How to Pick an NCLEX Review Course: 7 Questions to Help You Choose

Nursing Student looking at a computer
Nursing Student looking at a computer
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Passing the NCLEX the first time should be your goal, and finding the right NCLEX Review materials to get you there is paramount. With a lot of amazing options out there for NCLEX review, the key to finding the best one is to know exactly what you need.

7 Questions to Consider When Picking NCLEX Review

The right study materials can be the difference between feeling confident or overwhelmed on test day. As you navigate all the available review options, there are seven essential questions you should ask yourself to ensure you’re making the best choice for your study needs. This approach not only ensures you’re well-prepared but also maximizes your chances for success.

1. Do you require a foundational review?

If it’s been awhile since you graduated nursing school or you are a repeat test taker, you might benefit from revisiting foundational topics. Many NCLEX-prep courses include review curriculum by way of video lessons, written materials, or live lectures.

Of course, even those who do not need a content overview should still invest in NCLEX prep – specifically for practicing high-yield NGN questions. A QBank with in-depth explanations that reflects the recent changes to the Next Gen NCLEX will get you ready for test day.

2. Do you like to have physical books when studying?

This is where personal preference comes into play. Regardless of how you’ve had to adapt to ebooks and digital coursework in undergrad or nursing school, some students still prefer to have a physical book to work through or to take notes in.

If this sounds like you, then you should look for a NCLEX-prep course that will provide their own texts to progress through with the lessons or opt for a study guide that you can use on your own. 

The benefit of using a comprehensive NCLEX prep book is that the cost is exponentially lower than a live online or on-demand subscription course and you have a physical book to reference throughout your study plan. The majority of NCLEX prep books now offer both practice within the textbook as well as practice tests online in CAT format for realistic test day practice.

3. Online versus in-person – what format fits your lifestyle?

At the end of the day, your lifestyle and schedule will dictate whether a live or online review course will work out for you. If you have an erratic schedule with classes and work, then a live online NCLEX course will probably not be feasible – you would be best suited for a self-paced course, whether that is a self-paced online or a self-paced prep book.

Student attending NCLEX online prep course

Alternatively, for students who need to have commitments booked and paid for in order to maintain a regular studying schedule, then a live online or in person NCLEX prep course will help you stay accountable.

4. What’s your learning style?

Not all NCLEX Review courses include content and activities suited for every type of learner, so it’s important to seek out an NCLEX course that caters to your learning style.

If you are a visual learner, then double-check that your NCLEX Review includes lots of video content or that the live online classroom incorporates useful lecture slides, annotations, and visuals. Additionally, finding answer explanations that contain video or imagery will help a lot with reinforcing concepts.

For textual learners, you’ll want to choose a NCLEX Review course that includes lots of text-based lesson content or practice questions that include in-depth answer explanations. When you’re studying, incorporate note-taking or active reading strategies to get your brain flowing.

If you’re an auditory learner, you’ll thrive if you choose a Review course that includes lots of lectures, live online courses, or lesson slides that include audio. When you are studying, try explaining the concept to a friend or fellow student to help you better understand what you are learning.

If you’re still unsure of your learning style, Indeed provides a helpful guide that will help you to identify your learning style.

The best way to know if a NCLEX Review course is going to fit your learning style is to try it out. Most test-prep companies offer a free-trial that includes a small section of content to work through. If you’re considering a live online or in-person course, then you can usually book a trial session or ask to audit a class.

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5. How much can you spend on a NCLEX Review course?

If you’re on a tight budget, you can look for NCLEX-prep resources that offer more affordable, subscription-based options depending on how long you intend on studying. Some companies will offer subscription discounts for longer length study purchases. For example, if you plan on studying for the NCLEX for 6 months, then you would be better off with a 6-month prepaid subscription versus a month-to-month, cancel-anytime option. Similarly, if you think you may need an entire year to study, many companies will offer discounts for these longer time periods.

At the end of the day, self-paced NCLEX-prep resources are going to come with a much lower price tag than live online courses. As mentioned earlier, if you do not need a full curriculum review or an instructor to keep you motivated, you can still find a ton of value with a self-paced NCLEX Review course that includes a high-quality content review and variety of targeted study tools, such as UWorld.

6. How motivated are you to study independently?

Is it easy for you to make a plan and stick to it? If you are juggling multiple priorities or enjoy progressing at your own pace, then an on-demand or self-paced review course could be a great fit for you!

Nursing students in a group study

For those who are not blessed with academic rigor (myself included) you will need to find a way to keep yourself accountable. Use a resource that includes a built-in study plan or consider forming your own study group with other nursing students. By simply designating study times together, you can make sure that you show up and put in the work, especially when you’re not feeling especially motivated.

7. Do you need a pass guarantee?

Some, but not all, NCLEX prep courses offer a pass guarantee. It’s important to note that while these guarantees may sound promising, they often have conditions. Specifically, if you go through all the content of their NCLEX prep course and still don’t pass on your first attempt, they will either refund your money or allow you to retake the course for free.

This can help to give some nursing students peace of mind, as they feel there is a guarantee that they will pass on the first try. However, it’s worth mentioning that a pass guarantee typically only offers continued access to the same prep materials. If you study hard and do not pass, you have still lost the time, effort, and the confidence of going in and passing on your first try.

Probably a better measurement of whether you will be “guaranteed” to pass on the first attempt is to look at the NCLEX Review course’s pass rate. You’re more likely to fall along the pass rate if you complete the course appropriately.

Feedback and Reviews

It can be tough to navigate a sea of online information, where distinguishing genuine advice from fake reviews and inflated claims can be challenging. It’s essential, now more than ever, to ask for feedback from former and current students. Peer reviews are particularly relevant because they share the same academic background and perspective as you, making their feedback immediately applicable to your situation. By asking for testimonials from those who have used the resources you are considering to successfully pass the course, you’re leveraging their direct experiences.

How many NCLEX-prep resources should you buy?

One of the biggest decisions in your NCLEX journey is the choice of resources. Remember, quality often outweighs quantity. You probably already have a least one resource provided by your nursing program. This is a great place to start because these resources have been tailored to your curriculum and will provide a solid base for your review.

Next, pick a resource that includes NCLEX-style practice questions. Practicing exam-like questions as you prepare for high-stakes exams like the NCLEX is invaluable. Why? For starters, it introduces you to the exam’s format, ensuring you’re not caught off guard by unexpected question types. It also sharpens your time management skills, which will help you complete all the questions on the NCLEX within 5 hours. You’ll also learn which subject areas need more focus, allowing for a targeted and efficient study plan. Plus, there’s no denying the confidence boost you get when you’ve tackled and mastered challenging questions during your prep.

More importantly, practicing under timed conditions simulates the pressure of taking the real NCLEX, teaching you to think clearly under stress. Every mistake you make is a learning opportunity, and consistently reviewing explanations helps you refine your content knowledge. Remember, while reading and notes are foundational, integrating exam-like questions into your study routine is a game-changer.

However, a word of caution: using a lot of different resources without a clear strategy can be counterproductive. Without a study plan, there’s a risk of superficially touching upon topics rather than gaining a comprehensive understanding. In essence, it’s about delving deep rather than spreading wide. Whatever you decide to use for NCLEX-prep, set aside time to create a study plan so you can track your progress, adjust as necessary based on your strengths and weaknesses, and build your confidence.

The Bottomline to Picking an NCLEX Course

When it comes to selecting the right NCLEX Review course, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Considering these questions before purchasing can help you to prioritize what’s important for you and choose the resource that best fits your current needs.

Before diving into a purchase, it’s essential to take a step back and ask yourself a series of questions. What are your learning preferences? How much time can you allocate to the course daily? Do you thrive with self-paced study or structured sessions? By addressing these and other relevant questions, you’ll be able to shed light on your specific needs and priorities.

Once you’ve got a clear picture in mind, it becomes much simpler to navigate the vast sea of NCLEX Review options available. Remember, the goal is not just to find a course, but to find the one that aligns perfectly with your current situation, ensuring that you’re well-prepared to tackle the NCLEX with confidence.

About the Author:
Kristine Thorndyke is the founder of Test Prep Nerds, a resource for students seeking out the most accurate reviews, guides, and advice for preparing for their upcoming standardized test.

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