It seems like yesterday I was preparing for the NCLEX exam. The NCLEX exam was something I dreaded and feared. I would often say to myself and others “How is it that after four years of grueling nursing school the NCLEX determines if I can be nurse? Shouldn’t graduating from nursing school be enough?” Unfortunately, graduating from nursing school isn’t enough and all U.S. state boards of nursing require that you pass the NCLEX exam before you work as a nurse.
I have to commend my professors who diligently helped prepare us for the NCLEX. They guided me in determining how I should study and what preparation guides to use. I took the next in June and passed the first try with 75 questions.
So, if you are preparing to take the NCLEX exam and would like some tips on how I studied this article is for you. If you rather watch a video of me talking about how I studied you can watch this video here:
Studying for NCLEX
Practice! Since this is my first recommendation, it is the most important. I think one of the best ways to study for NCLEX is to practice NCLEX style questions over and over. There are many great software programs out there that contain over 1000s of NCLEX practice questions. I recommend using Sanders Comprehensive Guide for NCLEX. Their software is awesome and very helpful. Plus it comes with a thick book that contains everything you need to know for the NCLEX (it is all at your fingertips). The reason why I recommend it is because you can select what areas you want to practice.
For instance, say your weakest areas are mental health and critical care nursing, with the Saunders software you can select it to create questions from these content areas only. In addition, after you complete each practice test you are given rationales on what you got wrong and right, which brings me to my next tip.
Review your practice tests! A common mistake students make when taking practice NCLEX quizzes is that they answer questions, look at their score, and take another test. If you do this you are not learning the material but simply memorizing the correct answer. After you take a practice quiz you should always review each question and the answer. Then review why you got a question wrong by looking at it’s rational. Lastly, you should read the material regarding that question’s material. When you do this you comprehend the material (not memorize it). NCLEX is a critical thinking exam (not fact based).
Plan! Don’t start studying for NCLEX your last semester of nursing school. The last semester of nursing school is so hectic. You are so busy with final exams, clinicals, writing papers, registering for NCLEX, planning graduation parties, and living life that you won’t have enough time to cram for the exam. My professors recommended we started practicing questions for NCLEX the first semester of nursing school. I thought they were crazy!
However, it was good advice. Although, I didn’t know half of the answers to the practice questions or what in the world a “Sengstaken-Blakemore tube” was, I found that just simply being exposed to the material helped me in lecture class later on and eventually on NCLEX.
Utilize free NCLEX Resources! This website has created some free NCLEX practice quizzes and published my NCLEX & HESI study log. Not a lot of stuff in life is free so always take advantage of it when you can.
I would love to hear how you are preparing for NCLEX or your experience, so please share below or on the forum.