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!
Should You Volunteer as a Student Nurse?
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.
You Failed NCLEX Exams: What to Do Next?
So, you studied hard, took the NCLEX exams, and waited in agony for the results, only to find out that you failed the NCLEX. What a disappointing outcome. By now, you feel like breaking down because of this result, but before you do, wipe your tears, hold your head up high, and retake the exams. But how can you retake this test? What is the next best thing to do?
Learning that you failed the exams for the first time is probably one of the disappointments in your life that you will not forget. Looking back at the hours you spent studying, preparing, sleeping that you missed, and countless hours of reviewing that all came down to failing NCLEX is a heartbreaking ordeal. But with all of this, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. Retaking the exams is your next best option.
What to Do After You Failed the NCLEX Exams
If you are reading this part of the post, then chances are, you have failed the exams. But, do not worry. You can still retake the exams as long as you follow these steps and do your best next round.
Understand Why You Failed
Failing the NCLEX exams is not the end of the world; although it is a bit traumatic, you must gather yourself and try again. Understanding why you failed is crucial at this point. Failing does not mean that you are dumb or stupid. Most importantly, failing this exam does not mean you won’t make a great nurse. The truth is, some of the best nurses in the field had their fair shares of failures. So, do not beat yourself up on this one. Some people are not good at taking tests, maybe you did prepare for this, but your nerves got the better of you. Either way, it is okay that you failed.
Process your NCLEX Results
A single day can make a big difference in your ability to process the results of your NCLEX exams. Taking the following steps is crucial, but before you do, take time to go through your results and reflect. Of course, there might be some feelings of discouragement, but don’t give up yet. Give yourself some time, and evaluate how you feel before moving forward. Once you feel better, proceed to the next step.
Select a Date for the Following NCLEX Exams
After reflecting on your emotions (and maybe crying hysterically on your pillow), take time to educate yourself on retaking the test. Keep in mind that you can take the NCLEX exams at least eight times per year with 45 days waiting period between attempts. So, all in all, there is hope for you.
The National Council will send you a notice about the options for retaking the exams. If you want, check their website to find out the details in the re-application process for this. But, if by chance you feel lost, ask your school to assist you with the process. Of course, the council will also inform them that you failed the exams, so it is best to work with your school for this step. However, if you want to do it yourself, you can visit NCSBN.org for more information.
Your NCLEX Study Plan is Essential
After securing the date for retaking the exam, check how much time you have left to study for the NCLEX. Come up with a strategy so you can nail the exams this time. Check how you prepared in your first attempt; what did you do that helped you? See what study habit works best for you, and be clear about how you alter your approach in this next attempt. Be sure to have a proper amount of study time too. You can also use the NCLEX Candidate Performance Result or CPR to determine which areas you need to focus more on. It will also help as your study guide since you already know which topics you are weakest at and those that are not.
Study Plans, Study Plans
Creating a study plan and calendar is helpful. Writing down the details and activities in this calendar will give you timeframes as well. Find the focus of your study and dive deep into the areas you are not confident in. Be sure to include test strategies and practice questions as well. Include at least five days for studying with two days for rest. Keep your study hours to not more than 6 hours a day. Make sure to have breaks in between for 45 to 60 minutes. However, you create your study plan, be concrete on following through with them until you are ready for the exams.
Go and Retake the Exams
As you enter your test room, relax. Have confidence in yourself. You already know the dynamics of the exams; you studied and prepared for it, so you got this. Don’t think of the failure you did, do not dwell in the past. Focus on how you tackle the test questions and apply the strategies that you learned. Be mindful of your pace, and always understand each question before answering. Do not rush or panic. Take it easy, pray, and do your best!
So what if you failed the NCLEX exams
Failing an important exam such as NCLEX can be heartbreaking, but do not panic. You have all the options and time to get it right. But this does not mean you should fail every time you try! So you failed; we have done this one way or another. It is not an excuse, but it is not a reason not to keep trying either. You have all the access you need to pass the exams, use them wisely, study well, and most of all, keep trying! Passing the NCLEX is within your reach, so don’t ever give up! We hope that this post sheds light on your path, good luck!
How to Avoid NCLEX Prep Burnout
Preparing for an exam is stressful, especially if it is something as crucial as NCLEX. This examination will determine your capacity to become a full-pledged nurse by really testing what you know.
But how can you avoid NCLEX prep burnout? If you are asking this question right now, then you came to the right place. This post will talk about burnout and how you can avoid it.
Plan out your tasks
To avoid NCLEX prep burnout, you must plan your steps well. Take note of how long you have till the actual examination and explore your study options before proceeding.
Do you want to review on your own? or do you want to use web-based testing resources? Gathering the materials you need for review is also essential, and choosing the study method is just as vital.
Creating a schedule for your study time also plays a significant role in your preparation. Alternating your plan for study and review will also raise your chances of retaining information for NCLEX.
Take one day at a time
Making efforts by preparing too much can lead to burnout. The key is to set time on how you can prepare for your exams. Talk about one or two hours of studying each day. When the exam day comes, put your notes and books away and let go.
Overthinking will make you anxious. So, taking it one day at a time will help you with overwhelming feelings that could make your mind spin.
Break your studies into parts, especially if you are dealing with an important topic. It will help you master the content as you go and avoid NCLEX burnout in the long run. If you work with a test prep provider, they usually break broader topics into smaller ones so you can manage and study each section for your benefit.
However, if you choose to do this, make sure that you stick to the plan and not fall behind with your studies or work because it does take a little bit more time. Following through with the objective will give you confidence and keep you on course
Don’t forget to exercise and eat right
Studying all day and night will not help you, trust me. It will help if you take time off the books and take care of yourself as well. Getting enough exercise and eating well also enables you to prepare for the NCLEX.
It is also an excellent way to manage your anxiety and stress. Whenever you feel like you are knee-deep studying, stop. Stretch your muscles and do simple exercises. It will awaken your sleeping muscles and increase your endorphins to help motivate you further .
Eating the right food will also help nourish your body. Remember, you need to be in good condition when taking the exams. Adding superfoods like blueberries and dark chocolate to your meal will surely help you retain what you have studied. Don’t forget to hydrate appropriately too!
Take time to relax and reward yourself
You cannot study all the time. Sure, you need to learn, but you also need to take a break. Studying too much or trying to digest all topics at once can lead to burnout. Take a break, and do not feel guilty about it! It is necessary to take a breather; don’t forget to reward yourself for all the hard work.
Go to your local coffee shop or your favorite park. A venue change will freshen your mind and brighten your mood to study again. Eat ice cream, grab some nachos or chocolate, anything to help you feel better. Once you do, you will feel refreshed, and you will avoid NCLEX prep burnout!
Preparing for the NCLEX exam is no doubt stressful and overwhelming. Of course, this will determine your career as a future nurse! But if you follow these tips, you will surely avoid cramming at the last minute. So, relax, follow through with your plan, take a deep breath and enjoy the process! Good luck!
6 Study Habits of Successful Nursing Students
Becoming a successful nursing student does not happen overnight. It takes time, practice, and of course, dedication. To become a successful nursing student, you must have discipline and apply it every day.
Be a Successful Nursing Student
Do you want to graduate on time? Of course, you do! Do you aim to be one of the best nurses in the field? If you answered yes, you must start developing good habits early on in nursing school. Here are the habits of successful nursing students.
Time management is the key.
One of the most crucial keys to passing nursing school with ease is to manage your time efficiently. Whether you are working on your BSN, MSN, or ADN, you must know how to balance time and make it work. To do this, you must break your day into blocks and decide what activity or school work fits where.. Know how much time you need for each activity so that you can manage your time more closely and allow for non-nursing-related things.
Your schoolwork takes most of your time; tests, exams, papers, assignments, reports, clinical – all of these require a lot of dedicated time. The best action to take is to plan around your study hours and remove anything that could block or affect your focus and time to study.
Study smarter, not harder.
Some people can miss a lecture and still ace an exam, but in nursing school, you must focus on each topic and understand how it is applied in the healthcare setting. Keep in mind that nursing exams are not always A or B, it may seem as if there are multiple correct answers but always think about the priority. Plus, some questions can even be selected all that apply.
When studying it is good to memorize content but also understand its function and learn how it pertains to a certain situation. Think of nursing as cause and effect, if one thing happens how does it affect the rest?
Now don’t get frustrated with the exams if you don’t always pass them. When you find yourself in a tough situation always remember to change or add a study method to study more effectively. . How can you do it?
For one, You have to know which subjects give you the hardest time or what areas take you the longest to learn. Don’t just study the same material for hours; instead, divide them. Let’s say you have allotted four hours of studying.
You can separate each hour into one subject that way you can study multiple areas and it may help you understand how each concept affects another. . It will be a lot easier for you to understand the topic.
Avoid having distractions. Stay away from things that are not part of your studies. Turn off your phone for a few hours or put it on silent mode. This way you won’t get distracted by a text or social media.
Review your notes before you go to class. See if you have retained anything from the last lecture. Try practice tests too, this will help sharpen your test-taking skills and help you remember questions when you take the actual exam.
Lastly, give yourself enough time to study. As a student, you must learn how to estimate the time it takes to understand a topic, finish a report, or complete an assignment. It will also help you open up room for some free time.
Keep your focus.
Back in the day, social media and smartphones were not a thing, so they didn’t keep us distracted. When it’s time to study, you need to have your full attention on your notes and textbooks. Unfortunately studying rarely comes without any distractions.
While technology is helpful in many ways, it is also the source of major distraction. It is so easy to get off-track and be distracted by a text or social media, before you know it you’ve spent the 30 minutes on your phone.
Turn your focus back to what you are doing. Eliminate distractions by organizing your space. Turn off your phone or tv when you are studying. When you stay focused, you can finish quicker and have more time to do other things you want to do.
Join a study team.
Another good tip on how to study better is to join a group that you can learn with . You can also find a study partner if you prefer a one-on-one study buddy. One advantage of studying with a group is listening to different perspectives while discussing a subject or topic.
Learning how other people think and apply their knowledge helps you develop critical thinking and test-taking skills. Remember, critical thinking skills are developed in nursing school and are key to a nurse’s success. It will help you when it comes to taking exams and answering different types of questions. Joining a study group or team can help you with a lot of your struggles.
Develop a study strategy.
Be honest with yourself; do you prefer studying with others or by yourself? One of the good habits of a successful nursing student is to not only know how you like to study but also what time of the day you learn best.
Do you like staying up late? or do you prefer studying early in the morning? The truth is there is no correct time to review; it is all about personal preferences!
To be successful with your study habits, create a calendar to determine the hours of studying. If you do not plan your time, it’s easy to get sidetracked because the majority of things take longer than expected.
The best plan to have is to block out study time during your most productive hours, this way you are setting yourself up for success.
Reward yourself, as you should.
I’m not going to lie; nursing school is hard work. I have been there, and I know how it goes! So when you have done everything you needed, reward yourself . Get ice cream or a froyo. Buy those shoes you have been eyeing for a while – in short, you deserve a reward for studying long hours and for keeping yourself from distractions. Get into the habit of doing something nice for yourself after all that stress. You deserve it!
You Can Do It
Yes, nursing school is not an easy path, but if others made it, so can you! You can do it, you too can become a full-fledged nurse, but to be one of the best, you must start early. Developing these habits of a successful nursing student will guide you through, not only a nursing school but through life. Start planning your way up to the top today; good luck!