Preparing for the NCLEX Exams: 6 Proven Tips for Passing
Preparing for the NCLEX exams is one of the most important things that any nursing student should prepare for. But the question in many nursing students’ minds is, how do you prepare for the NCLEX? If you are asking the same question, let these tips help you prepare for this upcoming exam.
Passing the NCLEX exams is like hitting gold. It is your ticket to a better and brighter future. Before you take the exam, here are some excellent tips that you can apply to your study plan.
1. Understand the NCLEX Format.
When you understand how the NCLEX format works, the easier it will be to pass it. NCLEX uses the CAT format or computerized adaptive testing format. It means that not a single exam is identical. The algorithm produces a new set of questions based on your performance on the previous test questions. Keep in mind that the test bank is comprehensive and contains all kinds of question styles and topics of content.
The exams will produce around 60 questions minimum plus 15 pre-questions with 145 maximum questions. The candidate can pass the test when the tester has answered enough questions with correct answers at about the 95% confidence interval. The candidate will fail if they cannot maintain or rise above the 95% confidence.
It means, that to pass the NCLEX, you must get above the passing line that shows competency with marginal doubt. When the computer has determined your performance, the test can end at any point. You are given a maximum time allowance of 6 hours to do this. So, all you have to do is pass the 60-145 questions.
2. Avoid self-criticism.
The questions tend to get harder as you move forward. Don’t get frustrated when you get a few wrongs in a row and don’t automatically assume you’ve failed. The best thing you can do is to stay focused on the questions you have. Remember, the NCLEX exam determines your knowledge and tests your endurance. It is best to keep answering instead of talking yourself down each time you get a wrong answer.
3. Manage your stress.
It is expected to get worked up before the examination, but it is recommended that you find a way to manage your stress. Some test-takers get anxious before taking the NCLEX, and if you are one of them, don’t worry there are plenty of ways to deal with test stress.
One of the first things you should do is take as much time as you can to prepare for the NCLEX but don’t make studying your entire life. There is always time for everything and balancing your studies with hobbies is a must.
Be sure to include time for exercising, eating well, and going out. Keeping a balanced life during studying and doing the things you love helps ease your mind from any anxiety that you might feel before the exam. Some nurses say there is a rule to not study the day before the exam, only a quick skim through some notes
On the day of the exam, do not study. Do not attempt to take a glance at your notes or review anything. It will only make you more anxious. Instead, you need to relax, do a short meditation, and eat your breakfast before going to the exam center. In short, do something that will keep you grounded and calm.
The best thing you can do is to study appropriately beforehand. When you know that you have covered everything during your study days and are confident that you will pass, taking the NCLEX exam isn’t that scary.
4. Make a study plan.
Making a study plan means you need to create time for studying. Create a schedule for the week and set aside the hours you need for studying. Be sure to include a goal each time you are studying too. It could be as simple as answering 4 25 question practice exams or reading a few chapters on the topic you are tackling at the moment.
Keep in mind that when you do not have any goals when studying, you are wasting time. The NCLEX is not about how long you have studied or how many hours you have put in. It is about how much you understand the context of each nursing topic. Make use of your time wisely.
A. Not all past clinical experiences can help.
I have bad news for those who worked as a nurse aid, tech, or even nursing students who volunteered. Your clinical experience cannot help you when you take the NCLEX exams. Why do you ask?
The NCLEX exam is based on tested, researched, and evidence-based practices that you may have not learned in your clinical experience. Facilities will have different guidelines and protocols that are just as safe or just as effective BUT never assume that they are the same when it comes to the NCLEX.
It is best if you answered the exam questions as if you did not have any real-life experience as a nurse.
B. Practice your test-taking skills.
Make use of test-taking strategies so you can eliminate the wrong answers. It will also help you with solutions like ALL THAT APPLY or NONE APPLY. Always remember to put patient safety first before considering other options. With continuous practice, you will see that there are themes in the answers. For example:
Be sure to assess the patient first; calling a doctor is not always the best answer.
Remember your ABCs – Airway, Breathing, Circulation.
Deductive reasoning can also help you even if you have no idea about the topic.
If you have no exact answer, follow your gut. A nurse’s intuition can help you out.
As you practice your test-taking skills, you will realize that there will always be “select all that apply” questions. But if you use a systematic approach and tackle the wrong answers first, you have a higher chance to answer each question correctly.
5. Do more than just answer the practice tests.
Completing practice exams is good, but you can also go beyond that. After answering the practice questions, you can read about the answers and why they were right or wrong. Write down the concept you would like to tackle on your next study time so you are always prepared for the next day. Take as much time as you think you need devoted to a variety of study methods, they each have their benefit and will pay off in the long run.
6. Prepare for the NCLEX Exam day.
The night before you take the exams, go to bed early, or better yet, make sure that you have enough sleep throughout the week before the NCLEX. Hide your notes and try not to study. Be sure to put gas in your car, set your alarm for the next day, take a nice shower, and arrive early at the testing center.
Bring snacks for your breaks during the test, and make sure to stay hydrated. If you get cold fast, bring an extra layer of clothing or a hoodie if you are allowed. In short, be as prepared as you can be. Not only will it show that you are serious about your exams, but it also shows your character as a person and perhaps as a future nurse.
Believing in Yourself is the Key
Preparing for the NCLEX exams is not that hard. All you have to do is stay focused. You are already on your way to becoming one of the best nurses. You had proven this when you passed the nursing school. So believe that you can pass the NCLEX and you will! NCLEX is the last step towards your career as a professional nurse. Hopefully, you find these tips helpful as you are preparing for the exams, best of luck!
Start in a CVICU as a new grad? Why not! One of the exciting areas to start working as a nurse is in the Cardiac ICU. The cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit or CVICU is a hospital ward that caters to and cares for patients with ischemic heart disease and other severe heart conditions.
Patients who suffered a heart attack and need close monitoring are also placed in this unit. The same goes for patients recovering from heart surgery and with other severe conditions like cardiomyopathy, arrhythmia, heart infection, or unstable angina.
Most patients in the CVICU often have various complications such as respiratory failure and renal failure. Therefore, medical staff who work at CVICU are required to have the ability to practice systemic intensive care.
In this episode, we introduce you to one of our followers, James Hatano. James is a New grad nurse in the Cardiac ICU at a Trauma 1 hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also a certified CrossFit coach and a baseball coach. Today we will talk about his new grad experience as a Cardiac ICU nurse. So if you are interested to start in a CVICU as a new grad, this episode is for you.
QUESTIONS FOR GUESTS:
The questions below are some we’d like to tackle. We go off-topic all the time so we don’t expect to hit them all. If you have any ideas please let us know. Looking forward to our conversation!
Your BSN is your second degree, you also have a degree in exercise physiology. What made you decide on exercise physiology and then what made you transition into nursing?
Are there some aspects of exercise physiology that have helped you in nursing school, being a nurse, and/or with life in general?
How did you survive nursing school? What do you think was the key? Time management, good schedule, etc…?
Was the Cardiac ICU something you wanted to get into right off the bat?
Why did you choose the Cardiac ICU? Do you fit the typical cardiac ICU stereotype? (craziest lives but neatest lines, control, OCD)
Biggest difference between nursing school and the ICU?
What’s something you wished you knew going into school?
What did you struggle with most in school? What do you struggle with most now?
Tips for nurses trying to join the ICU.
Nursing is stressful, we can agree that it is never going to change. No matter if there are appropriate ratios and great morale, working with patients that are very sick you’re always going to have that stress on your shoulders.
What do you do to help balance that stress, do you have any issue with not leaving it at work and bringing it home with you?
You’re big into fitness you’re even one of the top 50 fittest nurses in the world, how has that helped you through life?
How has fitness played a role in your life and how has it helped you with nursing?
How has your exercise changed over time?
The drive podcast by Peter Attia, what got you into it and why do you enjoy it, what do they talk about?
Chop wood, carry water book, would you recommend that book, why and/or to whom?
Before we end the show we have one last question we like to ask all our guests. If you had the opportunity to have a Cup of coffee with anybody one last time, who would it be & why?
You can find James on Instagram @jameshatano to know more about CVICU nursing.
You can also watch the full episode here 👇
00:00 Intro 00:45 Episode Introduction 01:33 About the guest 03:29 James Hatano and nursing 06:46 How does nursing school impact life 09:57 Transitioning out of nursing school 12:17 Life lessons you learned from being a CVICU nurse 13:51 Struggles as a new grad 20:03 Balancing Work and Life 22:15 Managing time 25:03 Managing relationship 30:32 How is it working with a female dominant profession 33:44 What would you like to improve in the healthcare system 37:00 A thing that you always have 39:47 The person outside nursing 43:52 Personal interests 46:34 Who would you want to have the one last cup of coffee?
Volunteering gives you the chance to experience what it is like to work as a real nurse. It allows you to see if it is indeed the right path for you. So should you volunteer as a student nurse?
What to Consider When Volunteering
As a student nurse, your time is preoccupied with a lot of things in nursing school. However, if you want to gain experience in nursing, signing up as a volunteer can help you in many ways. So what should you consider before giving it a shot?
Consider the time you give
When you volunteer, you are adding more responsibilities to your plate. It could lead to more problems in the future and might even affect your school performance and grades.
Before you volunteer, consider how much time you are willing to give into it. Remember, your commitment is needed when you volunteer for something. It will also show on record how trustworthy you are with the opportunity granted to you.
Your reasons for volunteering
What are your reasons for volunteering? If you know why you are volunteering, then all is well. Although there is no concrete reason why people volunteer sometimes, it is still best to narrow down why you want to volunteer. And once you know why you can prioritize the things you would like to pursue.
The requirements needed
Keep in mind that not all volunteer opportunities are the same. Some may ask for minimal requirements, while others might require you to train first before they accept you. Before volunteering, it is best to check the conditions first to see if you fit the part or not. It will save you time and effort.
Before volunteering, you should also consider the responsibilities that it comes with. As a student nurse volunteer, you will be dealing with patients and nurse staff, so quitting once the odds are not in your favor is not an easy option. You must see through it before you say no.
Should You Volunteer as a Student Nurse? YES!
Now that you know the things to consider, here’s why you should do it:
As a volunteer, you have the chance to reach out to other nurses and student nurses alike. Get to know the people you work with when you volunteer. You might be working with the best people in the healthcare field. Having them as part of your network gives you better opportunities when applying for a nursing job in the future.
It’s good for your health
Volunteering improves your health in general. According to PublicHealth.org, research done by the University of Exeter, people who volunteer adjust better to stress, cope better with changes, have lower rates of depression, and get to live longer and healthier lives.
Enhances your resume
Applying as a nurse means sending out your resume, and for it to stand out, you must have an impressive resume ready to go. Volunteering gives your resume the spark it needs. It will also show that you are not afraid to take responsibility and are dedicated to the profession. Your experience as a volunteer will also give you the confidence you need when answering an interview and increase your chance of being selected for the job.
Of course, the main reason why you volunteered is to gain first-hand experience. While you are not licensed as a nurse yet, your experience as a volunteer gives you the chance to see what it is like to be one. As a student nurse, your knowledge is also an asset to the facility. So, it is like a give-and-take relationship. You volunteer to help the nurses, and your time as one shapes your skills and comprehension about the job.
Volunteer Today and Enjoy the Experience
If you have plans to volunteer, do it. You will not regret it – not only will you enjoy the time you allotted in it, but you will also learn a lot of things as you go, call it a sense of satisfaction. Volunteering seals your commitment to saving lives. So, head to the nearest healthcare facility and sign up as one.
Survive floating as a nurse? It’s possible! You may have heard the term “floating” from nurses one way or another. While this term seems new, it has been used by many nurses in the unit before. So what is it?
The term floating is used for a registered nurse who fills the short-staffed unit. They are also sometimes called float pool nurses and can be seen working in any area of a health care facility.
A floating nurse is the “reassignment of staff from one nursing unit to another, based upon the patient census and acuities.” They are an essential part of the healthcare staff and help to ensure that all areas are adequately staffed.
Hospitals consider this a positive solution for saving money through resource utilization. It continues to be a staffing practice in health care facilities throughout the country. If you happen to be a floating nurse, this episode is for you.
Today we will talk about how to survive floating as a nurse. It’s another day in the office when you walk into your unit, and you look at the assignment sheet and discover you have been assigned to float to another department. How you respond to this news can make or break the assignment.
How to Survive Floating as a Nurse
Not every nurse needs to float but there are many hospital positions that you can enter that allow you to float. Most of the time, floating nurses pay well. It is also a good reason why many nurses join the float pool. It is even better if you are a travel nurse.
Floating is challenging to get used to. Sometimes, a little bit impossible. It is because many nurses are unfamiliar with how things work in different units. The new environment can also be overwhelming. But the good news is that many nurses thrive in this position, no matter where they are.
In some cases, nurses choose to float because they like the idea of helping out units that need nurses the most.
1. Remain Calm
Why are you taking me off my unit? The first thing when you realize you’re floating usually your mood changes but don’t feel like to world is ending. Positivity and confidence are the keys. Go to the floating unit with a positive attitude to be welcoming to the new unit.
It makes such a difference when you ground yourself in positivity. Knowing no matter what happens, this shift will end and I will provide great patient care. This attitude will also set the mood for how your shift will go.
A lot of times floating nurses face unfamiliarity. This unfamiliarity may result in losing their confidence. Don’t forget you studied for over 4 years + to get your degree. Being in the position you’re in today, or the number of years of experience you have under your belt.
Start that positive self-talk with yourself. Remember, as a nurse you know what you have to do to take care of your patients. You’re good enough to be in the position that you’re in. Keeping calm and gathering your thoughts before working can also help.
2. Ask questions/learn the unit preferences
The best way to figure out the unit protocols or fit in is by asking what they do and why. After the huddle, go introduce yourself to the charge nurse. Tell her you’re floating from another floor. If possible, ask if she can show you around the important thing you need to know about the unit.
Remember, don’t hesitate or be afraid to ask questions. You have the whole shift to do that. Ask as many questions as you can so you are familiar with how the unit works.
Where is the medication room?
Do you have access to the pyxis?
Where is the supply room?
Are there standard charting or orders for this unit?
Where is the equipment room?
Where is the nutrition room?
There might be different standing orders or charting protocol
Rhythm strips, pt weights
Specific handoff reports?
Specific medications to be signed off?
Accuchecks in the morning, are you covering the insulin
3. Speak up
No one knows if you don’t know something or if you’re struggling. Like any relationship communication is key. If you’re having a busy shift because you spent a lot of time getting yourself familiar with the unit, speak up. Make your needs known, most of the time everyone is helpful.
When floating from the ICU: you can’t do everything for every patient
This isn’t the ICU, you can’t do everything
Importance of time management
Give recommendations but ultimately its the physician’s call
This is All a Learning Experience
In the younger nursing days, we pray not to get floated. We still to this day prefer to work in our home unit, but we have a positive outlook when it comes down to floating. Being challenged is a good thing, new experiences are what creates growth. Don’t be stuck in your own bubble because you hinder your growth.
You too can survive being a floating nurse, here’s what you need to know 👇
00:00 Intro 00:44 Plugs 01:55 Episode Introduction 03:41 Tip #1: Remain Calm 07:39 Tip #2: Ask Questions 09:13 Things to ask: Where is the medication and nutrition room? 11:03 Things to ask: Where are the supply room and the equipment room? 17:47 Tip #3: Speak up 22:44 Tip #4: This is All a Learning Experience 25:08 Shadowing other nurses to learn 27:34 Sometimes Floating is not always good times
Congratulations on passing nursing school and making it into the nursing world! You are now a qualified and registered nurse, so how can you survive your first year as a nurse? Here’s what you need to know.
On Your First Year as a Nurse
Working as a professional nurse is an exciting and scary thought. You are new to the job, but at the same time, you have the skills needed to do it. Your first year as a nurse is a year for adjustments, and I will be honest with you, it will be difficult. It’s like everything you learned in nursing school is poking you all at once! You will discover different skills and techniques used in the trade, AND you will probably be tired all the time. Long shifts, overtime, and toxic days are ahead of you. But, don’t worry, if anyone before you made it, so can you! Following these pieces of advice will help you survive and thrive in this wonderful career.
It’s OK not to know everything
One of the anxieties that new nurses experience is that they expect to be good at what they do right away. You are not going to master every technique, procedure, or hospital protocol in one year. Give yourself some time to adjust to your new environment. Remember, your first year is a year for adjustments, so give yourself some room to learn. Bear in mind that your new domain is different from nursing school, so relax. It is OK not to know everything. I know you want to be good at your job, but take one step at a time. After all, being a nurse is a job that requires patience, so be patient with yourself.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
As a nurse, you must have a curious nature. If you don’t understand something, ask questions. Many new nurses are afraid to ask questions because it may sound like they admit to something they don’t know. However, asking questions is also an excellent way to learn. So, don’t hesitate to ask questions. It will show that you are interested in learning something new and that you are open to new things and not afraid to speak up.
Develop your time management skills
One of the skills you must develop during your first year as a nurse is time management. Keep in mind that your priority is patient care, but as you do, you also need to meet the hospital management’s expectations and coworkers. Learning how to use your time effectively can help you in this situation.
Get to know who you are working with
Remember your coworkers’ names, and make sure to say hello when you meet them in corridors. As a new nurse, it is essential to make friends and build relations with your colleagues. So, be polite and cooperate with your coworkers. Seek advice from your mentors and colleagues. Not only is this important in your profession, but it will also help in surviving your first year as a nurse. Besides, wouldn’t it be nice to have someone you can trust and laugh with on your team when things get tough? Of course!
Sign up in classes or volunteer to enhance your nursing skills
Your life as a nurse does not only revolve around the hospital. During your first year, be sure to sign up for additional classes to enhance your nursing skills. Volunteering for events, internships, and nursing drives also enhances your nursing knowledge. It will hone your skills and prepare you for your career as a full-pledge nurse.
Join nursing organizations
Becoming a member of nursing organizations is beneficial on your part as a new nurse. Being a part of these networks broadens your opportunity to find work and resources. It is also an excellent way to make connections in the professional nursing world. If you decide to join a nursing organization, make sure that it is close to the chosen area of the nursing field you would like to work. For example, if you wish to be a part of psychiatric-mental health nursing, you can join the American Psychiatric Nurses Association.
Prioritize self-care for you.
Many new nurses experience anxiety and stress during their first year as a nurse. That said, it is crucial to take care of your mental health too. As a nurse, you are the health care provider, but what happens when you are not well yourself? How can you deliver quality care to your patients? So, take care of yourself; exercise, meditate, eat healthily, and get enough rest. Not only are you taking care of yourself and your mental health, but it will also help you from burning out.
The Reality of Your First Year as a Nurse
It will be challenging, but it will also be one of the best years of your life! As a new nurse, you are like an infant. You may have a license to work as a nurse and the knowledge to apply, but just like a growing baby, you also need to take small steps.
Of course, there will be days when everything else is extra tricky, but don’t give up! Stay positive, and instead of feeling down, list the things you don’t know of and see what you can do to correct them. Read new nursing trends, be updated with the latest in the nursing community, build relationships in and out of your workplace – anything is possible! Yes, your first year will be tough, but if you focus on the good things, your time will fly by, and the next thing you know, you’re on your way to better opportunities. So, enjoy the experience, and most importantly, enjoy the opportunity of helping others. Good luck!