First, give yourself a huge pat on the back for even making it this far! Passing nursing school is extremely difficult and not for everyone. The last step in achieving the ultimate goal (being a legit NURSE!!) is to pass the dreaded NCLEX test. Let me give you some pointers that I used in order to make this happen. Trust me, I was anxious and crazy before, during, and after the test too. It is totally normal!
1. Practice, practice, practice
There are books and websites where you can go to just to practice answering the types of questions that are on the test. It sometimes is not even about the information, but the WAY it is written. Practicing answering the types of questions you will get will help to better prepare you and make it easier to answer them. Sometimes there will be even a similar question that comes up on the real exam too.
2. Don’t overthink it
There are so many questions that we think are trying to trip us up, only to realize that it was as simple as it was stated. Just look at the facts of the question and make a straight-forward answer. Not all questions are worded in a way to make you over-analyze.
3. Get a study buddy or study group
During nursing school and when I was studying for the NCLEX I found it helpful to get together with a friend and discuss topics we had trouble with. We would explain different topics to one another or ask each other questions in order to really get the information imbedded into our brains. It also helps to know that you are not alone in this and may help to boost your confidence!
4. Don’t focus all your time on stuff you already know
I had a hard time with this! It is easy and rewarding to go over information that you know already, and it is fine to do this to keep it fresh in your mind. But all your time does not need to be focused on the topics you already have conquered.
One way to do this is to dedicate specific days and times to whatever the topic is you are struggling with and just focus on that topic. Don’t try to focus on too many new/complicated things in one day.
5. Schedule your test close to graduation
I have found that people who scheduled their exam more than a few months, 6 months, or even a year out from their graduation had a much harder time in passing. Not only that but some had to take it several times, or maybe didn’t ever pass at all. Set a date for a month or two from when you are done school and use that time to prepare yourself while the information is freshest in your mind.
6. Don’t analyze how well you are doing by how many questions you are getting
Some people get 75 questions and some people get all 265. I got all 265, while my study-buddy got the minimum of 75. It doesn’t matter how many you get, just as long as you answer each question with intention. Try not to look at the number or amount of time you have invested, just keep going one question at a time.
7. Take a test-prep course
I took the Kaplan test-prep course, which I found to be extremely helpful. Our school did offer this course for us so we did not really have a choice, but I know many others who have taken it on their own and have found great success with it.
In closing, please be sure to remember that YOU CAN DO THIS! If you passed nursing school, anything is possible. This is the last hurdle before making your dreams come true. Do everything you can to MAKE IT HAPPEN!
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