Help! Failed the NCLEX® Twice and 55 Years Old . . . Is It Too Late? (struggling student)

failed nclex twice am i too old


I graduated 2 years ago from nursing school and yet to pass the nclex, I am 55 years old and wonder if I should be in this profession where I see so many young people. In a nutshell I have lost focus and don’t really know where to start and if I should. I am very confused.


  • Do you feel that you’re too old for NCLEX® or that you’ve graduated too long ago?
  • Thinking that you’ve gotten too rusty to pass and feeling overwhelmed about how much reading you’d need to do just to catch up?
  • Don’t you wish that there’s a more straightforward way to get the nursing career you want?

All of the above are common concerns for many nurses these days, so it’s not just you!

With the economy being the way it is now and the chances of getting a good nursing job getting slimmer some states, more and more nurses are putting off taking the NCLEX only to regret their decision later when they realize that they’ve already forgotten what they learned in nursing school. Another scenario is about mature folks embarking on a new career as a nurse and then thinking that they’re too old to make it after graduation.

Are you wondering if there is really some truth to being too old or too rusty when it comes to passing the NCLEX and getting your dream nursing job?

Don’t Be Your Own Greatest Enemy

First of all, there is no such thing as being too old for a career change unless you’re already in your retirement age.

Google the most successful people in the world and you’d see that most of them are constantly reinventing themselves and being fabulous at it. If they can do it, what is stopping you?

Oftentimes, we can end up being our own greatest enemy and that’s not fun at all. If you’ve slaved through nursing school and survived to warn other aspiring nurses away tell tales of your nursing wizardry to the uninitiated, then you’re certainly ready to use the:

‘Get Me A Nursing Career’ Battle Plan

So, you’re really ready to be a full-pledged nurse now, huh?

Well, first of all, you need to be a licensed nurse for any staffing recruiter to be interested in hiring you. Okay, okay, we’ve all heard about non-NCLEX passers being offered good nursing jobs but guess what, they won’t be allowed to keep that job without having an active license. So yeah, the shining light beckons you to NCLEX people, NCLEX®!

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve graduated magna cum laude or if you’re the best ever nursing student any hospital has ever seen; without passing the NCLEX®, the chances of legally getting a real nursing job is just about the same as winning the lottery without purchasing a ticket. Get it?

Okay, maybe you’re not licensed yet because you think that requiring nurses topass the NCLEX-RN (or PN) should have been ditched a long time ago. Maybe you don’t feel that a single day or a few hours of answering some questions is enough to determine who gets to practice as a professional nurseand who doesn’t. Put those thoughts aside for now and take a huge gulp of reality. Yup! There’s no other way around it, you need to take the NCLEX®.

Get that Licensure ‘Thingy’!

Don’t wait until you’re ready or until the economy seems better. Being truly ‘ready’ for the NCLEX® is a myth.

Act NOW. The longer you wait to take the NCLEX®, the lower the percentage of nursing concepts that you’ll still be able to remember when you finally decide to sit for the test. Statistics have shown that there is a higher passing rate for candidates who’ve taken the exam soon after graduation. Sheesh, just go ahead and take the NCLEX® as soon as you can!

Here’s what you have to do to get past the NCLEX® hurdle:

  • Schedule Your NCLEX® Exam

Or whatever licensure is required where you intend to practice. Simply do it. Depending on where you are from, some extra paperwork might be needed for application and registration.Give yourself ample time to study and all that but make sure that you schedule your exam day within 3 months from the moment you decide that you’ll take it (or at least try to).

Registering and Scheduling your NCLEX exam might shake you up a bit, more so if you’ve been out of school for a while; but then, a self-imposed deadline can be a powerful tool for motivating yourself to:

  • Prepare for Your Exam

There are many nursing resources that can help you prepare for your NCLEX®. You’re actually so lucky that these days, there are podcasts, blogs, apps, special courses, and ebooks available to help you ace the NCLEX®.

Back in the day, we only had some good ole hefty books and if we happen to have some ‘techy’ instructors, then we get to see some powerpoint slides! Can you imagine getting excited for some slides?

  • Remember to Chill

Your brain won’t be at its peak performance level if you’re tired, hypoglycemic, and/or stressed.

I’ve known really smart nurses who’ve sabotaged themselves on their exam date by not sleeping the night before or not eating. You’re only human you know, and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs applies to you too!

Take care of your body and you’ll surely:

  • Ace the NCLEX®!

Show up at the testing center, take the test, and that’s it! All that’s next is to wait for the results!

Create The Most Seductive Resume EVER!

Now that you’re done with your NCLEX®, it’s time to work on the tool you need to advertise yourself.

Your resume, otherwise known as your curriculum vitae, is the magical forever-in-progress piece of paper (or document) that tells the world how awesome you are and why hospitals, recruiters, or companies should hire you.

Your resume should make hiring managers want to speak to you. It should stand out and sell you on your best points. It should be visually pleasing and be a representation of your ‘brand’.

Your resume is literally is your best foot forward, but first know that:

Great Careers Are Marvels of Engineering

Heard of LinkedIn? Set up an account in there and see what other nurses in your dream field are into.

Wait, you’re not going to copy paste what they have on your resume okay. What you need to do is to play the sleuth to have an idea on what you’ll be pitting yourself against. You have to find out what it would take to build your dream career the most efficient way (you’ve read that right!).

Want to be an awesome ICU nurse? Then check out the certifications and steps the ICU nurses have taken to become one. Want to be a nurse educator? Then see what qualifications you need to have and work on that.

You can’t seduce a job to being yours with your resume if it’s as dry as the Sahara. Pump it with juice by knowing exactly what should go in it and what shouldn’t.

Sure, great nursing careers can happen by accident. However, if you have your heart set on becoming a specific type of nurse with all the shiny trinkets and what nots, then you better not waste time getting there, don’t you agree?

I Failed the NCLEX®. What Do I Do?

Well, it isn’t the NCLEX apocalypse and frankly, it’s quite the opposite!

I’m not saying that not passing on your first, second, or third try is a bad thing. You have to keep in mind that some people are simply not good test takers and there can be times when you’ve got other things going on in your life that could mess with your NCLEX preparation…but you’ve got to move on from that.Remember that only you and you alone has the power to take yourself out of the ever growing pool of NCLEX casualties.

Right after you received a notice about your exam’s outcome, access your CPR (your Candidate Performance Report) and take a long hard look at how well you performed on each of the content areas according to the NCLEX Test Plan. This data is gold and would help you prepare for your next NCLEX battle! Repeat Get That Licensure Thingy until you nail it and you’ll soon be off to creating the most seductive resume ever! Hooray!


Of course there are other tricks to passing the NCLEX and getting your first job as a nurse; but hey different folks, different strokes eh? Sometimes, getting what you want is just all about psyching yourself for it and being gently guided to reach your dreams.

As I’ve said in another blog, you’re skilled enough, you’re good enough, and you’re smart enough to reach your goals, so how about starting now? Ride that train of motivation like a pro!


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