Tips to manage anxiety before taking the NCLEX

Tips to manage anxiety before taking the NCLEX

If you’re a nursing student getting ready to take the NCLEX and it seems to be all you can think about, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

The fact you are concerned about how things will go proves just how great of a nurse you are going to be. So technically, you don’t need any of these tips because you will pass the NCLEX just fine.

Either way, this article will cover some simple tips that you are most likely already putting into practice. 

Luckily for you, I understand how busy you must be. So, I’ve taken the time and scoured the internet and compiled the most beneficial tips to pass the NCLEX

Focus on Your Goal

One of the most common tidbits of studying advice I came across is you need to focus on what you are doing. Forget about what your friends are up to or how they study. Comparing yourself to others is not productive.

If you are studying for the NCLEX then you have a diploma or an undergrad degree. That means you know how to study. So, take a deep breath and remember: you got this!

The areas that may not be your strong point should be your primary focus, but studying 25/8 isn’t the best way to reduce anxiety in order to pass.

The more you work on what you’re unsure of and understand that’s how you will achieve your goal, the more confident you will be walking into the NCLEX.

Cramming Doesn’t Work

The best way to decompress and not freak out overtaking the NCLEX is by taking some time away from studying. 

Hear me out, please. I understand not studying sounds counter-productive, but taking a break to be with friends and family is important.

At the very least take a study break bi-weekly. Most importantly, nursing students suggest that cramming the night before the NCLEX is a horrible idea.

Do not cram the night before. The only thing you will do is stress yourself out even more. Spare yourself the palpitations, eat a good meal, and get a solid night’s rest instead.

Study With A Friend

Finding a study buddy or preparing for the NCLEX in a group can significantly reduce studying-induced stress and anxiety.

Because we think and learn differently, group-based studying can help you understand information and answers you may otherwise have struggled with.

Feeling prepared and confident is the sole purpose of studying. Although meditation, taking breaks, and deep breathing can help you relax, working through the NCLEX with your friends is a proactive way to de-stress.

Learning to work through problems with a team is also a critical nursing skill needed to have a successful career in any specialty you may choose.

Set Daily Tasks

Studying for any test requires time and effort, but understanding how to study can maximize your experience. 

Nurses who have successfully passed the NCLEX say that of course, you need to carve out time to study, but you also need to focus on all aspects of your life.

Don’t neglect yourself by not taking showers just so you can cram in a few extra minutes of study time. Honestly, that’s a sign of anxiety. Take time to study, but find time to do your daily chores, pay your bills, run your errands, and save time to do something you enjoy.

Alternatively, don’t put off studying because you need to do the dishes, or your floors need to be swept. Setting (and sticking with) your daily tasks will help you de-stress and feel ready to take on the NCLEX.

Remember to Be Mindful

As I mentioned above, it’s crucial to understand how to take the exam. Of course, everyone should study the formats and review the rationals to prepare yourself for how the test is laid out. That’s a given. There are tons of NCLEX guidelines that may help you.

However, what you should also be doing is being aware of how you feel about taking the test. If you find yourself feeling anxious, or the multiple-choice questions are stressing you out, stop and breathe.

There are plenty of mindfulness apps you can download. Finding time in the morning to meditate before you begin studying can give you that boost of confidence you need.


Pro tip: meditation doesn’t mean sitting in one place. If you have a hard time sitting still, opt for walking-meditation techniques.

Remember All You’ve Accomplished

Take advantage of all the nursing knowledge you’ve harnessed and apply it to the NCLEX by studying the exam itself. Remember, you know this stuff. You have taken the courses, and you’ve dedicated yourself to learning.

This test is everything you already know. It’s time to showcase your skills. If anything, you should be excited to take (and pass) the NCLEX. It means you’re that much closer to your nursing career goals.

If you do need a study guide, dedicate some time to researching the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. There is a wealth of information that just might take the edge off.

Understanding what to expect, how the test is conducted, and the way questions are laid out can give you an extra boost of self-confidence.

Don’t Get In Your Own Way

Do you remember those mind/body stress-reduction techniques you learned in nursing school? Now is a great time to implement them. 

Honestly, if you feel unsure, nervous, or start to panic, take a deep breath and remember, nothing bad is going to happen. Even if you fail.

In A Nutshell

Stress comes with change. It can be amplified when you have a lot riding on a certain outcome — like passing the NCLEX. Silence the mental chatter and always remember: you got this!

Don’t let the what-ifs interfere with your success. 

You are going to need to use your brain during stressful situations in many aspects of your nursing career, think of the NCLEX as a simple exercise and not an exam

Be your biggest fan, know that you’ve come prepared, and do what you have to do. Believe in yourself.

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About the author

Heather Burton

Heather lives with her husband and two children in beautiful British Columbia. Her passion has always been to enhance the lives of others by helping them reach their own personal goals and accomplishments. Content management is her specialty, and writing is what she does best. Her love for helping others lead her to the cannabis scene where she saw an immense gap between patients and medicine that can help them.

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