Unfortunately, for those of you who have previous experience working in hospitals as nursing techs or aides, the experience can cloud your ability to answer test questions. Even just from what you observed as student nurses in clinicals, it is usually apparent that many topics or clinical skills are different between textbooks and real-life healthcare. The NCLEX is based on proven, researched-based, evidence-based practice. Even if your previous facility does something in a different way that is just as safe or just as correct, do not assume that this applies to the NCLEX. It’s important to answer NCLEX questions as if you don’t have any real-life constraints as a nurse. Assume you have ample time and resources to perform each answer choice.
Commit to the preparation that the test deserves. Go into studying with a plan, here is an example:
We all have slightly different learning styles, and you probably know yours by now. Make sure you tailor your studying to what works for you!
For all of the nervous test-takers out there, don’t worry. There are ways to manage your stress. Test anxiety is a real thing, but you made it through nursing school, so just continue to prepare in whatever way worked for you in the past. Even if you don’t typically have test anxiety, there is a chance that you will be nervous just from the pressure of such an important test. There are a couple key ways to keep stress at a minimum.
There's no use trying to self-evaluate while you test. Don’t assume that because you got a few “easy” questions in a row that you are below pass level. Just focus on the questions at hand. What seems easy to you, might be challenging to someone else. Every question is as important as the next. This exam is all about endurance. Prepare to sit the full time and then you won’t stress in the chance that you need to.
The NCLEX uses a CAT format, or computerized adaptive testing. Meaning that no single exam is identical. During the course of the exam, the computer algorithm produces each new question based on your performance from previous questions. The test bank is comprehensive and includes different question styles and topics of content. How the NCLEX is Graded The test will produce a minimum of 75 questions, and a maximum of 265 questions. A candidate passes the test when the tester has answered enough questions correctly to stay above the pass line with 95% confidence interval. The candidate will fail the test when they do not rise about the pass line with 95% confidence. Think of it this way – there is a horizontal line on an axis and we will call it the “pass line.” Anything above it is passing, and anything below it is not passing. You start exactly on the line at question zero, and with each correct and incorrect answer, you get bumped up a notch and down a notch, respectively. With each correct answer, the computer will give progressively harder questions, to determine your peak knowledge. To pass, you must ultimately rise to a point above the pass line that demonstrates competency with marginal doubt. The test can end at any point when this determination is made, between questions 75 – 265, or at the maximum time allowance (6 hours).
Ultimately, every learner is different – and you will need to figure out how to write good nursing notes. . Here are some other suggestions from our Facebook community – those who have been there and done that:
If you’re an auditory learner, you may benefit from listening to lectures and writing down key concepts or words. These simple nursing school notes can jog your memory, and you can go back to fill in information when reading the chapters, says Beck. She suggests trying the Cornell Notes system. “It is a great way to divide information into categories for organization,” she said. “Divide your paper into three sections, use the first column to define topics and the second column to write a few key words, leaving space to go back and fill in later with ideas and summaries of the topics. The last column is for questions needing further explanation at the next class.”
Most importantly, believe in yourself. You deserve to pass and you have already proven your potential as a nurse by graduating nursing school. This is only the final step on your exciting and new journey to being a Registered Nurse – so congratulations!
If you are a visual learner, try concept/mind mapping for your nursing school notes, says Tyrhonda King, MSN, RN, a professional nurse tutor at Chamberlain’s Arlington campus. Examples might include drawing a picture or creating a table or chart. To create a concept map, place the topic in the center of the page within a circle, for example. Each key point should have its own box, while supportive information will have its own shape and branch from the key point. “Be fun and creative,” said King. “Add different colors and change the shape of the key point and data as your map grows.” King also advises to keep the supportive data short and to the point and to summarize in your own words to make the information meaningful to you.