How To Pass The NCLEX? 13 Strategies For Success

Are you preparing for the NCLEX exam and feeling nervous? How to pass the NCLEX on your first try? I know firsthand how daunting it is to prepare for this exam. But, with the right approach and preparation, you can pass it. 

I’ve successfully passed this exam. Now, I will share practical tips and strategies that help me succeed. Let’s get started!

How To Pass The NCLEX? 

The NCLEX exam can initially be daunting, but you can pass it with the right strategies and good preparation. Here are a few key strategies that can help you successfully navigate and ace this critical exam:

1. Understand The NCLEX Exam

Your first step towards passing the NCLEX is understanding the format and content of the exam. The NCLEX tests your ability to think critically and make sound decisions in a healthcare setting. 

This exam utilizes a Computer Adaptive Testing format, which means the difficulty of the questions you receive depends on your performance on previous questions. 

The NCLEX exam covers four main areas, including:

  • Physiological Integrity
  • Health Promotion and Maintenance
  • Safe and Effective Care Environment
  • Psychosocial Integrity

In addition, the exam includes a range of question types, such as multiple choice, hot spot questions, and fill-in-the-blank.

Understand the exam format
1. Understand the exam format

2. Study Well In Your Nursing School

The knowledge and skills you gain in nursing school form the foundation for your NCLEX preparation. The exam tests your ability to apply the knowledge you’ve learned in nursing school in different situations. 

Therefore, you must take your studies seriously while still in nursing school. Participate actively in class, ask questions, and ensure you understand the material thoroughly. 

3. Start Studying Early

Procrastination is the enemy of success when it comes to the NCLEX. The earlier you start preparing, the higher your chances of passing the exam. 

Starting early allows you ample time to identify and strengthen your weak areas. It also gives you enough time to familiarize yourself with the exam pattern and practice as many questions as possible. Consistent and gradual studying is more effective than last-minute cramming. 

4.Create A Schedule

The NCLEX covers many topics, so I recommend planning your study time to ensure you cover all areas. Dedicate specific blocks of time to each subject area, considering your strengths and weaknesses. 

Remember to include breaks to avoid burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Consistency is key, so stick to your study schedule as closely as possible.

Create a schedule
Create a schedule

5. Join Several Study Groups

Joining study groups can significantly improve your understanding of the NCLEX materials. These groups provide a platform to discuss challenging topics, share study resources, and learn from other students’ experiences. 

More importantly, study groups can expose you to different perspectives and ways of understanding complex nursing concepts. 

Being part of these groups allows you to learn from several people, increasing your chances of understanding and retaining the information. It’s also a great way to keep yourself accountable and motivated during your NCLEX preparation journey. 

6. Use Technology

In this age of digital advancements, there are numerous resources available to aid your preparation for the NCLEX exam. There are mobile apps, online practice tests, video tutorials, and digital textbooks that provide detailed content reviews and practice questions. 

Leveraging these resources enriches your learning experience and allows you to simulate the real exam environment. It’s also handy because you can study anytime and anywhere. 

However, you must use reliable sources and up-to-date apps with the current NCLEX test plan.

7. Do Practice Questions

Practice makes perfect. So doing practice questions is one of the most effective ways to prepare for the NCLEX. 

Practice questions help you familiarize yourself with the format and types of questions on the exam and apply the knowledge you have learned. 

I recommend doing as many practice questions as possible and reviewing the rationales for correct and incorrect answers. This will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses and guide your study.

Dr. Cheryl Ross
Do practice questions
Do practice questions

8. Seek Help If Needed

Preparing for the NCLEX exam can sometimes be overwhelming. It’s okay to ask for help when you need it. You can join NCLEX study groups, hire a tutor, or use online platforms that offer NCLEX preparation courses. 

These resources can provide different perspectives, simulate the testing environment, and offer support when encountering challenging areas. I suggest seeking help early on rather than waiting until you’re overwhelmed. 

9. Study Based On Your Learning Style

Everyone has a unique learning style. Some people learn best by reading and taking notes, others by listening to lectures, and some by hands-on experience. 

So, understanding your learning style can make your study more efficient and less stressful. For example, use diagrams and charts if you are a visual learner. If you learn best by listening, consider audio resources. 

Tailoring your study methods to your learning style will make the information more accessible to understand and recall. 

10. Take Full-Length Practice Exam

Taking full-length practice tests is a crucial part of your NCLEX preparation. These practice exams familiarize you with the test structure and question types. Also, they help you gauge your readiness for the actual exam. 

Additionally, the results of these practice exams can guide your study plan by highlighting the areas where you need more review. From my experience, you should take several practice exams throughout your study period to continually assess your progress.

Take full-length tests
Take full-length tests

11. Mimic The Actual Testing Environment 

One of the most effective ways to prepare for the NCLEX is to mimic the actual testing environment. It means using the same time limit and the same types of questions that you will encounter on the test day. 

As mentioned above, numerous NCLEX study resources provide practice test designs to mimic the actual NCLEX exam. 

These tests will familiarize you with the exam content and format. Plus, they help you build stamina and identify areas for further study. 

12. Spend Time For Self-Care

While studying for the NCLEX is crucial, you must also manage your physical and mental health. Spending time for self-care can help you reduce stress and enhance your focus and concentration. It could include regular exercise, healthy eating, adequate sleep, and breaks during study sessions. 

You can’t perform at your best if you are burned out. So, make sure to schedule safe-care activities in your NCLEX preparation plan.

Spend time for self-care
Spend time for self-care

13. Stay Positive

Maintaining a positive mindset is essential when preparing for the NCLEX. A positive attitude can keep you motivated, improve your performance, and help you navigate the challenging moments throughout your NCLEX journey. 

Feeling anxious or stressed is normal, but don’t let these emotions take control. Believe in your abilities and knowledge gained throughout your nursing education. Treat every practice question as a learning opportunity, and don’t get discouraged by the ones you get wrong.

Instead, understand the rationale behind the correct answer and move forward. Your self-confidence can be as crucial as your academic knowledge in passing the exam. 

How Long Should I Give Myself To Study For NCLEX? 

The time nursing students spend studying for NCLEX varies. However, a standard recommendation is to study for one to three months for this exam. This timeframe allows you enough time to understand the material and take several practice tests thoroughly. 

There are several factors to consider when deciding how long to study for the NCLEX. How well you did in your nursing program, your understanding of the test format, and your learning style all play a role. 

You may need less preparation time if you excel in your program and grasp the test format and content well. On the other hand, if you struggle with specific topics or need more time to absorb information, you may want to start studying earlier. 

Your schedule and commitments also play a part in determining your study timeline. If you work full-time or have other significant time commitments, you may need to start studying earlier to accommodate your schedule. Likewise, you can condense your study timeline if you have more time to study.

Start studying early
Start studying early

What Score Is Needed To Pass NCLEX?

Unlike other exams you may be familiar with, the NCLEX does not have a pass/fail score per se. Instead, this exam uses a complex method called Computerized Adaptive Testing that adjusts the difficulty level based on your performance.

The better you perform, the more complex the questions become. The system continues this until it can make a 95% confidence judgment about whether your abilities are above or below the passing standard. 

So, passing the NCLEX does not rely on a specific numeric score but rather on demonstrating a standard level of competency. 

The Bottom Line

I’ve shared with you strategies on how to pass the NCLEX. In short, passing this exam requires rigorous study, careful preparation, and a clear understanding of the format. 

Review all the necessary materials, take practice tests, and maintain a positive mindset. Start your preparation journey now, and you achieve your goal!