Nursing Degrees & Schools / NCLEX Tips
Whether you are just starting nursing school or your graduation is fast approaching, you need to prepare for the NCLEX exam. In this article we will discuss the following NCLEX study tips:
- Being familiar with the NCLEX guidelines
- Creating a study plan
- Using NCLEX study resources
- Preparing for the NCLEX test day
- Knowing general test-taking tips
1. Familiarize yourself with the NCLEX guidelines
Knowing what is on the NCLEX is the best way to prepare a quality study plan.
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) has a Test Plan for the NCLEX, which provides detailed information about the content of the NCLEX-RN exam.
The NCSBN test plan:
- Will help guide you on how to prepare for the exam and what to expect.
- Consists of 65 pages, including: patient care content, sample questions, and information on how the test is given and scored.
- Is updated every 3 years.
The Test Plan for the NCLEX is developed using input from multiple sources such as:
- A study of nursing care activities of 12,000 newly licensed RN’s.
- Expert opinions of the NCLEX Examination Committee.
- The National Council of State Boards of Nursing staff.
- Boards of nursing/regulatory bodies.
- Final approval by the Delegate Assembly of the NCSBN.
All this ensures that the NCLEX-RN is a quality exam and that nurses who pass the exam are safe to practice entry-level nursing.
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2. Create an effective study plan
As a nursing student, you have been working hard and studying throughout your schooling. All that studying is great practice leading up to NCLEX exam time.
Let’s look at ways to create an effective study plan:
- Assessing your study process for areas you can improve or tweak is the first step in creating a study plan that works for you.
- Use time-blocking to create a study schedule. Find when you study best and are most alert. And then block off a few hours to focus. Time-blocking also helps prevent underestimating how much time you’ll need to finish assignments or study.
- Removing distractions to avoid unnecessary multitasking makes you more productive. If you want time to scroll social media or socialize, enter it into your schedule so you know there’s time for it. Protect your study time from distractions.
- Review class material soon after class while it’s still fresh. Take good notes and try to summarize them so that you could explain the material to someone else. This is a great trick for retaining information. Reviewing the topic days later will take more effort.
- Changing things up to get the most out of your study time can also help you feel refreshed. Our ability to concentrate decreases after 90 minutes. Increase your concentration by working on a different topic after an hour or 2. Also, take short, planned breaks to get up, stretch, drink some water, get a snack.
- Block off weekly review time in your schedule. Make it a habit to do a cumulative review of all your classes at least once a week. This helps you to stay current, identify areas in which you need more work, and avoid having to catch up later on.
3. Utilize NCLEX study resources
There are many resources you can use to prepare for the NCLEX exam. Nursing students may also opt for additional study resources to boost their ability to pass the exam.
One such resource is UWorld. This online service offers customizable test prep with practice tests that mirror the NCLEX, assessments, explanations, and performance tracking.
Another online study resource is called Archer. This test prep company offers practice tests, assessments, explanations, and performance tracking. Additionally, Archer’s tests use computer adaptive testing which is the same testing method as the NCLEX.
It’s helpful to have multiple tools to help you prepare for the exam. Video-format NCLEX test prep is another useful study resource. Check out these on YouTube ReMarNurse.com, SimpleNursing.com,and Picmonic. Video format may appeal to your learning style which will help you absorb and retain information.
There are also short-form videos that offer plenty of helpful study tips and test-taking tips.
Textbooks are another helpful study resource. Consider adding a reliable test prep book to your study plan.
- Saunders Comprehensive Review by Linda Silvestri is known for easy-to-understand language and visuals like charts, tables and images to hold your attention.
- NCLEX-RN Prep Plus by Kaplan Test Prep is comprehensive and offers a money-back guarantee.
- Lippincott’s Q&A Review for NCLEX-RN by authors Billings and Hensel is also a top option for a study resource and offers authentic NCLEX practice experience.
Make sure you price comparison shop and understand exactly what a test prep company is offering at each different subscription level. Also, research and choose the prep book that will work best for you.
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4. Prepare for NCLEX exam day
In the hours leading up to your exam use these tips to give yourself an edge.
The night before:
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Eat a healthy dinner.
- Get a good night’s sleep.
- Gather the necessary documents and directions to the test center.
- Avoid taking any new medicine.
The day of the exam:
- Wear comfortable clothing in layers you can put on or take off as needed.
- Keep your normal routine. If you never eat breakfast don’t pick test day to start.
- Don’t cram. This will add stress and is not shown to improve test scores.
- Leave early so you don’t worry about traffic.
- Go in with a confident attitude based on all your hard work!
5. Practice general test-taking tips
Some people do well on essay questions. Others are better at multiple-choice tests. Test-taking is a skill and it is possible to improve your skill. The internet is full of resources to help you test better. These are general test-taking strategies that are helpful when you’re prepping for a crucial exam like the NCLEX.
- Narrow your choices on multiple-choice tests by ruling out obviously wrong answers.
- Read all the answers carefully before selecting because sometimes 2 answers will be similar, but only 1 is correct.
- Look for keywords to understand exactly what the question is asking.
- If you feel strongly about an answer, change it.
- Be mindful of words that can change the meaning of a question like “no”, “not”, ”none”, “always”, and “never”.
- Key in your answer carefully to avoid choosing a wrong answer mistakenly.
You have worked long and hard in nursing school and only one thing stands between you and being a licensed registered nurse: the NCLEX. Using these 5 tips can help you be prepared for this important milestone:
- Know the NCLEX guidelines so you can have an outline for what is on the exam.
- Develop a strong study plan.
- Use a mixture of study resources that match your learning style.
- Practice proven test-taking tips.
- Prepare for exam day.
Believe in yourself and all your effort. You can pass the NCLEX!
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- “Guidelines for Creating a Study Schedule.” Cornell University. Accessed Oct. 6, 2022.
- “Study Strategies That Work.” Duke Undergraduate Education. Accessed Oct. 9, 2022.
- “10 NCLEX Tips and Tricks to Pass the First Time You Take It.” Purdue University Global. Accessed Oct. 9, 2022.
- “Test Taking Strategies.” Southwestern University. Accessed Oct. 9, 2022.
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