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!
Misconceptions of nursing – what are they? How can we help highlight these issues? Nursing is a profession that isn’t for everyone. But some excel greatly in this career. And while nursing is a remarkable career that provides essential services, there are still misconceptions about it. What are the misconceptions about nursing? How can we uplift nurses?
In this episode, we would like to introduce you to Theresa Brown. Theresa Brown is an author of the New York Times bestseller The Shift. She earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of Chicago and taught English before flipping her career into nursing. She now holds lectures on issues related to nursing, healthcare, and the end of life.
Her new book titled Healing is out now, where she tells a powerful story about navigating healthcare after a breast cancer diagnosis.
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!
What made you shift focus from academia to pursue a career in nursing? What made you choose oncology, palliative, and hospice?
During your first year as an oncology nurse you experienced a sudden death of a patient, how did that make you feel and how did you process those emotions?
Your book Critical Care is an account of your first year as a nurse, what was your biggest take away and how were you able to deal with the emotions and workload of a new nurse?
How different was the reality of nursing compared to your expectations going in?
What do you think are the most common misconceptions about nursing?
What are the struggles you’ve noticed nurses faced?
Going from nurse to patient, how was it navigating through a healthcare system that you’ve worked in?
What were your first thoughts when you were diagnosed with cancer?
How were you treated? Were physicians and other medical staff transparent and timely? Did you feel that you were getting the appropriate “help’?
Do you feel that you were left in the dark or weren’t given the full picture of your situation?
Being both a patient and a nurse, what would you like to change in healthcare or in nursing? Did healthcare fail you?
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, dead or alive, who would it be & why?
To understand more about the misconceptions about nursing, check out the full episode here 👇
00:00 Intro 01:42 What made you shift focus from academia to pursue a career in nursing? 04:55 What made you choose oncology, palliative care, and hospice? 07:34 The biggest takeaway as an oncology nurse 11:26 The struggles of nursing school 14:25 Tips for dealing with emotions after a patient’s death 23:05 Being a cancer patient 28:12 What patients really need from nurses 32:31 Realizations to improve healthcare 36:59 What would you like to change in healthcare or in nursing? 46:34 How does it feel to be out of leadership status? 50:25 Who do you want to have one last cup of coffee with?
Nurses can choose almost any specialty area to work in, in the travel healthcare sector. As travel nurses, you will be making more than a staff position in a position or specialty, it is wise to select from some of the highest paying nursing specialties.
1. Intensive Unite Care Nurse or ICU Nurse
One of the most in-demand areas for travel nurses belongs to the ICU. If you have experience in this department, you are in luck as many hospitals use nurses in the ICU to float around other units because of their broadened skills and knowledge, making them valuable members of the team. ICU nurses are trained to care for the critically ill and have a broad array of skills. As a travel nurse, you too can work in this area as long as you have the skills or experience as an ICU nurse. Most facilities look for at least 1-2 years of experience.
2. Labor and Delivery Nurse
Nurses who specialize in obstetrics and women’s health, especially in antepartum and postpartum care, are constantly in-demand. L&D nurses are also among the highest-paid nurses in the country, and one of the travel nursing positions with the highest pay. However, before you sign the contract, consider a few things first. While you will be taking care of healthy patients in this area, you must be ready to handle any emergencies that could occur. These may include emergency c-sections and many others. If you are up for the challenge, then this could be a fantastic opportunity for you.
3. Emergency Room or ER Nurse
Do you enjoy a fast-paced environment while working as a nurse? If you do, then working as an ER nurse is the best place for you. Many travel nurses can work in this department and earn more pay than their staff job. Keep in mind that working in the ER means you have to constantly use your critical thinking skills, so if you love the idea of solving problems, this could be the right place for you. When looking for an ER position it is always good to look at the hospital trauma level, it may be more acute than your used to.
4. Pediatric Intensive Care Unit Nurse or PICU Nurse/ Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or NICU
As a travel nurse, you will have the chance to work with some of the latest technology used in childcare with plenty of nursing opportunities in states like Texas, New York, New Jersey, California, and many others.
5. Medical-Surgical/Telemetry Nurse
The need for nurses with exceptional skills and knowledge in medical-surgical nursing is in demand these days. Since the number of Covid patients is still elevated, there is always a need for nurses in this area. Travel nurses can apply for this position and earn up to $5,000/week. If you are a nurse who can handle several patients and can manage time effectively, this could be an excellent opportunity to take.
6. Operating Room Nurse or OR Nurse
One of the most interesting areas and travel nursing positions with the highest pay belongs to the Operating Room. You will be a valuable asset to many hospitals across the country for travel nurses with perioperative skills. If you are certified at a specific OR skill or have a wide range of operating room experience, t you can snag any OR position,
Consider also the location of the place for your travel nursing assignment. Some states pay higher than others. Now that you know which areas pay travel nurses the most, find a good agency that can get you a position in these areas. It is also an excellent option to do more research on travel nursing before asking for an assignment. That way, you know what to expect and still earn more than staff.
Being a nurse is a stressful job, and it’s not even a joke! Knowing different kinds of stress-relieving tips can help nurses from all walks of life.
Why are Nurses Stressed?
As a nurse, your life is extra busy most of the time. As a nurse, the most helpful way to combat stress is to understand what stresses you out. It is not always easy to identify stressors but we can help you narrow it down, here are the most common causes of stress for nurses:
Constant use of critical thinking skills
Being a nurse you are always critically thinking, either how medication can impact a patient or when a family member has a difficult question. it can be a mentally draining job. A nurse’s job is demanding, and you do not always have the time to check out even if you want to.
Work environment demands
There will be constant pacing while working with doctors and other healthcare providers when you are at work. It is common to clash with coworkers and patients at times or have miscommunication, leading to pressure and stress.
A 12+ hour job
Long shifts can be exhausting, and nurses often work insanely long shifts. Many nurses work 12+ hours a day any extra overtime leads to increased stress and a drain on energy. So it is prevalent among nurses to be a little cranky after each shift as it can be physically, emotionally and mentally draining, especially on the night shift.
An emotional job
When you look at it, a nurse’s job is to take care of the sick and dying. But while they are caring for sick people, they also take care of the families left worrying or grieving. It can put an emotional strain on nurses and also be stressful on their part. In addition to that, some families can be challenging to deal with. While nurses are empathetic, coping with demanding families adds pressure to their jobs.
We were not prepared for the pandemic, and among healthcare providers, nurses are the most affected. Their responsibilities did not only double but also folded twice. They deal with the increased workload a pandemic brings while also putting their health on the line. Some are even assigned to do a job they were not adequately trained for to meet the nursing demands. Because of this, saying a nurse is stressed is underrated.
Helpful and Stress Relieving Tips You Can Apply
So, what can you do to release the stress you feel each time you are under pressure at work? Knowing different stress-relieving techniques can help nurses big time. Here are a few:
Find a nursing path that you love
Are you stuck in a nursing job that you don’t like? Or are you looking for an option to do something else? If you answered yes to either, it’s time to move on to a different path in nursing. Keep in mind that nursing is an ever-dynamic field, so there is always something to do. If you love traveling, become a travel nurse, and if you enjoyed your time in the Operating Room as a student nurse, pursue a career in OR nursing. Maybe you are done with acute care and want to settle down in an outpatient clinic. The options are endless. Just make sure that the path you selected is something you would like to do for the long haul.
Remind yourself why you became a nurse
Earning a high salary is one of the benefits nursing brings, but is it all you want? When things get tough, ask yourself why you became a nurse. Is it because you love helping others? Was it a good route for financial security?? – Whatever your reasons are, going back to the reason why you became a nurse will shed light on your darkest hours. So, whenever you feel stressed, use that reason to get back on your feet!
Sweat it out!
Another good way to relieve stress is through exercise. Many nurses find themselves sweating their stress out in the gym more often these days, so why not do the same? If you don’t like the confines of the gym, you can always work out at home. You can follow exercise apps or YouTube videos and burn those calories of frustration! Not only will you feel good, but you will also feel energized again, improve your health, and be pumped for your next shift.
Since we are talking about exercise, you might as well include your diet. To stabilize your energy, pair your workout with a balanced meal. Your diet must consist of energy-giving foods to keep you on your feet all the time. Eating green leafy vegetables, fruits, juices, and superfoods like nuts, avocadoes, sardines, berries, etc., must be included in your daily meals. These will keep you healthy and help reduce the stress and anxiety that you may feel at work.
Practice meditation and breathing exercises.
Besides doing your workout routines, you must also practice breathing exercises and meditation. When things get crazy, pause, meditate and be mindful of your breathing. You don’t have to bring a yoga mat! Breathing techniques can be done anywhere, even at work. So, plan out your day, and take time to meditate, and refocus. It will help you get through even the most toxic shifts!
Don’t forget to take time off.
All work and no play make you a dull person. So, relax, take time off and socialize. As much as you want to sleep on your day-offs, set time to socialize with friends or family. It is always good to have an outlet and to be yourself without worrying about the next patient chart you need to update. You don’t have to work all the time, find balance, and learn to live a stress-free life as a nurse.
As a nurse, facing stressful situations at work is a given. It is part of the profession. It is why you must find ways to destress. Don’t let the daily chaos of nurse life ruin your determination to help others. Try and see how these stress-relieving tips for nurses can help you.
Being a Travel Nurse Practitioner With Ebony Thyme
Besides travel nurses, we also have traveling nurse practitioners. What is a traveling nurse practitioner anyway? By definition, they are healthcare professionals who work at a facility away from their home base. They act as immediate and often temporary staffing for healthcare facilities.
Traveling nurse practitioners often work in senior care centers, hospitals, clinics, stand-alone emergency rooms, urgent care locations, and other healthcare facilities where there is a need for registered nurse practitioners. These facilities could need assistance from an NP because of patient overflow or a full-time employee on an extended leave or have retired.
They are also like travel nurses. The only difference is that a traveling nurse practitioner’s contract can last one day to one year. Meanwhile, travel nurses go on contract for as long as 13 weeks.
In this episode, we welcome our guest Ebony Thyme, a full-time Travel NP and a full-time wanderlust. A free-spirited individual with eight years of nursing experience. She also worked as a Travel NP in four states and has traveled to more than 30+ countries. Ebony’s background includes Family Medicine. Before her NP journey, she was also an ICU Nurse.
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!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
How did you get into nursing?
What made you be ICU?
What made you transition into being a travel nurse practitioner?
What made you enter into a traveling career?
What have you learned?
What was the hardest thing for you to get used to?
Advice to anyone that wants to be a travel RN or NP?
How is the market for travel nurse practitioners?
What are some of the expectations and responsibilities?
What was your favorite state to travel to for work?
You’ve been to 30 countries, why do you travel so much?
What have you learned from exploring so many cultures?
How has it expanded your mind and perspective?
How important is it for you to travel and why should people do more traveling?
As an NP, how were you able to make your career give you financial freedom and the ability to control where your time goes?
What are you currently working on?
NPing around the US?
Travel boot camp? What is it?
Locum Tenen Guide?
Thyme Talks podcast?
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 catch Ebony on her Instagram accounts at @ebbthenp and @frontpage_eb. For her master class, podcast, and other sites, check out the links below:
If you are interested in becoming a traveling NP, watch the full episode here to learn more 👇
00:00 Intro 02:02 Plugs 02:56 About the Guest 05:27 The difference between Travel Nurse and a Travel NP 09:01 What is transitioning from Nurse to NP look like? 13:15 Advantage of a Nurse Practitioner 15:11 3 tips for nursing students 19:02 The importance of self-care 22:22 Solo traveling experience 24:31 Fears and Expectations 26:11 Difference between living on the east coast and the west coast 29:08 The humbling life in other countries 34:32 Places you should visit 35:35 What kept Ebony busy 39:51 Things I wish I knew earlier in my career 42:10 The worst contract 45:15 Toxic workplace 49:54 Who would you want to have a cup of coffee one last time?