How to Study for the NCLEX: 5 Pro Tips

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The NCLEX is the final step before earning your nursing license and requires significant preparation. Designed to assess your clinical judgment, the NCLEX is challenging. However, knowing how to study for the NCLEX, such as creating a study calendar and joining study groups, will increase your confidence on exam day.

nurse studying with laptop and textbook

Once you earn your nursing degree, the next step toward becoming a nurse is passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The University of the Incarnate Word’s (UIW) Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track prepares students to take the NCLEX and confidently embark on their nursing careers.

It is essential to prepare for the NCLEX. Because the exam is unique, learning how to study for the NCLEX will improve your chances of passing on the first try.

What is the NCLEX? The NCLEX-RN is a licensure exam developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) to assess a nurse candidate’s competency carefully. The NCLEX utilizes computerized adaptive testing (CAT), which determines the test taker’s next question based on their previous answers, ensuring the next question is not too easy or too difficult.

Is the NCLEX hard? The NCLEX is intentionally challenging to maintain high standards for anyone entering the nursing workforce. Rather than memorizing facts and figures, passing the NCLEX requires a thorough understanding of nursing theory, concepts and procedures to choose the most appropriate answer from several options.

Fortunately, knowing how to study for the NCLEX prepares you for these challenging questions. Below are NCLEX tips to help you feel confident when test time comes.

1. Familiarize Yourself

The best way to prepare is to familiarize yourself with what is on the NCLEX. The NCLEX includes four categories: safe and effective care environment, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity and physiological integrity. Knowing what to expect will improve your study sessions, making them relevant and effective.

2. Create a Study Calendar

UIW student typing on laptop

Establishing an NCLEX study calendar at the start of nursing school is the best way to set yourself up for success. A study calendar is an essential part of how to study for the NCLEX. It helps you establish valuable building blocks to connect fundamental nursing concepts and develop clinical judgment. Having a plan will also improve retention by ensuring relaxed study sessions rather than cramming the weeks before exam day.

3. Review Practice Questions

The NCLEX has a specific question style in which many or all multiple-choice answers are correct, requiring you to choose the most appropriate. Consistently reviewing practice questions can improve how you study. Many resources provide practice questions you can review in preparation for exam day.

4. Join a Study Group

Study groups are an asset to studying for the NCLEX. Whether you join a formal study group or get together with friends, study groups provide new ideas, help you make connections and remind you of previous material you may have forgotten. They also help build camaraderie and establish networking connections with your cohorts.

UIW nursing students sitting around a table studying

5. Regularly Assess Your Progress

As you progress through nursing school, you should regularly assess your progress by taking NCLEX practice exams. Practice exams will expose areas you should focus on to improve study sessions and build your confidence to know you are well-prepared when exam day comes.

Start Your Nursing Journey with UIW

UIW nursing student smiling

UIW’s ABSN track allows you to earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing in as few as 16 months while preparing you to take the NCLEX confidently.

UIW’s ABSN utilizes your previous education — a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or at least 60 non-nursing college credits from an accredited institution — so you can start your nursing school journey. Contact our admissions advisors to learn more about the ABSN track and your next steps.