7 Top NCLEX Tips and Tricks

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Utica ABSN students studying

If you are thinking about going back to school to become a nurse, you’ve probably researched a number of different Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs. Something you may have noticed is the NCLEX pass rates held by different schools. But why is this important, and what is the NCLEX in the first place?

The NCLEX, or NCLEX-RN® (otherwise known as the National Council Licensure Examination) is the exam that you must pass after graduating with your nursing degree to obtain your license to become a registered nurse (RN). This will be crucial in achieving your goal of starting your dream career as a nurse. However, this exam is notoriously difficult. And for good reason. Patients trust nurses with their lives, and other healthcare professionals rely on nurses as valued members of the patient care team, so ensuring that RNs have expertise in their abilities is necessary. And because this exam is challenging, it is important that you find a program that will prepare you well for it. That is why we recommend choosing a program that boasts high NCLEX pass-rates, as this is a great way to measure the quality of a program.

However, it is important to note that even though your nursing program should prepare you for your NCLEX exam, you will have to do most of the heavy lifting. We’ve compiled a list of 7 NCLEX tips and tricks to help you start thinking about what you should be doing to prepare.

1. Create a Study Plan

If you are wondering how to prepare for the NCLEX, the most important thing you must do is to create a study plan. In doing so, you’ll create specific goals and expectations you need to meet. This will help to hold you accountable and keep you on track to ensure that you are ready for the test when it comes around.

To create an effective study plan, you must set a schedule for yourself. Get out your calendar or planner and mark your test date. Once you know how long you have to prepare, create a study schedule accordingly. Block out time each day to focus on studying and schedule practice exams for yourself as checkpoints to see where you are at before you take the real thing.

2. Create a Dedicated Study Space

In addition to making sure you are spending adequate time studying, the time you do spend studying should be used to the maximum possible benefit. And quality study time requires a distraction-free space. For those looking for NCLEX study tips, we recommend setting aside a space in your home dedicated solely to studying. Make sure this space is clutter-free and quiet. If you live with others, let them know that you need to focus and ask them to limit interruptions (this can be easier said than done, especially for all the parents out there). Setting up your space in a room where a door can be closed or using noise-canceling headphones can help to further limit distractions.

Utica nursing student studying

3. Refine Your Test-Taking Strategies

Now that you have a schedule and a study space, it’s time to consider your test-taking strategies. The NCLEX is not set up like a traditional exam that you may be used to from your previous educational experiences. Oftentimes, the test will list several answers that are correct, however you must choose the “most correct” answer. You should also expect a variety of question styles. For example, many students become overwhelmed when it comes to “select all that apply” questions. Rather than looking at that list together, just evaluate each option by itself, as if it were a true/false question. Another test taking strategy to keep in mind is to eliminate answers you know aren’t correct first.

4. Use Your Resources

As a student in Utica’s ABSN program, you will have many resources available to you to help you in your NCLEX preparations. One of the biggest ways we help you to prepare is by building in NCLEX prep into our curriculum. Students can expect NCLEX-style exams throughout their time in the program to help them get used to these types of tests.

Our ABSN students can also use Kaplan testing as an ongoing resource to practice for the exam throughout the program. Most students take a Kaplan course after graduation to prepare them for the NCLEX, whereas our Kaplan course goes along with each semester and builds with the material. There is a Kaplan exam for each specialty that consists of 75–90 multiple choice questions that are like the NCLEX questions, and it can help students assess how well they are retaining what they’ve learned.

Although you will have Kaplan as an ongoing resource, your final days in the Accelerated BSN program will also be dedicated solely to NCLEX prep. We are proud to offer so much extra support to our students and highly encourage them to take full advantage of everything we have to offer.

5. Prepare the Day Before the Exam

When the day before the exam comes around, you should be ready to take the test. If you have stayed on track with your study plan, you should be in good shape. If you must, do a little bit of review, but most of the day should not be spent studying. Try to manage your stress the day before by relaxing, working out, or spending time with family and friends. Make sure you know your route to the testing center and approximately how long it’ll take you to get there. Set out some snacks to take with you and lay out your outfit for the next day (we recommend layers so that you can be at a comfortable temperature while you take the test). Eat a healthy, balanced dinner and make sure you get to bed early so that your brain will be alert and ready to go for the exam.

Utica ABSN student using laptop

6. Bring it All Together on Exam Day

It’s time for all your hard work and determination to come to fruition. Once exam day hits, you will be more than prepared to take the NCLEX. Take a few deep breaths and take your time with the questions. Remember, it’s not a race. Think through all your answers and once you decide on one, don’t second guess yourself. Oftentimes, your gut will be right. The only time you really should be changing your answers is if you realize you read the question wrong or missed some information.

7. Trust the Process

While it is normal to be nervous on your testing day, try to remember that you have worked incredibly hard to prepare for the NCLEX. When you’re in the exam room rather than thinking about how difficult the exam is, think about how well you’ve prepared yourself and how excited you are to begin your career as a nurse. If you come across a question you aren’t sure of, don’t panic. Take some time to think back to your study sessions and coursework and trust your intuition. You got this! Remain calm and trust that you did a great job preparing yourself for this moment.

Two ABSN students studying together at desk with their laptops

Are You Ready to Take the Next Step to Becoming a Nurse?

While you must pass the NCLEX to become an RN, these NCLEX tips will only be of use to you if you first complete an ABSN program. Utica University has consistently maintained high NCLEX pass rates, and our expert nursing professors and faculty members are dedicated to providing the support that students need to succeed. If you are ready to learn more about the program at Utica, contact us today to speak with an admission representative.

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