The National Council Licensure Examination is a prerequisite for becoming a nurse, and with increased nursing school applicants, we thought it would be worthwhile to offer tips on how best to pass the NCLEX. We each tried our techniques and utilized similar options to help us pass the exam in May of this year. With some guidance from our parents, we also have plenty of tips to help others pass this challenging exam with much more confidence than you otherwise might have exhibited.
Watch Tips and Tutorials on YouTube
YouTube has tons of great material on every subject, including the NCLEX. We recommend finding some tutorials and tips to help you pass. Shannon, in particular, used this study method for subjects she didn’t fully understand. It enables you to gain knowledge in areas where you’re lacking and is just a fun, easy way to gain more information and help you feel more confident with that material.
Allot Yourself So Many NCLEX Questions Per Day
Don’t try to push yourself to get through hundreds of practice questions when you don’t have the mental capacity. Instead, give yourself a few months to take your time and practice until you feel comfortable. It’s best to allot yourself so many questions daily and only focus on getting through one set at a time. Shannon stuck with the 75 questions per day rule, and it helped.
You can also go with Kristyn’s technique and allot yourself so many daily topics. Then, pick two or three and work on the material until you feel like you’ve nailed it. She spent one month working this way until she felt confident she could pass the test.
Study and Correct Your Incorrect Answers
By only focusing on so many questions each day, you have time to go back over the answers. You can correct anything you got wrong and take the time to understand why it was wrong. Then, use your results to help you study better and refocus on the problems you’re having trouble tackling.
Let Your Family Help
You don’t have to do this alone. Sure, you’ll be the only one taking the test, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get help practicing and preparing in the meantime. Let your family help you in any way they can—we both did. Kristyn’s mom helped her by being a pretend patient. Her aunt and uncle let her stay with them while in college to help save on costs. Shannon’s dad tried to help keep their dog occupied, so he wasn’t in her way or disturbing her studies.
Be Sure to Eat Healthily
Speaking of Shannon’s dad, Mark stresses the importance of eating well. It’s important to eat something healthy and keep your body full and your brain working to the best of its ability while studying and before you have a big exam. So, eat something healthy and keep your body full and your brain working to the best of its ability. That will go a long way toward ensuring you can pass your NCLEX without the pangs of hunger interrupting your thought process.
Also, Enjoy a Snack
You don’t have to eat all the time healthily, however. Sometimes, it’s good to get your favorite snack and reward yourself a little for the hard work you’ve been doing. So, grab your favorite candy bar and savor every bite before you get back to the work at hand. That little bit of goodness in your day can be a huge motivator and help when feeling down.
Add Vitamin D to Your Day
It’s also essential to make sure you’re staying healthy overall. Adding Vitamin D to your day, especially by soaking it up outside, is beneficial for how you feel mentally. Don’t just sit and study for the entire day. Get outside. Enjoy the fresh air. Take the break you need and deserve. It will help give you mental clarity so you can return to your study routine afterward.
One of the best things you can do for yourself (or a family member) is to purchase a pretest system that allows you to see how well you would do on your NCLEX. It’s excellent practice and shows you the areas where you need additional guidance before you take the actual test. We used UWorld, and it offers options for both RNs and PNs. It helped us gain the information and experience necessary to help us feel genuinely prepared for the exam in real life. In addition, the UWorld NCLEX-RNⓇ provides more than 2,000 questions to help prepare for your impending. If you want easy-to-understand information, this program is for you.
Take Your Time During the NCLEX
Our final piece of advice is to take your time. It isn’t necessary to feel rushed during the NCLEX because you get five total hours for the entirety of it. Don’t rush through any questions. Please read it thoroughly so that you’re entirely comprehending what it’s asking. Some questions can be tricky, and you’ll misinterpret what it’s asking for if you don’t read them all the way through and give yourself time to sort through the possible answers.
Why Preparing to Be a Nurse Is So Important
It takes a village to support nursing students and current nurses, particularly given the added stress of the pandemic. In addition, as current nurses are exiting the profession due to burnout or attrition in large numbers, student nurses must find the resources they need to support their academic and career goals. A family and friends support network can also help make all the difference in reaching your goal of being a nurse with a healthy work-life balance.
This article written by Shannon Rosen and Kristyn Smith was published in the September 2022 issue of Minority Nurse.
About the authors
Shannon Rosen graduated from Nova Southeastern University, passed the NCLEX in May 2022, and is an Operating Room Nurse at Naples Community Hospital in Naples, Florida.
Kristyn Smith graduated from Chamberlain University, passed the NCLEX in May 2022, and is a Pediatric ER Nurse at a hospital in Houston, Texas.
When he is not treating kids as a pediatric Transitional Care Unit (TCU) nurse at VCU Health in Richmond, VA, Ren Capucao, MSN traces the rich heritage of Filipino nurses in the US.
As a nurse historian (Capucao’s first article was published in 2019 in the Nursing History Review), he focuses on studying the fascinating story of Filipino American nurses. Capucao is working toward a PhD at the University of Virginia School of Nursing, and his scholarship has shown so much promise that he has been named a Fulbright Scholar for 2022-23 and will be a Fellow at the University of the Philippines, Manila.
“Seeing through my mother’s lens as a nurse,” Capucao says, brought home to him “the sacrifices she made to care for her loved ones. For all the trailblazing nurses that immigrated to the U.S., I can only imagine the struggles they faced on top of caring for patients often culturally dissimilar, so I am humbled to have these nurses invite me into their homes and openly share their memories.”
Capucao will use the Fulbright grant to travel to the Philippines during the 2022-23 academic year to continue his investigations into Filipino nurses’ histories, conducting interviews, collecting oral histories, and diving into historical archives. He is also an editor for the nursing and medical history blog Nursing Clio, and his dissertation study “Pressed into Starched Whites: Nursing Identity in Filipino American History” has already earned him grants and accolades from the Virginia Humanities, the Philippine Nurses Association of America, the Bjoring Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry and the Barbara Bates Center for the Studying of the History of Nursing.
In this video, “A Culture to Care,” Ren shares some background on the history of Filipino nurses in the US and his own very personal links to nursing and the tradition of nursing among Filipinos.
For most nursing students, passing the NCLEX is their top post-graduation task. Once they have that exam under their belts, they become a registered nurse and can move forward on their career path. Many students study on their own using various methods and approaches, but this study shows clear benefits between more HESI exams taken and a better outcome on the HESI Exit Exam and on the final NCLEX-RN exam.
According to Christine Gouveia, PhD, vice president of Applied Learning Sciences at Elsevier and visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania, the findings help educators and students prepare more efficiently and effectively for the NCLEX. “HESI exams span a nursing program and curriculum and are an excellent indicator of student progress on their academic journey,” she says.
Preparation with HESI exams offer multilayered benefits as nursing students gain knowledge and confidence from the testing, preparation, and remediation tools offered with HESI specialty exams and results. As students progress through different exams, they answer questions that are designed to closely resemble the questions on the NCLEX, so they can apply their knowledge in a practical way and demonstrate their critical thinking skills, says Gouveia. Those tools are helpful as they finish school and begin their careers. “Clinical judgment is critically important,” says Gouveia. “Critical thinking is necessary for nurses to practice safe effective care.”
The HESI specialty exams are an important tool for educators as well. Educators analyze the individual and cohort results to help students identify weak areas where they can use some additional work. They are able to work on remediation quickly using quizzes and case studies to synthesize their knowledge effectively. The scores also reveal students’ strengths and give them an indication of where they are excelling in their studies and can help them stay focused and motivated. Coaching support is also available to students to help them navigate challenges and to reflect on what and how they are learning and how to gain the most from their nursing education.
The results of the latest study mirror previous findings from a smaller sample size. Student success is more easily predicted when students score a 900 or greater on the HESI Exit Exam, says Gouveia. Those students are 96.4% to 99.2% likely to pass the NCLEX-RN. The study found, for example, that a student who took six specialty exams scored on average 29 points higher than those that did not take any. Completing 12 HESI Specialty Exams translated into an average gain of 160 points.
Gouveia says the study results have been translated into effective evidence-based tools using data to create predictive algorithms and interpret the results on the HESI® Readiness for NCLEX®Dashboard. The data allows educators and teams to monitor results and trends throughout a program and make real-time adjustments to benefit students as much as possible.
Whether you’re a brand-new nursing student or a nursing graduate student earning an advanced degree, working with faculty members will help you get as much as possible out of your higher ed years. Sometimes connecting with and learning from faculty members is easier said than done, but forming bonds with your professors can help you in many ways.
If you’re wondering how to best approach faculty members you admire, who are in your specialty, or who teach an especially difficult course, there are a few things to remember.
Take the Initiative
Don’t be afraid to talk to them. As a nursing student, you know your professors are busy and some of them can even be intimidating. But they decided on a career that includes teaching because they want to help others succeed in nursing. Approach them when they are available—good times during scheduled office hours. Ask if they have time to chat or if setting aside more time would fit their schedule. Bring your questions about the work in class or even ideas for relevant and independent projects outside the course requirements.
Know What They Can and Can’t Do
If you’re excited to find a faculty member whose research or career trajectory mirrors your own interests, know they will probably be an excellent resource for you. They might be able to help guide you on important projects, your research direction, or the soft skills (like how to make a great presentation or communicate effectively with your team) that career nurses need to excel. They might be able to introduce you to other nursing professionals across the globe who you can learn from as well. Don’t expect them to find a job for you, but they might be able to steer you in a direction where you’ll find opportunities like grant information or job openings.
Meet Their Standards
Professors want to work with driven and dedicated students. They don’t expect you to perform miracles, but your efforts will have more impact if you ask questions when you don’t understand something, show up on time, and follow up on outstanding tasks. If you’re working on a team, pull your weight and contribute to make the group’s work better. If you’re working independently, produce work that shows initiative and a real interest in the subject and turn it in on time. Professors expect high-quality work from nursing students, so check everything twice.
Faculty members are in their roles so they can teach students, and they like to hear when a student appreciates their efforts. If a professor gives you an opportunity to present at a conference, participate in a paper, or follow a specific interest in a lab that’s not exactly part of the syllabus, be sure to thank them. A note or email is appreciated or you can just tell them how their encouragement made a difference and tell them “thank you for helping me.”
Keep in Touch
One of the special talents of many professors is their ability to remember students long after they have graduated. Often, you’ll find a moment in your career that reflects directly on a course you took and a professor who influenced you. Keeping in touch with professors who were particularly encouraging or knowledgeable is a great way to stay connected to people who changed your life and to build your network. You may even be able to offer something in return over the course of your own career.
Faculty members want to help their students. With some guidelines in place, approaching them can make all the difference in your academic work and even your career.
The Foundation of the National Student Nurses’ Association (FNSNA) is delighted to announce a new diversity scholarship award sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. Funding may be used for tuition, fees, and books. Use the same application to apply for all FNSNA scholarships. Students must complete the race/ethnicity question to qualify. There is $225,000 available. Awards up to $7,500.
The deadline to apply is February 15, 2021.
Pre-nursing students taking courses to prepare for matriculation into a nursing program
Attending classes and taking no less than six (6) credits per semester
Involvement in student nursing organizations and/or community health activities
Document academic achievement
Establish financial need
U.S. Citizen or Alien with U.S. Permanent Resident Status/Alien Registration Number
High school students are not eligible to apply
Funds are not available for graduate study unless it is for a first degree in nursing
FNSNA Scholarship Application Instructions
Read carefully. Failure to follow all instructions may result in disqualification.
Complete all sections on the online application.
Eligibility:Undergraduate scholarships are available to students currently enrolled in a state-approved nursing program leading to an associate degree, baccalaureate, diploma, direct-entry master’s degree, RN to BSN/MSN completion, LPN/LVN to RN, or accelerated programs. Funds are not available for graduate study unless it is for a first degree in nursing
Action Item: Submission Fee: a non-refundable $10 submission fee must be paid via Stripe (Link to Stripe is within the online scholarship application)
Action Item: An unofficial transcript must be uploaded prior to submitting your application. In addition, grade reports for the fall semester are acceptable if not reported on the transcript.
Possible Action Item: Members of the National Student Nurses’ Association who wish to be considered for scholarships open only to NSNA members, must include membership number. NSNA Board of Directors and Nominating and Elections Committee are ineligible.
Possible Action Item: Students entering LPN/LVN to RN; or RN to BSN/MSN completion programs immediately upon graduation from associate degree or diploma programs must submit a letter of acceptance with the application or official confirmation that the application has been received by the new school. Proof of licensure and enrollment must be provided at the time the scholarship award check is issued.
Eligibility:Applicants must be a U.S. Citizen or Alien with U.S. Permanent Resident Status or hold an Alien Registration Number.
Possible Action Item: If you have been employed as an RN, attach a copy of your resume and license.
All checks are made payable to the school towards the account of the scholarship recipient. Scholarship money will be used to offset the cost of tuition, academic fees and books only.
Funds not used by the end of the scholarship-funding period are to be returned to FNSNA.
Do not include information that is not requested. Do not include photos.
Only complete applications will be considered. The Selection Committee does not accept separate documents after the application has been received.
All applicants will be notified of a decision in March.