News Release

NCSBN Raises Passing Standard for NCLEX-PN Examination

Posted 12/17/2019
The NCSBN Board of Directors (BOD) voted on Dec. 9, 2019, to raise the passing standard for the NCLEX-PN Examination (the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses).
Media Contact: Dawn M. Kappel
Director, Marketing & Communications
312.525.3667 direct

CHICAGO – The NCSBN Board of Directors (BOD) voted on Dec. 9, 2019, to raise the passing standard for the NCLEX-PN Examination (the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses).  The new passing standard is -0.18 logits, 0.03 logits higher than the current standard of -0.21 logits. The new passing standard will take effect on April 1, 2020.

In their evaluation, the NCSBN BOD used multiple sources of information to guide its evaluation and discussion regarding the change in the 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 2017 and 2019. As part of this process, NCSBN convened an expert panel of 10 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 2020 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 initially created to lessen the burdens of state governments and bring together nursing regulatory bodies (NRBs) to act and counsel together on matters of common interest. It has evolved into one of the leading voices of regulation across the world. 

NCSBN’s membership is comprised of the NRBs 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 three exam user members. There are also 27 associate members that are either NRBs or empowered regulatory authorities from other countries or territories. 

Mission: NCSBN empowers and supports nursing regulators in their mandate to protect the public.

The statements and opinions expressed are those of NCSBN and not individual members.