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10 Tips to a Successful NCLEX Experience

May 26th, 2010 by – Marijke Durning

It’s talked about from the very beginning of nursing school – the NCLEX, short for the National Council Licensure Exam. Whether you’re studying to be a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a registered nurse (RN), you will have to pass the exam to be granted a license to practice nursing in the state you wish to work. But, we hear so many horror stories about sitting the exam, how can you ensure the best possible chances of passing? Everyone is different, but here are 10 tips that may give you a boost.

1- Begin preparing right away. Buy a recent copy of an NCLEX study guide and start practicing the NCLEX-LPN or NCLEX-RN when you begin nursing school. This will help you get used to how questions are asked and what types of answers are required. It will also end up helping you with your school exams too, probably, because most schools base their exams on the same principle as the NCLEX in order to properly prepare their students for success.

2- Study at the best time of day for you. Are you great in the morning? Get up a bit earlier in the morning to set aside some study time. Are you an evening studier? Set aside evening time to study. Find when you are at your most alert and try to time your study sessions to coincide with these periods.

3- Make study notes to carry around. Sometimes, the best study time is when you didn’t expect it. You could be stuck at a doctor’s office or waiting for a ride, or just without anything to do. If you have notes to review, you can turn that lost time into productive time.

4- Make a study plan. Unless you’ve been taught study skills or you are a very effective studier, most people don’t really plan their studies. By making (and keeping!) a calendar, you should schedule study times and goals, and then keep to them. Make these appointments with yourself and consider them unbreakable, except for very urgent matters.

5- Ask for help. If you have trouble understanding a concept or you seem to be getting the same practice questions wrong, speak with an instructor or an experienced nurse to see where you may be going wrong. It never hurts to ask!

6- Work with a study buddy. You could either study with someone else or in a bigger study group, or you could help each other by holding study buddies accountable for studying and meeting goals. If you work with someone else, you may not feel so alone if you feel overwhelmed or just plain fed up with studying.

7- Don’t cram. Some people make a habit of cramming before an exam, convinced that it helps them pass their exams. But research has proven that this doesn’t help. What it often does is stress you out and make you tired because you didn’t relax and get a restorative sleep the night before.

8- Sleep and eat before the exam. You can’t be 100% if you are sleep deprived nor if you are hungry. Even if breakfasts aren’t your “thing,” try to get something nutritious in your stomach to tide you over during the exam period.

9- Know where you are going to write the exam before you have to get there. Do a practice run with whatever means of transportation you will be using on the day of the exam. Figure out how long it takes to get there and then add a bit of time for “just in case” events.

10- Be as comfortable as possible. Where comfortable clothes, shoes. If you think it will be noisy or distracting, consider bringing earplugs. If you need something to soothe your throat, ask if you can bring a bottle of water and/or lozenges. Think “comfort,” in all your decisions for that day.

These are just some tricks that may help you accomplish your goal of passing the NCLEX. If, for some reason, you don’t pass – don’t beat yourself up over it. Not everyone passes the first time around – and some fail twice. That doesn’t mean you can’t pick yourself up and try again.

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