Negotiate the Final Hurdle to Entry-Level Nursing

You’re nearly there! You’ve just got this one last test to take, and you’ll be passed to start your nursing career.

You may have heard that NCLEX is a big leap to make and that it’s a tough exam to pass. The first part is true. The second part – hey, exams are only as tough as you make them, right?

In this article, you’ll learn our top 14 tips for success in NCLEX.

What Is NCLEX?

NCLEX is a milestone achievement. It’s the final exam in the journey toward nursing licensure. It’s also different from the exams you will have taken to date. Because of this – and the importance of passing to open the door to a long, satisfying, and rewarding nursing career – many student nurses find that simply the mention of NCLEX makes them anxious.

Originally called the State Board Test Pool Examination, it changed its name to the National Council Licensure Exam (or NCLEX) in 1982. It is now a computer-based test.

Before we share a few tips to help you nix your nerves on exam day, let’s look at how to register for the exam.

Steps to Take NCLEX

Approach NCLEX methodically. This will ensure that you don’t make any mistakes that stop you from sitting the exam. Here’s what we suggest you do:

  • Make sure you are registered with the appropriate Nursing Regulatory Body (NRB).
  • Register and pay for your exam with your examination body.
  • Contact NRB and request an Authorization to Test (ATT) letter. NRB reviews your application, and sends you the ATT via email. You must take the exam within 90 days, because your ATT expires after this time.
  • Schedule your NCLEX with the exam body, providing the ATT to them.
  • Turn up for your exam on time – and don’t forget your identification.
  • Sit and pass your NCLEX!

You should receive your results within six weeks, though this depends upon your NRB.

What Will You Be Tested On?

There are two versions of NCLEX. The first is NCLEX-PN, which is for LPNs. The second is for NCLEX-RN, specific to RNs and those who have an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Both exams test across four main areas:

  • Safe and Effective Care Environment (coordinated care; safety and infection control)
  • Health Promotion and Maintenance
  • Psychosocial Integrity
  • Physiological Integrity

You are allowed up to five hours to finish NCLEX-PN and six hours to finish NCLEX-RN. This includes two optional break periods.

The exam is intuitive – it will deliver questions to you based upon previous responses. If you get a question right, the next question will be a little tougher. If you get a question wrong, the next question will be a little easier. In this way, the exam assesses your actual skills, knowledge, and ability for effective entry-level nursing.

If you are sitting NCLEX-PN, you will receive between 85 and 205 items, with 25 pretest items.

If you are sitting NCLEX-RN, you will receive between 75 and 265 items, and 15 pretest items.

Now you know the basics about the exam, let’s move onto the tips we promised you.

13 Tips for Success in NCLEX

We’ve divided these tips into three sections:

  • Tips to help you prepare for your test
  • Tips to help you on test day
  • Tips for post-test

Preparation tips

  1. Establish a study routine – Figure out how many days until your exam and plan the hours you need to study each day.
  2. Understand your learning style – Study how you learn best: visually, by audio, or interacting in a group.
  3. Practice hard – Answer practice questions. Lots of them. More than 6,000!
  4. Get in the zone – Practice relaxation techniques, too, like deep breathing, visualization, and mindfulness.

Test Day Tips

  1. Arrive early – at least 30 minutes before start time. This will help you to ‘relax into the testing time’.
  2. Don’t forget your ID – This must be a government issued document with a recent photo, such as a passport, driving license, or military identification card.
  3. Time your answers – Spend an average of between one and two minutes on each question.
  4. Don’t guess – it can lower your score. You also cannot review or change your answers once submitted.
  5. Take your breaks – Give your brain a quick recharge by relaxing for a few minutes.
  6. Be positive – You can do this! A positive mental attitude will help you tackle each item with confidence.

Post-Test Tips

  1. Don’t wait to hear about your result – You won’t be phoned or told in person. The results are released on the day of the test and downloaded to your regulatory body.
  2. Celebrate! – If you have passed, your results will be printed the following day and mailed. Allow yourself to celebrate your victory.
  3. If you fail, review your performance – you will receive a Candidate Performance Report. This will summarize your strengths and weaknesses. Use this knowledge wisely to brush up on your weak areas.
  4. Re-sit quickly – You must wait 45 days to re-sit the NCLEX. Our advice is to use this time wisely and re-sit quickly.

Good Luck!

The last thing we wish to say is good luck – even though we’re sure you don’t need luck. Follow the tips above, and enjoy the experience. We look forward to hearing from you, and would welcome you into our team.

If you want to work for a nurse agency that is as unique as you are, apply to QS Nurses today.