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Can You Study for the NCLEX-RN in One Week?

We are all guilty of procrastinating sometimes, right? Well, you can study for the NCLEX-RN in one week but I wouldn’t recommend it as a strategy for success.  In order to take the NCLEX-RN, the application process and test scheduling can take a few weeks to a few months depending on what state you are in.  You have plenty of time from the when you apply to when you actually take the test to set up a preparation schedule that will fit your needs. But, let’s just say that you’ve put off studying and now your test is a week away.  All hope is not lost.  Here are a few strategies for NCLEX-RN preparation…FAST!

student nurse with booksPhoto by Walt Stoneburner

Read over the test plan

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing publishes a test plan for all would-be test takers to view.  Start here for an overview of the exam and to get familiar with the topics that you will find on the test.

Set your daily schedule

If you have only 7 days to study, you need to set your schedule so that you are doing test prep every day. Be realistic.  Don’t plan to study 18 hours a day.  You need sleep, food, and exercise too.  Be strategic about how much you take on every day and plan to maximize productivity with the time you have.

Find your resources

Seek the help of a test prep expert, an online class or message board, books from the library, or any other test preparation strategies that suit your learning style. Look for resources geared toward studying on a timeline. If it were me, I’d pay close attention to study methods that hold me accountable so that my week of prep doesn’t accidently turn into an all-night cram-fest. (Which, incidentally, I also do not recommend).

night before the exam


Practice NCLEX-style questions

Focus a lot of your time on practice questions. You can’t cram everything from the NCLEX-RN into a week of studying but you can make learning how the questions are asked a priority. NCLEX questions are designed for you to apply your knowledge to complex situations to demonstrate your ability to provide safe nursing care. The more practice you have with these questions, the easier it becomes to break them down and find key words and phrases that will help you pick the correct answers.  There’s not trick to this step.  As we’ve all heard, practice makes perfect!
While studying in a week isn’t ideal, it doesn’t have to destroy your chances of passing the NCLEX-RN. The keys to studying in a short amount of time are to prioritize what you are studying and be consistent with the time you have.  Now, what are you waiting for? It’s time to hit those books!

About Stephanie

Stephanie is a contributor to the NCLEX-RN Blog at Magoosh. She has been a registered nurse for 13 years. She earned her AAS in Nursing from community college before enrolling as an online student at Grand Canyon University, where she completed both her BSN and MSN with an emphasis in Nursing Education. Student success is her top priority and she is committed to working with her students to see them thrive. When she isn’t teaching the nurses of tomorrow, Stephanie enjoys traveling with her family to warm, sunny places.

2 Responses to “Can You Study for the NCLEX-RN in One Week?”

  1. Tameika says:

    Please is there any help. I’ve been out of nursing school for almost 8 years. I take my exam on April 4, 2017. I just have no clue where to began studying. Can u please help me.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

      Hi Tameika,

      A lot of NCLEX test-takers out there feel your pain! But this may not be as scary as it seems. The first think you’ll want to do is take a n NCLEX-RN practice test. This will “de-mystify” the exam for you. You’ll be able to understand exactly what’s on the test. And you’ll get a feel for your weaknesses on the exam.

      You’ll also get a feel for your strengths. And you’ll have strengths! In fact, practical work experience is very valuable on the NCLEX, more valuable than nursing school classes. For the most part, the NCLEX focuses on real aspects of actual nursing work. You have questions on calculating medication doses, handling patient information, administrating CPR, critical thinking and decision making on the job, etc…. Even when academic knowledge is required, you usually take relatively simple concepts like as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and apply those concepts to actual work situations.

      In other words, in addition to taking a practice test, you should take a deep breath. Recent school experience isn’t essential to NCLEX. Having the wisdom and knowledge to be a good nurse? That’s what you really need. And you just may already have that, Tameika! 😉

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