The Best Ways to Study for the NCLEX

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Before receiving a license and the title of "registered nurse," nursing school graduates must take the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX. The NCLEX exam consists of between 75 and 265 questions. As you continue through the questions, the computerized test will change the difficulty of the next question based on your previous answer. The test will continue until you have met the minimum requirements to pass. Fortunately, there are a variety of techniques to utilize while studying for the NCLEX.

Study Guides

  • A wide variety of NCLEX study guides and review books have been published. According to Barnes and Noble, the bestselling NCLEX review guides include any of the comprehensive NCLEX-RN study guides published by Kaplan, Saunders or Prentice Hall. If there is a particular area of content you are struggling with, you might choose to select a study guide that focuses on that area. According to nclexguides.com, "study guides help give you a brief yet concise overview of all the topics you need to cover. It exposes you to the possible items you may come across during the actual exam."

Flash Cards

  • In addition to published study guides, various publishers have also released sets of NCLEX Flash Cards. Like the books, these flash cards cover every major subject area included on the exam. To make the flashcards more conducive to learning, most publishers include detailed answers on the cards, rather than simple one- or two-word answers. For many people, repetition is an extremely effective form of studying and learning. Portable flashcards can be studied at home, at the park, on the bus or while waiting in line at the grocery store. Review the selection offered by Kaplan or Mosby, as these tend to be the most comprehensive and beneficial.

Practice Tests

  • A variety of website and print publishers offer NCLEX practice tests, which can be an extremely effective method of studying for the exam. The questions posed on the exam can be slightly confusing and somewhat tricky. Students who have had no previous practice with NCLEX-style test questions can easily become confused by the format of the questions, especially when more than one of the answer options could be right. For this reason, NCLEX practice tests are extremely beneficial. These practice tests not only cover the basic subject material included on the test, but also allow nursing students to become familiar with the question formats. Practice tests can be found on various websites, such as StudyGuideZone.com or NCLEXInfo.com.

Review Sessions

  • For students who appreciate more active learning, various organizations hold NCLEX review sessions across the country. For example, Hurst Review Services holds four-day sessions taught by experienced instructors. As part of the review session, students learn essential study skills and test-taking strategies. In addition to the live sessions, participants also receive a CD/DVD to review at home, along with printed notes and lectures. Kaplan Nursing also offers strategy seminars and practice test seminars throughout the year. These events typically take between one and two hours. For the strategy seminar, students receive extensive information on the NCLEX exam, along with sample test questions. For the practice test seminar, participants have the opportunity to take a free NCLEX practice test; all participants receive a detailed analysis of their performance on the test.

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