“Taking the NCLEX®” is a shared phrase in the nursing community — a tie that binds, no matter where you are in your nursing journey.
Students preparing for the exam face it with trepidation, those who have recently passed breathe sighs of relief, and veterans of the profession all seem to have an NCLEX story or two they love to share.
But one thing is for certain: The common denominator for NCLEX success is preparedness. There are no shortcuts to passing the NCLEX. If you have . . .
- Worked hard in school
- Used a study plan to prepare in advance
- Practiced with NCLEX-style questions, and
- An understanding of how to approach an NCLEX question on exam day,
. . . you can find the same success as the nursing professionals who have gone before you.
It’s this last point — understanding how to approach an NCLEX question — that often trips students up on exam day. We discussed a few things to consider for exam success previously; now let’s look at five practical tips to remember on exam day.
1. Approach the Question Calmly
With all the talk of “high stakes” and “licensure requirement” it’s understandable to feel anxious going into your exam. However, anxiety clouds your judgment and hinders your ability to perform at your best.
It’s important to settle your nerves, relax your shoulders, breathe deeply, and trust your test preparation. Don’t panic when you encounter a difficult item. Your success is not predicated on one answer. Move through the items calmly and confidently.
2. Recall Your Learning; Ignore Your Experience
If you have previous experience as a volunteer or a nursing aide, it’s tempting to rely on your on-the-ground experience when facing an NCLEX question. But what you observed at a particular healthcare facility is not what you are being tested on. Stick to the information you’ve been taught. Knowledge is key here, not experience.
3. Eliminate Wrong Answer Choices
After reading a question carefully, go through the answer options and eliminate any obviously wrong choices. This adds clarity and increases your chances with an “educated guess.”
When facing Select All That Apply (SATA) questions, it is beneficial to turn each answer into a “true or false” statement. This will help you eliminate wrong answers and identify each answer option that is “true” or correct.
4. Make This Assumption . . .
As mentioned earlier, clinical experience or observation may have demonstrated nurses making decisions based on a shortage of time or resources. However, when approaching an NCLEX question, assume that you have plenty of time and unlimited resources in the scenario presented to you.
5. Be Aware of the Testing Format
The NCLEX is a computer adaptive test (CAT). That means that the computer is learning your competency level as you take the test. In order to do so, you will face some questions that you consider easy and some questions that are beyond your level of knowledge.
If you are aware of this going into your exam, you can avoid dread or worry when asked a question you simply don’t know the answer to. There is an ebb and flow to the NCLEX, so stay patient and remember to eliminate wrong answer options.
If you are a nursing student yet to take the NCLEX, make sure you are thoroughly prepared for the exam. UWorld is the industry leader in NCLEX prep, and our online learning tools will have you confident and prepared on exam day. With NCLEX-style questions, detailed and thorough rationales, and precise performance tracking, we can help you ace the exam on your first attempt. Click here to discover why over 700,000 nursing students have used UWorld for their NCLEX prep since our Nursing QBank launched in 2015.