How To Pass the NCLEX: the Ultimate Guide
Guest post by Susan Du Pont
The ever dreaded NCLEX.
And all you can think about is its looming presence of unknowns. Mostly because you are afraid you will fail. This is a reasonable fear! I failed the first time I took the NCLEX and so have many others. Check out this post on failing the NCLEX.
It can consume you…
I know. It’s terrifying. The stuff nightmares are made of. In fact, you probably have been losing sleep over it.
Although not healthy it is actually normal. It’s similar to being in a gang. You think, “I want to be a nurse.” But then they put you through initiation and you do things you shudder to think about all the while prepping you to pass one big test that will decide if you are worthy to chill with the Jimmy AKA four legs or Timmy AKA lil’ roller of the Crips… From South Park… It’s a good episode… But you probably haven’t watched it because you are too busy studying for the NCLEX… So I digress…
I cannot promise you this fear and anxiety will go away entirely. Rather, I can funnel your anxiety into a good ‘ole fashioned check list that will help you structure your fears into a positive outcome. If you have a plan, study appropriately, and know that you have crossed your t’s and dotted your i’s then you will be able to stride in to take your test focused and ready to lay waste to NCLEX and exude awesomeness .
Thus, without further ado, I present to you the ultimate pre-NCLEX check list for you to check, double-check and take comfort in knowing you have it all under control.
The first thing you think about when preparing for the NCLEX is studying. Studying everything. But let’s be realistic here, there is no possible way you can know everything. You need a study plan for topics and for practice with NCLEX style questions.
The team over at NRSNG has put together the NRSNG Academy that touches on these topics for you and gives you access to two different types of question banks.
The first type is Nursing Practice Questions (NPQ). Here we have sorted questions for you into categories so you can pick a category you would like to cover. You can take as many questions you would like. They all come with rationales as well.
The second question bank we have is SIMCLEX and it is a computer adaptive test that operates just like the NCLEX does.
Check out the Academy here: NRSNG Academy
The following is an example list of topics and helpful websites. You need to add topics that you need to study.
For example, I’ve struggled with hypothyroidism my whole life, and guess what I didn’t
put on my list? That’s right: All things thyroid. I didn’t need it. However, I
added a lot of Cardiac and Mental Health on, because that is what I needed.
Customize this list to your needs.
How To Pass the NCLEX: the Ultimate Pre-NCLEX Checklist
Get your ATT
- Apply to your state board of nursing after meeting requirements
- Register with Pearson Vue
- Receive an email that acknowledges you have completed these steps
- Eligibility confirmed
- Pearson Vue sends you an ATT via email
- Schedule exam through Pearson Vue
You must schedule your test before the expiration date of the ATT
***Make sure your name and name on identification match exactly ***
Find your Pearson Vue testing place
This is important, do not overlook this. Find the location of your testing place and actually go there before you take your test. Do this more than once! Do it during the same time you will be taking your exam on the same day.
- Example: If your exam is on a Monday at 0800, drive to your testing location two weeks ahead of time on a Monday at 0800. Do this again one week prior to confirm traveling time.
Process Finger Prints
The specifics depend on the state you are applying to. Some states do not require this, some do. Check out your states BON for specifics.
Pack your bag for NCLEX test day
- The less the better. Do not bring a giant bag of everything you might want to study before you step in to take the exam. Actually, don’t bring anything to study. Zone out, take a moment of Zen before you walk into take this very important test.
- Pack a small bag (must fit in a small locker) the night before with the following:
- A small water bottle
- Small snack (nuts, granola bar, etc.)
- Peppermints (proven to help you focus!)
- One square of dark chocolate (Also proven to help you focus!)
- An acceptable form of ID https://www.ncsbn.org/1221.htm
Eat before taking the NCLEX
- Don’t skip breakfast, you need breakfast. But you also don’t need stomach issues while you are taking your test.
- Overnight oats are a go to favorite for me
- Toast with peanut butter and bananas
- Yogurt and protein granola with fruit
- Skip the coffee, or at least only have one cup. Trust me on this one. You don’t want to have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the exam and it not be the right time. Poor choices happen.
Time line Checklist
Ok so here is some of the same information listed above but in list form sorted by time.
What To Do the Month Of Graduation
- Register your finger prints if needed for your states Board of Nursing (BON)
- Apply to your states Board of Nursing (BON)
- Register for Pearson Vue
What To Do the Month before NCLEX:
- If you are travelling to test, plan to stay in a hotel the night before to eliminate lengthy travel issues. Now is the time to book the hotel to avoid forgetting and limited choices.
- Finish studying “topics” (pharm, cardiac, resp. etc.) Now is the time to just be practicing NCLEX style questions and test taking format.
What To Do Two Weeks Before NCLEX
- Make a plan for driving to your testing site. Are you driving? Is someone else driving? Get the details hammered out now.
- Drive to your testing place at the time you will be driving on the day of testing. So if you are testing on a Wednesday at 8am, drive two weeks prior on a Wednesday and arrive at 7:30am.
What To Do One Week Before NCLEX
- Re-test your driving time again the week before. Confirm that your times and directions are correct
- Look at the weather forecast. Adjust your travel time accordingly
- Write a list of what you want to pack for the day of taking the test. Make sure you have all these items and an appropriate bag to put them in
What To Do the Night Before NCLEX
- Go to bed early
- Do not cram all night. In fact, just don’t study the night before. You will benefit from resting your mind, body and soul.
- Eat a healthy dinner with whole grains, protein and vegetables
- Avoid greasy, fattening, sugary foods
- Lay out your outfit so you have one less thing to think about
- Pre-pack everything you are going to bring to the testing center
- Do not pack study materials. You can’t bring them into the testing center anyway. Plus, you need to stop thinking about nursing for a bit
What To Do the Morning Of NCLEX
- Arrive 30 minutes early. This is non-negotiable. If you are late you will not be allowed to test. This is a horrible outcome, do not do this to yourself
- Wake up with enough time to take a brisk walk, eat your breakfast, and shower
- Walking gets your blood flowing and is helpful for focusing
- Eating is very important. Don’t go into the test with a low blood sugar level, you will not be at your full potential
- Leave things like your tablet, smart watch, iPod, etc. behind. If you were used to listening to Eye of the Tiger before your exams as I did, you will have to do this on your morning walk. Trust me on this one, the less you bring the better
- While waiting to take your test try to meditate and go to your happy place
- Give the NCLEX test a kick in the pants, take names, leave threats
What To Do After Taking the NCLEX
Here’s some examples:
- Take a nap for the rest of the day
- Get cocktails with your friends
- Binge watch Netflix
- Get a massage
Whatever you do, make sure you relax. This was not just any test; this was a test you have spent years preparing for. Classes, tears, sacrifices… Do not forget your travels to this place and rejoice that you climbed the mountain. If you do not pass there is NOTHING you can do change that right this moment. Seriously. So take a breather. You earned it!
Until next time friend,
Come visit me at Ask Nurse Beth career column at allnurses.com for all kinds of entertaining and informative career questions and answers, and to submit your own question
Written by: Susan DuPont BSN, RN
Susan is an Emergency Room Nurse at a level 1 trauma center. She is a content editor at NRSNG.com. She has been a nurse since 2014 and loves to help grow the nursing community, especially nursing students.