Study Tips for Nursing Students + Passing The NCLEX in 85 Questions

The #1 question I get asked is…

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Scrubs:  Infinity by Cherokee

How did you study for the NCLEX?

First- all that matters is that you pass. It really doesn’t matter how many questions it takes you, a pass is a pass. But let’s be honest, everyone wants to pass the first time. No one wants to go through that agony more than once! While there is no fool proof way to ensure that you will pass on your first shot, I hope this post will help make that a little more possible!

The NCLEX is the national registered nurses licensure exam (also referred to as the nursing board exam). As you know, from this post, nursing was my second degree.  I attended a 21-month, accelerated Clinical Nurse Leader, Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program.  The university was ranked 14th best nursing program in the nation at that time.  After graduation, I dedicated an entire month to studying for the NCLEX exam.  Fortunately, I passed the NCLEX on my first try (thank you, Lord Jesus!) and my test ended at about 85 questions.  The NCLEX uses the CAT format, like the GRE and GMAT, so when your computer cuts off at 85 questions, you know, sitting in the testing center, you either did really well or really bad!  In my case, it was a very good sign, lol.

Okay, let’s get into it!


CREATING A STUDY SCHEDULE

During that month, I was fortunate enough to not have to work, so I studied for 10-12 hours a day, 6 days a week.  I planned my study schedule by day, at the beginning of each week (I did this throughout nursing school for all of my classes and throughout undergraduate, as well).  For example:

  • Monday:
    • 8a-10a: Review Saunders chapters 1-3
    • 10a-10:30a: Break
    • 10:30a-12p: Continue review of chapters 1-3
    • 12p-1p: Lunch
    • 1p-4p: 100 practice questions
    • 4p-4:30p: Break
    • 4:30p-6p: Review incorrect answers from practice questions
    • 6p: Dinner
    • 8:30p-10p: Make flash cards for pharmacology

I planned each study day this way, so when I tell you it was my full-time job, I mean that!  Lol!


SO, WHAT WERE MY STUDY MATERIALS?

Scrubs: Infinity by Cherokee
  1. The ATI App- which you can find here.
    • This was without a doubt my most used study tool.
    • I would answer questions from this iPhone app literally everywhere I went.
  2. Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX
    • Excellent, excellent, excellent comprehensive review and it’s filled with practice questions!
    • You can find it on Amazon or rent it from Barnes and Noble (<—all of the underlined words in this blog are direct links!)
  3. Flashcards
    • Flash cards is one of my favorite ways to study. I only purchased one set of flash cards to use for the cardiac arrhythmias, otherwise, I hand made them myself.

      Old study pic I found from 2011
  4. Mnemonics
    • Mnemonics legit got me through nursing school!  I mostly made up my own, but here is one example to give you an idea:
      • For the seven functions of the kidneys, use the mnemonic A WET BED:
        • Acid/base balance
        • Water balance
        • Electrolyte balance
        • Toxin removal
        • Blood pressure control
        • Erythropoietin
        • Vitamin D metabolism

IMPORTANT

  • I didn’t use any prep classes or pay for any prep programs, but if you feel you need one, definitely do it! It can only put you in a better position.
  • Between Saunders and the ATI App, I did 75-100 practice questions per day, six days a week.  I truly believe practice questions is what helped me pass the NCLEX.
  • Hand-drawing the different body systems (such as the flow of blood through the heart) was very helpful!
  • I did not have any social media in nursing school! Yep, you read that right!  If I was in school right now, I would try to limit my time on social media to no more than an hour a day or only on weekends.
  • I put school before everything, including my boyfriend, hanging out, sleeping in, etc. Priorities were solid.

VERY IMPORTANT

  • I chose a nursing school that had a first-time pass rate for the NCLEX of greater than 99%!  From day one, our courses were set up to prepare us for the NCLEX.
  • After I graduated, the reason I was able to assume studying as my full-time job was because I didn’t have to work.  Thanks to my parents and grandparents, I was very fortunate to be able to do this and I realize this may not be an option for everyone.
  • MAJOR MAJOR MAJOR: Being taught HOW to take the NCLEX is just as important as knowing the content.  You should know the strategies of how to answer the exam questions.

If there’s something I left out, drop me a message here!

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