Tackling the NCLEX!

Posted by MANS Secretary on July 18, 2015 at 11:55 PM

I wanted to take the time to share some of my helpful tips for preparing for the NCLEX exam as a Montgomery College graduate. Many schools cover the basics of what the NCLEX is, but that may not be enough to calm those nerves of yours. I personally spent a lot of time searching the internet for tips, in which some were not useful. To save you precious time, I have compiled a list of my top 11 most useful tips that helped me succeed on my first attempt.




Tip #1: Limit your study resources and make a study plan!

• One of my biggest mistakes towards the end of my last semester, was purchasing too many NCLEX books. At that time, my thought process was “the more, the merrier” – WRONG! Having 10 different study tools overwhelmed me and made it ten times harder to focus.

• There are many popular books that can be found by searching the web. I choose not to recommend one book over another, because it strictly depends on the kind of student you are and your weak areas.

• Once you chose your resources (whether it be a live review course or a book review) make a study plan. Try not to overwhelm yourself with studying more than 6 hours per day. This is a common habit of test takers, but after a period of studying, you are no longer able to retain anything you learned.


Tip #2: Schedule your exam as soon as possible.

• I highly recommend students to take their exam 6 weeks from graduation. I understand that at times it is not possible due to personal reasons, but if possible take the exam as soon as possible.

• Here’s what I did: I scheduled to take my exam 4 weeks after graduation. With 1.5 weeks left to my exam date, I became anxious (which is normal) and rescheduled to take it the following day – thus taking it 2.5 weeks after graduation and I do not regret it.

• Although more time means more studying, it also means less retention of information you learned in school.

• Do not reschedule your exam to a later date because you feel unprepared. Let me tell you a little secret, no one feels prepared to sit for the NCLEX. However, you must be confident that you have the skills and knowledge it takes to figure out the answers on each question.


Tip #3: Do not only focus on content!

• Believe in your school and that they have prepared you with as much content as you need to know.

• I encourage students to review core content, especially in their weak areas, but I do not recommend only reviewing core content. No matter how much content you review, you will never know what you will be tested on. In fact, you will most likely be tested on topics that you are not familiar with.

• Here’s what I did: From my experience, my biggest help was doing thousands of questions (at LEAST 150 per day) and reading the rationales. This allows you to learn, while practicing your critical thinking.


Tip #4: Do not only prepare yourself to sit for 75 questions.

• Preparing to sit for only 75 questions will not benefit you if you end up receiving more than the minimum.

• Here’s what I did: when doing practice exams, practice sitting for 75 questions, 150 questions and 265 questions.




Tip #5: Give yourself time to relax.

• Many course reviews recommend taking the day off prior to the exam, but sometimes your anxiety will not let you take a day off from studying – but be sure to give your brain time to relax, recoup and retain!

• Here’s what I did: since I rescheduled to take my exam in less than 24 hours, I continued to study until mid-afternoon. I spent that morning reviewing lab values and medications. I then spent my evening watching a movie and taking a warm bubble bath to help me relax.

• Go to bed at a reasonable time (even if your test is schedule for 2:00pm), give your brain time to relax – and, do not panic if you toss and turn all night (that's normal)!




Tip #6: Eat a healthy breakfast (and lunch if you test in the afternoon) and bring snacks and water with you.


Tip #7: Arrive to the testing site (PearsonVue) at least 30 minutes early and carry lightly.

• Here’s what I did: I left my cell phone in the car, brought my government issued ID, a sweater and my snacks. Everything aside from your ID and sweater will be locked in a locker and can only be accessed during your break (except your cellphone which will be sealed in a bag).



Tip #8: Take your time

• You are given 6 hours to take the exam, so DO NOT rush.

• Take your time to figure out each question, you will come across some that you do not know, but use your test taking strategies to figure it out or to make an intelligent guess.

• If you become overwhelmed, give yourself a moment to close your eyes, give yourself a mini pep talk and breathe.

• Don’t get discouraged if you get more than 75 questions - that means you are still in the game. Stay focused and don’t rush to finish the 265 in the allotted time. If your time runs out the computer uses your responses to the last 60 questions you answered.


Tip #9: Make use of your breaks

• After two hours of sitting for the exam, you are offered a break. I encourage you to take this break and refresh yourself. Drink some water, eat your snack, use the restroom, or even give yourself a mini pep talk. Regardless of how you decide to use your break, use it!

• If you feel you need a break before or after your offered break, you can simply raise your hand to get the attention of the PearsonVue staff.




Tip #10: Do not assume you failed.

• Everyone walks out assuming they failed. Don’t bother beating yourself up about results you are not sure about.

• Celebrate because you made it through the NCLEX exam (whether you truly did pass or not) you deserve to go out and enjoy yourself something you haven’t done since you started nursing school.

• Thankfully Maryland offers the “Quick Results” option in 48 hours – so keep yourself occupied until 48 hours have passed and you can pay for your results on the PearsonVue site. Some individuals have even had their license number appear on the MBON website before their “Quick Results”, so feel free to check the MBON site.


Tip #11: Do not give up!

• If you were unsuccessful the first time, DON’T GIVE UP! You have overcome the challenging part (nursing school), passing the NCLEX is to just claim what is already yours.

• Take the time to review your weaknesses and change your study plan. Look into an NCLEX-RN tutor or review courses.


Best of luck leaders!:)


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