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After being out of school for 10 years, how can I make sure I pass the NCLEX exam and am competent to practice?


Dear Donna,

I completed my RN program 10 years ago. Because of personal reasons, I am just now applying to take the NCLEX exam. When I contacted the board of nursing in California to see if I can still take the exam after 10 years, I didn’t get a clear answer. They just sent me an application. How do I make sure I pass the exam and am competent to practice? Any suggestions?

Delayed NCLEX-Taker

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Delayed NCLEX-Taker,

I spoke to a supervisor at the California Board of Registered Nurses licensing division. She stated that there is no time limit on when you finished your nursing education to make you eligible (or ineligible) to take the NCLEX and you should go ahead and apply.

Because you have been out of school for so many years, I would advise you to take an NCLEX review course to increase your chances of passing the exam. Also, there are private tutors to help with this. Safe and current practice standards have changed a lot in 10 years.

Once you become licensed, it would be advisable to take an RN refresher course to get up to date with skills and knowledge. I recommend you start volunteering somewhere healthcare-related now, such as a free clinic, public health department or American Red Cross. This will help build your confidence, make valuable professional contacts, hone old skills and learn new ones. Volunteering often leads to paid employment.

Once you become licensed, you should join and participate in your area chapter of the American Nurses Association ( This will help you reconnect to your profession, get up to date with information and trends and provide support and guidance.

Best wishes,

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By | 2018-08-29T20:57:02+00:00 October 9th, 2012|Categories: Blogs, Nursing careers and jobs|40 Comments

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  1. Marisela September 13, 2016 at 1:58 pm - Reply

    Hi im in the same boat as above. Ive been out if school for about 10 years and I live in Florida. What can I do to pass my nclex. Where shiuld I start

  2. NJ January 30, 2017 at 12:30 am - Reply

    Hello people…yes, I am another that did not take the NCLEX after graduating 9 & 1/2 years ago. The response posts have been so helpful & encouraging. I hoping for success & wishing us all the best of luck!

    • Heather Nicole Hamm February 6, 2017 at 6:39 am - Reply

      Me too. Going to apply in California for my NCLEX next week. I currently reside in Texas.. I graduated RN school in 2007. I’m currently working as an LVN. I’d love to see how you do…I’m praying that it really is true that California does not have a time limit…. I wonder how hard it is to have texas endorse a California RN license?? Any ideas??

  3. LD March 13, 2017 at 6:48 am - Reply


    I started the ADN-RN program in 2003. In 2005, I walked away(final semester:advance med-surg) from the program due to fear, burnout, family issues, etc. In 2006, I did the equivalency challenge by testing the NCLEX-PN in California. Needless to say, I didn’t pass(scored near passing). Afterwards, I gave up and just wrote nursing off as a career that’s not met for me; however, I decided to go back to school and obtain a Bachelors in Health Science and a Masters in Public Health with the prospect of working in Public Health(because working in healthcare has always been an occupational achievement of mine). Honestly, nursing still holds a place in my heart. I’m studying right now to challenge the NCLEX-PN again. After I pass, I plan to search for LVN positions and simultaneously go back to school and retake Anatomy, Physiology, Microbiology since they’re fifteen years old. Then, I plan to apply to BSN or entry-level MSN programs and do the program over, I might even try for the 30-unit LVN option with the ADN programs if I can. I just wanted to share my background. Please feel free to leave a comment, suggestion, or concern. I could use the encouragement.

  4. Lory August 22, 2017 at 9:07 pm - Reply

    I just passed my NCLEX-RN in florida and I have been out of school for 11 yrs. I graduated with a BSN way back 2006 in the Philippines. You can do it guys. Don’t give up your dreams.

    • Ya'Kela Ingham August 31, 2017 at 2:47 am - Reply

      What was your process with the state to re-sit?

    • J Serrano September 5, 2017 at 4:25 pm - Reply

      That is wonderful! What was your process? Any advice on preparing for the NCLEX-RN after being out of school for a lengthy period of time?

    • Frances September 10, 2017 at 2:19 pm - Reply

      Hi lory
      Did you take the foreign rn refresher course before taking nclex or not. How about CGFNS? Please give me any advice. Thanks.

    • Robert Mills October 13, 2017 at 11:24 pm - Reply

      Would you please contact me at I graduated nursing school in 2007 and failed my nursing boards multiple times but I’d love to pass my boards and go back to doing what I know I’m good at. Thanks Robert

    • Alice January 20, 2018 at 3:38 am - Reply

      Hi what did you use to prepare for Nclex I have been out 10 years ago please help. Thank you

      • Nancy September 15, 2018 at 5:54 am - Reply

        I really recommend using KAPLAN because Kaplan questions are similar to what you will see in NCLEX. Also, UWORLD really helps test your content.

    • Alice January 20, 2018 at 5:11 pm - Reply

      Hi what did you use to prepare with Lory Help!!!?

    • Gerlie Gandionco September 2, 2018 at 1:00 am - Reply

      Hi Lory,

      I just read your post this is encouraging so that means I am not a hopeless case😂 please help me/us how are we gonna start the process? What site? I’d like to apply in California.

      Will really appreciate any help.
      Thank you!

    • Joy October 9, 2018 at 12:47 am - Reply

      I graduated 2008 BSN also in the Philippines and took my NcLEX here in Texas but I didn’t pass and I’m planning to retake but I called the Texas Board of Nursing and they said I am not elegible cos she asked me when is the last time I work in the hospital and I said way back 2010 but in the Philippines and she said I need to enroll the course or find a state that will accept me to take nclex test. That’s why I am stress right now cos I’m planning to take next year and thinking California. Did the Florida board of nursing need CGfNS?

      • Rhiel October 11, 2018 at 1:08 am - Reply

        You are eligible to sit in Florida nursing as long as you have a foreign evaluation, they will give 3 chances to pass the board..

  5. Edna Craig November 16, 2017 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    I live in GA and graduated from my ADN program in 12/2014. Due to family issues I have yet to take my NCLEX, I just sent off the application on 11/15/2017 to take the NCLEX for the first time. According to GA I have only three years to take and pass my NCLEX. I am worried I will not be approved to take the NCLEX. Will I be able to apply and take the NCLEX in another state? Any help will be most appreciated.

    • Rosemary Pringle May 18, 2018 at 11:52 am - Reply

      Hello Edna. What happened thus far? Were you able to take the Nclex In Georgia?

  6. Pam January 10, 2018 at 12:22 am - Reply

    I graduated 1994 was going to take the nclex-rn in Oklahoma and my husband died in car cash so didnt…in 2009 I did a review course and was getting ready to take the test and my dad passed away…..I am thinking about doing it again just for my own peace of mind…..

  7. Kelly Zoglman January 18, 2018 at 2:57 am - Reply

    Graduated from university in Kansas 10 years ago with my BSN. I took NCLEX 3 times and was unsuccessful in passing. I now reside in Colorado. How can I go about refreshing and retaking my NCLEX?

    • Marne Lynn Kozel April 9, 2018 at 2:20 am - Reply

      Hi, my name is Marne. I graduated in 2010 Adn program. Took boards and barely failed twice. As this was going on I was diagnosed with Type 2 Dabetes. I was 40 years old no children and married. I immediately developed complications in one foot called Charcot foot. Look it up if you dare!! 5 years of castings and surgeries. Nursing kind of fell to the wayside. Then in 205, just as I was able to walk again, I fell and smashed my elbow! More surgeries. I have a fake titanium elbow now that works! I also had both of my parents die and my father-in-law. To top it all off, I got Charcot foot in the other foot. Had surgery Feb. 2018 and on the road to recovery. Would love to retake boards and be licensed. Missed my 5 year window in my state of Delaware! There must be a way to get licensed? Anybody have any pertinent info? Would like to get started asap!! Thanks I won’t give up.

  8. Leigh Anne April 30, 2018 at 8:49 pm - Reply

    Hi. I graduated with my RN in NC and have taken the NCLEX 4 times and haven’t passed. What can I do to be able to pass? its very discouraging and i really want to cross this off my bucket list.

  9. Cillacilla1987 May 7, 2018 at 2:15 am - Reply

    Hi I graduated from RN school in 2012. I took my test and failed several times. The state of Texas gives you a limit of four years but recently found out that other state don’t have a limit. MN does not have a time limit but require you to take a review course if you have been out of school more than 5 years. Other than that I they just wanted a official transcript sent from the school and the application done before you complete the review. Hopefully after this long journey I’ll be able to pass. I gave up after 4 years but God has the ultimate plan. Don’t give up people!

    • Meg July 18, 2018 at 9:38 pm - Reply

      We’re you able to take the exam in MN as a Texas resident?! How does that all work?

      • Michelle Campau August 16, 2018 at 2:15 pm - Reply

        You can just register to take the NCLEX in a different state like Ohio or California which has no time limit or number of attempts. After you pass you transfer your license

  10. Autumn May 21, 2018 at 1:31 am - Reply

    Graduated back in 2009 and was unable to sit for boards due to medical reasons. Should and/or would it be suggested to dothe entire nursing program over again. I actually wouldn’t mind it and would rather I do. However I’ve been unable to find that given the circumstances (mine are rather unusual) if that would even be possible / heard of.

  11. Ashley May 22, 2018 at 12:41 am - Reply

    If I am wanting to apply in a different state since it’s been over 4 years and I live in Texas what all do I need to do?

  12. Erika May 23, 2018 at 9:37 pm - Reply

    Hi, I am in the same situation. I graduated 2014 and I am looking to retake the nclex. I failed the first attempt but was told there is a time cap. I live in texas any suggestions or advice on what I can do. Your response is appreciated.

    • Meg July 18, 2018 at 9:36 pm - Reply

      I hope you get your answer because I too graduated in 2014 and moved to Colorado and got a good job- not nursing. I am now moving back to Texas and want to take my boards but I passed the 4 year mark! I don’t know how you can go to a different state and take an exam and be licensed? CA and MN are not part of the compact states so how would that work? I’m not even interested in working as an RN- I’m in sales now- but it would be nice to have that on my resume!!

  13. Janet August 9, 2018 at 8:27 pm - Reply

    Hi! Im currently reviewing on NCLEX Rn and this is my 3rd take. I applied in bon michigan when im in philippines. I graduated 1997, yes it was a long time ago! I tested year 2003 and failed! Im planning to retake again hopefully this year. I havent applied yet.. currently in texas now but there’s so many requirements to sit on nclex. Thinking of other bon state if possible. I need some encouragement asap!:) thanks!

    • Janet October 11, 2018 at 1:35 pm - Reply

      Im also in texas.. im planning to apply in NYSED bon and once i pass ill just do the reciprocity/endorsement to texas. I have no experience since 1997

  14. Michael Rey Paderog August 11, 2018 at 9:03 pm - Reply

    Good day.
    I obtained my BSN Diploma in the Philippines way back 2008. I am planning to take the Illinois NCLEX RN exam. I already started the CGFNS Credential evaluation. However, I am in doubt with regards to my education which I have a Old BSN Curriculum whereas some subjects are Integrated to major nursing subjects. Example is Pharmacology. In the new curriculum, pharmacology is a separate subject while in the old curriculum,it was integrated to nursing subjects.
    Is there any possibility that my education will be disapproved? Any thoughts?
    Thank you.

  15. Arnold August 15, 2018 at 9:33 am - Reply

    Hi everyone,

    I’m in sort of the same situation, I had graduated about 11 years ago from a technical college. This is where my problem is different, The school I attended was bought out and renamed. I needed the new “4” digit school code to be able to apply for testing. The nursing director for the new school gave me a complete run around ( just needed a usable school code) For some reason she wouldn’t give it to me. Does anyone know what actions I can take or am I SOL. This is the only thing preventing me from getting the process going to take the NCLEX. Thanks ahead of time for any help/info.

  16. Paul Gino August 19, 2018 at 7:36 am - Reply

    My friend is sort of in a similar situation. She passed RN school in 2015, but due to family needs, she had to postpone the NCLEX. Now that she applied in 2018, the CA BON instructed her to re-take a med surg course again. She is stuck trying to find a course that she can take to provide to the BON, but has had no luck in finding a course. Can anyone help?


  17. Rosie August 29, 2018 at 5:14 am - Reply

    Hello! I’m in California and I graduated from an LVN vocational trade school 10 years ago. I can apply but I am super rusty…does anyone have any advice on how I can prepare for the nclex??? I’m determined to do it and I am very focused I just need the tools and some direction. Has anyone taken it recently and can possibly shed some light on what the focus was? ANYTHING will help…so PLEASE contact me! Thank you!

    • Yvonne T September 13, 2018 at 2:12 am - Reply

      Hello! Try Lifesavers Review. They travel all around CA & it is a very good refresher course. I just took it & feel way better about the test over all. Its been almost 10 years since I have been out of school.

  18. Yvonne T September 13, 2018 at 2:09 am - Reply

    I am trying to apply to take my VN Nclex. I completed school 9 years ago & took the Nclex a couple times. I am now trying to take the challenge & test again. I have started a refresher course so I am ready this time. However, when I went to reapply, I was told I would need to reapply all over again. To make this a bit more difficult, the school I attended has been closed down. Any time I call the state, I’m given a vague answer. I was able to get a copy of my transcripts however, I am unsure of how to go about filling out the course hours on the application. Does anyone have any idea of how to go about it? I am referring to California & don’t want any further delay in already a long processing process.

    • manal October 10, 2018 at 9:23 pm - Reply

      did you take your NCLEX yet?

  19. Lia October 12, 2018 at 2:32 pm - Reply

    I graduated in 1998 with BSN in Indiana. Failed exam then started family. I want to take exam now and plan on Hurst review. Sounds like Ohio, Minnesota and California are 3 states that don’t require a time limit. I currently reside in Mississippi. Any other suggestions and those that did so how difficult was the process?

  20. Dana October 25, 2018 at 5:25 pm - Reply

    I graduated with my BSN in 2011. Took the NCLEX 3 times, failed. Went on to get my Masters in Healthcare Administration. I just signed up to take my Boards. I know the WE ALL can do this. I’m using UWORLD and Pearson view practice questions. I am also watching RN Sarah youtube for content that I need refreshers on. God bless everyone.

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