Preparing for NCLEX

Hi! My name is Kristianna and I completed nursing school and became an RN a little over a year and a half ago. I completed my BSN at Queens University of Charlotte in December 2014, and I took NCLEX (and passed on the first try) in January 2015. I would love to share some tips about preparing for NCLEX, so here they are:

Kristianna P., R.N.
Kristianna P., R.N.

First and foremost, congratulations on finishing nursing school! That is quite the accomplishment and it takes a lot of heart, hard-work, dedication and time. Congrats to you!

Below are my seven tips for you:

One—Before even beginning to study for NCLEX, it is important to take time for yourself. Do something you enjoy! Catch up on rest, go shopping, spend time with friends, etc. Do anything that is stress free and fun for you. I personally decided to take 1 week off after completing nursing school for rest, relaxation, no studying and even no work. It was solely “me time”. Many of my friends took more time off. The point is that your mind and body need rest and to focus on other things than studying. You owe it to yourself and you will be thankful for taking the time off in the long run.

Two—If you haven’t already done so, get yourself a comprehensive NCLEX review book. There are many great ones out there. I personally used Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination / Edition 6. It is inclusive of all of the major concepts covered in nursing school and includes 5000+ NCLEX-style review questions and rationales. It is a wonderful content review resource and would be a great addition to your study collection. This was the main study book that I used to prepare for NCLEX, and is the only book that I can truly speak on. This additional link provides 10 other NCLEX review books for other suggestions:

Three—Map out a study schedule and stick to it! If you don’t make a set schedule, life gets in the way and you end up telling yourself that you’ll just study later. Later is not good enough! Time will run out and the few weeks (or however much time is left prior to taking NCLEX) is all that you have. Do you really want to take NCLEX more than once? Absolutely not. Look at the week ahead, one week at a time, and do what you need to do to schedule chunks of study time. I studied between 4 and 6 hours a day and studied my content by system. I started with fundamental nursing concepts, and then progressed through the body systems, related diseases, key assessments and associated medications.

Four—There is no way to study everything you learned in nursing school. Make a general outline or checklist of what content you’ll study on particular days to organize yourself, and use that as your guide. I used my Saunders Comprehensive Review book as a guide to how I wanted to break up the material I’d be studying, and it made the task of studying less daunting.

Five—Know your lab values! Lab values (normals, critically high and critically low values) will be thrown at you left and right on NCLEX. Lab values are one of the main things to definitely memorize for NCLEX. I made flashcards and flipped through them until they were committed to memory.

Six—Practice tons of NCLEX-style questions! Whether it be through a review book, or an online program, questions are a great study tool. After a while of doing tons and tons of questions, they start to look alike. NCLEX will be HARD and one of the best ways to prepare is to do practice questions. If you get them wrong it’s okay! Read the rationales and move on. If you have the ability to focus on assessment, nurse priority, and delegation style questions, that’ll definitely work to your benefit.

Seven—Take a content review course. Hurst Review is the review course that I took 1.5 weeks before NCLEX and it was wonderful! It’s a 3 day live review course (or it can be done completely online through watching the provided videos) and includes a comprehensive “fill-in-the-blank” review book with content, medications, labs, tips, and strategies relating to NCLEX. Passing NCLEX the first time is Hurst’s goal and I would absolutely recommend this course to ANYONE taking NCLEX. A link to their website is provided:

I hope these tips helped! The task of preparing for NCLEX is no easy one, but it is possible. Think about all the wonderful nurses that you already know. They have been exactly where you are. I have been exactly where you are. It can be done! Good luck 🙂

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