9 NCLEX Tips to Master Your NCLEX

Using these nine NCLEX tips can increase your chances of success. Study strategies include paying attention in nursing school, starting early, setting aside enough time, doing practice questions, reviewing incorrect answers, completing a full-length practice exam, mimicking test day, making a schedule, and taking breaks.

On the journey to becoming a nurse, the NCLEX is a major hurdle to overcome. After earning a BSN, passing the NCLEX is the last barrier to become a registered nurse. With your future on the line, how can you prepare for the NCLEX and give yourself the highest chance of success? We’ll provide NCLEX tips to help you optimize your study strategy.

The first piece to succeed on the NCLEX is ensuring you receive your nursing education from a top-quality school. The NCLEX material comes directly from the nursing curriculum, so it’s important to choose a reputable option like Concordia University Texas’ Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track. The accelerated BSN condenses the traditional nursing curriculum into 16 months, allowing you to complete your schooling quickly.

Once you’ve chosen a high-quality nursing program, what other NCLEX studying tips will help you clinch that RN title? These nine tips for passing the NCLEX will get you started.

1. Pay Attention in Nursing School

As mentioned, the base of knowledge for the NCLEX is your nursing school curriculum. The test essentially summates the key content from nursing school to assess your readiness to be a nurse. Therefore, when you’re completing the ABSN track at Concordia Texas or another high-quality nursing program, be sure to work hard and pay attention.

Focus on succeeding in your online coursework, doing well on exams, and understanding the material you learn in labs and clinicals. When something doesn’t make sense, don’t brush it off. Instead, clarify the question, seek help, and master that concept. Doing this will help you later on when you study for the NCLEX.

How to soar in nursing school - CTX ABSN student in sim lab

Wondering how to succeed in nursing school? Use these 10 nursing school study tips to get on the right track.

2. Start Studying Early

One of the NCLEX tips you should implement is beginning sooner versus later. You may be tempted to put off studying, but that could be catastrophic for your performance. Because the NCLEX is so expansive and comprehensive, it will likely take several weeks of intentional studying before you feel ready to sit for the exam.

You don’t need to begin studying right when you start nursing school, as you’ll need a base of knowledge before the content makes sense. Rather, plan to begin studying at the start of your final semester of nursing school. You don’t need to spend immense amounts of time studying at this point, as you’ll still be focused on your classes. Nevertheless, setting aside time every day or two to work through NCLEX practice questions or review materials will pay dividends later during your intensive NCLEX studying.

3. Set Aside Enough Time to Study

Per the previous section, studying for the NCLEX will ideally begin during nursing school. Even after graduation, though, it is important to give yourself enough intensive preparation time before sitting for the exam. Rather than taking your exam a week after graduation, it’s best to give yourself a month or two to focus full-time on studying. This will help you cement your knowledge and enter the testing frame of mind. You won’t feel rushed, and you’ll have plenty of time to get through practice questions and perform practice exams.

ABSN@CTX student

4. Do as Many Practice Questions as You Can

The key to mastering the NCLEX is practice. This exam is unique in the way it asks questions and the types of responses required.

Questions can often be complex patient scenarios that ask you to make decisions like what the best next step in treating the patient is. You’ll need to synthesize what you know about the patient’s condition to form the most effective treatment plan. Then you’ll need to differentiate between the best answer and other answers that may still be correct, just less so. For example, maybe a patient needs to be treated with IV fluids, an oral medication, and pressure ulcer prevention — but which of these comes first? You’ll need to know how to prioritize and choose the optimal next step.

The best way to practice choosing the best answer is by completing practice questions. These will show you exactly what the testers are looking for and help you think in the way that will help you score well.

5. Review Your Incorrect Responses

An often-overlooked NCLEX studying tip is to spend time reviewing your incorrect answers. Any time you complete a practice exam or a set of practice questions, pay special attention to the questions you missed.

While it’s important to review every question, correct and incorrect, pay more attention to those you answered wrong. Read through the question and correct answer until you understand why the correct answer is correct. Take notes, make flashcards, and be intentional about ensuring you don’t make the same mistake again. This way, you will learn from your mistakes and improve your performance over time.

6. Complete a Full-Length Practice Exam

Completing practice questions in an unstructured way is an important study technique, but it’s equally important to test your comprehensive knowledge during structured practice exams. We recommend you take at least one full-length practice exam a few weeks before your official test date. This will help you gauge your weaknesses and will guide the remainder of your studying.

Some students choose to take more than one practice exam, which is even more beneficial. Practice exams help you learn to pace the exam, approach questions with a level head, and read the questions efficiently. They also give you an idea of which topics are tested most heavily.

ABSN student working in sim lab

If you have time to complete more than one practice exam, it is best to space them periodically throughout your dedicated NCLEX study period. Be sure to thoroughly review each practice exam, with special focus to any questions you missed.

7. Mimic the Testing Environment

When you are completing practice exams or doing question sets, it’s important to mirror the environment you’ll be in on test day as closely as possible. This gives you the best chance of adjusting to environmental variables before the pressure is on.

You can mimic the testing environment in a number of ways:

  • Take your practice exam at the same time of day as you’ll take the NCLEX; that means waking up at the same time you will on test day.
  • Eat the same breakfast you’ll have on test day, and eat the same snacks during breaks.
  • If you plan to have caffeine on test day, drink the same amount of caffeine before your practice exam.
  • Sit in an upright chair with a desk in a quiet room with no music, as you will on test day.
  • Take the same number of breaks as you will on test day.

8. Stick to a Schedule

Studying for the NCLEX is challenging, and it requires organization and focus to achieve the best results. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to create a study schedule and stick to it. This will ensure you get through all your review materials and practice questions without falling behind.

When planning a schedule, be realistic about what can be done in a day. Note how many pages you want to read, how many practice questions you want to complete, how many flashcards you want to make or review, etc. in a day. Block off specific times for each task, and be disciplined in adhering to your schedule to ensure you feel prepared come test day.

CTX ABSN students in lab working together

9. Take Study Breaks

When studying for such a high-stakes exam like the NCLEX, you’ll need to take measures to ensure you’re at the top of your game. Amid the focused studying, your brain needs opportunities to recharge. Breaks will help you avoid burnout and keep you engaged while studying.

Find a break frequency that works for you, such as a 10-minute break every hour, or 20-minute break every two hours, and make sure you include this in your self-prepared schedule. Remember that staying strong and getting through an intense exam prep schedule means you need to balance lots of hard work with periods of resting and decompressing.

Nurse wearing purple scrubs in a meditation pose

How can you stay balanced and well amid such a busy study schedule? Use these nine tips for self-care to keep you mentally strong during NCLEX studying.

Begin Your Path to a Nursing Degree Today!

With these NCLEX tips, you can optimize your preparation for and increase your chances of first-time success on the NCLEX. If you’re still getting started on your nursing journey, and you’re looking for a place to earn your BSN, Concordia University Texas in Austin and Dallas is a great place to begin.

Start where you are.

Want to know how to become a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or prior college experience? Discover how to start your new nursing career.

The accelerated BSN track is built for students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or at least 60 non-nursing college credits. Through a combination of online classes, skills and simulation labs, and clinical rotations, you can earn a BSN in as few as 16 months. Then, after you apply these NCLEX study tips and pass the exam, you’ll be eligible to receive a nursing license and start your exciting new career.

To learn more about becoming a nurse at Concordia University Texas, fill out our online form to share your interest with our admissions counselors. We’ll be in touch with you about next steps.