1. Know yourself. Identify your usual testing behaviors. Do you get anxious? Is time a problem? Do you do better on a certain type of test?
2. Know the test plan. What kind of questions are going to be used. You know that we use multiple choice questions. Some cover basic knowledge, for example the signs and symptoms are. But more and more the questions wants to know what action is required based on those signs and symptoms, what do you do? This requires higher level thinking, or application of the knowledge. NCLEX is written in this format which is why we do also. This is why memorization alone does not guarantee success on nursing exams. Practice answering this type of question.
3. Start with the "I can do this, I just need to figure out how." Be positive, you came this far, you CAN do it.
4. Get organized and plan ahead. Start your success notebook. Plan you study times or study groups.
5. Learn how to read questions. Identify the background statement, the stem and the key words. This will help you choose the best response when given similar responses and will help you make an educated guess if you are unsure.
6. Practice, practice, practice, answer many questions. Practice 100 to 150 questions a day. This is what you will be able to do comfortable or do 3000 to 7000 practice questions before you take the NCLEX. We have included some here but there are many resources available, NCLEX review books, online resources, your text books, study guides, etc. I strongly urge and recommend that you get First Aide For NCLEX by Anderson and Lippincott's RN Review. This book iis also available for Practical Nurses taking the NCLEX.
7. Arrive early for warm up. Give yourself enough time to calm down and get focused and mentally review. But this is NOT the time to try and learn new information or listen to you classmates.
8. You will not be able skim the whole test first. But you will get 3 warm up questions at the beginning. These also get your brain in gear. The worse approach is to stress out because you can't think of the answer to the first question.
9. Focus on what you know. Don't spend time for example, knowing the actual medciation but rather, know the class and action of a medication. Time is still an issue and you will have 5 hours to complete 265 questions if necessary. This works out to be 1 minute and 13 seconds per question should you have to go all the way to the end. However, most of the time you do not go to the end so take the time to read the questions at least twice. If you get up to 200 questions, this would be a que to pick up the pace if needed.
10. When in doubt do NOT change answers. Studies have shown that your first response is most likely correct. Do not talk yourself out of the answer. Do not read information into the question that is not there. The NCLEX means what itasks, not something else.
11. List lab values, draw pictures. Write on the paper and pencil that is provided to you at the testing center, use key words or diagrams that will jog your memory.
12. While studying at home, write any information that you have missed during your studies down. Then, take your notes and record them to a tape. Listen to yourself and your notes every chance you get: driving, cleaning and even when going to bed. This will help the information stay with you and it is a good use of study time.
13. Do not forget to eat a good breakfast the morning of your test. I personally would stay away from caffeine or nicotine. This is easier said then done coming from a non smoker but the key here is to RELAX and be sharp.
14. I do not recommend this often, but if you are one of the many masses that have taken the NCLEX more than 2 times, perhaps, you need to see a doctor about taking some medication to calm your nerves. If you do decide to go this route, please take one prescribed dose a couple days before your actual test day. You want to see how your body responds. You don't want to be sleepy just calm. If you find that you get sleepy, than take less of the medication or none at all.
15. Lastly, I would recommend a dry run to the testing center. Find out where to park and where the actual room is for the NCLEX exam. A lot of times it is in a big city in a big building. It is easy to get lost and although you are not really late, time does not start until you sit in front of computer, you do not want to add more stress to yourself on your important day.