12 of the Best NCLEX Tips to Get Prepared for the Exam

  • 09 May, 2022

Preparation is key when it comes to overcoming the NCLEX. There is unfortunately no way to avoid studying, so instead of trying to find a way around it, gear up and get ready. It is absolutely vital for your future success if you want to come out winning on the other side. However, despite this fact of the matter, there are some tricks of the trade that can boost your likelihood of seeing a positive end result. Here are twelve of the best NCLEX tips to help get you prepared for your exam:

12 of the Best NCLEX Tips to Get Prepared for the Exam

1. Take it seriously, and don't underestimate the intensity.

First off, you need to take the time to learn the ins and outs of this exam. Even if you were someone who required little study time in nursing school to achieve a passing grade, you will find that the NCLEX is on an entirely different playing field. This is not an exam you can simply skim material for and come out with the desired results. It is important that you spend some time learning what you are up against before the big day, and even more importantly, do not underestimate its level of difficulty. No one is "too good" to study for this exam, and if that is your current way of thinking, it is time to toss that mentality out the window and humble yourself if you want to pass on your first round. If you go in thinking that you will ace it with little review, you will most likely come out with a failed attempt and regret. Get acquainted with the test format, the content you will need to know, and all of the nitty-gritty details in between. Know beforehand that this exam will be much more challenging than previous assessments you have faced in nursing school. If you establish your studies with this mindset, you will have a better chance of reviewing effectively.

2. Get ahead of the game by studying early on.

The earlier you start your review, the better chances you have at gaining your credentials on the first round. As long as your studying is efficient, you will be setting yourself up for success by choosing to start early. If you can avoid it, do not wait until you have graduated to begin going over content for your NCLEX. Remember, any information that you come across in nursing school is fair game for this upcoming assessment, so be sure to look over material often and assimilate information instead of memorizing and later forgetting what you learned. As they say, the early bird gets the worm, so be sure you are preparing yourself now instead of later for optimal results.

3. Gather and utilize your resources.

Utilize any and all resources that align with the ways in which you learn best. Don't waste precious time or money investing in tools that you know ahead of time do not mesh with your style of acquiring information. Stick with what you know so that studying can be more of a seamless and enjoyable process. Evaluate the methods that you gravitate toward when studying for exams in nursing school, and see how you can incorporate these same techniques into your NCLEX studies. For example, if you learn well by watching videos, avoid spending the bulk of your time reading about material in a textbook. If you remember information best by writing it out, avoid using flashcards. Do not reinvent the wheel or feel pressured to study in a certain way just because someone else told you to. You know how you learn best so go with your gut and trust your intuition.

4. Switch up your study environment.

Try your best to avoid reviewing material in the exact same place each day. This can lead to burnout and may decrease your concentration, lessening productivity. Instead, think of a few different places that you can spend quality time at, and rotate between them. This could include the library, a home office, or a fellow nursing student's house. Be sure that you get creative if you find that you are someone who needs more than a few different study locations. Determine where you focus the best and utilize that location more frequently. Try to avoid places that are loud or where your concentration can easily be interrupted.

5. Get organized.

This is a crucial tip and can make or break your study success. If you go into this without a plan or think you can get by with "winging" it, you will find yourself mistaken when test day comes around. Invest in a calendar or planner of some sort, and be aware of where you are dedicating your time and how you can best make the use of it. It is also essential that you are spending a sufficient amount time on relevant content, specifically your weaknesses. Take a few days to get prepared before you set on your journey to review so that you can make the best use of the dedicated time you put into it.

6. Don't skimp on practice questions or rationales.

Do not underestimate the value of practice question rationales. These are succinct pieces of information that can help you understand why you got a question right or wrong. When you find that you did answer something incorrectly, be sure to spend a decent amount of time determining why so that it does not happen again the next time you come across the same or similar information. Attempting to memorize facts is not going to benefit you in the same way that truly learning it will. You have to be able to apply what you know to various scenarios, and understanding the why behind an answer will be the stepping stone that will enable you to do so.

7. Get enough sleep.

Sleep and rest are significant factors for strengthening your ability to remember information long-term. If you attempt to review 24/7, you will be too fatigued to really retain anything at all. Your brain can only process and hold so much at one time before it requires a break. Therefore, you need to learn where your limits are and the signs indicating it might be time to give yourself some rest. Getting enough sleep will also equip you with the energy required to study effectively. Attempting to study without any sleep is a recipe for disaster and will not lead you to the results you are after.

8. Find a healthy balance of study time and downtime-don't neglect your self-care.

In addition to tip number 7, be sure you are taking time to get enough rest and taking care of yourself throughout the day, as well. Be sure you make room throughout your day for activities outside of studying. Fuel yourself with proper nutrition, make sure you are staying hydrated, and avoid sitting down all day. Focusing solely on your studies and neglecting to take care of yourself will propel you in the opposite direction of where you want to be. You cannot run off of an empty tank, so be sure you are filling your cup beforehand.

9. Determine what motivates you.

In order to study consistently, you have to be motivated to do so. In order to be motivated, you have to figure out what your driving forces are. Find what lights your fire the most and keep it in sight when you are feeling discouraged. This is an emotional process, and you will find that there are days that you really do not feel like going over material and would much rather be doing just about anything else-these are the days you need to come back to your motivators and become rooted to your 'why.' Remember why you are doing this and how your future self will thank you. Write it down, and post it on mirrors, your fridge, or anywhere that you are bound to see it so that you do not forget the goal you are working toward.

10. Find a study buddy.

It is always more enjoyable to be working toward a common goal with a friend as opposed to doing so independently. Find someone you work well with, and use each other as another source of motivation. This opens up doors to new learning and studying opportunities, as well. Even if you prefer to work alone, you can still study independently of one another while reaping the benefits of having an accountability partner to keep you on track. Having someone who knows what you are going through and is also working toward the same goal can be extremely helpful.

11. Know your weaknesses and write them down.

If you know that pharmacology is a weak point for you, do not neglect to focus on this until the last minute. It is best to start off with the areas that you need to brush up on earlier in the game. Better yet, while you are going through content, write down different concepts, topics, or key words that you are struggling with, and use them as a reminder of what you need to return to and focus more time on. This is a good strategy to keep track of weak areas and poses as a reminder to review them.

12. Study smarter, not harder.

At the end of the day, you want to be sure that you are utilizing your time carefully and effectively. You do not want to be working harder than you need to or wasting time that could be dedicated elsewhere. With that being said, it is essential that you take the time to educate and become in tune with yourself on what techniques align with you as an individual and understand your own needs when it comes to studying appropriately for this exam.

This is the only wall standing in between you and obtaining your license, so making the effort to evaluate your own habits and necessities is a crucial step in finally becoming a nurse once and for all.

Curious about what EduMind's NCLEX exam prep course has to offer? Take our free, 10-question practice quiz for a test drive today!

About the Author: Kelsey Mangan

Kelsey Mangan is a registered nurse, who graduated from Linfield College in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and minor in education. She is a health and wellness advocate, writer, wife, and a new mama to baby Paisley. In her spare time, she enjoys working out, spending time with friends and family, finding binge-worthy shows on Netflix, and snuggling with her sweet daughter.

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