The following tips can help you attain the passing score you deserve after all those hours of nursing education and training.
1. Get Your Bachelor’s Degree. The highest NCLEX pass rate for first-time test takers (87.49%) are U.S. educated nurses with a baccalaureate degree. That extra education and training pays off. In addition to helping you pass the NCLEX, a B.S. or B.A., will also increase your chances of advancement once you become a nurse, further preparing you for an advanced nursing degree or certifications, like a nurse practitioner or nurse anesthetist, later on in your career.
2. Don’t rely on cramming. Unlike other tests, the NCLEX isn’t designed to see how many stats or acute facts you’ve memorized. Rather, it’s designed to ensure you know enough to proceed as an entry-level nurse. You are not expected to know everything, but you are expected to be competent. Cramming will not work because the test requires a comprehensive knowledge of nursing and that kind of knowledge requires time to absorb.
3. Study what you don’t know. Think about how you study. Do you continue to review flashcards or notes you know by heart? This is waste of time. Instead, whittle studying materials to the subjects/facts you don’t know or are struggling with and eliminate the rote stuff so it doesn’t take up valuable study time.
4. Find the best study guide for you. It’s worth it to purchase a reputable study guide, one that provides sample questions and factoids along with test-taking strategies. Some popular examples include Saunders Strategies for Test Success or the Lippincott Q&A Review. There are also plenty of online sources and apps available to help you as well.
5. Create a realistic study plan. Creating a manic and unrealistic NCLEX study schedule – eliminating adequate breaks, nourishment, and good ol’ fashioned fun – will inhibit your brain from working effectively. Instead, soothe nerves by creating a realistic study schedule that includes a balance of study time and break time, along with your school and other responsibilities – and then stick to it.
6. Study with a group. Studying with a group is especially helpful for audio and kinesthetic learners, for whom text-only reviews can be tiring and inefficient. Working with a group also helps to balance levels of expertise; perhaps one or two people are experts at pharmacology while you have a stronger edge on the psychosocial aspects of the test.
7. Eat well & get plenty of rest. The better you fuel your body throughout nursing school and the NCLEX prep period, the better prepared the brain will be on test day. A healthy lifestyle will help you absorb and retain more material and will help you remain more alert and energetic. Similarly, the brain functions best when it’s well-rested. Get optimal hours of sleep each night – most importantly the few nights leading up to the test.
8. Show up early. Leave plenty of time to arrive at the test destination. You may have to forfeit your NCLEX appointment if you arrive 30-minutes or later. Map the route ahead of time and schedule your departure time accordingly.
Best of luck!