10 Important Tips when preparing for the NCLEX-RN Exam


I’ve been an NCLEX reviewer for 8 years before moving to the United States to pursue my RN career. I’ve handled a lot of students from different places, with different backgrounds and abilities. In my experience of coaching students, I have realized that NCLEX preparation is unique to an individual. Reviewing for NCLEX requires your own personal creativity. In this article, I have summed up the usual advices I give to the students I have coached over the years. So are you ready?

Here are my tips to become a successful USRN:

1. Know your learning style. This is basic. Each one has his or her own learning style. You have to find out which one is effective for you. Are you a reader? An  Audio-visual learner? Do you remember stuff when you write them down? Do you learn thru kinetic movements? Do you need to enroll in a review center? You decide.

2. Review a credible material. Not all materials are credible. You have to consider carefully which books or materials are effective. Try asking your friends who passed the examination. Or you may also want to use audio-videos materials.

3. Master your concepts or foundation. This is a must! This is what those who flunk the exam lacks. It is important that you face the exam fully prepared cause the exam can be very tricky. You need to do a lot of reading and memorizing to successfully pass the exam. Nobody passes the NCLEX without sacrificing and giving time and effort to study for it.

 4. Take your time. Review and take the exam at your own pacing. Not because your friend prepared and passed the exam in only one month, doesn’t mean you can too. You both have different abilities and preparation level. Remember the exam is a computer adaptive method which measures your individual ability. You are the only person who knows when you are really ready to tackle the exam.

5. Focus on your weak points. Take exams that are categorized by concepts (subject topic e.g. Obstetrics, Psyhciatric, Med-Surg, etc.) and client-needs based (following the NCLEX Test plan e.g. Safe and Effective Care). Whichever you get the lowest score, those are your weak points. The rule is where you get 60% and lower in your tests, review that concept or topic again.

6. Answer lots of Q&As. Train train train! This is important. The more questions you answer, the more you pass the exam. But don’t forget, read the rationales too! So you can learn from your wrong answer. This also develops your mental stamina, your ability to provide high quality answers for extended periods of time.

7. Read on topics you are still confused with. While you are doing your Q&As, write in a note the topics that you don’t know or are still confused with. After reading the rationale, open your textbook or reviewers and scan your notes for that topic. That way, you can master that concept too.

8. Computer training. This is the technical aspect of taking the exam. I know it sounds easy to use the computer for the exam. But factor in the anxiety plus looking at the screen for hours during the exam, it could ultimately affect your concentration. Your eyes can strain and you begin to become impatient. Train your eyes to face the computer for 2 hours or more. Get a PC application, program or online review that requires you to do the exam in the computer.

9. Create a personal review schedule. Plot in a calendar each topic and your time frame to finish that topic. Being organized in your review process helps  a lot in your preparation for the exam. This way, you can track your progress and know when you are ready to take the exam.

10. Ask your friends who took the exam about their experience. Be creative and befriend those people who took the NCLEX too. That way, they can share with you their first-hand experience in the NCLEX. This might help you a lot!

If you are not confident enough, my advice is for you to enroll in a reputable review center with a proven track record in the NCLEX exam. That way, your mentors can also motivate you as you review for the exam. Live lectures are very effective cause they provide direct and instant feedback to reviewees like you, so anytime you are confused with something, you can always have your lecturer explain it in detail for you. There are also credible online review programs out there and they are really effective. You may want to research a bit before you enroll in one.

And finally, relax! You are not expected to know everything. The exam is not meant for you to get a perfect score. Anxiety could ruin your chances of passing the exam. Don’t pressure yourself. Focus and concentrate. You are almost there, on your way to becoming a successful examinee with a new title to brag – USRN! Good luck!