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12 of the Best NCLEX Tips to Get Prepared for the Exam

It seems like everywhere you turn someone has a piece of advice for how you should prepare for the NCLEX exam. So how are you supposed to know where to start and what the best way of studying is?

 

So many student nurses have been in your shoes of uncertainty, which is exactly why we created this awesome resource with 12 of the absolute best NCLEX tips. We’ve left no detail out of how you should prepare and structure your studying.

 

So kiss those nerves and test-taking insecurities goodbye because you’re about to learn exactly how to study with in-depth NCLEX tips that will help you pass the NCLEX with flying colors.

12 Valuable NCLEX Exam Study Tips

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Implementing these 12 practical NCLEX tips will get you on the road to not just passing the test but also believing you can pass the test. We’ll help you gain the clarity and confidence you need to prepare for the NCLEX exam.

1. Learn to Test NCLEX-Style

There are two NCLEX tips to touch on when talking about learning the NCLEX testing style. First, the NCLEX is administered using computerized adaptive testing (CAT). This exam layout works by testing your individual nursing knowledge with each new test question it presents. So how you answered the most recent question affects which question you’ll get next. It’s important to be aware of CAT before going into the NCLEX so that you can begin practicing with this form of testing.

 

Next, NCLEX is based on a perfect environment. When studying, always imagine caring for only one patient, not being pulled in another direction, and that all the orders you need are written. While it can be difficult to do, separate clinical experiences from your NCLEX prep. As you know, real clinical environments aren’t often occurring in these ideal conditions. 

2. Start Studying Early

The sooner you can start preparing for the NCLEX, the better. Don’t think of studying as something that’s dreadful or all-consuming. When you make good use of your time, a little each day goes a long way. 

 

Whatever you do, don’t wait to study until a month before the exam and cram. Studying early by following these NCLEX tips helps cement concepts in your brain and makes you a better nursing student as well.

3. Schedule Your Study Time 

Instead of winging it, make a schedule for how you plan to study. This helps you avoid burnout and keeps you on task so studying doesn’t consume your life. If you can mark off 30 minutes here or 45 minutes there for focused studying, it pays off exponentially. 

 

Also, if you start your day with a plan, it’s much more likely you’ll get your studying in. Saying you’ll do it later often doesn’t happen if you don’t have that time already carved out. Don’t forget to plan in rest days to avoid feeling drained.

4. Create or Join a Study Group 

This is great for getting to hang out with friends and getting a quality study session. If an in-person study group is too hard to fit into your busy schedule, opt for an online group. You could even create one with your classmates. 

 

Study groups are a good way to learn from your fellow nursing school students by improving your notes, bouncing questions off one another, and building a support system. Another benefit is that it keeps you accountable. When you tell your group you’ll be there, you’re more likely to show up and get your studying in. Also, you can use the positive group energy to propel you towards passing the NCLEX on your first try.

5. Study on the Go

If you have a particularly jam-packed day or just aren’t in the mood for sitting down and studying, studying on the go is a perfect choice. Listen to NCLEX podcasts, nursing audiobooks, or even recordings of yourself reading through your notes. You can bring your studying in the car, to the gym, or for an invigorating morning walk. Wherever you choose, it’s easy to make studying on the go fit into your lifestyle.

6. Study by Teaching

Study by teaching means teaching another student from your nursing program on a topic or skill that you’re knowledgeable or passionate about. This is one of the lesser-known NCLEX tips, but it ensures you have a firm understanding of what you’re teaching and enables you to help a fellow test taker at the same time.

7. Answer NCLEX Practice Questions Every Day

This is hands-down the best of the NCLEX tips out there. Answering practice questions and practice tests help boost your test-taking skills and is the best indicator of how you’ll do on the NCLEX. When you answer daily NCLEX practice questions that simulate the real NCLEX you’re able to get a feel for how the questions are set up and build critical thinking skills. 

8. Use an NCLEX Test Plan 

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) has free test study plans for both the NCLEX-RN and the NCLEX-PN. They help you prepare for the NCLEX exam by outlining and detailing all the content you’ll be tested on. Also, the test plans provide a great overview of what to expect during the exam so you can keep your studying on track.

9. Use Condensed Study Guides

A condensed study guide is something you can quickly read over to refresh. You can buy study guides, but they’re very easy to make yourself. Type out electrolyte ranges, common lab values, and key information from various topics. If you have time, make a study guide for each class at the end of the semester, while the information is still fresh in your mind. 

 

Rewriting what you’ve learned helps to solidify concepts and your condensed guide serves as the perfect form of NCLEX review. Wouldn’t it be great if you wanted to study cardiac nursing and already have a handy condensed study guide to brush up with instead of reading through pages of notes or piles of books?

10. Learn Quick and Effective Answer Techniques 

Some answer technique NCLEX tips include:

 

  • Mnemonics — A technique to help memorization, such as using acronyms.
  • Eliminate incorrect answers — Remove distracting, obviously wrong choices.
  • Use the best or most correct answer — Use Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, ABCs (airway, breathing, and circulation), and the nursing process to find the best multiple-choice answer.
  • Find keywords — Look for clues within the question.
  • Try rewording — Figure out what’s really being asked.
  • Look for odd answers — Oftentimes these are correct.
  • Always assess first — Always assess before using nursing interventions.

 

Avoid the following when answering NCLEX questions:

 

    • Absolute answers — Answers that use “always” or “never” are usually wrong answer choices.
    • Using restraints on a patient — This is usually never the correct answer.
    • Calling the doctor too soon — Never call about expected symptoms due to the patient’s disease process. Also, only call the doctor if there is nothing else you can do for the patient after intervening.

 

  • Leaving the patient — Never leave a patient alone.
  • Doing nothing — There’s always something you can do.

 

11. Reduce Your Stress 

Of all the NCLEX tips, this one might be the hardest to do because as a nursing student you’re busy. But this is exactly why you should take time for stress and test anxiety reduction in your test prep. Do things like exercise, visualize yourself as a nurse, and make time for things that you enjoy. In fact, put these stress-reducing self-care activities on your calendar. They’re just as important as studying and will likely enhance your overall productivity.

12. Make the Final Days Count 

Make the most of the final days before your NCLEX exam. Be sure to continue to study and answer practice questions in the days leading up to testing. Also, drive to the testing center to know your route, have a full tank of gas, and get quality rest in the days leading up to the test. And most of all, don’t worry. You’ve got this.

Exam Day Can Be a Breeze With These NCLEX Tips

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Incorporating these NCLEX tips into your studying routine will set you up for success. Instead of haphazardly studying here and there, you can have peace of mind knowing you have a reliable studying structure to get you where you want to be — a full-fledged registered nurse or licensed practical nurse. 


We believe that the absolute best way to prepare for the NCLEX exam is by answering daily NCLEX practice questions. That’s why we created the Daily NCLEX Challenge where you can get an NCLEX practice question each day to challenge yourself and get comfortable with the NCLEX style of testing. Using these NCLEX tips and being diligent with daily practice questions are a surefire way to help you pass the NCLEX the first time.


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