10 NCLEX Study Tips

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Learning NCLEX study tips is an essential way to set yourself up to become a nurse. NCLEX tips include the following: focus on succeeding in nursing school, start NCLEX studying early, take advantage of your resources, focus on practice questions, take a full-length practice exam, stay consistent and more.

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If you’re considering attending nursing school, you’ve probably heard about the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). You may even be wondering how to study for the NCLEX.

Rest assured that you'll be in good hands when you enroll in the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program at Averett University in Norfolk, Virginia. The program will teach you how to become a competent and compassionate nurse and prepare you to sit for the NCLEX after graduation.

Here are a few strategies you can implement when studying for the NCLEX.

1. Focus on Nursing School Success

The most important foundation for success on the NCLEX is your nursing school curriculum. After all, the exam reviews all the material you’ve learned during nursing school. So, before you even begin studying for the NCLEX, focus on soaking up all you can in your online courses, skills and simulation labs and clinical rotations.

Rest assured that the NCLEX is one of the main foci of the ABSN curriculum. The curriculum includes numerous planned activities, including study tips, practice tests and skills sessions to promote student success. The program is centered on helping students prepare for the NCLEX.

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Want to know how to succeed in accelerated nursing school? Here are 10 pieces of nursing school advice from Averett students.

2. Understand the Exam

Before implementing the rest of the NCLEX study tips, be sure you understand the exam's intricacies. The NCLEX is not structured or scored like most exams.

The exam doesn’t even have a standard number of questions or cutoff time because that depends on how well you do. The exam’s intuitive technology adjusts what questions you see based on how you answered prior questions. To learn more about how this works, read about CAT technology. You’ll also want to brush up on other exam information, such as question distribution, break timing and exam procedures.

3. Start Studying for the NCLEX Early

The NCLEX is a challenging compilation of numerous nursing concepts, and it’s not something you can prepare for in a week or two. You’ll need at least a few months to prepare, so start working through review materials and practice questions as soon as possible.

Most students take the NCLEX a few weeks or months after nursing school graduation. If you follow a similar timeline, you’ll want to intentionally set aside time for NCLEX studying starting in your fourth semester of the ABSN program.

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What’s our accelerated nursing program in Virginia like? Learn more about becoming a nurse at Averett.

4. Focus on Practice Questions

The most important NCLEX study tip is to lean heavily into practice questions. These are your bread and butter. They should take the bulk of your study time. There is no better way to study than by going through sets of practice questions.

When you complete questions, you learn how to approach each question and prioritize the answer choices. Practice questions are an active way to study; instead of just reading a review book, you interact with the material the same way you will on exam day.

Get in the habit of answering a set number of questions each day. Make a goal for yourself but keep it manageable so you can consistently become more comfortable handling NCLEX-style questions.

5. Thoroughly Review Incorrect Answers

Now you know the importance of practice questions. But the greatest learning opportunity comes after you finish a set of practice questions. How well you review questions can determine whether you make the same mistakes again in the future.

Averett nursing student studying

Spend time reviewing each question you missed, paying attention to what set the correct answer apart from the others. Expect to spend more time reviewing each question than it took you to complete it, but this is how you extract all the learning you can from the experience.

6. Take Advantage of Resources

As you study for the NCLEX, optimize your learning through online resources such as study guides, practice questions, full-length practice exams, review videos and more. There are many free NCLEX study resources online but expect to pay for some resources, including practice questions or exams. These are an investment in your future.

Another way to use your resources is to talk with your peers or instructors if you have questions while reviewing for the NCLEX. Remember that you’re in this together and want to see each other succeed.

7. Take a Full-Length Practice Exam

One essential NCLEX study tip is to complete at least one full-length practice exam before test day. Students generally do this toward the end of their studying, after they’ve worked through most of their review materials and completed numerous practice questions.

A few weeks before your scheduled exam, plan to set aside an entire day for the practice exam. The next day, review the questions well, especially your incorrect answers. Note the areas where you struggled and review these concepts in depth before test day. If you have time to take more than one practice exam, do it. The more, the better.

8. Prepare for the Whole Test Day Experience

Another NCLEX study tip is to recreate the entire test day experience as closely as possible when you complete your practice exam:

  • Wake up at the same time.
  • Eat the same breakfast and snacks.
  • Drink the same amount of caffeine.
  • Start your practice exam at the same time your actual exam will start.
  • Take breaks at the same time.
  • Set up your environment as it will be on test day (i.e., sit at a table or desk with a hard chair rather than the couch).

Rehearsing every aspect of test day will ease your mind and help you fix any glitches in your plan before it counts. After the practice exam finishes, review every aspect of your performance and adjust your wake time, diet, caffeine, etc., to be optimal for test day.

9. Be Consistent with Studying

Beginning NCLEX studying can seem intimidating because there’s so much material to complete. A great way to break it up into manageable pieces is to make it a daily habit. Consistency will allow you to make steady progress and not fall behind with your studying. In addition, revisiting the material regularly will improve your long-term retention of the information.

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10. Take Regular Study Breaks

Studying for the NCLEX is rigorous, and maintaining balance is key to success. If you’re going to be studying for a few hours, take periodic breaks to grab a snack or go on a walk. This will help you avoid burnout and remain motivated to work hard. Always remember that your mental health comes first, and you must take care of yourself. Amid the stress of NCLEX studying, make time to relax and refresh, connect with friends and stay active. Doing so will help you stay strong.

Begin the Nursing Path at Averett!

Now that you know 10 NCLEX study tips to help you succeed, it’s time to begin your nursing journey if you haven’t already. The accelerated nursing program at Averett can help you finish your degree in as few as 16 months if you have at least 60 non-nursing college credits or a bachelor’s degree in another area.

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Wondering how to become a nurse? Follow these seven steps to become an RN fast.

Our program uses a mix of online courses and required in-person nursing labs and clinical rotations to provide a comprehensive education. Plus, you’ll be ready to sit for the NCLEX after graduation.

To learn more about our ABSN program in Norfolk, Virginia, contact our admissions counselors today!