Having palpitations just thinking about the NCLEX-RN exam? I know I did.
With careful planning, a lot of studying, and a few hundred cups of coffee, I’m happy to report that I passed on the first try. And you can too. Keep reading and I’ll tell you about five things that really helped me succeed.
1. Become friends with the NCLEX test plan
Every year, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (those folks who invented the NCLEX) publishes their NCLEX-RN Test Plan (you should click the link and print it now!). You can also view the webinar here.
This test plan is a gold mine of detailed information about the exam including its structure, content, question types, scoring, and much more. Understanding how the exam works, and knowing exactly what to expect, will definitely help ease some of your anxiety as you’re studying and on test day.
2. Map out your route
I admit it. I’m a procrastinator. I’ve pulled “all-nighters” cramming for tests and written papers the night before they were due. But when it came to the NCLEX, I decided that probably wasn’t a good idea. To keep myself on track, and stay motivated, I created a study plan and schedule. Having a roadmap to follow is crucial if you want to make the most out of your study time and do well on the test.
3. Gather your arsenal
There are lots of resources out there to help you prepare for the exam. Try not to get too overwhelmed by all the choices. Along with your notes from nursing school, pick a few reputable exam prep tools (see my recommendations below) to include in your study plan and you’ll be fine.
4. Don’t get lost
On the day of my exam, I got lost driving to the testing center (in my defense, I didn’t have a GPS then). With only seconds to spare, I busted through the double glass doors and yelled, “I’m here!” to no one in particular.
Make sure you know exactly where you’re going—and how long it will take to get there— before the big day (plug it in your GPS). Take some time a couple of days before the exam to confirm you have everything you need. If you arrive late, all flustered and stressed, you may lose focus and not do as well as you could on the test.
5. Know the tricks
When you finally walk through the doors of the testing center (calmly, because you’re not late) and sit down in front of that computer, keep in mind that there are several helpful strategies you can use when taking a computer-based exam.
The NCSBN has a few tips on their page that you can review. And don’t forget to do lots of practice tests so you can get used to the format, style and content of the questions.
And there you have it—5 easy steps to help you pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Not so bad, right? Now go ace that test!