Passing the NCLEX on the first attempt is the ultimate goal of every graduate nurse. The process includes understanding the NCLEX, a self-assessment, learning style assessment, stress management, academic resources, a study plan, test-taking strategies, questions practice, exam preparation, and self-confidence.
After spending a few years in nursing school, the graduate nurses must pass the NCLEX to obtain licensure. Thus, they will become licensed registered nurses and will be able to practice across all patient care settings.
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It is achievable to pass the NCLEX on the first attempt if the nurse graduates develop a comprehensive plan following graduation. The plan should include the following: understand the NCLEX, self-assessment, learning style assessment, stress management, academic resources, a study plan, test-taking strategies, questions practice, exam preparation, and self-confidence.
Nurse graduates should spend four to six weeks studying to prepare for the NCLEX. It is essential to implement an effective study plan so that the candidates can pass the exam. I think it is crucial to learn about the NCLEX before I discuss the strategies to pass the NCLEX on the first attempt.
What is the NCLEX?
The National Council Licensure Examination is the exam that graduate nurses in the United States and Canada take nationwide to become licensed registered nurses. There are two types of NCLEX. ( the NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN)
Why do nurses take the NCLEX?
Nurses take the NCLEX to demonstrate and validate basic knowledge in the nursing field and to obtain licensure to practice as Registered Nurses.
How many questions are on the NCLEX?
The NCLEX exam contains between 75 to 265 Questions that are determined in real-time during the examination.
How do I know if I pass the NCLEX?
The computer will shut up when you answer the maximum questions correctly to remain above the 95% confidence interval. The result is usually available Within 24-48hrs in the Pearson Vue website for a small fee. You can also visit your state board of nursing to verify if your license is available.
1. Understand The NCLEX
The NCLEX-The National Council Examination is the official exam that graduate nurses in the United States must take. The test enables candidates to obtain licensure in the field of nursing. The test format is computer-based and includes between seventy-five two hundred and sixty-five questions. The questions bank is very comprehensive.
The exam is different for everyone because the computer generates random questions from the candidates’ response patterns. Each question is unique and covers various nursing topics. Therefore, graduate nurses should expect questions from a variety of nursing content. It is achievable for graduate nurses to pass the NCLEX the first time.
Let me just say that being a straight-A student does not guarantee a passing score on the NCLEX. Passing the NCLEX is about test-taking skills and critical thinking. The exam measures the ability of each individual to remain above the pass target, with a 95% confidence interval.
Individuals who fail to reach the pass target or remain below the 95% confidence grid will not pass the exam. These individuals will be eligible to retake the exam within forty-five days. They have to repay the average fee of two hundred dollars. Nurse graduates should think of the trends line in analytic data charts to understand the concept of the NCLEX.
2. Self Assessment To Pass The NCLEX The First Time
It is very beneficial to conduct a self-assessment before taking the NCLEX. Thus, the candidates will identify their strengths and weaknesses. Graduate nurses should be honest with themselves and should identify the topics that they know well. Also, it is easier to develop a study plan when you have a baseline about your nursing knowledge.
The best strategy to adopt is to review your performance during nursing school. Thus, this approach will enable you to develop an individual study plan that will meet your objectives. You know what you know, and you know some of the contents that appeared challenging to you.
Once you identify the easiest and the hardest topics to cover during the NCLEX preparation, you will perform effective studying. Moreover, the self-assessment will enable you to improve your exam score. Lastly, you should review the rationale for missing the correct answers. Thus, you will enhance your critical thinking next time.
I am an audio-visual learner, and I enjoy listening to lectures and watching videos about nursing topics. I retain more information when I can hear and see the contents. Besides, I can recall the page number and location of the materials that I studied during an exam. Knowing my learning style enabled me to pass the NCLEX on the first attempt.
Nowadays, there are a plethora of educational platforms available to graduate nurses. For example, many students obtain information from Facebook groups, youtube videos, podcasts, nursing blogs, and others. These platforms provide some nursing education to graduate nurses.
Lastly, you should incorporate your learning preferences into your study plan so that you can maximize your outcomes. I highly recommend that you use materials and resources that can facilitate learning. Therefore, you should have a better understanding of the nursing content. Do not hesitate to be creative to promote fun while learning.
4. Manage Your Stress Level
It is common for new graduate nurses to feel anxious and stressed following the completion of the nursing program. It is not a secret that nursing school is challenging to complete. Thus, nursing students often voice stressful feelings while trying to survive the nursing school experience.
Stress is often associated with life changes, burdens, and other situations. You learned about the negative impacts of stress on our health in nursing school. Thus, you should strive to manage your stress level to pass the NCLEX on the first attempt. First, you should identify the causes and contributing factors to your stress.
If you completed nursing school, you already accomplished the hardest part of the journey to become a nurse. Therefore, the strategies that you used in nursing school worked for you. Besides, you should revise them and make adjustments for the NCLEX. If you study relevant nursing topics, you will reduce your stress level.
You should take your exam seriously, but you should not dedicate all of your time to studying. It is essential to balance your life while studying for the NCLEX. You must develop relaxation techniques to improve your mental health. For instance, you should create time to exercise, sleep, to eat, to listen to music, and to socialize with others.
5. Use Academic Resources To Pass The NCLEX On The First Attempt
It is imperative for graduate nurses to purchase practice exam materials or to enroll in an NCLEX review course. I invested in academic resources, and I also enrolled in an NCLEX review course. It was one of the best investments that I have made. I passed the NCLEX on the first attempt by answering seventy-five questions.
You should consider your learning style before you invest in academic materials. Thus, you should choose the learning materials that meet your learning preferences. Some of the best academics tools that I used are the Kaplan NCLEX Review Course and uworld NCLEX Review. Besides, you can purchase the courses with the money-back guarantee to maximize access to the review content.
Graduates nurses use other materials to facilitate success when taking the NCLEX. However, I can only recommend the resources that enabled me to pass the NCLEX the first time I took it. Besides, I must mention that my school did offer a free Kaplan NCLEX review. However, I had limited access to their test bank.
6. Develop A Study Plan
Planning is crucial in life, and it enables me to identify the specific goals that I want to achieve. A study plan should include who, what, when, where, how, and why. The study plan allowed me to pass the NCLEX on the first attempt.
What: you have to include the specific objectives that you must review so that you can focus better.
Who: you need to identify who is going to support you during the process. You will need to help yourself or identify a support system because the journey will be challenging.
When: as a graduate nurse, you have to identify a specific time frame to complete the studying process. I took six weeks to study after my graduation before I took the NCLEX.
Where: you need to identify the location you will use to study. Your bedroom should not be one of them. It is better to choose a place that is well lit, clean, free of clutter, and with a balanced temperature.
How: Every new nurse graduate must identify how he or she will accomplish the studying objectives. I knew I needed to improve my test-taking strategies. I signed up for the Kaplan NCLEX Review Course, which was a success.
Why: You need to know why you need a study plan so that you can follow it. A study plan will enable you to organize your days and focus on the specific content during the study sessions.
7. Test Taking Strategies To Pass The NCLEX The First Time
When I graduated from nursing school, I realized that my main problem in school was poor test-taking strategies. I used to overthink, and I often added details to the questions. On many occasions, I failed to identify when I needed to collect additional data versus a nursing implementation.
During the NCLEX review sessions, I realized that I could have scored higher in all my nursing school exams. I lacked test-taking strategies, and I believe that this was part of the learning process. I felt confident that I would pass the NCLEX on the first attempt after learning a new strategy. You must assess your patient when you receive an alert from a piece of equipment or a medical device.
I highly recommend that you take some training on test-taking and learn strategies to maximize your performance in the NCLEX. The nursing content became more comfortable to study after learning some test-taking strategies. Besides, I used to think that the questions should be hard to answer since the nursing program was challenging.
Lastly, when you try to answer questions on the NCLEX, you should read them as written. Once you review the questions a couple of times, you should be able to eliminate the distractors. Also, you will select the best answer that will promote patient safety. In addition, you must choose the options that will stabilize your patient until you obtain additional treatment orders.
8. Practice Test Questions
It is beneficial to practice test review questions so that you can become familiar with the test format. Many schools offer free test questions bank for new graduate nurses to practice for a few weeks following graduation. I drilled hundreds of nursing test questions daily during my preparation phase. For instance, I answered questions about patient safety, delegation, cardiovascular system, neurologic system, pharmacology, etc.
When you complete the practice questions, you should time yourself and cover the nursing content that you want. You should pretend that you are taking the NCLEX exam when you practice the test bank questions. Review all the items you missed so that you can identify the rationale for the correct answers. Finally, you can do the same thing when you answer the questions correctly in case you guessed them.
I highly recommend that you complete a minimum of twelve hundred practice questions before you take the NCLEX. The practice questions enabled me to become a better test taker and also improved my critical thinking. Lastly, the practice test result will allow new graduate nurses to identify their strengths and weaknesses regarding nursing topics. You should aim to attend 85% or higher on the practice test.
9. Exam Preparation To Pass The NCLEX On The First Attempt
First, you should complete your studying journey at this time, and you can relax a little bit. You should have already identified your testing center and paid the fees so that you can take the NCLEX. I drove to my testing center a week before my exam so that I could identify potential challenges.
You have to take plenty of rest and exercise a few days before the exam. It is the best time to listen to your favorite music or watch your favorite movie or shows. Besides, you should strive to be very happy and avoid a hazardous environment. Thus, you need to keep the testing center’s contact information in case you have an emergency that day.
I followed the list below in preparation for my NCLEX Exam.
Schedule the exam at the time that you perform better.
Avoid late-night snacks and activities.
Prepare your bag and add your identification and other materials that you can take to the testing center.
Set up your alarm clock.
Take a good night’s sleep.
Listen to your favorite music or watch your favorite show while en route to the testing center.
Leave your house early to arrive at least 30 minutes before the testing time.
Hydrate yourself and eat light.
Access the center and follow the instructions.
I wrote down the laboratory values on a blank piece of paper as soon as I sat down.
Say a prayer and be confident!
10. Be Confident
You are one step closer to achieve one of the best accomplishments in your life. By now, you already completed the study plan and checked in at the testing center. You need to be confident so that you can pass the NCLEX on the first attempt. Besides, you spent many hours studying and practicing test questions so that you can succeed on the exam.
At this stage, you have to realize that you already accomplished a lot, and you should be proud. Because you took the time to study, you should believe that you will answer the questions correctly. You already have the essential nursing knowledge. Therefore, you are ready to demonstrate your skill when you answer the questions correctly.
It is not the time to doubt yourself because you spent hours studying for the test. You have to convince yourself that you are smart, knowledgable, and able to pass the exam. Please do not let fear overcome you at this time because you cannot afford to fail. Lastly, you should focus on the result to remain positive during testing.
It is simple to pass the NCLEX on the first attempt if graduate nurses develop a comprehensive study plan to follow before taking the exam. The plan should include a clear understanding of the NCLEX, a self-assessment, learning preferences. You will also incorporate stress management, academic resources, a study plan, test-taking strategies, practice questions, exam preparation, and self-confidence. These strategies enable graduate nurses to focus on specific nursing content and to remain organized during the studying process. New graduate nurses will become confident when they complete a comprehensive study plan.
Nurse Sophie has been a registered nurse for over a decade. I have a Master's degree in nursing, and my clinical experiences include staff nurse, clinical nurse supervisor, and manager, and most recently, nurse consultant in Patient Safety and legal nursing. I was always passionate about system operations and practice standards.
I have completed over 2000 hours of medical chart reviews. I am an expert in clinical investigations, and I also develop event timelines. I can assist the legal team with the Discovery process: Deposition, Interrogatories questionnaire, event timelines, locate expert witnesses, and more. I provide and formulate clinical opinions based on the investigative summary.
Nurse Sophie, MSN, RN, LNC
Legal Nurse Consultant
Patient Safety Specialist
Email: [email protected]