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Exploring NCLEX Failures and Standardized Assessments

Emory, Jan PhD, RN, CNE

doi: 10.1097/NNE.0000000000000601
Feature Articles

Background Nurse educators seek valid and reliable tools to assist in early identification and intervention for students at-risk of NCLEX-RN failure.

Purpose The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to use principal component analysis to explore relationships within standardized assessment (SA) scores from a sample of students who failed the NCLEX-RN on the first attempt.

Methods Standardized assessment scores were collected from prelicensure programs between 2009 and 2016 (n = 296). Mixed modeling sought to reveal SA scores that represented redundancy or duplication.

Results The principal component analysis found 2 distinct components emerging from the 8 SAs included in the study, signifying duplication in the content assessed. Within these 2 components, maternal newborn and pharmacology had the strongest correlations among the SA scores.

Conclusions Discovering those SAs that assess similar content and have the strongest correlations can provide additional information for decision making when implementing these tests throughout the nursing curriculum.

Author Affiliations: Associate Professor, Department of Nursing, College of Education and Health Professions, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

The study was funded by the ATI Educational Assessment Nursing Research Grant.

The author declares no conflicts of interest. The author has no relationship with Assessment Technologies Institute, LLC.

Correspondence: Dr Emory, Eleanor Mann School of Nursing, 606 Razorback Rd, Fayetteville, AK 72701 (

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

Accepted for publication: July 23, 2018

Published ahead of print: September 25, 2018

Cite this article as: Emory J. Exploring NCLEX failures and standardized assessments. Nurse Educ. 2019;44(3):142-146. doi: 10.1097/NNE.0000000000000601

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