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NCLEX® Examination Resources

NCLEX® Examination Tips

NCLEX® Examination References from Kaplan


Sign up for NCLEX® Examination prep course


Sandra Smith's Review for the NCLEX® Examination-RN (10th Edition) , by Sandra F. Smith, 10th Ed. (2001)


NCLEX® Examination References from Amazon.com

NCLEX® Examination-RN w/CD-ROM - 6th Edition

NCLEX® Examination Flashcards

NCLEX® Examination Rn 2002-2003 (Book & CD rom) , by Burkhardt & Irwin, 6th Ed. (2002)

Kaplan's FREE NCLEX® Examination practice lab

Lippincott's Review for NCLEX® Examination-RN (Book & CD rom), by Billings, 7th Ed. (2002)

NCLEX® Examination Classroom Course

NCLEX® Examination Online Prep

Saunders Comprehensive Review for NCLEX® Examination/RN, by Silvestry, 2nd Ed. (2002)

NCLEX® Examination in a Box

NCLEX® Examination Computer Diagnostic

NCLEX® Examination-RN 101: How to Pass

Mosby's Comprehensive Review of Nursing for NCLEX® Examination/RN (Book & CD rom), by Saxton et al., 17th Ed. (2002)

NCLEX® Examination-PN: A Study Guide for Practical Nursing (4th Ed.), by Zerwekh & Claborn, 2003

Tips for Taking the 

NCLEX® Examination



Take Care of Yourself

  • Get a good night's sleep.

  • Eat a nutritious breakfast.

  • Do not cram the night before the exam; cramming increases stress.

  • Dress comfortably for the exam.

  • Avoid taking sleeping pills or drinking alcohol the night before the exam.

Plan Ahead

  • Schedule the exam at a location close to home to reduce the stress of traveling.  Scout out parking options and the location of the exam in relationship to your hotel prior to your test date.

  • Plan carefully.  Be sure you have your identification and your exam admission ticket with you.

Study Tips

  • Develop a study schedule months in advance of the exam and stick to it.

  • If a study group helps you, organize one.  Be careful that the group does not drag you down or waste your time.

  • If you sign up for a NCLEX® Examination review course, check out its pass rate first.

  • Practice often - become familiar with the multiple choice format used on the  NCLEX® Examination.

  • Take advantage of the CD's available with practice books to take the computerized test.

  • Avoid distractions.

  • Time yourself and try to get the time you need for each question down to a minimum.

  • Reward yourself (with something healthy) for making progress on your study schedule. 

  • Develop or use mnemonic devices to help you remember details. "ABC," or Airway-Breathing-Circulation, is a good example.

  • Develop flashcards and take them with you for a quick study wherever you are.

  • If you run into difficult content, seek help from an instructor who knows the topic well for assistance understanding it; as you study, ask yourself questions that apply the knowledge.

NCLEX Questions Tips

  • The NCLEX® Examination-RN is a "computer adaptive test."  In other words,  after you answer a question correctly, the computer will ask a harder question next.  If you answer a question incorrectly, the computer will ask an easier question next.  Scoring varies; an exam could have from 75 to 265 questions. The goal of the exam is to find out your competence level in the different areas the exam covers. 

  • Fifteen of the questions on the exam are experimental.  They will neither help you nor hurt you.  You will not know which questions are experimental.

  • You will be given five hours to complete the exam, which includes the tutorial at the beginning, a mandatory break, and an optional break.

  • The test is user friendly.  You will receive instructions on how to use the computer and an opportunity to practice before the timing begins.  You will use a minimum number of keys (space bar and enter key).  You will give your answer then be asked to hit the enter key to confirm that this is the answer you want.

  • You will proceed through the questions and will not be allowed to go back to revise your answers. You can not skip a question.

  • Read each question carefully. Quickly try to answer the question before reading the responses.  If your answer is in one of the responses, you are more likely to answer the question correctly.

  • NCLEX® Examination questions basically ask  "What should you do in this situation?"  When studying, always think in terms of how you should handle a nursing problem.

  • If you are having trouble remembering material, try to remember people you've cared for with similar problems.

  • Think conceptually rather than specifically.  For example, understand how classes of drugs work and how side effects are related to actions.  In this way, you will not need to memorize all the details about each drug. 

  • Remember to think about what the priority would be in each situation.  For example, in an emergency always think of the ABC's first--Airway, breathing, and circulation 

  • Chose nursing actions before medical actions.  For example, you would try repositioning before giving medications.

  • Think about the nursing process when answering questions.  I.e., you would assess a situation before doing an intervention.

  • Do not select uncompromising answers such as "never" or "all."

  • Remember that the person is your client, not the person's machine.

  • Remember that your correct response will be what you, as a nurse, should do, not who you should call for orders.

  • Be alert when answering questions related to children.  Their responses to medical conditions often vary from the adult response.

  • Be sure you identify the client, the problem, and the part of the nursing process the question addresses.  For example, if the question is about assessment, a response about intervention would be incorrect. 

  • The RN NCLEX® Examination covers "Meeting Patient Needs."  The four areas of patient need it addresses are 

    • Safe and effective care environment

    • Health promotion and maintenance

    • Psychosocial integrity

    • Physiological integrity

  • When a question concerns delegation

    • Remember that assessment, nursing diagnosis, and evaluation of care are activities done by a professional nurse; these should not be delegated.

    • You would not delegate the care of an unstable client or complicated interventions to nonprofessionals.

  • As of April, 2003, "Innovative questions" will be added to the NCLEX® Examination

    • These could include fill-in-the blanks questions, questions with more than one possible correct answer, or questions that ask the candidate to respond to a diagram.

    • The advantage of these questions is that they allow candidates to demonstrate their knowledge in multiple ways.

    • The questions are developed and tested by expert nurses and statisticians.  They will be tested before used, just like the multiple choice questions.  Therefore, they will not be scored until after the April, 2003 exam.

    • Item difficulty will be taken into account, just as with the present multiple choice exam.

    • Items will be scored as "right" or "wrong."

Test Taking Tips

  • You will not be allowed to take anything into the exam center with you.

  • Remember that your first choice for an answer is likely to be your best guess.  Changing answers typically does not work.

  • Don't worry about how much time the other test-takers are taking for the exam.

  • Avoid panic; taking some deep breathes if you are feeling stressed during the exam.  Purposefully relax your face, neck, shoulders, arms, legs, and feet in succession before going on.

  • Remember that italicized words, such as not or first give you clues as to which answer is correct.  Read those question stems carefully.

  • Use the paper and pencil provided for you during the exam to make outlines or diagrams or otherwise help you remember.

  • Take full advantage of breaks during the exam.  Bring something healthy to eat.

  • Schedule your exam at the time of day most productive for you.

Passing/Failing the NCLEX® Examination

  • The NCLEX® Examination is a pass/fail exam.  Your state board of nursing will notify you whether you passed or failed two to four weeks after your exam.

  • If you do not pass, you can retake the exam in three months.

  • If you do not pass, you will receive a printout showing your weak areas when you receive your exam.  Use this information when you study for the next time you take the exam.

  • If you want to get a diagnosis of your strong and weak areas before the exam, try this book from Kaplan: NCLEX® Examination Computer Diagnostic

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