How to Study for Passing the NCLEX-PN Exam?
How Hard is the NCLEX Exam?
Becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) is not an easy nut to crack; you need to study a lot to pass the NCLEX-PN (National Council Licensure Examination – Practical Nursing). After proving your proficiency in clinical settings and classroom during the LPN training, you are supposed to qualify the NCLEX state board exam to obtain the licensure.
The NCLEX-PN is a computer adaptive exam comprising of 75 to 265 test questions on various topics such as primary care, health promotion, safety and infection control, physiological and psychosocial integrity, etc. You are allowed a maximum of 5 hours to complete the test. The passing percentage is difficult to determine due to the complex nature and complicated standards of this exam.
With the right preparation and the right frame of mind, you can qualify the NCLEX-PN examination in the first attempt. If you are wondering what to study for NCLEX, you will find this article helpful. Here, we have provided some best ways to pass the NCLEX-PN exam.
How to Prepare for the NCLEX-PN Exam?
Below are some tips to prepare for your exam day.
Before the NCLEX-PN Examination:
1. Understand the Format of the NCLEX-PN Exam
As mentioned above, the NCLEX-PN is a computer adaptive exam, so no single test is alike. The computer algorithm generates the next question on the basis of how you perform in previous questions during the test. The level of items progressively gets harder with each correct answer. If you get some easy questions in a row, it does means that you are beneath the pass line.
2. Keep Stress at a Minimum
Undoubtedly, the NCLEX-PN is an important exam for the nursing aspirants, but feeling stressed and nervous all the time due to the test will not work in your favor. Keeping a balance between studies and other activities of your life is the best way to prepare for the test. Instead of making study your life; focus on other aspects too such as exercise, meditation, sleep, and fun. Talk to your friends, go on a run, listen to music, cook your favorite food or do whatever that de-stress you.
3. Have a Positive Attitude
Having a positive mindset is the key to stay relaxed before the examination. Rather than perceiving the NCLEX-PN exam as a threat; take it as a challenge and an opportunity to build a brilliant career. Furthermore, instead of thinking about the imminent adverse outcomes of a failed examination; focus on putting your best efforts to clear the test. Remind yourself of a successful exam to stay confident about the approaching one.
4. Identify your Learning Style
Different students have different learning styles.
- Some can grab the concepts by listening to audio. For such students, various online podcasts and YouTube lectures are available.
- Those who find it easy to learn through visual representations of information can prepare color codes for medicines, draw rough sketches of cardiac chambers, etc.
- Some aspirants learn quickly through discussions. They can create a study group to discuss the concepts.
Identify which learning style suits you the best and accordingly, prepare your study plan.
5. Prepare an NCLEX Study Plan
Studying without a proper plan is just a shot in the dark that won’t bring you success. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t matter how many hours you invest in preparing for the exam; what matters is how effectively you do your preparations.
Follow the below-given guidelines while making your NCLEX study plan:
- Make a schedule as on which days of the week you will do your studies and on which days you will take the practice tests.
- Before each study session, set a goal – it may be to master x number of topics or practice y number of questions.
- Make sure to include small breaks in your study plan to refresh your body.
- Avoid studying more than two hours at a stretch.
- Give regular breaks to your mind.
6. Invest in Effective Study Materials
Several study guides are available for the NCLEX-PN exam, but which one to choose among them is a little bit tricky. You are advised to refrain from outdated test preparation materials and resources. Invest in the premier quality study material. You should consider your personal preferences, peer references, and reviews while buying the study material. Take out some time to browse the reviews and determine which guide material fits you the best.
7. Take Practice Tests
More you practice; the better will be your chances of qualifying the nursing test in the first go. Below are some of the benefits of taking practice tests:
- As the practice tests simulate the real test environment, you can better prepare for the challenges of the exam day.
- It develops time management skills and boosts confidence in candidates.
- Practice tests highlight both your strong and weak points.
- You can get acquainted with the format of the exam.
8. Focus on Problem Areas
It is very crucial to focus and work on your areas of improvement to pass the exam. Note down all the topics in which you scored less in the practice tests and review them frequently. You can reduce time in reviewing the topics you have a good grasp of.
9. Stop Cramming
The main purpose of the NCLEX-PN exam is to determine how effectively you evaluate the given situation and how well you apply your learning and knowledge in those situations. The examination is based on evidence-based, researched-based and proven practice, and requires strong critical thinking skills to clear it. Thus, stop cramming and focus on your study plan.
The Day Before the Exam:
1. Take Enough Sleep
Take sound sleep of at least 7-8 hours to improve your concentration, enhance your memory, and stay charged for the big day. Not having a good night sleep will negatively impact your mood and performance. Here are some tips to sleep better before the exam day:
- Avoid last-minute revisions in bed.
- Avoid using your smartphone and laptop in bed.
- Don’t perform exercise two hours before bedtime. However, breathing exercise and meditation may work wonders for you.
- Don’t overthink about the exam day while going to bed.
2. Avoid Over Intake of Caffeine and Alcohol
Most of the students over drink coffee to stay alert on the exam day, but it is a big mistake! 1-2 cups of coffee would not do any harm, but over intake of caffeine may cause nervousness, dizziness, and headaches, that in turn, affect your ability to concentrate. Instead of having caffeinated drinks and alcohol before the exam, you can have decaffeinated and unsweetened ice tea and water.
3. Eat Properly
A balanced meal boosts your mental alertness. Include protein-rich food, whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, and lean meats in your diet to stay healthy and energize your mind. Drink 8-10 glasses of water to keep your body well hydrated. Instead of going to bed after having your meal, take a walk.
4. Be Prepared
In order to evade last-minute hassles on the exam day, you must do the following preparations:
- Check the directions to the test center.
- Thoroughly read the NCLEX Candidate Rules.
- Pack all the test day essentials, including ATT number, photo ID, snacks, etc., the night before the exam.
On the Exam Day:
1. Dress Properly
Proper dressing boosts confidence in you and helps concentrate on the exam better. It is advised to visit the testing center before the exam day and gauge the temperature. Dress according to the temperature on the test day. Don a warm dress if it’s cold and don’t forget to bring your jacket. Dress in layers so that you can remove the layer if you feel hot.
2. Have a Healthy Breakfast
Do not appear for the exam on an empty stomach. Eat a good and healthy breakfast before the exam even if you don’t have an appetite. Eat protein snacks instead of junk food.
3. Leave your Studies Just Before Exam
Do not talk about your studies just before the exam. Let your mind relax and have faith in your preparation. The last-minute cramming may cause anxiety and stress.
4. Reach on Time
Reach the test center at least half an hour before the commencement of the exam. You will not be allowed to appear for the examination if you are late by more than 30 minutes, and in this case, you will have to re-register and repay the exam fee.
5. Bring all the Essentials
Make sure that you arrive at the test center with valid ID proof, ATT number, and other essential documents. Also, bring a water bottle and some snacks with you so that thirst and hunger do not distract you.
NCLEX Test Taking Strategies
- Trust your gut if you get stuck on any question.
- Remember, you can’t return to the item once you submit an answer. Thus, evaluate each question carefully.
- Eliminate the false answers right away so that you have more time to compare the right answers.
- Recall what you have studied or learned during your training.
With a combination of perspiration and inspiration, you can accomplish anything. The same holds true for the NCLEX-PN exams as well. You can pass the NCLEX examination with flying colors in the first attempt through hard and smart work. Believe in your sincere efforts!