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Can You Take the NCLEX 5 Years After Nursing School?

Yes, you can take the NCLEX 5 years after nursing school. There are certain eligibility requirements that you need to meet, but it is definitely possible. Let’s dive into the details and discuss why this is possible.

Clarifying the NCLEX Eligibility Requirements

To take the NCLEX, you need to meet certain eligibility criteria. Here are the basic requirements:

  • Education: You must have completed a nursing education program that meets the standards set by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).
  • Licensure: You must hold a valid and current nursing license or have completed the licensure process in the country or state where you received your nursing education.
  • Fingerprinting: You must undergo a fingerprinting process to ensure your identity and protect the integrity of the exam.
  • Application: You need to submit an application to the state board of nursing where you intend to be licensed.

Time Limit for Taking the NCLEX After Graduation

The NCSBN does not impose a specific time limit for taking the NCLEX after graduation. However, individual state boards of nursing may have their own regulations regarding the time frame. It is important to check with the specific state board where you plan to be licensed to understand their requirements.

Discussing the Application Process for NCLEX

The application process for the NCLEX can be complex and time-consuming. Here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Research the requirements: Begin by researching the specific requirements of the state board of nursing where you plan to be licensed. This will help you understand the documentation, fees, and other requirements you need to fulfill.
  2. Complete the application: Fill out the application form accurately and provide all required documents, such as transcripts, proof of licensure, and fingerprinting results. Pay any necessary fees.
  3. Await approval: The state board will review your application and determine if you meet the eligibility criteria. This process may take several weeks or even months.
  4. Schedule the exam: Once your application is approved, you will receive an authorization to test (ATT). Use this to schedule your NCLEX exam with a Pearson VUE testing center.
  5. Prepare for the exam: Study and review the content covered in the NCLEX exam. Consider enrolling in a refresher course or using study materials to brush up on your nursing knowledge.

Preparing for the NCLEX After 5 Years

Preparing for the NCLEX after a long gap can be challenging, but it is not impossible. Here are some tips to help you get back on track:

  • Refresher courses: Consider enrolling in a refresher course specifically designed for nurses who have been out of practice for a while. These courses can help you review and refresh your nursing knowledge.
  • Self-study: Utilize study materials and resources such as review books, online practice questions, and videos to supplement your refresher course or self-study efforts.
  • Practice exams: Take practice exams to familiarize yourself with the format and timing of the NCLEX. This will help you build confidence and identify areas where you need to focus your studying.
  • Create a study schedule: Develop a study schedule that works for you and stick to it. Break down your studying into manageable chunks and set goals for each study session.

Additional Tips

  1. Dedication and perseverance are essential: Taking the NCLEX after a long gap requires dedication and perseverance. It may be challenging to get back into the studying mindset, but with determination and hard work, it is possible to succeed.
  2. Stay up to date with nursing knowledge: Even if it has been several years since you graduated from nursing school, it is important to stay up to date with current nursing practices, guidelines, and advancements. This will help you during the exam and in your future practice as a nurse.
  3. Utilize resources and support systems: There are numerous resources available to help you prepare for the NCLEX, such as refresher courses, study materials, and online communities. Take advantage of these resources and seek support from others who may be going through a similar journey.
  4. Believe in yourself: Confidence plays a crucial role in success. Believe in your abilities and trust that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to pass the NCLEX. Stay positive and maintain a mindset of success.

In conclusion, it is indeed possible to take the NCLEX 5 years after nursing school. Take inspiration from the success stories of nurses who have done it before and learn from their experiences. With dedication, perseverance, and the right resources, you can achieve your goal of becoming a licensed nurse. Good luck!


Q: Can I take the NCLEX if I completed my nursing education outside of the United States?
Yes, you can take the NCLEX if you completed your nursing education outside of the United States. However, you will need to complete additional steps to have your education evaluated and meet the requirements set by the state board of nursing.

Q: Is there a limit to the number of times I can take the NCLEX?
There is no limit to the number of times you can take the NCLEX. If you do not pass on your first attempt, you can reapply and take the exam again. However, there may be waiting periods and additional fees associated with retaking the exam.

Q: Can I take the NCLEX in a different state from where I completed my nursing education?
Yes, you can take the NCLEX in a different state from where you completed your nursing education. However, you will need to meet the eligibility requirements of the state where you plan to be licensed and follow their specific application process.

Q: Can I work as a nurse before passing the NCLEX?
In most states, you are required to pass the NCLEX before obtaining a nursing license and working as a nurse. However, some states may have provisions that allow you to work under certain conditions, such as being supervised by a licensed nurse.

Q: What is the passing score for the NCLEX?
The passing score for the NCLEX is determined by the NCSBN and can vary. The exam is designed to determine your ability to safely and effectively practice as an entry-level nurse. It is important to check with your state board of nursing to understand the passing score requirements.

Q: Can I retake the NCLEX if I fail?
Yes, if you fail the NCLEX, you are eligible to retake the exam. However, there may be waiting periods and additional fees associated with retaking the exam. It is important to review your state board of nursing’s guidelines for retaking the NCLEX.

Q: What happens if I fail the NCLEX multiple times?
If you fail the NCLEX multiple times, it may be beneficial to seek additional support and resources to improve your chances of passing. Consider working with a tutor, enrolling in a review course, or seeking guidance from experienced nurses to help identify areas of improvement.

Q: Can I take the NCLEX if I have a criminal record?
Having a criminal record does not automatically disqualify you from taking the NCLEX. However, you may need to disclose your criminal history and provide additional documentation or explanations to the state board of nursing. Each case is evaluated on an individual basis.

Q: Can I take the NCLEX if I have a disability?
Yes, individuals with disabilities can take the NCLEX. The NCSBN provides accommodations for individuals with disabilities, such as extended time, a private testing room, or the use of assistive devices. You will need to request accommodations and provide documentation to support your request.