10 Tips for How to Pass the NCLEX
If you’re on the road to becoming a nurse, you’ve probably heard about the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). As you might know, passing the NCLEX is the final step before you can receive your nursing license. So, what NCLEX study tips will help you succeed? We’ll walk through strategies for how to pass the NCLEX so you can increase your chances of success on the exam.
After all the hard work of graduating from an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program like ours at Felician University, you’ll still need to pass the NCLEX before you can work as a registered nurse. Thankfully with a top-quality ABSN program like ours to teach you the fundamentals, you’ll be on the right track when you start preparing for the NCLEX.
If you are wondering how to pass the NCLEX on the first try, then no matter your study strategy, one key to success is working hard. Implement these 10 NCLEX study tips to help you put your best foot forward with your exam
1. Understand the Exam
Knowing how the NCLEX works is essential to honing your strategy for success on the exam. The NCLEX is a unique exam in that the number of questions you get can range anywhere from 75 to 145. The time limit is 5 hours, but your exam may finish early if the testing software determines that you have passed.
The NCLEX uses Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT), which asks you questions of varying degrees of difficulty based on your prior responses. The computer aims to ask you questions that you should have a 50% chance of answering correctly. This software will gauge your progress along the way, and as soon as you have correctly answered enough questions that you would pass with a 95% confidence interval, your exam will finish. However, your exam might continue until you run out of questions or time, at which point the computer will calculate whether you have passed or failed.
As you can see, the NCLEX is complex, and it’s unlike the exams you took during nursing school. Therefore, spend time researching how the NCLEX works so that you are confident when you sit for the exam.
2. Study Well in Nursing School
You can set yourself up for success on the NCLEX before you even begin studying for it. That’s because what you learn during nursing school is the foundation. The NCLEX tests the information you learn during nursing school, so if you’re focused and diligent throughout your nursing coursework, you’ll have a more substantial base of knowledge to build from for the NCLEX.
Thankfully the ABSN program at Felician focuses on preparing you for the NCLEX through our rigorous nursing curriculum, made up of a combination of online or on-ground classes, skills and simulations labs, and clinical rotations. The questions on our nursing exams mimic the style you’ll see on the NCLEX, meaning you can start answering these types of questions early.
3. Start NCLEX Studying Early
Thankfully with the ABSN program at Felician, you’ll begin learning how to pass the NCLEX at the very beginning of nursing school. You’ll learn the fundamental topics that will be tested on the NCLEX, and you’ll even practice answering NCLEX-style questions on class exams. However, as you get closer to the exam day, you’ll need to start setting aside intentional time for NCLEX studying.
Students generally begin their official NCLEX studying in their last semester of the ABSN program. This gives them a few months to read through review materials and complete practice questions. Then, after you graduate, plan to set aside a month or two of full-time studying for the NCLEX. Full-time studying will enable you to synthesize your knowledge and get into a testing frame of mind.
4. Make a Schedule
When you start your focused NCLEX studying, it’s ideal to create a study schedule where you lay out exactly what you plan to do each day. Consider blocking out chunks of time to work on reviewing material, doing flashcards, or answering practice questions. Writing down a detailed schedule will increase accountability. Plus, it will help you know exactly what you need to do each day to stay on track. Studying for the NCLEX can be overwhelming, but planning how you’ll get through it in time for your exam can reduce your stress.
5. Do Lots of Practice Questions
Practice questions are hands down the most important part of your NCLEX preparation. Aim to complete as many practice questions as you can before taking the exam. These will solidify your knowledge, expose areas of weakness that need additional study time, and familiarize you to how NCLEX questions are structured.
Practice questions are valuable when preparing for the NCLEX because they:
- Involve active learning rather than passive learning
- Teach you what to expect on the exam day
- Expose the areas where you need to devote more studying
- Combine multiple topics into one question which helps you form connections
- Teach you how to pace your exam and answer questions efficiently
You will likely need to pay to access a practice question bank, but realize that the payoff is worth it. Two of the most common companies that offer question banks for the NCLEX are Kaplan and UWorld, though you can find many more options online.
6. Review Practice Questions
Once you complete a set of practice questions, the most important part of the process is reviewing those questions. Review every question, paying particular attention to those you answered incorrectly. With questions you missed, you’ll want to read answer explanations and figure out where your thought process went wrong.
A great NCLEX study tip is to take notes or make flashcards for each question you miss. Then, focus time on reviewing these concepts. Next time you see a question like this one, you’ll be better prepared to answer correctly.
For the questions you answered correctly, do a short review to ensure you had the correct thought process and didn’t just make a lucky guess.
7. Study Based on Your Learning Style
Everyone learns differently, and considering those differences will increase your efficiency during NCLEX preparation. While some people learn best visually, others may learn best through auditory, kinesthetic, or reading/writing strategies. If you don’t know your preferred learning style, take the free VARK questionnaire.
There are many ways to digest and review information for the NCLEX, so use strategies that align most with your natural learning tendencies. For example, knowing your learning style will help you decide whether to spend time working through flashcards, reading a review textbook, or watching review videos.
8. Take a Full-Length NCLEX Practice Exam
You’ll likely complete most of your practice questions in an unstructured manner, so practicing with the exact structure of the NCLEX is a vital part of your preparation. Make sure you take at least one full-length practice exam. If you can take more than one, that’s even better!
Focus on taking these exams during the final month or two of your NCLEX preparation when you’ll get the most out of the “dress rehearsal.” Then after each practice exam, remember to review the questions thoroughly and tailor future studying to the areas where you struggled most.
9. Mimic the Testing Environment
After graduation, you’ll begin studying full-time before your exam. During this time, it’s important to rehearse all the components of exam day ahead of time. A few ways you can mimic the testing environment to help you better prepare for your NCLEX include:
- Complete practice questions and exams in a quiet room at a desk or table with a chair.
- Build to the point of answering all practice question sets with the time limit enabled. This helps you practice your pacing for the exam.
- Complete your practice exam at the same time of day that your NCLEX will occur.
- Take the two optional breaks during your practice exam (and take them on the exam day too).
- Figure out which breakfast, snacks, and drinks will sit well with you on test day.
10. Prioritize Self-Care
When you take on the challenge of NCLEX studying, you may find yourself more stressed than usual. After all, passing this exam is the last major milestone before becoming a registered nurse. Studying will be your major focus and take up much of your time.
Even so, remember that you’ll need to be mentally, physically, and emotionally well in order to succeed. Set aside time for yourself. Take breaks, exercise, eat healthily, get enough sleep, and stay in touch with your loved ones. Balance is key in preventing burnout and remaining mentally strong for exam day.
Start Your Nursing Journey at Felician
Thankfully when you choose the right nursing school, knowing how to pass the NCLEX becomes simpler. Is the NCLEX hard to pass? Yes, but you have what it takes to succeed.
At Felician, we are committed to giving you the knowledge and skills you’ll need to succeed through our 16-month Hybrid ABSN and 18-month On-Ground ABSN programs. You’ll need to put in the time and effort to independently synthesize all that information and hone your NCLEX test-taking skills, but we’ll provide you with a solid foundation to build on.
If you already have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or at least 60 non-nursing college credits, you may be eligible for the Accelerated BSN program. Our Hybrid ABSN in Parsippany, NJ, offers three start dates yearly (in January, May, and August) and our On-Ground ABSN in Rutherford, NJ, offers one start date each May. Through a combination of nursing coursework, skills and simulation labs, and clinical rotations, you’ll develop the knowledge to become a registered nurse.
To learn more about the ABSN programs, reach out to our admissions counselors by filling out our online form. They’ll get in touch with you about the next steps. Remember, you have what it takes to transform your life and embark on your new calling as a nurse!