How to Pass the NCLEX? Guide for nurses

How to Pass the NCLEX? Guide for nurses

A question that most nursing students have in mind is “How to pass the NCLEX?” Some would even love the possibility of finishing the exam at the question mark in order to end the agony of the dreaded “nursing boards” as fast as possible. No one wants to pay the $ 200 to take the test again. So passing the NCLEX on the first attempt is a high priority

Nursing school is a challenging experience. Nursing students constantly ask “why is nursing school so difficult” to later find the NCLEX is even more complicated! As if the rigors you faced during your nursing education were not enough, then you have to take your professional degree exam. Now comes the stress of preparing for the NCLEX. Whether you have completed an RN or LPN program, you must still pass your “exams” to practice as a nurse. Nursing school is about jumping through hoops, and NCLEX is just one more to jump.

What is the NCLEX approval rate?

You may find yourself wondering “what is the NCLEX approval rate?” It is actually a fairly common question. Knowing how well others perfect this critical test is important. The NCSBN reports that the NCLEX 2018 approval rates (for BSN programs) are 92.39%. The following table shows the NCLEX approval rates for the ASN, diploma and even LPN programs.

The hard part is over. You have completed nursing school and have spent the time and effort necessary to be worthy of taking your state nursing exams. The exams you take in nursing school are intended to mimic the types of questions you will see at the NCLEX. In my experience, the questions about the nursing school exam of my senior year were much more difficult than 70% of what was in the NCLEX.

You passed them, right?

Not cram yourself

By now you know most of what you will know. Trying to review every detail you have learned in the last 2 years in a month is not going to take you anywhere. You should touch up areas that were difficult during school, but only briefly. Don’t try to memorize your entire book!

Just don’t do it!

Study, but don’t over study

Here is one of my favorite NCLEX tips, because it’s very simple. Determine a study routine and stick to it. I warn you not to overdo it here. If your study routine is to spend every hour awake from now until the day of the exam trying to cover each of the points you have touched in the last two years, you should seriously reconsider your decision. Spend a few hours each day reviewing what you fought during nursing school.

Be sure to also focus on the strategies for taking the exam. These strategies are really what you need to know to pass the NCLEX, rather than just the raw data that will make up the questions. Question banks are a great resource, but you need to make sure you are training your brain to think critically instead of trying to memorize the answers. This is one of the biggest mistakes that many NCLEX preparers make.

Focus on your problem areas

You should try to touch each area but spend more time in the areas you really struggled with. One of the areas for which most students are challenged is Pharmacology. Consider looking at some different resources outside the notes and books you already have. For the preparation of NCLEX Pharmacology, I recommend the Medmaster Course. It is very affordable and your video and audio lessons can save you a lot of time and effort when trying to find the pharmacological information you need to know from multiple resources. You can get more information about this course, as well as some tips for the study of pharmacology in our post 3 Pharmacology tips to help you pass the NCLEX.

Do not study the day of the NCLEX exam

Do not study the day of the exam. You will not find any magic formula on how to pass the NCLEX on the day of your test. You’ll end up stressing if you try to get into “just a few more questions.” We have already discussed how at this point you should not be trying to cram content. Try to find a relaxing activity to fill your day. But avoid anything NCLEX on the day NCLEX, except well … the NCLEX itself.

Show up early

The last thing you want to do is fail your test by missing your appointment. Make sure you know the way to your destination and arrive with enough time to go to the bathroom, drink some water, sit and relax. Try mindfulness if you would like to, it has tons of good effects in your state of mind especially during stressful times like these.

Follow your instinct and don’t doubt yourself

I can’t tell you the number of times I thought, “It’s supposed to be harder than this,” while taking the NCLEX. This will make you doubt about the answers you know; you just have to stop and tell yourself to stop doubting. If you know the answer, why would you try to tell yourself s that you don’t know it? You have to be confident in your decisions in the test. Read all the answers and use critical thinking, but don’t be afraid to follow your instinct.

CAT: Computerized Adaptive Testing

The NCLEX uses computerized adaptive testing technology. What that basically means is that the choice of your next question is based on whether you successfully answered a question. Once you answer a certain correct amount on a certain level, move on to the next level. You then have to answer a certain correct amount to increase again until you reach a minimum of 75 questions. Each question you answer causes the computer to estimate your likelihood of success. Therefore, based on how many answers are correct, it is predicted whether giving you more questions will help you pass or not. So passing the 75 questions does not mean you fail the NCLEX, it really means that it is quite certain that you can pass it. However, it needs you to answer some questions more correctly before you can be sure.

Don’t scare yourself trying to understand the CAT process

Don’t panic trying to find out if the question you are answering is easier or harder than the one you just answered. In addition to the fact that you are only wasting your time, and it makes no difference, somewhere on the order of 30 questions will be a “test” question to use in future NCLEX exams. So you may be going crazy because you have an easy question after a series of selection of all that apply and thinking you bombed them when the computer is actually launching a random “test” (which does not count) question.

Do your best and forget the rest

Do your best and trust yourself. It makes no sense to try to incorporate each and every one of the “what if” … You know these things, and you can and will pass the NCLEX and practice as a nurse.
Use the critical thinking skills you have developed in nursing school. They teach you exactly how to pass the NCLEX. All those hoops and ridiculous questions had some justification. Believe me when I tell you that nursing school will not be the last time you use your brain.
Hold on tight, this nursing trip can be crazy, but you will make it!!

Tell us your experience during the NCLEX, do you have any tips that we missed? Tell us in the comments.


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About the author

Sam Attal

Sam has been working in the healthcare industry for 5 years, she lives in Georgia with her husband and 2 dogs. She freelances as a content writer and loves to read about medical trends and share the knowledge around.

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