Top 10 NCLEX Review Tips

Lez-be-honest. The NCLEX can suck.

Sorry, heard that lesbian-related play on words earlier today and had to include it in this post. Today I’m bringing you my personal Top 10 NCLEX study tips, since I’m currently in study-mode for my NCLEX-PN exam. The NCLEX-PN, NCLEX-RN are bastards that must be tackled after any nursing program. For those that may be reading this from other countries outside of the good ole’ U.S.A. the NCLEX is the National Council Licensure Examination it is a test put out by the NCSBN. It is a fancy acronym that means a standardized test to see whether you are a safe, entry-level nurse. The one thing that you will learn from nurses who have taken the NCLEX is that it is truly unlike ANY other test you have ever taken.

Before we jump into my study tips let’s break down the differences between the NCLEX-PN and NCLEX-RN.

NCLEX-PN: This test is meant for LPN/LVN’s (Licensed Practical Nurses / Licensed Vocational Nurses), the terminology depends on the state, the test is the same. On this version of the test you will have answers that require you to report to the RN. For me this is a hard concept to abide by since I really feel ready for the NCLEX-RN after my 18 months of hard studying, I’ve done clinicals mainly with RN’s who have taught me their ways. I will just have to suck it through the bridge program though.

The minimum questions you will receive on the NCLEX-PN is 85, of those I believe about 10 of them are practice or test-test questions for the next version of the NCLEX. The maximum is 265. If you want to get a good idea of how the NCLEX is “graded” check on this video

How is the NCLEX graded? Check out this video.

NCLEX-RN: This test is meant for RN’s or Registered Nurses. On this version you will not have to report to another registered nurse but may have questions about delegation to CNA’s, LPN’s and LVN’s for tasks that are able to be delegated. You will be required on this version of the test to plan care, coordinate with physicians, assess patients. The main difference between the thinking levels is that in NCLEX world the RN initiates EVERYTHING and the LPN assists with data collection and updates to the plans the RN initiates. Very, very sticky area when in the real world of nursing LPN’s will parallel or crossover into RN duties. The minimum RN-NCLEX questions you can receive is 75 and the maximum being 265.

Check out my pick for NCLEX Content Review Books


I’ll write an article on the Saunders NCLEX Review Courses soon, I’ll link it here when it’s done!

Okay, enough bullshitting about the test itself. Here is my top 10 NCLEX study tips.

  1. Make Studying A Habit
    I know if you’re at this point in the game that you’re over care plans, pharmacology, fundamentals of nursing, med-surg, OB (especially when you’re a guy, I don’t really give a fuck about lochia flow but I have to know it for NCLEX), etc. However, you never know what the NCLEX is going to throw at you. I personally aim for 45 minutes to 1 hour sessions of NCLEX studying. Get a schedule going for NCLEX practice questions. Mark it on your calendar. Write it in blood. Engrave it in stone. Stick to it!
  2. NCLEX Practice Questions > Content
    If you’re still struggling to understand the basic concepts of vasodilators vs. vasoconstrictors, acute renal failure vs. chronic renal failure, so on and so forth then there’s some other underlying issues. When you graduate you should be solely focusing on NCLEX practice questions. These types of questions build confidence, help you understand the tricky wording, how to answer SATA questions and you will get a better understanding of what the NCLEX is asking from you. (Hint, it’s can you be a safe, effective, entry-level nurse who won’t kill a patient by giving an asthmatic patient beta blockers)
  3. Content Reviews
    But wait, didn’t you just say don’t focus on content Brad? Yes, I did but there is an exception to every rule. Review the content you’re missing the most questions on. Are you weak in cardiovascular NCLEX material? Do you not know what V-Tach looks like on a monitor? Then you need to be reviewing the information in some type of way.What I do is run through my 25-50 questions. I then review my questions, read the ones I got right then read the ones I got wrong. Every NCLEX review book and NCLEX review app has a rationale to each question. Take the ones you got wrong, review the rationale and write it down to study later. I personally use Quizlet to make flash cards of the missed content.

    May I suggest Saunders NCLEX Review Books, again?

    How about NRSNG’s NCLEX Video Review Course?

Kaplan is a VERY POPULAR NCLEX course, check it out!

  1. NCLEX Study Groups
    Unless you lived under a wrong for the entirety of your program, then in that case this tip does not apply to you. Nevertheless, for those of you who socialized take advantage of your classmates! Not sexually! But for picking each other’s brains in NCLEX groups. Personally, speaking I enjoy listening to some of my female classmates explain OB/GYN/Maternal Child NCLEX practice questions because they understand it better than I do. I can admit to that.
  2. Alternative Study Methods
    Undeniably we live in a new world, with different modalities of learning. To also include the fact that most nursing students are aged differently than other programs. The youngest in my group was around 23 years old a relatively young nursing student and the oldest nearing 50 an older nursing student.

The point is that you should be utilizing alternative methods of studying to study for the NCLEX. There are plenty of ways like:

YouTube – An awesome way to basically have lecture all over again. If you don’t know something you will be hard pressed to not find a video explaining the topic. Some of the YouTube suggestions for nursing are:

NRSNG – Lots of videos on Pharmacology, Med-Surg, OB

SimpleNursing – Same as NRSNG but some video content is locked unless you buy into his website.

RegisteredNurseRN – Sara is amazing! She breaks down diseases, NCLEX studying, pharmacology, skills, etc!

Smart Phone NCLEX Apps – These can be found by going to the Google Play Store or App Store and typing in things like NCLEX-RN, NCLEX-PN, NCLEX Questions, NCLEX App, NCLEX Review, NCLEX Book. Some apps are free, some require a payment. I personally used NCLEX Mastery PN by Higher Learning Technologies, it’s around $30, but worth the investment.

  1. Take A Damn Break from NCLEX Review Material!
    So you’ve spent the last 3 months hitting NCLEX review questions, you’ve reviewed the basic content of nursing, you know how to change an ostomy explosion and you’re TOTALLY going to use all of that hodge-podge therapeutic communication (and totally refrain from telling the family members to fuck off, since that’s not therapeutic). Now what?Go be a normal human being. Nursing is a calling. A noble profession. Something you should attend to daily in your mind. However, if your only passion in life is nursing and you can’t stop worrying about failing the NCLEX then you need a reality check. Take 2-3 days, go to the movies, go out to eat, masturbate. Do something fun. After all you deserve it for surviving nursing school.
  2. Listen to NCLEX Success Stories!
    I currently work at the local hospital here in my area. It’s always been advantageous to me to reach out to those who have passed. A lot of times they have insight and will spill the beans on the NCLEX secrets. This for me personally eases anxiety when I’m on a high-strung out spree of NCLEX studying. Those moments when I feel like I’m going to be a failure standing on the side of I-4 in Orlando with a sign like this:

Check out they have plenty of NCLEX Success Stories!

8. Speak to Your Professor
Our nursing school, specifically our class (shout out to Clermont 2017 LPN Part-Time at Lake Technical College), was lucky enough to land a professor who really and truly cared about his students. Whenever we didn’t understand something he would explain it. Towards the end he started gearing and ramping us up for the NCLEX-PN test (which we’re still waiting to get ATT’s for).

Utilize your professor if you still can after graduation (and if you liked them). Many nursing groups have a Facebook page, texting groups, education “blackboard” type things. It’s always nice to hear the rationale from the person who taught you how to be a nurse.

  1. Eat Healthy & Exercise
    This type may sound cliché as balls. It is. I know it is. It’s really not a copout tip though. Think about it, the “Freshman 15”, every fast-food burger, every starbucks powered study session, the daily Dunkin Donuts. We all took nutrition and diet therapy. We all understand that potassium comes from bananas, sodium follows water and to withhold fluids for those at risk for dumping syndrome.But the excess nursing weight does not do the body any good. I’m victim of this.I’ll be honest I went from around 248lbs to 280lbs during my nursing program. I’m currently on the flip-side trying to reduce the weight before graduation (anyone have any good weight loss for graduation tips?! 😉). Staying healthy and hydrated helps us feel good, when we feel good we sleep better, when we sleep better it improves memory and cognition. Take advantage of that!

    Need help losing weight? I got you!

10. Stop Stressing – You WILL Be A Nurse

Stop stressing. You’ve come this far. Mentally start preparing yourself by having inner-talk with yourself that you WILL be a nurse. You don’t have to worry about how to become a nurse anymore. You’re at the finish line. Apply your knowledge. Study for the NCLEX. Take the test and kill it.

Thanks for reading! I now have an Instagram that you can follow! It’s @malenurselife. Let me know if you have any suggestions, tips, topics, etc. you’d like to see my view on. I’m going to start very soon writing more about nursing related hot-beds and topics.



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