Next challenge: The NCLEX




Achieving my BSN was one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. After graduation, I could not wait to go out and celebrate with my friends. Unfortunately, the celebration was short-lived; I knew I had to get my head back into the books and study for the dreaded NCLEX, even though I had been preparing for it since our first day of nursing school. I plan on taking it within the month.

Here are a few tips that I have received from mentors and friends who have already conquered the NCLEX.

1. Take a diagnostic test.

If possible take a practice NCLEX. Many online sources offer practice tests, including the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, which developed the NCLEX.

2. Schedule your test.

After you receive your Authorization to Test, schedule your exam date. If you do not feel ready to schedule your test, give yourself a preparation deadline to keep on track with studying. Schedule your test when you feel more confident.

3. Review lessons/topics again.

When studying, prioritize your weakest subject matter. The diagnostic test will be helpful in determining what your weak subjects are. Spend extra time on improving these areas, but do not neglect studying your stronger subjects. If there is a topic that you just do not remember, review the content. My weakness is psychology. I was not doing well in psychology on the practice tests, but my scores improved after I reviewed the material.

4. Give yourself a rest day.

Allow at least one day out of the week to do something you enjoy. On that day, do 10-20 questions instead of hundreds. The break will help refresh your mind.

5. Do questions.

Every person that I have talked to about how to study for the NCLEX has replied with “do questions.” This is an extremely important part of prepping for the exam, as it allows you to become familiar with the style of questions used in the NCLEX. It also is important to review the rationales after you answer questions, in order to understand why the answers you chose were correct or incorrect. If possible, sit down one day out of the week and do 265 questions, but take a break as if you were sitting for the real NCLEX. I have been told that it is important to take breaks on the day of the exam. It is not easy to answer 100 questions straight.

Find out what helps you refocus before your test, so you can use this method on the day of the test. If you are still receiving questions during the exam, you are still in the game and still have a chance to pass, so do not get discouraged.

6. Be prepared the day of the big exam.

Drive or take public transportation to your testing center a couple of days before your testing date, so you know exactly what building to report to and where parking is located.

Pick out an outfit the night before and get plenty of sleep. Eat a good breakfast the morning of your test.

If you get sick one or two days before the test, remember that you have up to 24 hours before the test to change your test date.

I’m sure you have been working extremely hard preparing for the big day, so give your brain a break the day before your NCLEX and do something you enjoy.

Best of luck to all of you who are preparing for the NCLEX! If you have any helpful tips to add to my list, please help your fellow future RNs by sharing them below.


About the author
Kristen Ponticelli

Kristen Ponticelli 

Kristen Ponticelli is a senior nursing student at Molloy College in New York. Her posts from a student nurse’s perspective will appear on Nurse.com the last Friday of each month. Write to Kristen by sending an email to blogs@nurse.com.

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