If you are anything like me, when looking at the process of nursing school and then having to pass the NCLEX-RN, it can be easy to wonder if nursing school really prepares to you to pass the test. Now that I am a nurse, I can tell you that, yes, it really does – just not in the way you might think.
How nursing school prepares you to pass the NCLEX-RN
Nursing school prepares you to pass the NCLEX-RN by laying the foundation of your nursing knowledge. You will learn about the systems of the body, human development, physical assessment, pharmacology, research, and the list goes on. You will get hands-on practice of clinical nursing skills like starting IVs and taking blood. You will gain experience communicating with patients, their families, and other members of the healthcare team. What all of this amounts to is building a large, working network of information that helps you to assess patients, understand their unique circumstances, and then make decisions that result in safe nursing care.
How you may need preparation outside of nursing school to pass NCLEX-RN
The NCLEX-RN exam is quite a bit different that other types of standardized test you might be used to. It isn’t an exam that only tests your ability to recall information. The NCLEX is designed to ask questions that make test-takers apply what they know on a variety of nursing topics. An example of this may be to present you with a patient situation and then ask questions that determine if you can safely prioritize the needed nursing care. Questions like this are often referred to as NCLEX-style questions. Many of the exams you take in nursing school have some elements of NCLEX-style questions but one of the best strategies for passing the NCLEX-RN, is to practice answering these kinds of questions. This is why many students feel that additional test preparation classes or focused studying outside of the nursing program are most helpful and I wholeheartedly agree! How much time you feel you need to prepare is up to you.
Nursing school is a great place to learn a variety of content related to the practice of nursing and all of that knowledge will help prepare you to earn a passing score on the NCLEX-RN. But, it is important to note that the NCLEX-RN exam isn’t just about recalling the information you learned. The questions are designed to make sure that you can provide safe nursing care through the application of your knowledge. This is why many students seek out additional preparation for passing the NCLEX-RN in addition to the experience of nursing school.