You've finally finished your nursing courses and graduated. Only
one more hurdle -- the NCLEX exam. When it comes to the NCLEX,
preparation is key. Try these strategies to pass the NCLEX in only
75 questions (the minimum number of right answers).
Yes, You DO Need to Study
Even though you probably feel you've had enough of hitting the books, you really
do need to study for the NCLEX. Maybe there are particular areas where your hands-on
clinical experience was limited, or where you struggled with the concepts. Start by
making a list of those areas and make sure your study time includes those topics.
Now, develop a plan. Set a target for the amount of time you will study each day.
One or two hours of study time with a short break in the middle is a good starting point.
Learn to Read the Questions
Passing the NCLEX is only partly about the knowledge you've gained in your nursing
program. NCLEX questions are carefully structured and formatted, so you need to know
how to decipher them. The National Student Nurses Association offers some suggestions.
When an answer has the words "always" or "never" it's probably not a good choice; the
real world isn't that black-and-white. If three of four answers are similar and one
is obviously different, the odd man out is probably the correct answer. As you practice
with test prep questions, you will soon learn to recognize the best answers.
What's your study style? Are you a morning person who will retain information best
in the dawn's early light or are you a night owl who learns best by burning midnight
oil? Structure your study time around your characteristics. You might want to form a
study group with your peers. You can give each other emotional support and discuss
the perspectives of the questions. Studying with a group can also help you identify
the kind of questions most likely to trip you up. Another advantage of a group is
that each of you can purchase a different study guide, benefiting the group while
When you get ready to prepare for the NCLEX, you'll find there are lots of resources.
NCLEX prep options abound; in fact, there are so many, you might find it difficult to
choose. Many come with CD-ROMS or online options, and prices vary, so you'll need to
evaluate them carefully. Some offer you the ability to design targeted study questions
so you can concentrate on the areas you need most. These basically come in two styles:
the comprehensive NCLEX review and the targeted topics. Good examples of the former are:
Studying is only part of your NCLEX prep. Knowledge is no good if you're the sort
who stresses about test-taking to the point that it affects your performance. Practice
does make perfect in this case; the more experience you can gain by practicing in the
same conditions you'll face in the test (a computerized simulation), the better you're
likely to perform. Learning and regularly using relaxation techniques can also help you
keep your stress at a manageable level. Find out where the test will be held and either
make a practice run so you'll be familiar with the route or make sure you're well-supplied
with directions and maps; allow plenty of travel time.