Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Is the NCLEX-RN Harder than the CRNE Was?

It’s a question many nurses writing their entry-to-practice exam in 2015 are probably asking: Is the NCLEX-RN harder than the CRNE was? Why did the switch have to happen this year? Why me?!

There’s no doubt the NCLEX-RN is a different beast than the CRNE was. For one, the CRNE was a straightforward multiple-choice exam, and the NCLEX-RN uses computer adaptive testing (CAT). That means if you take a guess on the NCLEX-RN, it can negatively affect your exam.

It also was created in the United States—which means Canadians can feel like they’re coming at it from the outside.

It’s true that American and Canadian nurses will be writing the same nursing exam from now on. And it’s also true that historically Canadian nurses have had a lower NCLEX-RN pass rate than their US counterparts. The stats vary from year to year, but somewhere in the ballpark of 85% for US-educated first-time writers, and only in the neighbourhood of 70% for Canadian-educated first-time writers.1

However, that was when Canadian nurses writing the NCLEX-RN truly were coming at it from the outside—it wasn’t our exam.

It’s a whole new can of beans in 2015.

According to the Canadian Council of Registered Nurse Regulators, the first-time pass rate of the NCLEX-RN is indeed around 85% for US-educated nurses—which is similar to that of the old CRNE: about 87%.2 This is the better number to predict Canadian nurses’ success rate on the NCLEX-RN.

Of course, with such a big change, there may be a bit of stumbling before we Canadians find our firm footing. The key to finding that footing—as you of course already know—is being as prepared as possible for the exam beast you are going to face. Whether that beast be the NCLEX-RN or the CRNE.

A well-executed study plan, including PRIMED’s two-day NCLEX-RN Prep course, will help you choose the correct set of weapons for exam day. For the NCLEX-RN isn’t harder for Canadian nurses to take down—we just have to adapt our moves. And PRIMED has got your back.

1 “NCLEX Pass Rates,” National Council of State Boards of Nursing,

2 “Preparing Your Nursing Students for a Successful NCLEX Examination Experience,” Canadian Council of Registered Nurse Regulators, 1,