Studying for the NCLEX® Exam
Now that you’ve finished nursing school, you’re closer than ever to fulfilling your calling to be a nurse. But before you start as a practicing clinician, there is one more hurdle to clear — passing the NCLEX®. Here are some helpful tips to maximize your study for the exam:
Put Together a Study Plan
Diligent preparation happens best in the framework of a study plan. Six to twelve months before your anticipated test date, put together an action plan of daily study. The best study plan will build a timeline, use a quality preparation resource, schedule regular practice, involve study partners to keep you accountable, and allow for remediation of subjects or systems that require more study than others.
Choose the Right Study Resource
- Over 2,000 NCLEX-style questions that are written at the application level or higher
- Detailed rationales for correct and incorrect answers
- Vivid illustrations to help master content
- Performance tracking to identify weaknesses and improve test-taking skills
- Self-assessments with NCLEX readiness predictors (select packages)
Set Personal Goals and Study Incentives
Instead of just sitting down to study a few times a week, set goals for yourself. For example: I’m going to work through 10 questions and rationales each weekday. If I meet my goal, I’ll order my favorite takeout meal. Your goals will change the closer you get to your exam, but give yourself a target to aim for and then reward yourself when you hit your mark.
Gather Advice from Nurses Who Have Recently Passed the NCLEX
One of the most practical things you can do to prepare for the exam is ask others how they successfully studied for and passed theirs. Nurses who have gone through the NCLEX preparation process are usually happy to share a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes for exam success. (Here’s a great example.) Ask questions and think about working the advice into your plan. They know what you’re going through because they’ve been through it themselves.
Get Into the Habit of Studying
The reason we don’t forget to feed the dog, brush our teeth, or grab a morning coffee is because these are things that are part of our daily routine. In order to be the most prepared you can be when you sit for the NCLEX, make a habit (or routine) out of studying. Choose a set time each day for your study and try not to veer from that schedule. For some, first thing in the morning is best. For others who are balancing work and school, lunch or dinner may be the only time they have. Whatever time you choose, get into the habit of using that time for study.
If you’re not intentional about eliminating distractions, they will most certainly appear during your study session. Choose a time and place where you can focus solely on exam prep. Avoid busy coffee shops, put your phone away (unless you’re using it to access your UWorld QBank), ignore social media, and turn off the television. Interruptions will inevitably happen from time to time, but if you’re diligent about focused study, you can limit those interruptions and maximize your study time.
In the months leading up to your exam, there will be good days and bad. Some study sessions will be great and others will be a struggle. Remember why you’re putting in the hours and trust that your efforts will pay off in the long run. Your NCLEX is the final step to realizing your dream of being a practicing nurse. Keep your chin up, and keep looking for that light at the end of the tunnel. A positive attitude goes a long way in finding success on the exam.
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