NLE Board Rating: Does It Really Matter?

I just don’t get it: Nursing graduates have always been advised to study hard and aim to be a board topnotcher by their schools and review centers only to found out afterwards that securing a nursing position is a pain in the ass even for the cream of the crop. I guess, unemployment is now the great equalizer amongst Filipino nurses.

Now the question is this: Does NLE Board Rating still matter nowadays? Is it fair to say that NLE will measure your potential and capabilities as a nurse here in the Philippines?

I won’t deny the fact that I once aimed to be a nursing board topnotcher. I even started pouring my time and effort in reading nursing books one year before the actual exam. I thought it would be a great way to give myself justice for not being hailed as our batch cum laude. It was painstakingly time-consuming but eventually, I was able to top various exams both in our school and in the review center where I signed up after graduation. I thought I was on my way to the top but after the results were released last August 2011, all I’ve got was a mere 81.20%, a board rating not even close to the top 20 slot. But I have moved on and realized in the long run that it’s not the true measure of one’s worth as a nurse and as a human being. I even know of someone who got an impressive rating although she always slept in class so what’s the point? Is it all a matter of luck? I don’t give a damn. And just so you know, I’m an underemployed nurse now, just like the other board passers and board topnotchers who took the same exam. I guess, I had a misconception because grades really won’t matter at all.

So what is my point here?

That most Filipinos have been trapped to the false idea that being on the top of the class will give someone a sure spot for employment and an easy ticket to success. We always love to rank people to know who is the best and who is the worst. We love to give recognitions and awards for the intellectually gifted and think that “studying hard” is the best cure for poverty. Well I’m telling you, we’ve been stuck to this deep-rooted culture long enough and its about time for us to meet reality face to face;we have to accept the fact that in Nursing, its quite easier to pass the NLE than to secure a decent job.It hurts but just like what they always say, REALITY BITES.

During these hard times, personality weighs more than the board rating. For instance, I had a clinical instructor before who got a 75% flat board rating but was able to secure a fulfilling job in Canada. Not only that, most of the nurses I know who work in the hospital have ratings that ranges from 75% to 80% and they were not even one of the top performers during their school days. Zig Ziglar once underscored that “It’s not the aptitude, but the attitude, that determines one’s altitude”.The point here is the success of a nurse doesn’t rely on his/her board rating but more on how he/she persevere despite adversities in nursing employment, negative attitudes of her co-workers, and almost unbearable responsibilities expected of a nurse. Board ratings are just written numbers and it only measure one’s entry-level competencies.

Nursing is not a battle of the brains, rather, it’s all about resiliency, flexibility, and positive outlook in life. If you got a low board rating, who cares? Grades won’t make you less or more of a person.

Only here in the Philippines that we rank board ratings and put so much importance to those who top the board exam. I mean, in NCLEX, you will be labelled only as either “pass” or “fail” without any rankings or whatsoever. I’m not bitter or sourgraping here so don’t get me wrong. I just want every Filipino nurses today to realize that employment will still remain as the most important goal for everybody at the end of the day. I’m not even encouraging nursing students to stop browsing their books and just sleep all day because I know that knowledge is still one of the three pillars of good nurse training. All I want to emphasize is this: your career as a nurse (if you really want to be a nurse) won’t stop if you fail the NLE or got a rating lower than you expected. There are a lot of challenging and fulfilling things that await you in the future only if you will learn to embrace your “calling”. And though I’m not an active nurse now, I will never forget the two things (far more important than grades and intelligence) that Nursing has taught me: LOVE AND CARING.

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  • alhen patrick villena

    amen bro/maam…
    i totally agree to what youve said..
    being on the top 20 doesnt mean that you are sure to have a good or decent job..

    in KSA..
    attitude is at the top… 🙂
    im now a instructor at my almamatter and im not even on the top20 of the july 2011 exam…

    i was shocked when my school hired me as a full time faculty..

  • alhen patrick villena


  • rnonline

    it is true that the board rating doesn’t dictate your future but it is good that schools and review centers inspire (moreover force) their students to top the board exam.

    kung baga, anjan ka na eh, hindi mo pa ba gagalingan at gagawin ang BEST mo? you only get to pass the board exams once.

  • Sakto jud..di man tanan cumlaude ba maayu..uban gani k magkodigu sa school..haha..then to be hailed as…Din actually, katong mga ga sgi balik2 sa skul k cge ka bagsak..mao to ang mga datuon na run…sila ang nakamao kayu..nganu mana? hmmm.. i think it has something to do with the experience gained during failures…actually, it also motivates and inspire a person to getting richer..k dili lami ang ila naagian..hmmm..kinsa kaha maka relate ani? thumbs up na lng…:)


    hehe kanya kanyang daan ng buhay yan…taas nga rating mo wla ka naman job, yung iba di nakapasa pero may magandang job…yung iba naman RN nga pasado lahat ng exams and qualification sa hospital pero di rin nakakuha ng slot…pero meron naman jan…RN nag business and ok naman….so kanya kanyang tahak ng buhay yan 🙂

  • Blank

    Seriously, you’re very judgemental… I was one of those students that slept in class, cheated, and did every trick in the book to graduate from BSN (why pain myself with the hard way when there’s an easy way out).

    Here comes the board exam, I thought that those antics won’t work anymore… So, I studied hard on my own. Although I was not really one of those “top students” in review center exams, I strived to reach my potential – (honestly, because I didn’t submit any of my results to the Reviewers after checking…)

    But I was determined to get something good for myself. I’m not an achiever (well, I used to be one during my younger years) but I know my capabilities are very high once I put my heart and mind into it. So, if you think that some people are that low in something…don’t.

    You may caught yourself “used to” being the top and you forget that some people fight in the shadows.

    TLDR – Sleeper (google it)

  • av2003

    Ang pagiging magaling na nurse ay hindi nasusukat sa taas ng nakuha niya sa licensure exam, isa lang ito sa mga requirements to practice the profession. Maraming magaling sa pananalita o pagsusulit ngunit mahina namana sa actual na pag practice at vice versa mababa ang marka sa exam. ngunit outstanding naman sa actual performance of duties. May matalino ngunit tamad naman sa trabaho.( hindi ko na babanggitin ang lahi ), gusto ko lng ipaalam sa inyu ang mga Filipino nurses dito sa abroad ay hinahangaan sa kanilang attitude towards work at pakikitungo sa pasyente na hindi makikita sa ibang lahi.

  • board rating is not a question as long as you passed and have your license to practice this profession, the real question is how far can you go and how big can you sacrifice just to practice nursing now a days….it is not a less knowledge for everyone that almost newly graduate and newly licensed nurse are now jobless or only works as a volunteer in hospitals where they pay just to render their services and to be exposed and have their experience, and the saddest thing about this, is that this experience is not considered when you apply for a job locally and abroad!!!! so what is the sense of all of these??? if many of license nurses now doesn’t have a right place for their profession???

  • Blank

    *Sigh* Binura ang aking comment *Sigh*

    Reality bites.

  • Aykulith

    I can really relate with your post! Right after getting the result of the exam, i feel satisfied though it’s not that higher compared to others. But still i believe we’re all equal in terms of getting a job, it’s just disappointing that SOME hospitals required a higher NLE rating of an applicant. I mean, it’s not fair! They should not just base on it! They should know what KSA is! 🙁

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  • Blisstars127

    I’m very fortunate to find this site and read this article. I just passed the Dec 2011 board exam.. and I got a low rating that I didn’t expect. I can say that the exam is hard but it’s not the point. I wanted to be competitive, starting with a good rating. Now i’m really sad to know that what I got was very disappointing.. I worked so hard for the NLE. I really want to be a nurse ever since, but how can I if I can’t show a good grade to hospitals that I would like to apply in? I just wanted this all my life and I just recently got my dream and suddenly it’s all slipping through my fingers.

  • Blank

    @Blisstars127 It’s simple really… accept the fact that you got a low rating. The sooner you accept that fact, the sooner you will function as a better nurse.

    Didn’t get what I mean… Look at the bigger picture of things, don’t get stuck on your own perspective. Life ain’t about getting the highest scores, really.

  • simple19

    we have the same problem. before taking the board exam i was expecting for a high rating but when i’ve passed and saw my rating i really get disappointed..

    and when i tried to apply in one of the hospitals the doctor who interviewed me criticized my rating saying that “ang baba ng board rating mo tapos mgaapply ka for a staff nurse??”….

    It really hurts me a lot hearing those words to that doctor because i know my rating is below 80 but does it really matters?? hindi pa man nya nakikita mga kakayahan ko sinabihan na nya ako ng ganon..

    if they will not hire the nurses who are below 80 then where can we have our hospital experience??wala ka ba tlgang kalalagyan sa mundo ng nursing if your board rating is below 80???:(

  • PiñaColada

    I agree. I got a very low rating this last December 2012 NLE. Yes of course I am thankful na I passed but I am not sure If I’m really deserving because of this rating. I am now beginning to think twice if i shall continue or not. If pahirapan ang makapasok sa mga hospitals if one’s BR is below 80, sana ginawa na lang 80% ang passing. :))

  • Imanurse08

    Hi colleagues! I recently passed the nle last dec 2012. I just wanna ask if my rating which is 78.20 is too low or not bad at all for me to be able to work as a nurse in a tertiary hospital?