Improving Program NCLEX Pass Rates: Strategies from One State Board of Nursing

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This article describes the response of the Illinois Board of Nursing to an escalating number of prelicensure nursing programs with low National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) pass rates. The response aligns with stipulations of the Illinois Nurse Practice Act and best practices.


NCLEX success is crucial to launching the careers of nursing graduates and to maintaining approval status of prelicensure programs by state regulatory bodies. Boards strive to guide programs with low pass rates fairly and consistently.


The Illinois Board of Nursing created a tool and process addressing curriculum and resources, faculty, students, and administrative support in a programmatic approach to improving pass rates.


Initial outcomes were positive. Anecdotal evidence of programs in good standing also confirmed the tool’s value as a resource to promoting graduate success.


A programmatic approach can provide guidance for boards of nursing to address low NCLEX pass rates in a consistent evidence-based manner.

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