NCLEX Resource Guide - Grambling State University

advance FOR
Tips for
➜ Strategies
to Pass
the NCLEX-RN Exam
➜ Top 10 Tips for NCLEX
A Resource Guide
Brought to you by ADVANCE for Nurses
September 2011
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ADVANCE For Nurses: Tips for NCLEX
to Pass
the NCLEX-RN Exam
Preparation, critical thinking, prioritization and problem-solving
are a must when taking this important test
By Susan Sanders, DNP, RN, NEA-BC
You’re almost there. You know what one of those last critical hurdles is. Years of nursing
school is about to pay off — if you study hard and know what to expect. The National Council
Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN exam) has one purpose: To determine if it’s safe for you to
begin practice as an entry-level nurse. It is significantly different from any test you took in nursing
school. While nursing school exams are knowledge-based, the NCLEX-RN tests application and
analysis using the nursing knowledge you learned in school. You will be tested on how you can
use critical-thinking skills to make nursing judgments. It tests your ability to think critically and
solve problems as you would when caring for clients.
The NCLEX-RN exam is organized according to the framework, “Meeting Client Needs.” There
are four major categories and eight subcategories. Many nursing programs are based on the
medical model where students take separate medical, surgical, pediatric, psychiatric and obstetric
classes. However, on the NCLEX-RN exam, all of the content is integrated.
Questions are primarily multiple-choice with four possible answer choices; however, there are
also alternate question types. Alternate question types include multiple-response, fill-in-the-blank,
hot spots, chart/exhibit and drag-and-drop. All questions involve integrated nursing content.
Keep in mind that the NCLEX doesn’t just test your body of nursing knowledge. Primarily, the
test is designed to assess your ability to make safe nursing judgments. It tests your ability to think
critically and solve problems as you would in actual contact with patients. Although the computadvance
er adaptive format will feed questions at varying levels of difficulty, the only passing level
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ADVANCE For Nurses: Tips for NCLEX
questions are application and analysis that assess those skills.
• Rethink the question and paraphrase. The topic is not al-
These types of questions require you use the information you
ways obvious and may require additional reflection before
learned in nursing school to make correct nursing decisions.
° Read carefully.
° Put the question into your own words to make sure you
Successful Test-Takers
• Practice, practice, practice! You want to be able to “think
understand it properly. Example: Which of the following
through” the questions on test day, and more practice with the
shows a complication of a percutaneous liver biopsy if the
higher-level questions will give you the confidence you need
nurse observes it 24 hours after the procedure?
use are analysis and application level, not just simple recall and
• Do not focus on background information that may not be
relevant to answering the question.
ing is a complication that occurs during the first 24 hours
the question stem. Remember that only the application/
effective approach.
° Save enough time to review content wherever you find
° Remember that you must know the content before you
can successfully answer the higher-level questions, then
can apply that content to a real patient scenario.
Background information in the question above is that the
To sum it all up, the keys to success on the NCLEX-RN exam
patient is 56 years old. Does that make any difference in your
are prepare – think critically – prioritize – and solve problems.
Best of luck on your exciting journey into a successful career
in nursing!
after a percutaneous liver biopsy? (answer: Hemorrhage)
° Analysis /Application questions test your ability to make
a nursing judgment based upon the information given in
per day. Answering too many questions per day isn’t an
take your knowledge a step further by making sure you
to maximize performance. Be sure the practice questions you
° Recall/Recognition questions simply test your ability to remember what you have heard or read: Which of the follow-
° Assess the time you have before testing so you can cover
and review rationales for a specified number of questions
• Use only the information provided in the question stem
without letting previous experience or observation influence
Susan Sanders is vice president of Kaplan Nursing.
the answer choice.
ing symptoms, if observed by the nurse 24 hours after a
° Some candidates look at a question and think “I saw the
same case during clinicals, so I know the answer!” It may
percutaneous liver biopsy in a 56-year-old man, indicates
or may not be the exact case you saw, so never neglect to
a complication from the procedure? (answer and tip: Pulse
read the question carefully and think it through.
analysis questions are passing level: Which of the follow-
these readings are classic symptoms of shock and realize
° Remember that you have plenty of time (average test takers only use slightly more than 2 of the 6 hours allowed),
shock is a complication before you are able to come up
so jumping to conclusions and skimming past questions to
with the correct judgment.
save time is not an advantage.
112, BP 100/60, respirations 12 – you must first recognize
• Review complete rationales of the practice questions to un-
• Recognize and understand the pathophysiology and needs
derstand error patterns and help with proper question inter-
of the patient.
pretation. As you can see from the application question shown
above, choosing another answer without understanding why
• Make a study plan and stick to it. “Cramming” is not a suc-
is isn’t correct won’t help you avoid similar errors on test day.
cessful strategy for NCLEX.
For more information, go to,
Twitter: @KaplanNCLEX and Facebook at www.facebook.
Read more articles for new grad nurses at
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Tools and information recent grads need to find their first
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ADVANCE For Nurses: Tips for NCLEX
Top 10 Tips
A quick guide to get you started preparing
for the NCLEX exam
By Nancy Petges, MSN, BS, RNC
Congratulations! Graduating from nursing school is a
major accomplishment. Just one more exam until licensure as
a professional nurse: NCLEX. If the mere thought of NLCEX
triggers a flight or flight response, a bit of reassuring news is
in order. According to the National Council of State Boards of
Nursing, more than 155,000 candidates nationwide took the
NCLEX-RN in 2010 and 82.37 percent passed on the first try.
The following tips for NCLEX success have been developed to
assist in the final journey toward licensure as a professional
registered nurse.
Graduate from an accredited nursing program.
Graduation from an accredited nursing program is the best
preparation for NCLEX. Believe it or not, you are well prepared!
Take a review course. A review course will consolidate
the mountains of information acquired in nursing school
and provide a study plan to follow prior to taking NLCEX. Many
reputable companies provide review courses for NCLEX. Schools
review course provider.
Jeffrey Leeser
of nursing can provide a recommendation for a reputable
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ADVANCE For Nurses: Tips for NCLEX
According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, more than
155,000 candidates nationwide took the NCLEX-RN in 2010 and 82.37 percent
passed on the first try.
Take the exam as soon as possible after finishing
the review course. Follow the study plan provided by
On exam day, arrive at the testing site early — 30
minutes prior to the exam. Late arrivals may not be
the review course as well as school of nursing faculty recom-
allowed to take NCLEX. Additionally, arriving early will ensure
mendations regarding preparation for NCLEX.
the best frame of mind for the exam.
The NCLEX-RN is designed to test skills necessary
to practice safe and effective nursing at the entry
level. As a new graduate nurse, mastery skill in a specialty
area of nursing is not expected.
words that are unfamiliar. Maybe the unfamiliar dis-
ease process in the question is there to distract attention. The
question may really be asking about something familiar such
as patient safety.
Take a break the day before the exam. Spend time
with family and friends the day before the exam know-
ing that you are well-prepared. Waiting to study until the day
before NCLEX is too late.
While taking the exam, do not get tripped up by
Finally, take a break if you need it. A break may
be just what the nurse ordered for difficulties in con-
centrating that may occur. Just remember that breaks count
against the 6-hour maximum time allowed for NCLEX.
On the day of the exam, make sure to eat something before taking the exam. Depending on the
number of questions delivered, the exam could take as long
Nancy Petges is an assistant professor of nursing at Aurora
University, Aurora, IL.
as 6 hours to complete. Blood sugar drops will affect concentration and ultimately NCLEX results. Remember: Principles of Nursing I.
Do not bring family members, children, pets or
advance FOR
personal belongings to the testing site. The test-
bers or children. In addition, cell phones, watches and pagers
are not permitted in the testing center.
Jeffrey Leeser
ing center does not provide a waiting area for family mem-
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