How To Use Flashcards To Prepare for the NCLEX®

How To Use Flashcards To Prepare for the NCLEX®

Like most nursing students, you may have been using flashcards to study your entire college career. So what makes UWorld’s NCLEX flashcards so special? In 2021, we enhanced our flashcards with spaced repetition technology to boost your productivity and enable you to more easily recall information on exam day. Innovative updates to our study tools, combined with our current and clinically-relevant NCLEX-style practice questions, ensure you have the best resource available to prepare for the exam.   Read on to learn how to leverage this technology to study smarter and pass the first time!

What Is Spaced Repetition?

Spaced repetition is a proven learning method for acquiring new information. German psychologist, Hermann Ebbinghaus, theorized that new information is more likely to be lost when you make no effort to remember it, but if you systematically retrieve that information over time, you will be able to recall it when you need it. 

NCLEX flashcards that utilize spaced repetition technology present difficult concepts more frequently until you master them, then less frequently so you will be forced to actively recall them later. This practice of active retrieval will help move concepts from your short-term memory to your long-term memory. Let’s explore how it works in practice with our NCLEX QBanks. 

Creating a Study Session with NCLEX Flashcards 

As you work through our NCLEX-style practice questions, begin creating flashcards for challenging concepts or key information that you want to study later. Be sure to incorporate images and illustrations where appropriate, as this will also improve your ability to recall that information. “Words are abstract and rather difficult for the brain to retain, whereas visuals are concrete and, as such, more easily remembered.” (Aisami, 2015) Remember, there is no limit to the number of flashcards you create, and the very act of creating a flashcard will help you build a stronger connection to that information.  

Now that you have several NCLEX flashcards created, open “Study” mode in your flashcard dashboard to launch your study session. 

  • New Cards: Shows how many flashcards in the deck have never been studied using the Study feature
  • Learning: Shows how many flashcards in the deck are still in the early phases (ie, short-time intervals) of learning. 
  • To Review: Show the total number of flashcards scheduled for review during the upcoming study session. 
  •  Last Used: This is the most recent date that the deck was reviewed using the Study tool. 

Click on the arrow button next to the NCLEX flashcard deck that you want to study. 

How To Use Spaced Repetition In Your Study Session

During your study session, you will see one NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN flashcard at a time. Each time you select “show answer,” you’ll be asked to assign a difficulty rating to that flashcard (“Again,” “Good,” “Easy”). The frequency with which you see the card in your study sessions will be determined by this rating.

Over the course of your study sessions, the system will modify the time intervals, adjusting to your choices. The first time you encounter a flashcard in a study session, the cards will appear in these intervals:

  • Again will show the card again in less than 1 minute. 
  • Good will show the card again in less than 10 minutes. 
  • Easy will schedule the card for another study session in 4 days

Using NCLEX flashcards with spaced repetition is most effective when it’s done in short sessions rather than one long session. By forcing your brain to actively retrieve information over longer and longer periods of time, you will strengthen those neural pathways and move the information to your long term memory. 

Whether you are creating NCLEX-RN flashcards or NCLEX-PN flashcards, we hope that you will create study sessions utilizing spaced repetition technology to study for the exam. We want you to study smarter-not harder so you will be prepared to pass the first time! 

To start using this new feature, log in to your QBank now or visit UWorld Nursing today!


Smolen, Paul; Zhang, Yili; Byrne, John H. (January 25, 2016). “The right time to learn: mechanisms and optimization of spaced learning”. Nature Reviews Neuroscience. 17 (2): 77–88. arXiv:1606.08370. Bibcode:2016arXiv160608370S. doi:10.1038/nrn.2015.18. PMC 5126970. PMID 26806627.

Aisami, Riad S. (February 20, 2015) “Learning styles and visual literacy for learning and performance” Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences. 176 ( 2015 ) 538 – 545 .

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