Welcome to today’s exciting and fun read on how to pass the NCLEX-RN exam.
We guarantee that by the end of this easy-to-read but detailed guide, you will know what is NCLEX and practical tips to ace this exam on your first try.
In particular, we will delve deep into the following essential topics:
If you’re planning to work as a Registered Nurse (RN), passing the NCLEX-RN certification exam should be your priority.
Let’s get into it!
After completing nursing school, the next crucial step in your professional Registered Nursing (RN) career is passing the NCLEX-RN National Council Licensure Examination.
Passing the NCLEX-RN exam opens the door to a fun and exciting nursing career.
According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), which develops the NCLEX-RN exam, over 13% of first-time NCLEX-RN candidates fail to meet the exam pass rates.
If you’re wondering how to pass the NCLEX RN exam, then you’re in the right place.
Our comprehensive NCLEX-RN test guide will outline the most relevant strategies and tips for passing the NCLEX RN exam.
Let’s start with the basics.
What is on the NCLEX RN exam?
NCLEX-RN exam structure and format
Understanding the number, type, and scope of NCLEX RN exam questions allows test takers to better prepare for this crucial certification exam.
NCLEX meaning the National Council Licensure Exam is an entry-level nursing licensure exam that uses Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT) to grade test-takers.
The adaptive test technology uses a candidate’s correct answer to determine the level of difficulty for the next question.
If a candidate gets an answer correctly, then the next question will be slightly harder and vice versa.
Let’s examine the NCLEX RN nursing exam test plan:
Number of questions
The NCLEX-RN is made up of between 75 and 145 questions with 15 practice questions that aren’t graded.
Practice questions are used to collect candidate feedback for the development of future exam questions.
Type of questions
This RN exam offers the following types of questions.
These types of questions have four possible answers and the candidates must choose the correct one.
Fill in the blanks questions.
Fill in the blank questions require candidates to input correct answers into the blanks provided in the question.
Multiple response questions
Multiple response questions require you to select all questions that apply out of four to six possible answers.
Hot spot questions
Hot spot questions require candidates to identify specific areas/hot spots on a map, chart, or graph by clicking with a mouse.
Drag and drop questions
Just like the name, drag and drop questions require candidates to rearrange or reorder a list of items to form a logical flow
Audio item questions
For audio questions, candidates need to listen to questions through earphones and then provide appropriate responses.
With graphic questions, candidates get four graphical options as answers to questions instead of written material.
Chart questions provide candidates with charts that provide relevant information leading to the answer.
Scope of questions
The NCLEX RN Registered Nurses exam tests candidates’ nursing education around four major client needs areas.
By focusing on these four content areas, the nursing exam NCLEX ensures that test-takers grasp the core principles of nursing.
Unlike nursing school training that focuses on individual nursing principles like pediatrics, mental health, medication administration, pathophysiology, and blood products technology, the NCLEX RN test questions combine the different nursing principles.
Here are the main areas that the NCLEX test covers:
1. Safe and effective care environment
- Management of care – 17 – 23%
- Safety and infection control – 9-15%
2. Health promotion and maintenance – 6 -12%
3. Psychosocial integrity – 6- 12%
4. Physiological integrity
- Basic care and comfort – 6-12%
- Pharmacological and parenteral therapies – 12- 18%
- Reduction of risk potential – 9 -15%
- Physiological adaptations – 11-17%
Let’s analyze how to study for the NCLEX RN exam:
NCLEX RN test exam preparation
Adequately preparing for the NCLEX-RN test is crucial in achieving the high passing standards required for this National Council Licensure Examination.
Here are a few sure-proof ways of achieving success in this crucial test:
1. NCLEX-RN prep courses
Using an NCLEX RN test course is a fast and efficient way of preparing for this vital nursing board exam.
Top NCLEX RN prep courses consist of:
- Customized study plans that allow you to organize your study schedule
- Full mock length NCLEX RN practice tests
- Different types of practice questions
- Flexible online and in-person learning packages
- Relevant course materials
- Intuitive mobile apps, video, and audio tutorials
Some of the top NCLEX RN prep courses include the Kaplan, Nursing.com, Princeton, Hurst, Mometrix, and ATI NCLEX RN prep review.
2. Join a study group
Study groups offer a friendly and conducive environment that is crucial in helping you prepare for the NCLEX RN licensing exam.
Consider forming a study group with serious people who will respect the rules and regulations of the group.
A study group will help you:
- Improve your communication skills
- Gain a different perspective on the exam questions
- Build confidence
- Remove boredom of self-study
- Helps you learn faster
3. Use a study plan
A study plan is an excellent way to manage your study time and ensure that you comprehensively cover the whole NCLEX curriculum.
Download an online study plan or develop one from scratch and personalize it to meet your requirements and unique needs.
Consider using the NCSBN test plan that contains a comprehensive review of the scope, structure, and format of the NCLEX RN test.
A study plan will help you:
- Identify and improve your weak areas
- Understand the scope and breadth of the exam
- Effectively utilize your study time
- Cover all the required sections of the exam
- Improve productivity
- Reduce last-minute stress
- Improve your NCLEX test score
4. Use practice questions
Practice questions are an excellent way of preparing for your NCLEX RN test.
Using practice questions gives you a feel of the tone, language, and format of exam questions and provides comprehensive rationales for exam answers.
Answer rationales help you better craft answers during the test.
Consider using either free or paid practice questions to prepare for the exam.
5. Hire a tutor
If possible, work with a qualified personal NCLEX tutor.
The tutor will save you time and provide you with excellent tips on how to pass the NCLEX RN test.
Tutors are usually professional teachers in nursing schools or practicing registered nurses with a solid grasp of nursing healthcare principles and NCLEX experience.
Consider either an online or in-person tutor who will walk you through the NCLEX examination process.
6. Use memorization techniques
Mnemonics is a good memorization technique that helps you remember complex material easily.
Don’t over-memorize, though; understanding the nursing concepts is better than rote memorization.
Also, consider using image-name association, acronyms, and the chaining technique to grasp complex topics and remember them better.
Using the tips stated above will increase the probability of success in this nursing certification exam.
Let’s analyze some exam tips for the day before the exam.
Before the exam day
The eve of the exam is an important day that can make or break your NCLEX RN exam attempt.
It’s important to maintain your physical and mental health at this stage to guarantee success during the exam.
Here are some excellent tips for the day before the NCLEX RN test:
1. Get enough rest
Rest is a weapon and getting enough of it is vital to your exam success.
Consider sleeping early and setting your alarm for an early morning wake up
Getting enough rest will improve your concentration, calm your nerves and avoid the last-minute rushing that may disorganize you.
2. Avoid alcohol and drugs
Don’t party on the eve of the exam day.
The NCLEX RN test requires a quick, sober and attentive mind.
Taking alcohol, partying, drugs and even caffeine may affect your exam performance.
Consider taking healthy drinks like milk, fruit juice, and water.
3. Don’t study on the last night
Research shows that studying or cramming on the eve of the exam may affect your performance during the test.
The material you study at the last minute stays in your short-term memory which may affect your long-term memory in the long run.
Consider taking the day off to relax.
Go for a walk, watch a movie, swim, or do other relaxing activities.
4. Eat a balanced diet
Taking care of your physical and mental health is crucial if you wish to perform well in your exam.
Ensure that you eat a balanced meal that contains all the essential food types and minerals.
Eating a proper meal before bed will ensure that your mind and body function optimally.
Don’t forget to drink enough water as this stimulates your brain.
5. Prepare your essentials before bed
Ensure that you pack your essential documents, food, and water and lay out your clothes before sleeping.
Arranging your stuff beforehand ensures that you won’t rush or forget anything essential for the exam.
Also, ensure that your car has enough gas, or if using public transport, ensure that you know the bus/train schedule and the route to the testing center.
Mental and physical preparation before the exam improves your chances of success.
6. Avoid taking new medications
Don’t take any new prescription or over-the-counter medication on the eve of the exam.
A new drug may cause adverse physical or mental changes that affect your performance.
If necessary, start your dose after the exam or reschedule your exam until you’ve cleared the dose.
Success tips on exam day
How you start the exam day will determine how well you do on the test.
Consider applying the following tips on exam day:
1. Arrive early
Getting to the testing center will psychologically boost your confidence and calm your nerves.
You will better acclimatize to the surroundings and identify important locations like the exam room and bathroom.
Consider arriving at least an hour before the start of the test.
2. Take a light breakfast
Taking a heavy breakfast will make you slow and less attentive.
Consider taking a light but healthy breakfast.
You can always eat after the test.
And remember to drink enough water.
Hydration is crucial for optimal brain performance.
3. Dress comfortably
Avoid tight-fitting or skimpy dressing that may make you uncomfortable.
Consider dressing in smart casual clothes with well-fitting closed shoes.
Remember that clothes are an important confidence booster.
A good trick is to dress in layers, which allows you to either take off or put on clothing articles as per your needs.
For example, you can put on a shirt and sweater or jacket.
4. Choose the best exam time
Candidates can either take the morning or afternoon NCLEX RN test.
It’s essential to identify a time when your mind is most active.
But please note that if you prefer an afternoon session, don’t use the morning hours cramming or trying to learn new things.
This will just cause more confusion.
Consider meditating before the exam if possible.
Meditation helps you calm down and clears your head, allowing you to think better.
You can also listen to relaxing music, read a magazine, or engage in other activities that help calm you down.
Approaching the exam in a relaxed state is a sure proof way of guaranteeing exam success.
Success tips during the exam
Here is how to take the NCLEX RN exam confidently and guarantee success:
1. Read each question carefully
Before answering a question read it more than once.
Reading a question severally ensures that you understand the examiner’s nuance and question objective.
Understanding exactly what the examiners require of you will reduce the probability of making a mistake.
2. Evaluate all options before making a choice
When faced with multiple-choice or multiple response questions, consider all available options before settling down on one particular answer.
Consider using the elimination method for multiple-choice questions where you first eliminate the most wrong options.
Take your time when answering questions to guarantee that you choose the most likely correct answer.
3. Pace yourself
The NCLEX RN nurses board examination takes five hours with 75 to 145 questions.
Divide your time by the maximum amount of time even if you don’t attempt all the questions.
Ensure that you don’t run out of time by pacing yourself properly.
Please note that running out of time before completing the minimum 75 questions is a direct failure.
4. Trust your intuition
Trust your gut instinct for questions that you aren’t very clear about.
Your nursing school training covers most of the nursing care training tested in the exam, and your subconscious may vaguely remember something.
The chances are high that your instinct will always be correct.
5. Take note of keywords
When reading through the exam questions, pay special attention to the bolded keywords.
Words like most, best, immediately, priority, essential and first are keywords that guide you in giving a satisfactory answer.
6. Remember the basics
Always consider the basics of patient care when answering all questions.
The NCLEX RN examination will base all its questions on the best patient care that an RN can provide.
The ABC (Airway, Breathing, and Circulation) are particularly important when answering questions.
How to pass the NCLEX RN exam is an essential subject for all aspiring Registered Nurses (RNs).
And while there are tens of NCLEX RN test-taking tips, hacks, and strategies, the ones outlined here will give you a definite advantage.
These practical, effective, and easy-to-follow instructions are proven to work.
Read each suggestion carefully and see how it fits into your NCLEX RN exam preparation schedule.
Kindly continue reading for answers to our reader’s frequently asked questions.