The final challenge for nursing students seeking the status of Registered Nurse or Practicing Nurse is the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination). It’s often the cause of high levels of stress and anxiety, but by crafting and implementing a study plan early on, you can wake up on exam day feeling well-prepared to pass on your first attempt.
There are four critical components for success when it comes to passing the NCLEX exam. You need to:
However, the foundation for all of that starts with compiling the best NCLEX review tools and test prep resources to set yourself up for success the first time around. There’s a seemingly overwhelming amount of NCLEX review tools and study guides out there, making it difficult to figure out where to focus your study hours.
"What’s the best way to study for the NCLEX?"
"Which NCLEX review book is the best?"
"How do I sort through all of the NCLEX resources available to me?"
If questions like these sound familiar, you’re definitely not alone. Here’s a rundown of some of the best NCLEX test prep for nursing students to take advantage of.
Before we break down the variety of NCLEX study resources, it’s important to mention that there’s no one right way to study for the exam. People learn and prepare differently, which is part of the reason (combined with the fact that this test is a pretty big deal) why there are so many resources available - both online and in print. As you develop your study plan, be aware of the fact that different tools should be used at different stages of your NCLEX prep journey.
For example, it wouldn’t make much sense to take a full exam simulation the first day you sit down to study. It’s more likely you’d start with NCLEX Q&A books or NCLEX flashcard style resources, work your way through formative assessment tools like Lippincott PassPoint to help you understand and progress through more and more difficult questions. Then use integrated testing tools to practice simulated exams. Using NCLEX review tools in tandem with each other will help you develop a well-rounded understanding of the exam content and test format.
Question and answer style NCLEX review books should hold their place throughout the duration of your exam prep. In particular, the consistently bestselling NCLEX-RN review book, Lippincott Q&A Review for NCLEX-RN, boasts over 6,000 questions written in the exact style and format used on the real exam. It recently made it on a list from PollMed as the ‘Students Choice’ for the best NCLEX review books for 2018, and definitely deserves a place in your study plan.
Repetition is critical for familiarizing yourself with NCLEX practice questions, but setting yourself up with easily digestible resources for reviewing content is important too. We’re not talking textbooks here… Resources like the NCLEX-RN Review Made Incredibly Easy! book provides unit by unit breakdowns of clinical information and clear rationales in a way that’s engaging and easy to absorb. It covers every topic you’ll face on the exam and also includes features like “cheat sheets” for quick review, memory jogging activities, and visual aids to help reinforce key concepts. Also, as you progress through your study plan and realize you’re consistently struggling with one area, unit based NCLEX review books can be an excellent tool. For example, Lippincott Review: Pediatric Nursing offers a comprehensive review of everything you need to know on the subject to get you NCLEX-ready and real-world confident.
Utilizing formative assessment tools like PassPoint can make a big difference in your NCLEX success, as well. PassPoint helps you learn along the way, and then ATI/HESI help you know what you’ve learned via testing. They can be used in tandem.
Formative assessment helps bridge the gap between learning and teaching, and enables your teachers to react and adjust their course content on a given day depending on the level of conceptual understanding from students. As a student, you’re given feedback throughout the learning experience, and since formative assessment tends to foster a more engaging and active learning environment, it’s easier to retain course content. The opposite would be the “old school” method, or summative assessment, where student knowledge is evaluated at the end of an instructional unit.
This style of learning becomes exponentially more valuable when used in combination with adaptive learning tools like Lippincott PassPoint, which gives you a personalized learning experience to prepare you for the real NCLEX exam. When you’re able to learn through tools that adapt to your answers in real-time and provide clear results on where you should be focusing your studying efforts, it’s a much more meaningful learning style that mimics the way the NCLEX exam is actually presented.
You’ll want to use PassPoint as one of your main NCLEX study tools while preparing for the exam. The adaptive quizzes test you at the right difficulty level, and you instantly receive detailed rationales as to why your answers were right or wrong, plus instructional content to grasp the concepts you’re having trouble with. As the NCLEX exam approaches, you can take advantage of the unlimited simulated exams that adapt and test just like the real NCLEX-RN, and you’ll see personalized reports to help you focus your studies. This style of studying is game-changer, and students who prepare with Lippincott PassPoint have a 97.18% NCLEX-RN pass rate the first time around. You can also get a ‘question of the day’ from PassPoint delivered to your inbox for free to keep your studying top-of-mind!
If you’re the kind of learner who needs structure and accountability, or if you’re just a visual learner who isn’t good with absorbing concepts through books, setting yourself up with a virtual NCLEX coach or attending live review sessions can be a smart strategy. ATI offers personal virtual coaches who work with you one-on-one for a 12-week NCLEX review where they provide feedback and encouragement along the way. This can really boost confidence since you’ll have your own NCLEX expert telling you they know you’re ready to pass the exam, and 2017 Virtual-ATI students who got the green light to take the RN and PN exams had pass rates of 97% and 98%, respectively.
As the NCLEX exam approaches, simulated and integrated testing should become a bigger part of your study plan to test your knowledge across concepts. HESI provides nursing students with more structured and high-stakes testing conditions to boost confidence and reduce anxiety. These summative assessments allow you to evaluate your level of readiness for the NCLEX exam, and they’re an important final step in your study plan.
When it comes to passing the NCLEX exam, study early and study smart. Create a study plan to guide your focus and assemble the best NCLEX review tools available to ensure you pass the exam on your first try. Not only will you feel a massive weight off of your shoulders, but you’ll feel more prepared to take on real-life clinical situations with fine-tuned critical thinking skills.
Discover how easy Lippincott PassPoint makes studying for the NCLEX!
It’s also worth checking on NCLEX live reviews in your area. Most regions offer in-person “class” time for live review sessions with nursing educators, but if there isn’t one available close to you there are live review sessions online you can participate in. You can ask questions, share tips and strategies with other nursing students, and sometimes just hearing a concept presented differently can trigger that lightbulb moment where the information really clicks.