An important step on the road to becoming a certified registered nurse is passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Simply graduating with a BSN or associate’s degree in nursing is not enough to begin working.

The NCLEX examination signifies the end of nursing school and the beginning of a nursing career, and must be passed in order to practice as a licensed registered nurse (RN) in the United States. Preparing, learning about the test format and understanding the nuances of the NCLEX can help student nurses be best prepared for what is arguably the most important exam of their career.

The bright side is that there are some effective ways to prepare for the NCLEX:

1. Study

Plan your studies and practice sessions with your test date in mind to assure that you cover essentials. Daily studying is imperative. However, if you miss a day, just get back on schedule the next day. It has been recommended that preparation for the NCLEX should include at least 1,000 practice questions. That may sound unreasonable. But the simple fact is that you cannot take too many, yet you can take too few practice questions.

2. Take a review course

There are several NCLEX review courses available from a variety of companies that are designed to help prepare for the licensure examination. Some are structured courses where the graduate physically attends classes offered to help identify any strengths and deficiencies in study practices, and review sample questions. Others are online courses that can accomplish the same things.

3. Take a look at the Test Plan

Next, carefully review your class notes, textbooks, and the Test Plan for the NCLEX exam. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing has some excellent information about preparing for the NCLEX. Included are the Test Plans for both the RN and PN licensure examinations. These provide information regarding the focus and the scope of the exams. The Test Plans are reviewed and/or revised every three years based upon results of entry into practice surveys of newly licensed nurses. Remember that the NCLEX is designed to demonstrate competence in basic entry-level practice.

4. Stay calm

In light of everything stated above, that probably sounds impossible. Do all of the things that you think that you need to do based upon your own self-assessment and that of an outside source such as a review course. If you do that, your confidence level should increase and you will be able to show up at the NCLEX testing center rested, prepared, and at ease.

We wish you the best of luck!