Preparation for the NCLEX is a challenging task for nursing students, but recent research findings presented at the Sigma 32nd International Nursing Research Congress show a correlation between the number of HESI specialty exams a nursing student completes and greater NCLEX-RN exam success.

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.”

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Issues to Consider for Older Nursing Students

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.

Generally, students find the HESI exams within their nursing school curriculum, but if they are unable to access the suite of HESI for Nursing products, Gouveia recommends students look at NCLEX exam review products like the HESI Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN® Examination.

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A (for Achievement) Students

However students use the HESI specialty exam preparation, they will reap the rewards of using proven methods to have more success.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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