Two nurses standing next to each other.

How Can You Tell Your Boss You Failed the NCLEX?

You should approach your boss with honesty and transparency when telling them that you failed the NCLEX. Choose an appropriate time and place for the conversation and express your determination to retake the exam.

Be prepared to accept constructive criticism and consider possible consequences. Moving forward, establish a study plan, apply for a retake, and maintain your confidence.

Preparing for the Conversation

Understanding Your Feelings

Before speaking with your boss, take the time to understand and process your feelings about failing the NCLEX. It is normal to feel disappointed, frustrated, or even ashamed, but remember, this setback does not define your abilities or your potential as a nurse. Acknowledge your emotions and allow yourself to grieve, but also focus on the steps you can take to bounce back from this setback.

Reviewing Your NCLEX Results

Take the time to carefully review your NCLEX results to gain a clear understanding of where you went wrong. Look for patterns or areas of weakness that you can address in your retake. Consider seeking feedback from your instructors or mentors to gain further insight into areas that need improvement. This will demonstrate to your boss that you are taking responsibility for your performance and are committed to growth.

Planning Your Explanation

Before speaking with your boss, plan out how you will explain the situation. Prepare a concise and honest explanation that highlights your dedication to retake the exam and improve your study approach. Be ready to address any concerns your boss may have, such as how this might impact your performance at work or your ability to fulfill your job responsibilities. Having a clear plan will help you approach the conversation with confidence.

Key Points to Highlight

Your Dedication to Retake the Exam

When speaking with your boss, emphasize your determination to retake the NCLEX and pass. Highlight your commitment to your career as a nurse and your passion for providing quality care to patients. This will show your boss that you are not giving up and that you are willing to put in the necessary effort to succeed.

Measures to Improve Your Study Approach

Discuss the steps you plan to take to improve your study approach for the next attempt. Explain how you will identify your weaknesses, seek additional resources or study materials, and implement a more effective study plan. Showing your boss that you are proactive and have a plan in place will demonstrate your commitment to personal and professional growth.

Seeking Help from Mentors or Colleagues

Mention that you will reach out to mentors or colleagues for guidance and support during your retake journey. Seeking advice and learning from others who have successfully passed the NCLEX can be valuable in refining your study strategies. This demonstrates that you are willing to seek help and learn from those who have already achieved success.

Approaching Your Boss

Selecting the Right Time and Place

Choose an appropriate time and place to have this conversation with your boss. Find a time when both you and your boss are available and not rushed. Consider scheduling a one-on-one meeting or requesting a private conversation where you can discuss the matter without interruptions. This will allow for a focused and productive discussion.

Being Honest and Transparent

When speaking with your boss, be honest and transparent about the situation. Admit that you failed the NCLEX, but also emphasize your determination to retake and pass the exam. Avoid making excuses or blaming external factors. Taking responsibility for your performance shows maturity and accountability.

Expressing Your Determination

During the conversation, express your determination to succeed. Share your passion for nursing and your commitment to providing excellent care to patients. Let your boss know that this setback has only fueled your motivation to work harder and improve. This will demonstrate your resilience and dedication to your career.

Dealing with Possible Outcomes

Accepting Constructive Criticism

Be prepared for your boss to provide feedback or constructive criticism during the conversation. Accept this feedback grac iously and with an open mind. Understand that your boss may have concerns about how this setback will affect your performance at work and may offer suggestions or advice to help you succeed in your retake.

Listen attentively, ask clarifying questions, and take the feedback as an opportunity for growth and improvement.

Preparing for Possible Consequences

Be prepared for possible consequences that may arise from failing the NCLEX. Your boss may have concerns about your ability to fulfill your job responsibilities or may require you to take additional steps to demonstrate your competency.

Be open to discussing any potential consequences and be willing to work with your boss to find a solution that aligns with both your professional goals and the needs of your workplace.

Moving Forward

Setting a Study Plan

After speaking with your boss, establish a study plan to prepare for your NCLEX retake. Analyze your previous study approach and identify areas that need improvement. Create a detailed study schedule that includes specific topics to review, practice questions to complete, and regular study sessions. Set realistic goals for yourself and hold yourself accountable to ensure you are making progress towards your retake.

Applying for NCLEX Retake

Once you have a study plan in place, begin the process of applying for your NCLEX retake. Follow the necessary steps outlined by your state’s nursing board or regulatory body. Pay attention to any deadlines or requirements and ensure that you provide all the necessary documentation. Completing the application process promptly and accurately demonstrates your commitment to moving forward and passing the exam.

Maintaining Your Confidence

Throughout the entire process, maintain your confidence and belief in yourself. Failing the NCLEX does not define your capabilities as a nurse. Remember that many successful nurses have faced similar setbacks and have gone on to have successful careers. Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends, family, and mentors who can provide encouragement and remind you of your strengths. Stay focused, stay positive, and maintain your determination to succeed in your nursing career.

In conclusion, telling your boss that you failed the NCLEX can be a challenging conversation, but approaching it with honesty, transparency, and determination can help you navigate the situation successfully.


Q: How can I manage my anxiety before retaking the NCLEX?
To manage your anxiety before retaking the NCLEX, try incorporating stress-reducing techniques into your study routine. This may include deep breathing exercises, meditation, or engaging in physical activity. Additionally, creating a study schedule that allows for breaks and self-care activities can help alleviate stress and promote a calm mindset.

Q: Should I disclose my NCLEX failure to potential employers?
It is not mandatory to disclose your NCLEX failure to potential employers. However, if you are asked about your NCLEX results during the application process, it is important to answer honestly. Keep in mind that employers value honesty and transparency, and being able to explain how you learned and grew from the experience can demonstrate your commitment to personal and professional growth.

Q: Can I practice as a nurse without passing the NCLEX?
No, passing the NCLEX is a requirement to become a licensed nurse in the United States. Without passing the exam, you will not be eligible to practice as a registered nurse. However, there may be opportunities to work in related healthcare roles while you prepare for your retake.

Q: How long should I wait before retaking the NCLEX?
The length of time you should wait before retaking the NCLEX depends on your individual circumstances and preferences. Take the time to adequately prepare and address any areas of weakness before scheduling your retake. Discuss with your mentors, instructors, or study resources to determine the appropriate timeline for your situation.

Q: What resources are available to help me prepare for the NCLEX?
There are numerous resources available to help you prepare for the NCLEX. Consider utilizing review books, online practice questions, mobile apps, or joining study groups. Additionally, there are review courses and tutoring services specifically designed to assist individuals in preparing for the exam.

Q: How can I manage my time effectively while studying for the NCLEX?
To manage your time effectively while studying for the NCLEX, create a study schedule that outlines specific study goals and breaks. Prioritize topics that require more focus and allocate dedicated time slots for them. Avoid multitasking and minimize distractions to maintain focus during study sessions.

Q: How can I stay motivated during the NCLEX preparation process?
To stay motivated during the NCLEX preparation process, set realistic goals for yourself and celebrate small victories along the way. Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends, family, and mentors who can provide encouragement and accountability. Remind yourself of the reasons why you chose to pursue a career in nursing and visualize your success as a registered nurse.