Tips for Preparing for the NCLEX

by South University 17 June 2013

If you’re planning to become an RN, you probably already know that you must first pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Although many people consider the NCLEX to be a difficult exam, a little practice and preparation goes a long way. Read on for ways that you can prepare!

Learn about the Exam’s Format

Nurse Symbol

Learning about the exams format is an important first step. The NCLEX is a form of computer adaptive testing (CAT), which means the test is taken on a computer and questions vary based on your answers, so that every person takes a different version of the test. By basing each question on previous answers, the test can more accurately asses your skills and knowledge.

As an RN candidate, you could be asked anywhere from 75 to 265 questions. The questions are primarily multiple choice but other types of questions are included as well.

Familiarize Yourself with the NCLEX Questions

The NCLEX requires you to understand the needs of patients as well as important procedures and processes you should follow as a nurse. According to the NCLEX-RN Test Plan document, the test is segmented in the following four primarty categories and subcategories:

Safe and Effective Care Environment
• Management of Care
• Safety and Infection Control

Health Promotion and Maintenance

Psychosocial Integrity

Physiological Integrity
• Basic Care and Comfort
• Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies
• Reduction of Risk Potential
• Physiological Adaptation

Questions about the Nursing Process, Caring, Communication and Documentation and Teaching/Learning are included within all of these categories. Management of Care, Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies, and Physiological Adaptation are the areas where you will see the most questions. For more information on these categories and what they contain, review the Test Plan document.

Utilize Effective Study Methods

Start by visiting the official NCLEX website and searching for study guides online. If you choose to purchase a study guide, Saunders Comprehensive Review is ranked highly by previous test-takers. Finding a study partner or partners can be helpful as well. Form a study group with other nursing students, with each of you focusing on different topics and then reviewing them with each other.

Here are a few other study tips to try:

• Use mnemonics to memorize large lists of information.
• Carry flash cards with you to use whenever you get a free moment.
• Take practice tests to determine which sections you need to review.
• Set realistic goals for what you need to review and how much time it will take.
• Study when you are the most alert, and take frequent breaks.

Studying and preparing for the exam well in advance will help you to get a feel for the test and hopefully decrease test-day nervousness! Once you become an RN, consider earning an advanced nursing degree to help you advance your career.

At South University, The College of Nursing and Public Health offers bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in nursing. Learn more here!

South University does not guarantee third-party certification/licensure. Outside agencies control the requirements for taking and passing certification/licensing exams and are subject to change without notice to South University.