Nursing exam pass rate hits 98%

January 22, 2024
Male nursing student listening to heart of patient in hospital bed

Fitchburg State University, with a heralded nursing program spanning more than six decades, announced that 98% of its May 2023 nursing graduates passed the NCLEX licensure examination on their first try last summer and fall.

Fitchburg State’s nursing graduates have long boasted high pass rates for the licensure examination, with 95% and higher passing for several consecutive years. The numbers dipped slightly after COVID, said Associate Professor Debbie Benes, PhD, RN, PNP-R, chair of the Nursing Department, though still represented the vast majority of graduates. Still, the decline prompted quick intervention by the department.

“We were aware that the testing model was being changed to better measure clinical judgment and decision-making,” Benes said. “We started preparing our students for that change in their junior year by introducing them to the new types of questions, and changing up the way they were learning in the classroom and simulation center. Students started to do a lot more active and engaged learning, and faculty transitioned over to that type of pedagogy.”

In the first year of the revised approach to NCLEX preparation, the Fitchburg State graduates’ pass rate soared to 98%. 

“This remarkable accomplishment truly reflects the unwavering dedication and commitment that each member of our faculty and staff has demonstrated towards our students,” Benes said. “This achievement is a testament to our collective teamwork, and I am immensely proud to chair our program.”

To learn more about Fitchburg State’s nursing programs, and its many in-person and online degree and certificate options, please visit

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