December 16, 2013 07:00 ET

NCSBN Raises the Passing Standard for the NCLEX-PN® Examination

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwired - Dec 16, 2013) - The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN®) Board of Directors (BOD) voted on
Dec. 10, 2013, to raise the passing standard for the NCLEX-PN® Examination (the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses). The passing standard will be revised from the current logits* -0.27 to -0.21 logits beginning April 1, 2014, with the implementation of the 2014 NCLEX-PN® Test Plan. The new passing standard will remain in effect through March 31, 2017.

After consideration of all available information, the NCSBN BOD determined that safe and effective entry-level licensed practical/vocational nurse (PN/VN) practice requires a greater level of knowledge, skills, and abilities than was required in 2010 when NCSBN implemented the current standard. The passing standard was increased in response to changes in U.S. health care delivery and nursing practice that have resulted in the greater acuity of clients seen by entry-level PN/VNs.

In their evaluation the BOD used multiple sources of information to guide its evaluation and discussion regarding the change in passing standard. These sources include the results from the criterion-referenced standard-setting workshop, a historical record of the NCLEX-PN passing standard and candidate performance, the educational readiness of high school graduates who expressed an interest in nursing, and the results from annual surveys of nursing educators and employers conducted between 2011 and 2013. As part of this process, NCSBN convened an expert panel of 13 subject matter experts to perform a criterion-referenced standard-setting procedure. The panel's findings supported the creation of a higher passing standard. NCSBN also considered the results of national surveys of nursing professionals, including nursing educators, directors of nursing in acute care settings and administrators of long-term care facilities.

In accordance with a motion adopted by the 1989 NCSBN Delegate Assembly, the NCSBN BOD evaluates the passing standard for the NCLEX-PN Examination every three years to protect the public by ensuring minimal competence for entry-level PNs. NCSBN coordinates the passing standard analysis with the three-year cycle of test plan evaluation. This three-year cycle was developed to keep the test plan and passing standard current. The 2014 NCLEX-PN Test Plan is available free of charge from the NCSBN website

Media inquiries may be directed to the contact listed above. Technical inquiries about the NCLEX examination may be directed to the NCLEX information line at 1.866.293.9600 or

*A logit is defined as a unit of measurement to report relative differences between candidate ability estimates and item difficulties.

Founded March 15, 1978, as an independent not-for-profit organization, NCSBN was created to lessen the burdens of state governments and bring together boards of nursing (BONs) to act and counsel together on matters of common interest. NCSBN's membership is comprised of the BONs in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and four U.S. territories -- American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands. There are also 16 associate members that are either nursing regulatory bodies or empowered regulatory authorities from other countries or territories.

NCSBN Member Boards protect the public by ensuring that safe and competent nursing care is provided by licensed nurses. These BONs regulate more than 3 million licensed nurses, the second largest group of licensed professionals in the U.S.

Mission: NCSBN provides education, service and research through collaborative leadership to promote evidence-based regulatory excellence for patient safety and public protection.

The statements and opinions expressed are those of NCSBN and not the individual member state or territorial boards of nursing.

National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc.
111 E. Wacker Drive, Suite 2900
Chicago, IL 60601-4277

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Dawn M. Kappel
    Director, Marketing and Communications
    312.525.3667 direct
    312.279.1034 fax
    Email Contact