Preparing for the Exam

As with any kind of test, being prepared for the NCLEX can mean the difference between passing and failing. Since you must pass the test before you can be licensed, and the fee for taking the test is $200, this is not an exam you really want to fail. On the other hand, know that you can retake the test if you do fail it the first time. You are required to wait for three months though, before you can retake it. But of course the preference is to pass it the first time.

Everyone prepares for a test differently. Some people wait until a few days or a week before the exam and cram, while others like to study each day. When it comes to the NCLEX, its a good idea not to wait until the last minute to study and practice for the test. There are many resources available to help you prepare for the test. How many of them you'll need depends on your current knowledge level. But you should plan to spend some time each day, studying and preparing for the exam.

The first thing you should do is take a practice exam. There are practice questions available on the NLCEX website, as well as other practice tests online. Of the four areas, taking a practice test will help you determine where you excel and where you need extra help. Then, you can spend more time studying the weaker areas. You can study by reviewing material in your textbooks, or purchasing and studying special, study guides that have been developed for the NCLEX. Your nursing school also may offer a class or seminar that you can take that helps you review for the NCLEX. Some nurses form study groups to review for the test.

If you learn better through hands-on experience and are working in a hospital or other healthcare setting, you can “study” for the test while on the job, by carefully reviewing patients charts and understanding their lab-result values, medications and medication side effects.

Preparing for the Exam

The NCLEX recommends, however, that you keep the focus on overall concepts rather than memorizing tons of data. The one exception to this general rule is lab values. The NCLEX does suggest you know ranges of normal values for most of the common hospital lab tests.

After you've spent some time reviewing for the exam, but before you take it, take the time to do another practice test, and make sure it has the same number of questions as the actual NCLEX exam. You need to gain experience answering that many questions, in case you need to answer all of them on the day of the exam. Also, you'll get to see on what areas you still may need to work.

Last Updated: 05/19/2014

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