LPN NCLEX Study Guide: Best Study Methods For LPNs

LPN NCLEX (NCLEX-PN) exam assesses your readiness to practice safely and effectively as an entry-level LPN. In this LPN NCLEX study guide, I’ll explore proven strategies and tips to help you prepare for this exam confidently. 

This guide will provide you with the tools you need to succeed. Keep scrolling for details!

Understanding NCLEX-PN Exam

reading nclex book

The NCLEX-PN is the pivotal certification exam for aspiring Practical Nurses (PNs, LPNs, or LVNs). Administered by the NCSBN, this comprehensive assessment evaluates candidates’ readiness to provide effective and safe care within their practice scope. 

Here is the general information you need to know about this exam:

  • Time limit: 5 hrs
  • Total questions: 75-145 scored questions, 15 unscored questions
  • Question format: Multiple-choice, hot spot, multiple-answer, fill-in-the-blank, exhibit, calculation, graphic, audio, tables


The NCLEX-PN is structured around four categories, each encompassing essential skills and knowledge that LPNs must possess. Below is a table summarizing the NCLEX-PN exam outline:

CategorySubcategoryPercentage Range
Effective Care & Safe EnvironmentCoordinate Care18-24%
Infection & Safety Control10-16%
Health Maintenance & Promotion 6-12%
Psychosocial Integrity9-15%
Physiological IntegrityBasic Care & Comfort7-13%
Pharmacological Therapies10-16%
Risk Potential Reduction 9-15%
Physiological Adaptation7-13%
NCLEX-PN Exam outline

How It’s Scored

The NCLEX-PN has a unique scoring system based on logits and assesses a test-taker’s performance in a computer-adaptive format (CAT). 

Unlike traditional scoring methods where correct answers or question difficulty determines the score, logits are employed to determine whether a candidate passes or fails.

Each test-taker begins with an initial logit score, and as they progress through the exam, this score changes based on their responses to questions. The aim is to ascertain the candidate’s competency level accurately. 

The passing threshold is at a score of -0.18 and above. If you achieve this score, you’ve passed the exam.

Besides, the questions a candidate receives can vary widely. The test dynamically selects questions based on the individual’s performance. 

For instance, if a candidate performs well, they may receive fewer questions, whereas those struggling may encounter more questions to gauge their competency accurately.

The exam ends when the computer program determines with 95% confidence whether a candidate has passed or filed. 

If this threshold isn’t reached after the minimum of 75 questions, the test continues, with questions tailored to the individual’s performance. The maximum number of questions a candidate may receive is 145.

Upon completion, if you meet these passing requirements, you’ll be notified of your success without further detail. However, if you fail, you’ll receive your performance report.

LPN NCLEX Study Guide

Study Guide

After passing the LPN NCLEX exam recently, I have compiled the methods I used during the study process in this guide. Let’s check!

1. Study Approach

[ Consistently Evaluating Your Progress And Addressing Areas Of Weakness ]

First and foremost, it’s crucial to understand that your study approach should focus on the quantity of study hours and the quality of your preparation. 

Simply spending long hours studying may not yield the desired results if you’re not using suitable material or addressing your weaknesses effectively.

One of the most effective study strategies I employed was taking regular NCLEX-PN practice tests to assess my progress and identify areas for improvement

When reviewing your practice test results, pay close attention to three key answer groups:

  • Your wrong answers

Analyze why you missed these questions. Was it due to a lack of understanding of the material, difficulty with the question format, or a simple oversight? 

By identifying the root cause of your mistakes, you can take targeted steps to address these areas in your study plan.

  • The answers you guessed on

Even if you guessed correctly, it’s essential to understand why you found these questions challenging. Did you lack confidence in your answer, or were you unsure of the concept being tested? 

Use these questions to reinforce your understanding and build confidence in your knowledge.

  • The difficult questions

These questions may indicate areas where you need to improve your speed and efficiency. 

Consider whether you struggled due to unfamiliar vocabulary, complex calculations, or comprehension issues. Focus on developing strategies to tackle similar questions more efficiently in the future.

As you review each question, take the time to reflect on your thought process and identify areas for improvement. Ask yourself why each question brought trouble and devise strategies to strengthen weak areas effectively.

Remember that effective study habits and a focused approach are vital to achieving your goal of becoming a licensed practical nurse.

Effective Study
Effective Study

2. Dig Deeper In Answer Explanations & Each Topic

You’ll often get explanations for the answers when practicing with practice tests. But don’t just stop there! Even if the explanation seems clear, make sure you really understand the whole concept.

Take the time to look into every part of the question and related topics; this means going beyond what’s in the explanation. 

Don’t be afraid to talk about tricky concepts with others. Having discussions can help you understand things better and remember them more easily.

While studying, remember that the questions provided are just examples

Memorizing these specific questions won’t benefit the exam, as the questions are unlikely to be the same. Instead, focus on understanding the underlying concepts behind each question.

So, dedicate time to studying the concepts until you fully grasp them. Take a deep dive into each topic, utilizing study materials, textbooks, and online resources to gain a comprehensive understanding. 

Ask your classmates and teachers if you need help. Don’t rely solely on memorization, aim to comprehend the reasoning behind each concept.

Approach each topic with curiosity and a willingness to learn, and don’t hesitate to seek clarification on areas of confusion.

Ask Your Classmates/Teachers If You Need Help
Ask Your Classmates/Teachers If You Need Help

3. Strategy For Practice

  • Begin by taking the first practice test without any time constraints. 

Have your notes and study materials handy. Take your time to apply the strategies I’ve shared and thoroughly understand each question.

  • Next, it’s time to crank up the pressure a bit.

For the 2nd practice test, continue to use your notes and study materials, but this time, utilize a timer. Pace yourself to complete the test within the allotted time frame; this helps simulate the pressure of time constraints you’ll face on the exam day.

  • Take subsequent practice tests as if it were the actual exam day. 

Set up like you’re in the testing center: no notes, no distractions, just you and the questions. Sit at a desk, use a timer, and go for it. Answer questions as accurately and quickly as possible.

  • Keep up the practice routine until you feel confident. 

Regular practice will familiarize you with the test format, improve your pacing, and enhance your ability to recall the material under pressure. It’ll help you get familiar with the format, improve your packing, and boost your confidence. 

As you approach exam day, remember to prioritize self-care. Ensure you get enough rest, eat nutritious meals, and manage your stress levels effectively. 

What Are Some Common Study Mistakes To Avoid?

Common Study Mistakes
Common Study Mistakes

When preparing for the exam, steer clear of common study mistakes that can hinder your success as below:

  1. Memorization over understanding: Simply memorizing facts without understanding the underlying concepts can be detrimental. 
  2. Ignoring weak areas: It’s tempting to avoid studying topics where you feel less confident, but neglecting weak areas can lead to gaps in knowledge. Instead, dedicate time to learning and practicing challenging concepts.
  3. Overloading with resources: Using too many study resources can be overwhelming and counterproductive. Stick to a few trusted resources that align with your learning style and focus on mastering the material.
  4. Procrastination: Waiting until the last minute to start studying can result in stress and inadequate preparation. Begin studying early and establish a consistent schedule to cover all necessary material.
  5. Neglecting practice tests: Practice tests are invaluable for assessing your progress and identifying areas for improvement. Skipping practice tests can leave you unprepared for the format and pacing of the actual exam.

How Long Does It Take To Prepare For The Exam?

How Long Does It Take To Prepare For The Exam?
How Long Does It Take To Prepare For The Exam?

Based on my experience and what I’ve heard from other nurses, getting ready for this exam takes a bit of planning. 

Some experts say you should start six months ahead, but honestly, that sounds like overkill to me. Most nurses I know recommend about two to three months before the exam. The key thing is not to cram everything at the last minute.

So, if you can dedicate three to 4 hrs a day to studying, starting 3 months ahead should be plenty; that gives you enough time to go through all the material, practice with sample questions, and really get a good grasp of everything you need to know.

Dr. Cheryl Ross

Of course, everyone’s situation is different, so you must find what works for you. Just make sure not to leave it all to the last minute. 

Wrap Up

Studying for your NCLEX is all about putting in the effort and using the right strategies. I’ve covered a lot of ground in this LPN NCLEX study guide, from understanding what the exam is about to diving into effective study techniques. 

Remember, it’s not just about memorizing facts, it’s about really understanding the material and being able to apply it in different situations. Good luck!