percentage of students who passed these exams on their first try.

States are color-coded by overall NCLEX pass rates among both exams throughout 2015.2 The darker states had the highest test scores while the lighter states had the lowest test scores.

Map: NCLEX Pass Rates by State

The states with the best and worst 2015 NCLEX pass rates

As you can see in the map, the five states with the BEST 2015 NCLEX pass rates include:

  • North Dakota
  • North Carolina
  • Wyoming
  • Connecticut
  • South Carolina and Washington (tied)

On the other hand, the five states with the WORST 2015 NCLEX pass rates include:

  • Washington, DC
  • Florida
  • New Jersey
  • Hawaii
  • California

Now you know…

No matter where your state lies on the spectrum for NCLEX pass rates, it’s important to note that the majority of nursing students do pass the exam on their first try.

It’s natural to feel nervous for the NCLEX exam, but don’t let those jitters keep you from launching your dream career. Learn from nurses who have been in your shoes and see how they succeeded by reading our article: Nurses Share 8 NCLEX Tips that Helped Them Excel on Exam Day.

1Individual state pass rates for the NCLEX-PN and NCLEX-RN for ADNs and BSNs were calculated from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing data (January – December 2015).

2Overall 2015 NCLEX pass rates were calculated from National Council of State Boards of Nursing data on NCLEX-PN and NCLEX-RN pass rates (January – December 2015).


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Kristina is a Content Marketing Specialist at Collegis Education who researches and writes content on behalf of Rasmussen College. She hopes her content helps enlighten and engage students through all stages of their education journeys.

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