Frequently Asked Questions About NCLEX Prep

  • 24 June, 2022

Do you have questions about how to navigate your NCLEX preparation? If so, you're not alone! At this point in time, you have most likely mastered the ways in which you prefer to prepare for nursing school exams. However, you may be overwhelmed trying to decipher if what you have been doing for previous assessments will set you up well for your boards. Given that the NCLEX is an entirely different beast, your concerns are valid, and the questions you may have are likely on the minds of others in your current shoes, as well. Do not fret, you still have plenty of time to sift through resources and create a study plan that works flawlessly for you. Let's take a look at some frequently asked questions to ease your mind about how you can best prepare for the NCLEX.

While this answer will vary from person to person, overall, the earlier you can start studying, the better off you will be. Ideally, you should try to begin reviewing pertinent material while you are still in nursing school. By doing so, the knowledge you continue to accumulate during your time as a student will be fresh and easily attainable following graduation. This method provides for a smoother transition into your NCLEX preparation and can assist in lightening your workload and potentially ease your overall nerves when the time comes.

If you are currently reading this and have already graduated nursing school but did not begin your studies as a student, you are not behind, so do not fear. Even if you did not partake in any review sessions specifically geared toward your NCLEX, chances are you still studied material for exams in school that is still applicable, and therefore, nothing you have done thus far has gone to waste. Every study session for previous exams has prepared you in some way for your NCLEX.

An ideal timeframe is ultimately what feels right for you, but the suggestion is to not test directly following graduation, while simultaneously not waiting too long. Depending on how prepared you feel and when you initiated your review, you may want to look at 8-12 weeks following nursing school graduation, give or take.

At the end of the day, the way you utilize your review sessions is more important than the length of time you choose to study for.

2. How should I study?

While it is important to take advantage of how you best learn information, one of the greatest ways to truly prepare is to take practice exams and go through NCLEX style questions. This is the closest you can get to the real deal and will therefore prepare you in the most effective manner. While it is absolutely necessary to touch up on areas that you may struggle more with, you can use your scores on these practice exams to examine and fine-tune your study agenda.

With that being said, do not underestimate the value of resources from nursing school. Reviewing class notes, previous exams, lecture slides, etc. can be of tremendous use when you find that you need to re-learn or go over a topic in more detail.

Practice exams can assess your overall knowledge and understanding of material, but there are other sources that can aid in determining whether or not you have developed the required foundation. Use all the tools within your reach for optimal results.

3. Should I invest in a prep course?

Investing in an NCLEX prep course is entirely up to you and your preferences. While I personally do believe it would dramatically help anyone with their study technique and grasp of content, it depends on your needs and comfort level. There is a wide range of options out there that can fit your budget and expectations.

NCLEX prep courses do a phenomenal job of organizing information and touching upon all of the minor details that you may have forgotten about when you are studying on your own. The investment, in my opinion, is absolutely worth it and could prevent you from having to take the NCLEX for a second or third time, saving you time and money in the long run.

4. How do I make the most of my time?

You will make the most of your time by knowing in advance what you want to work through and how you want to do so. In other words, create a well-designed plan that works well for you and your schedule, and stick to it. This is not something you want to go into blindly, and being as organized as possible will provide you with a leg up.

Use a calendar or planner that allows you the ability to write out your day-to-day list of activities and schedule out your days by the hour. This may seem over the top, but it will give you the power to optimize your spare time and visually determine where you can invest in studying and where there is free space to focus on unwinding and giving your mind a well-deserved break.

5. Where can I find practice tests and questions?

There is a plethora of free resources out there that are readily available and easily accessible. Some sources may require sifting through to be sure that the information is indeed accurate, but most practice questions are easy to find on the internet or even on YouTube. Quizlet is a resource where you can find questions related to the topic you are covering that have been created by others-just keep in mind that these types of questions tend to be less critical and more knowledge based. NCLEX-focused study guides and books are also great places to find practice exams, as are study courses, such as EduMind's comprehensive NCLEX review course.

Needless to say, there are plenty of options that range from free resources to others that require an investment, depending on your preferences and overall needs.

6. Do I really need to study if I graduated from nursing school?

Unfortunately, the answer is a definite yes. No matter who you are or how intelligent you may be, it would be a huge mistake thinking that you are too good to study for the NCLEX. Despite the hard work it took to overcome nursing school successfully, that does not give you an automatic ticket to bypass reviewing for your boards.

The assessments you faced in nursing school were likely not as complex and also did not cover as wide of a range of material in one exam. This exam can test any information, large or small, that you learned about in school, which will require at least some review whether you aced every previous assessment or not.

7. What types of questions should I anticipate studying?

While nothing is off limits when it comes to what may be covered or asked of you on the day of your test, it is a good idea to have a solid understanding of the breakdown of questions, so you know how to best prepare. Here is a brief view of what you can expect to see, but keep in mind that the exact percentages that an individual may come across depend on their performance during the exam itself.

1. Safe and Effective Care Environment:

  • Management of Care 17-23% (Ex: Delegation and ethical or legal standards)
  • Safety and Infection Control 9-15% (Ex: Standard precautions and injury prevention)
  • Health Promotion and Maintenance 6-12% (Ex: Developmental stages and health screening)
  • Psychosocial Integrity 6-12% (Ex: Coping mechanisms and family dynamics)

2. Physiological Integrity:

  • Basic Care and Comfort 6-12% (Ex: Non-pharmacological care interventions and personal hygiene)
  • Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies 12-18% (Ex: Dosage calculation and medication administration)
  • Reduction of Risk Potential 9-15% (Ex: Lab values and therapeutic procedures)
  • Physiological Adaptation 11-17% (Ex: Fluid and electrolyte imbalances and medical emergencies)

Having a grasp on this breakdown can be a good starting point to see where your time should be divided, which areas you need to brush up on, and what topics you have a better understanding of. While there is a wide range of content covered underneath each category and the above list is not exhaustive of what will potentially be presented on the NCLEX, it is still important to know and can help guide your review sessions.

It can oftentimes be a mystery as to what to expect when it comes to any and everything related to the NCLEX. Even though you have successfully conquered nursing school, tackling the boards is an entirely different obstacle. While there are plenty of unknowns and "what ifs" that coincide with this journey, be assured in knowing that by taking an interest and asking questions, you are on the right track. You ultimately will not know what to fully anticipate until you are physically sitting for your NCLEX itself, but that doesn't mean you can't investigate and research preparation strategies to assist in setting you up for the best possible outcome. Figuring out ahead of time how to best prepare for the big day will leave you feeling more confident and equipped to apply all the knowledge you have gained!

Are you ready to start preparing for your NCLEX-RN exam? You'll love EduMind's top-rated nursing exam prep course complete with instructor-led lectures, innovative learning tools like our Question bank, and more!
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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