Becoming a nurse is a great career path for students entering the healthcare industry. Nursing school is rigorous, whether you’re in an ADN associate’s program or going straight through to a BSN. Classes are challenging, clinical experiences are demanding, and tests are nerve-wracking. But even after you’ve made the milestone of getting your degree, one last task stands before you: the NCLEX exam.
What is the NCLEX?
The NCLEX or National Council Licensure Examination is an exam that nurses are required to take to become licensed throughout the United States. It is also offered in Guam, the Virgin Islands, and in American Samoa.The NCLEX was developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). NCSBN also owns the rights to the exam and each student must register to take the exam through them.The NCLEX is administered through Pearson Vue, a computer-based testing format.
The exam tests each student’s skills, abilities, and knowledge of the nursing industry. The test also includes a nurse’s cognitive thinking and their ability to recall information. There is actually two types of NCLEX nursing exams: the NCLEX-RN and the NCLEX-PN. The NCLEX RN has a minimum of 75 questions; however it could have up to 265. The NCLEX PN has a minimum of 85 questions, with a maximum of 205. NCLEX Pass Rate for both are similar, about 86%, according to the NCSBN.
How to Prepare for the NCLEX
One of the best ways to pass the NCLEX exam is to practice questions over and over. For every one you get wrong on the practice questions, review the answers again until you get them right. There are two study books that can help with preparing for the NCLEX. One is the Saunders comprehensive review guide and the Hesi practice guide. Keeping a study log of what you learned throughout the day can also prepare you for the exam. The both exams take several hours to complete, so preparing early is best.
Other ways of preparing include:
- Joining a study group
- Taking a refresher course
- Hiring a tutor
- Reading blogs and listening to podcasts for nursing students
- Flash cards ALL THE TIME
- Make your loved ones quiz you at unexpected times
Crazy as it sounds, the last two are actually quite effective for keeping your sharp and testing your memory under pressure. They may also push your family and friends to their last nerve, but nursing school probably already did that! If they made it through nursing school with you, they can make it through NCLEX study.
Side Note: When you pass, send them here to find a nice gift.
NCLEX Tips and Tricks
There are a few tips and tricks to taking the NCLEX examination. Besides hard study and practice, it is valuable to keep a positive attitude and faith in yourself passing the NCLEX. If you have confidence that you will pass (along with adequate preparation), then chances are, you will!
Second, review all your notes. Looking over everything from the nursing courses can better prepare students as well.
Next, study hard. The best way to pass is to treat the study time as a full-time job. Meaning, studying every day for six to eight hours will best prepare applicants with a passing grade. Take small breaks, however, try to complete around sixty to seventy practice questions in one study period.
Last thing, try to get online help as well. There are many resources online that nurses can utilize while preparing for the exam.
Good Signs You Passed NCLEX
There’s a whole industry based on reading the tea leaves and shaking up the Magic 8 Ball to help nurses know whether they have passed the NCLEX in the excruciating six weeks it takes to get your results. However, there’s no perfect formula to know until your official answer arrives.
The NCLEX does not provide a number grade. Applicants either pass or fail the exam. However, this is how to pass the NCLEX. The exam is based on a NCLEX scoring algorithm. Each applicant takes the exam on a computer that records each answer as you go along. This type of test is called Computer Adaptive testing or CAP. The first set of question tend to be easy for most nursing applicants. However, it becomes more challenging as you move on.
In fact, one sign that you’re doing well is that questions become very hard – that means the computer sees that you’re succeeding and is testing how extensive and deep your knowledge is.
It’s also a good sign if the computer keeps asking you questions beyond the minimum. The test won’t shut you down if you’re failing at 75 or 85 questions; instead, it keeps going to give you a fair chance of passing. If you pass the minimum and then some, you’re probably doing fine.
Many people who take the exam commonly ask is the NCLEX hard to pass. Passing the NCLEX may seem difficult to some. Statistically, not all applicants will be able to pass the NCLEX the first time around – a good 14-20% will have to take it again. The questions are randomly selected as well, so no one applicant should guess what the answers are. Take your time and just do your best. Good signs you passed NCLEX is when you no longer need to answer any more questions.
How to Pass NCLEX RN After Failing
Failing the NCLEX is not the end of the world. In fact, many RNs in the nursing industry have failed the exam at least one time. As mentioned above, about 86% of nursing students pass the exam the first time around. Why is that? Is the NCLEX hard to pass? The answer is a profound Yes. It’s intended to determine if you are ready to take on a job where lives will literally be in your hands. It should be hard.
However, failing does not mean a nursing school graduate is not good enough to become a nurse. It just means the person needs more time studying to be licensed to practice nursing. The test is very difficult and the questions are randomly selected for each individual. If a person has failed the NCLEX, the first thing to do is look at what they got wrong and how to better prepare for them the second time around. Getting a good study book, and perhaps joining a study group or taking tutoring, also can help an applicant to pass the next time as well. A student should also take some practice quizzes while preparing for the test again.