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After several unsuccessful attempts to pass the NCLEX, my eligibility to test has expired in my state. Is it advisable to take it in a different state that has no time restriction?

Tuesday November 6, 2012
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Dear Donna,

I graduated in 2009 with an associate’s degree in nursing in Illinois and have tried several times to pass the NCLEX, but have not done so. Now, my eligibility to test has expired, per state rule, and I was told I need to complete at least two more years of professional education in order to be eligible again.

Does that mean I have to apply for a traditional BSN (since I already have an ADN), or are there other means to satisfy the additional two-year requirement? Is it advisable to take the NCLEX in a different state that has no time restriction — then apply for an Illinois license?

Trying to Pass NCLEX

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Trying to Pass NCLEX,

Generally, you would need to either retake a basic nursing education program (not the prerequisites, but all the nursing courses and clinical time typical of an ADN program) — or what is known as a remedial nursing program. Such programs are for those, like yourself, who have unsuccessfully taken the NCLEX the maximum number of times allowed by a state or for whom the time period to take the exam in that state has expired. The regulation does not mean that you have to further your education by pursuing a BSN, for example, but rather you repeat in some form, what you have already taken.

I recommend you first contact your school of nursing to see what they advise, since you may not be the first one of their graduates that this has happened to. They may offer a remedial program that would satisfy the Illinois board of nursing. If they do not, they should be able to recommend another program or offer the repeat courses you need.

Regarding taking the exam in another state, you would have to check the website or check directly with that state's board of nursing to see what their eligibility requirements are, as each state is different. If you take that route, I recommend you at least take an NCLEX review course before trying again.

If getting a license in another state and then applying for a license for endorsement in Illinois is your plan, you will have to check with the Illinois BON, by phone or email, to see if that is permitted. When applying for endorsement in Illinois, they may ask if you have ever taken the exam in that state, and when they find out you have (your name and social security number will show up in their files, even if they don’t ask the question), they may opt not to grant the endorsement.

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://Events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.