Nurses in Tennessee must pass the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX, to practice in the state.


LeeAnn Jackson graduated from UTC’s School of Nursing in December. In February she took the National Council Licensure Examination, which anyone who wants to practice nursing in Tennessee must pass.

Like 98 percent of other UTC nursing graduates, Jackson passed it on the first try.

“UTC prepared me for knowing the basics of the information,” says Jackson, who now works in the Emergency Department at Erlanger Hospital. “UTC was the foundation.”

Since 2007, the average percentage of UTC students passing the test on first try has been 95 percent. In 2018, UTC’s pass rate was 98.72 percent. The average pass rate for all nursing programs in Tennessee was only 92 percent.

In the last 12 years, the UTC School of Nursing’s percentage has never dropped below 88 percent, three percentage points above the absolute minimum for a nursing school to maintain its accreditation. Eleven times in that period, the first-time pass rate has been above 90 percent, hitting 95 percent or better in eight of those years.

“This test is not easy,” says Angel Collier, coordinator of the undergraduate Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. “This is a test for minimum safety and so, at this point, when they take this test, they have to know a little bit of everything.”

Pass rates for the test—known as the NCLEX in nursing circles—are a key factor when attracting students, adds Collier, who is a registered nurse.

“If you’re looking at a school of nursing, you’ll want to know what their NCLEX pass rate is.”

But passing the test is not the primary focus for students in UTC’s School of Nursing.

“We don’t teach for the NCLEX. We just prepare them for life,” Collier says.



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