FINALLY! You’re done with nursing school and getting ready for the dreaded NCLEX exam. Congratulations! Or maybe you’re still in school and you’re just looking ahead. Smart! All of us who have been there send our sympathy for the stress and hard work ahead, but you can get through it! I remember anxiously waiting for my authorization to test and wondering what the hell I should do next. I winged it and luckily made it! You’ll do awesome.
Recently, some of my favorite ED techs graduated from nursing school and began to take their tests, so there has been a lot of NCLEX chatter amongst us. That made me think about my own experiences and the things I needed to know before my test. So here are some tips I recommend for you before you go.
Questions, questions, questions!
Focus on doing NCLEX questions instead of studying information by itself. When doing so, you’ll learn while also mastering the way these questions are presented and how you’re expected to answer correctly. Sometimes, you know the information but the question itself can trick you into getting it wrong. Training yourself to analyze the questions properly will help you pick the correct answers when the time comes. After all, “the answer is on the page”!
DON’T overdo it!
Studying? Good. Nonstop studying and all consumption of your life with NCLEX material? BAD!!! Give yourself the breaks you need to eat, sleep, and go to the bathroom. Sometimes you have to take a step away from your study area to go do something else for a few hours. Think about the time of day that you function best (for me, it’s night time) and take that time for the bulk of your studying. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep so your brain is ready for all that studying you’ll be doing.
DO take a prep course before taking the test!
I took the Hurst Review’s in-person course and also utilized their online resources for the bulk of my studying. This was in 2015 and I’m sure a few things have changed since then, but I thoroughly enjoyed and took a lot of information away from the use of their materials. You can find them here! Honestly, there are a ton of review programs and systems out there and I think that many of them are both useful and successful for students. Just talk to your friends, preceptors, and other people who have taken NCLEX and see which ones they liked best. Your school and teaching staff undoubtedly have their own suggestions as well.
Plan out the night before you test and your actual test day.
Plan for a restful night before your take the NCLEX. Don’t overload yourself with stress and studying. You know your stuff and you have to have faith in yourself at this point. The night before I tested, I studied a little bit, went out and soaked in the hot tub (I had to drive several hours away and opted to stay in a nice hotel room the night before), and went to bed early. I got up in the morning and had a healthy breakfast before heading off to my test. I felt nervous but at peace when I went. The same can’t be said for after the test, but I was good going in! Ha. Don’t stress yourself the f**k out with day-of-studying or go on an empty stomach – you’ll regret it! Anything you can do to reduce your stress, do it.
Basically, just take care of yourself, trust that you know what you’re going to need to know for the test, and that there will be some things you don’t have down to a complete science. But that’s okay! I have faith in you.
What other suggestions have you heard or what advice would you add from your own experiences? I’d love to know how your test goes in the comments!