The NCLEX, or National Council Licensure Examination, was designed to test preparation, knowledge and safety skills of aspiring nurses. This test has the reputation of being extremely difficult to pass. The NCLEX tests your critical thinking skills, rather than memorization skills. Therefore, you must approach the NCLEX from a different perspective than you would other exams.

Test Preparation

Familiarize yourself with the format, content, and topics covered on the NCLEX, so that you know exactly what to study and will not be surprised on test day. Dedicate an area for all of your study aids. Provide the area with sufficient light and eliminate distractions, such as the television or stereo. Set a reasonable time for a practice schedule so that you can complete it every day. Use “near test” conditions, such as timed sessions with no distractions, so that the experience will closely resemble taking the real test.

Maintain Motivation

Find a study group to maintain your motivation.
Find a study group to maintain your motivation.

If you study for extended time periods taking short, scheduled breaks, you will stay focused, and your ability to concentrate on test day will improve. After your practice tests, carefully review every answer. In this way, you will learn the ones you missed and reinforce your understanding of the ones you correctly answered. Study partners can help you stay motivated, and you can also collaborate on different study techniques. Buy or make a set of flashcards, and use them diligently. Always keep them with you to take advantage of every opportunity to use them, such as standing in line at the bank. However, don’t use all of your free time studying for the NCLEX. Make time for other activities so that you do not experience burn out

The Night Before

The night before taking the NCLEX, get a good night's sleep.
The night before taking the NCLEX, get a good night's sleep.

Use the night before the test to get everything ready, such as gathering your photo ID and necessary forms, and checking the correct time and location for the exam. Do not spend the last few hours before the test studying. If you have prepared, you will not need that extra study time. Instead, pamper yourself a little. Fix a nutritious dinner, but don’t eat too close to bedtime because it might affect the quality of your sleep. Engage in light exercise early in the evening. This will clear your mind and get your body ready for sleep. Do not drink alcohol—it will interfere with your sleep, and you might feel miserable on test day. Go to bed early so you will wake up refreshed. In case of an unexpected event such as car trouble or oversleeping, have a back up plan in place. Set extra alarms, and ask friends to be on standby in case you need assistance.

Test Day

Eat a healthy breakfast that has a lot of protein. Bring along healthy snacks that give you energy such as bananas, granola, almonds and apples. Keep your energy up and your maintain you blood sugar for peak concentration. Wear comfortable clothing, and dress according to the climate. Leave early from your house to allow time in case you get lost.

Put the NCLEX into perspective. It is not a matter of life and death. Most people pass the NCLEX the first time around, but if you don't, you can retake it.

Kaplan's Suggestions

If you feel yourself getting panicky or overwhelmed, breathe in, and let it out slowly. To stay on track and remain calm, refocus and slow your thinking down. Read each question carefully. If it seems confusing, try rewording the question. Before looking at any options to a question, see if you know the answer. This may make it easier to find the correct answer. Use the breaks to clear your mind and stretch your legs so you can return to the test refreshed and focused.