Hello everyone! I am finally getting around to sharing my detailed NCLEX study tips. I took my NCLEX and passed in the minimum 60 questions (due to COVID). I wanted to make sure to share some tips I picked up when studying along the way. I hope these help!
THE GRAND FINALE
It is finally here. You have successfully completed all of your nurses courses whether that took you two years, four years or longer. You worked hard to get to the point and can almost taste being a nurse, but there is one thing in your way: The NCLEX. Don’t fret! I have some tips to help guide your studying. These are all things I did!
1. KNOW THE EXAM.
When you were in school you made an effort to know what content would be on your exams. The NCLEX will be no different, but it will be… See, everyone’s NCLEX is completely different. For example, one of my classmates received a ton of Pharm questions, whereas I had a lot of Leadership and Peds (development). This presents a challenge as you may feel pressure to study everything. You CAN review everything, just be realistic with your time…
Keep in mind, the NCLEX does not categorize questions based on speciality that Fundamentals, Med/Surg, etc. Instead, things are divided in subthemes like Safety & Infection Control, Management, Physiologic Adaptations, etc. Don’t let that confuse you, still study by the specialty individual practice questions you do will fall under those smaller categories no matter the specialty.
2. STICK TO A SCHEDULE
The FIRST thing I did when preparing to study for boards was create a schedule. I literally printed out a blank calendar template and penciled in a study plan based on the testing date I had selected. Now, this actually changed and I will explain why.
My original study plan which you can find here was spread out between about four weeks. You can see that in this picture. I orginally signed up for a testing date in Texas (thanks COVID), but was able to snag an earlier date in my home city. Don’t lose hope if you are in that situation check the Pearson site everyday and you might find an earlier date closer to you. Pearson seems to release a few dates little by little, so if you want to move the test earlier you can always do that.
3. START WITH YOUR WEAKPOINTS.
This is something I always did even back in high school when studying for AP course exams and into prerequisites and nursing school. When studying for the NCLEX you can see I started of my studying for Pharmacology, Maternal/Newborn and Children’s as these were my weakest performing subjects during the program. If you don’t know your weakpoints yet, I suggest taking an NCLEX predictor of some sort that will break down your results for you.
In my case, my program used ATI. Our Senior Practicium was pretty much intense NCLEX review so I really had a chance to get familiar with my weakpoints. Start off with these in the beginning of your sutdying because your mind will be “fresh” and you will be suprised at how much you retain.
4. USE STUDY TOOLS.
After creating my study plan, I made sure to figure out which tools I would be using to study. Here is everything I used in some way or another:
- ATI The Comprehensive NCLEX Review Book (Provided by my nursing program)
- Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN (Saunders Comprehensive Review for Nclex-Rn) 7th Edition
- UWorld RN Q Bank 30-Day Access ($129)
Ok… Let’s get into some details. I DID have access to ATI which contained BoardVitals questions. This was because my nursing program used ATI from day 1 to begin prepping us for the NCLEX-RN Exam. However, as far as for completing individual study for the NCLEX, I wanted to use UWorld as I did not like the ATI question rationales. So I decided to use some of my refund money to purchase UWorld. If you cannot afford this, I do think you can succeed using ATI! Stay tuned for a UWorld review!
I also used the Saunders Book to read over topics I was rusty on and divided up the chapters between days. This was until I began studying Adult Med-Surg, there were tons of chapters, but I only skimmed chapters I was unfamiliar with. I do think if you have a question bank you could survive with just that. The pink ATI book was an absolute blessing when studying Pharmacology. I noticed my Pharm quiz scores going up which was amazing! If your program was on ATI and you have the book I think you will be okay with just this and practice problems for sure.
5. STUDY EVERYDAY BUT TAKE BREAKS.
I used UWorld EVERYDAY. I would complete 50 questions related to the specific conetent I was studying (e.g. Maternal/Newborn, Pharm, etc.). Then I would complete 50-75 more for every topic together. This was very useful. Even though I studied most days of the week, I made sure to take a break every Sunday. On Sundays I would simply complete a few practice problems and use the day to rest a bit. If you feel your mind needs a break, take it! You need to remember that you know this content and sometimes if you hit a wall a break is all you may need.
6. TAKE NOTES.
This is important. If you are using a NCLEX review book take quick notes when reading through. Jot down lab values, blood types, medication endings, quick facts, etc. This helped me retain and refine my content base.
I also made sure to take notes when completing my UWorld practice problems. The rationales were so good that I just could not pass up jotting down a few notes. This even helped me once I got to the NCLEX because sometimes you may encounter questions based on content you reviewed. This may seem time consuming, but it really does help!
7. HAVE A ROUTINE.
One thing that really helped me stay consistent was having a routine when studying for boards. Here was what my routine looked like:
- 0800-0900: Wake up.
- 0900-1200: Study.
- Read few chapters in Saunders book/ATI Pink book depending on topic studying.
- Review notes from reading
- Complete 50 practice nursing questions on topic studied.
- Late evening/night: 50-75 additional mixed practice questions.
- Taking practice that mixed every topic helps you stay fresh and prepares you for the NCLEX in which you can get a Pharm question followed by an OB question!
That is pretty much how I studied for the NCLEX. Hopefully this post was understandable. I feel like I rambled a bit in this post… Feel free to comment or contact me if you have any questions.