If you are reading this, you probably have recently completed your nursing degree successfully. That’s great! After you graduate from your Bachelor of Science or Associate’s of Nursing degree program, now it is time to take your NCLEX-RN examination that is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). You need a passing grade on that examination to earn your RN license for your state.
Before you schedule your examination, however, you will need to receive your Authorization to Test (ATT) from the NCSBN. You need to contact them to confirm your eligibility to sit for the examination. You must of course have passed your BSN or ADN program to take the test, for example.
Once you have your ATT, it is time to start to study for the exam. We have researched how nursing students who passed the nursing entrance exam did so, and we found these tips, tricks and hints that can help you to earn your RN license below.
About the NCLEX-RN Exam
The examination contains between 75-265 questions; the test will end when it is determined that your performance is above or below the standard to pass. Some candidates are able to prove they are competent and pass with 75 questions; the average candidate in 2009 received 121 questions.
#1 Target Critical Thinking and Memorization in Your Studying
As you well know by now, critical thinking skills are very important in nursing. So it is obvious that they are going to weigh heavily on your NCLEX examination. Some nursing exam questions may have several answers that ‘look’ right. But you have to choose the one that is ‘most right’ for that particular question and scenario.
Doing this will require you to have a lot of practice in making quick, efficient nursing decisions.
Other questions on the NCLEX exam will require you just to have done plenty of memorization. It is recommended above all that you focus on memorizing:
- Disease symptoms
- Normal lab values
- Side effects of drugs
#2 Never, Ever Cram!
If you have been studying nursing for either two or four years in your degree program, studying for weeks or months may seem too much. However, cramming for the NCLEX-RN examination is a recipe for failure. You also should not try to go over every single detail of the nursing material that you have learn in the last several years.
Rather, experts advise to focus on the areas of your nursing curriculum that you found the most challenging.
You also should not study on the day of your test. Make sure you got a good night’s sleep, and then do not study on test day. Go into the exam as relaxed as you can and do not wear yourself out with studying on the day of the test.
#3 Study the Test
It is a great idea to go the NCSBN website and learn as much as you can about the nursing exam. You could be amazed by how much information you can collect there about what is on the test. If you know pretty well what is going to be on the test, it will make your studying much easier.
For instance, did you know that the NCLEX exam features computerized adaptive testing? This means that when you answer a question, the computer is re-calculating your abilities based upon the answers you gave before and how hard those questions were. So, the sequence of test questions is quite different for every student.
#4 Hit the Practice Exams
To really feel prepared for this test, you should take plenty of NCLEX-RN practice exams. After all, to feel most prepared for your driving exam years ago, you probably spent many many hours behind the wheel. The more situations you put yourself in that are like the real test, the more likely you will do well.
One of the most common difficulties of the exam is that questions are worded in a way to trick you and make you think too hard. The practice exams can help you get used to how the questions are asked. There are plenty of free resources available that have practice NCLEX exams and questions.
#5 During Test, Visualize Each Scenario
Remember that the NCLEX-RN examination is testing your abilities and skills as a newly minted nurse. It does not assume you have 10 years of nursing experience. You should try to think about each scenario in each question as far as what you would do based upon what you learned in your nursing program in college.
Experts advise that you answer each question as if it is a work situation you encounter after three months as a nurse.
#6 Eliminate the Bad Answers Right Away
As you think about each nursing scenario or question, the best way to do it is to think of each possible answer as true or false. If the answer is false, then you should disregard it right away. Spend your time on the answers that make sense as possible answers. In most test questions there will be at least one answer that is obviously false, if you have prepared properly.
On the other hand, remember that what seems to be the most obvious answer could be wrong.
#7 Set a Goal for Answering Practice Questions
Some students who passed the test recommend that you study primarily by taking practice tests. After you get your authorization to test, you try to set a goal to take 100 or 200 sample NCLEX questions per day for several weeks.
When you miss any questions, you should not just read the answer and move on. It usually takes more in depth learning to remember something that you did not know. You should try to google whatever concept you missed and learn details about it. This can really help to increase your speed of learning concepts that you have forgotten.
If you follow all of these NCLEX exam tips, we think that you will have a good chance to pass the exam.