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We are firm believers in providing students with all the information possible to make the right choice when selecting a nursing school. With this in mind, we feel a great way to provide this transparency would be through studying nursing programs and their student's performance on the NCLEX-RN exam.

The NCLEX-RN exam is used by all state boards of nursing across the United States to help assess a student's competency and is required for licensure. Also, many state boards of nursing use the total overall NCLEX-RN pass rates for a school as one of the main ways to approve a school's ability to provide a nursing education in the state. This is why we feel the NCLEX-RN pass rates are one of the best ways to determine a nursing program's student preparedness , and that is why we decided to rank them using this method.

Methodology

Our methodology began with obtaining NCLEX-RN exam pass rates for all RN programs (ADN, BSN, Direct-Entry MSN) state by state through several methods, including making a number of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. We requested the previous 5 years of information that is available.

Once this data was obtained, we filtered out the programs with the following characteristics:

  • Programs that have closed or will be closing at the time of data collecting
  • Programs with no pass rate data available for the previous 1 or 2 years, depending on the state and number of years of data available
  • Programs with only one year of pass rates

Once non-qualifying programs had been filtered, the ranking process began:

  1. NCLEX-RN pass rates were analyzed going back to the most recent years of data available up to 5 years, each state may have varying years, see the data table below for each state's year range analysis.
  2. Schools pass rates were averaged together and weighted by the recency of the exam, for example, exam pass rates in 2015 count more towards overall rankings than scores from 2012. The weighting cofactor values table used:
    Number Years of Data Available Weighting Cofactors (Most Recent First)
    5 Years 0.37,0.27,0.17,0.12,0.07
    4 Years 0.4,0.3,0.2,0.1
    3 Years 0.45,0.35,0.2
    2 Years 0.65,0.35
    1 Year 1
  3. If schools had the same overall NCLEX-RN pass rate after being analyzed, additional characteristics were then considered, including (1)
    the number of students taking the NCLEX-RN exam, with the higher the number the better the ranking position, and (2) number of years of exam data available, the schools with more years of NCLEX-RN pass rate data the greater the ranking position.

Ranking Details By State

The table below lists information by state, including the years of NCLEX-RN pass rate data analyzed, the number of schools in each state, and the number of top ranked programs.

State Years Rankings Based On Number Schools Analyzed Number Schools Ranked
Alabama 2013 - 2015 43 20
Alaska N/A 2 N/A
Arizona 2011 - 2014 28 10
Arkansas 2011 - 2015 26 10
California 2011 - 2015 127 50
Colorado 2011 - 2014 32 10
Connecticut 2011 - 2013 20 5
Delaware 2011 - 2015 7 3
Florida 2014 - 2015 136 50
Georgia 2011 - 2015 50 20
Hawaii 2013 - 2015 8 3
Idaho N/A 11 N/A
Illinois 2011 - 2014 76 30
Indiana 2011 - 2014 55 20
Iowa 2011 - 2014 32 10
Kansas 2011 - 2014 36 10
Kentucky 2011 - 2014 51 20
Louisiana 2011 - 2014 25 10
Maine 2011 - 2015 14 5
Maryland 2011 - 2015 25 10
Massachusetts 2011 - 2014 42 20
Michigan 2011 - 2014 59 20
Minnesota 2011 - 2014 42 20
Mississippi 2012 - 2014 23 10
Missouri 2011 - 2014 54 20
Montana 2011 - 2014 10 3
Nebraska 2011 - 2014 15 5
Nevada 2012 - 2015 13 5
New Hampshire 2011 - 2014 15 5
New Jersey 2013 - 2014 40 10
New Mexico 2011 - 2015 23 10
New York 2013 - 2014 99 30
North Carolina 2012 - 2015 76 30
North Dakota 2012 - 2014 12 5
Ohio 2013 - 2014 84 30
Oklahoma 2011 - 2014 46 20
Oregon 2011 - 2014 25 10
Pennsylvania 2011 - 2015 76 30
Rhode Island N/A 5 N/A
South Carolina 2011 - 2014 29 10
South Dakota 2011 - 2014 11 5
Tennessee 2011 - 2014 41 20
Texas 2011 - 2014 99 30
Utah 2011 - 2014 18 5
Vermont N/A 4 N/A
Virginia 2011 - 2014 49 20
Washington 2011 - 2014 37 10
West Virginia 2011 - 2014 25 10
Wisconsin 2014 - 2015 39 10
Wyoming 2012 - 2014 8 3

Concerns, Questions, and Corrections

We understand there is much more in deciding which school best supports students on their path to becoming registered nurses, but providing this information for students can be another point to consider in choosing a school to attend. Our recommendation would be to use our rankings in addition to other factors in helping find the right school.

Please send comments, questions, or corrections to us via our contact form