NCLEX-RN Pass Rates in Canada

Back in the year 2015, Canada’s decision to change to the US-Based NCLEX nursing exam was highly criticized.  With this change came many areas of concern including poorly translated questions for French speaking Canadians, content that was not applicable to Canadian writers, and a schooling system that was not prepared to teach towards passing this new exam.

As a result of this switch, pass rates plummeted…in some provinces by over 20%!

The pass rate in Alberta crashed from 90% down to 68.7%

Ontario was a similar story, with pass rates going from 87.7% to just 68.1%

Compounding the pressures facing nursing students was the 3 write limit. The 3 write limit states that once an individual failed the exam 3 times, they were no longer eligible to write and were required to repeat their education.

At the time, the crash in the pass rates was shocking to both the nursing and nursing student communities.

However, this was back in 2015, how have things changed since then?

First of all, provinces are working towards changing the three write limit for the exam. Ontario has changed their rules so that applicants can have an unlimited amount of writes as long as they wait a minimum of 45 days between attempts.

The best way to check what your province rules are on the amount of times you can write is to check your province’s nursing regulatory boards website.

The second thing that has changed since then is the fact that pass rates have started to rebound. Let’s take a look at pass rates for the 2016 year. I will be making a separate video at the end of the year when the results for 2017 are released.

All of these results that I am going to mention are retrieved from the Canadian Council of Registered Nurse Regulations website (

In the CCRNR’s Canadian NCLEX-RN results report, they stated the national pass rate for the 2016 year was 79.9% compared to a mere 69.7% from the year before. This statistic only takes into account writers FIRST attempts.

Lets take a look at first attempt pass rates by province.


As you can see, all provinces have experienced a rebound in first attempt pass rates with the highest pass rate being awarded to Newfoundland and Labrador and the lowest pass rate with at least 100 writers being awarded to New Brunswick.

If you would like more in-depth results overview, check your province’s nursing board for a break down of results by individual school.

So what conclusions can we draw from this?

To be honest, the answer doesn’t really matter because you are going to have to write the NCLEX-RN if you want to become a Registered Nurse in Canada. What we can conclude however is that Canadian nursing students are adapting and pass rates are rising. With nearly 80% of individuals passing their NCLEX on their first attempt. This means the exam is far from impossible.

Check out my YouTube channel for more tips on how you should be studying for yours and don’t forget to subscribe and like this video! Thanks for watching!