How to Study for the Next Generation NCLEX: 9 Key Tips

July 9, 2024
6 min read


Reviewed by:

Jonathan Preminger

Former Admissions Committee Member, Hofstra-Northwell School of Medicine

Reviewed: 9/27/23

About to take the NGN and are looking for some tips to ace the exam? Continue reading for guidance on how to study for the next gen NCLEX!

Nursing student standing in hospital room

So, you’ve graduated from your dream nursing school and are now ready to become a registered nurse. After all your hard work, there is just one more step to becoming a practicing nurse: passing the next generation NCLEX. 

The National Council Licensure Examination, more commonly known as the NGN, is an exam used to determine whether test takers have the basic knowledge to safely practice as entry-level nurses. 

Whether you’re interested in becoming a pediatric nurse to care for young ones,  pursuing research, or a public health nurse - the NGN is your gateway. 

It’s the test to determine if you can become an informatics nurse, get involved in nursing administration, or delve into the world of nursing education, to train and mentor the next generation of nurses. 

The idea that your career rests on passing one test may be overwhelming, but your education has given you the foundational knowledge you need to pass the test and be the best nurse you can be. Continue reading for our tips on how to study for the next gen NCLEX and ace the exam. 

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NGN Study Tips

Here are our helpful tips on how to study for the NGN and be best prepared to tackle the exam.

1. Familiarize Yourself With the NGN Format and Structure 

One of the best tips for passing the next generation NCLEX is to know what to focus on. The next generation NCLEX is unlike other tests you have taken throughout nursing school, so do some research into the structure of the exam so there are no surprises. 

Be sure to check out the official next gen NCLEX website to review the current test plans available online. Knowing what to expect will do wonders in calming down those pre-exam nerves!

2. Figure Out Your Study Style 

Studying takes a lot of time and energy. So when you do sit down to study, you’ll want to make the most of it. Figuring out your study style will help you create a study plan that best suits your needs and style of learning. 

You may find self-study methods most effective for you. You may find you focus best when studying with friends or in a group. Some people may find personalized one-on-one tutoring the best way to prepare. Or, you may like a bit of everything! 

Catering your study schedule to your learning style will optimize your study time. 

3. Evaluate Areas of Strengths and Weaknesses 

It’s always comforting to focus on what you know. However, focusing on your strengths is not necessarily a great way to study. 

Spend more time working on potential areas of weakness, so you are prepared to answer and ace all sections of the exam. 

To avoid wasting your time, resources, and money, take the time to create a thorough, productive study plan the first time. 

4. Do Practice Quizzes After Each Chapter

Aim to do a practice test after each chapter to ensure that you have understood and memorized the material. We've developed an next-generation NCLEX practice question pop quiz to help you with your preparation.

Don’t hold off reviewing everything until the very end of your study plan because it can be difficult to note what you don’t understand and/or forget. 

5. Practice Self-Care and Manage Your Stress 

Rest is key to studying. Exhaustion and stress will negatively affect your performance on the exam. Taking breaks and resting will also help your memorization and concentration while studying. 

Your mental and physical health is just as important as doing well on the exam. Make sure to have snacks and stay hydrated. 

6. Take Note of Potential Trick Questions 

Be prepared to answer potentially tricky questions on the exam. Don’t worry: the next generation NCLEX is not meant to be misleading. However, nerves and overall unpreparedness can lead people to make mistakes or second-guess their answers.

Remember the basic essentials like: 

  • The Patient Always Comes First (as in, don’t answer a question with the option of leaving the patient without care) 
  • ABC’s (Airway, Breathing, Circulation) 
  • Common Blood Types
  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Memorizing the basics is just as important as memorizing the more complex material.  

7. Invest in Helpful Resources 

Think of investing in helpful online resources, such as practice tests, study guides, online review courses, and tailored tutoring, as investing in your education and career. 

You might not necessarily need to invest in online resources but do take advantage of what is available to you. 

8. Review, Review, Review 

The most important piece of studying and memorization is consistent and constant reviewing. Reading over a chapter once and taking a practice quiz once is not nearly as effective as some people may think. 

Give yourself enough time to plan out multiple sessions of review throughout your studying time. Don’t leave all the reviews until a few days before the test, either! Spread it out throughout the weeks and months of studying. 

9. Decide on Your Timeframe for Studying

While there is no ‘one size fits all’ studying plan for the NGN, you should spend two to four hours per day studying for the next generation NCLEX. 

Remember, take at least one day a week off to relax. Just as dedicating enough time to studying is important, avoiding an overload of information is just as important.

10. Create an Effective Schedule for next gen NCLEX Studying

Making the most out of your studying will increase your chances of passing the exam on the first try. While you can take the exam more than once, there is a $200 registration fee each time you register to take the exam. That is a lot of money to spend to retake a test. 

Building the Best NGN Study Plan For You

A well-structured study plan is a valuable tool. It’ll act as your guide, ensuring you cover all the necessary content and practice effectively. 

Determine Your Study Schedule

Determining how much time you'll dedicate to your next gen NCLEX preparation is a critical initial step. Your chosen timeframe will serve as the backbone of your study plan, influencing the pace at which you cover essential topics and practice questions. 

While some individuals may opt for an intensive study period lasting a few weeks, others may prefer a more extended study plan spread over several months. The recommended study duration can vary from four to twelve weeks or more, depending on your individual needs. So, make sure to allocate a good amount of time for prep. 

The duration of your preparation largely depends on your existing knowledge base, your comfort level with the exam content, and your personal commitments. Allocating ample time for preparation not only enhances your chances of success but also reduces the stress associated with last-minute cramming.

Begin With Practice Questions

Embarking on your next generation NCLEX preparation journey with practice questions is a strategic approach. These questions not only serve as diagnostic tools to assess your current knowledge but also familiarize you with the exam's format and question types. 

Start with a baseline assessment by taking a practice test or quiz to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Subsequently, integrate practice questions into your daily routine. 

Regular exposure to these questions will not only enhance your content knowledge but also sharpen your critical thinking and problem-solving skills, both of which are crucial for next gen NCLEX success. As you progress, use practice questions to gauge your improvement and adjust your study plan accordingly.

Practice According to Your Schedule

Creating a well-structured study schedule that aligns with your daily routine is paramount. Recognize your optimal study hours; whether you're most alert in the morning, afternoon, or evening, tailor your study plan accordingly. 

Consistency is key, so establish a routine that you can realistically maintain. Dedicate specific time blocks for focused study sessions, incorporating breaks to recharge your mind. 

Additionally, ensure that your study environment is conducive to learning, free from distractions, and equipped with all necessary study materials. Adhering to your schedule will help you make steady progress and maintain motivation throughout your preparation.

The Days Before Exam

As the next generation NCLEX exam date draws near, it's essential to fine-tune your preparation. Focus on targeted review of areas where you feel less confident and reinforce your understanding of critical concepts. Avoid overwhelming yourself with extensive content review during this period; instead, prioritize quality over quantity. 

Employ relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises or meditation, to manage pre-exam stress and anxiety. Ensure that you have all the necessary identification, authorization, and scheduling details well in advance. 

Familiarize yourself with the logistics of the exam center, plan your transportation, and aim to arrive early. Confidence and a calm mindset are invaluable assets on the day of the next generation NCLEX.

The Day of Exam

On the day of the next gen NCLEX exam, maintaining composure is paramount. Your approach for the NGN test will go out the window without a solid self care plan. So, make sure to stick to a pre-exam routine that includes a healthy breakfast, light physical activity, and positive affirmations. 

Arrive at the exam center well before your scheduled time to allow for any unexpected delays. Familiarize yourself with the exam center's rules and regulations, ensuring compliance with all requirements. Carry all required identification and authorization documents, and be prepared to follow security protocols. 

Once inside, maintain focus, manage your time wisely, and trust in your preparation. Remember that the next generation NCLEX is an opportunity to showcase your knowledge and skills, so approach it with confidence and determination.

FAQs: How to Study For The Next Gen NCLEX

Still, have questions on how to study for the NGN? We answer some frequently asked questions about studying for the next generation NCLEX. 

1. What Is the Best Way To Study for the NGN?

This one is up to you! The best way to study for the next gen NCLEX is studying in a way that suits your learning style. Make sure to give yourself enough time to study and prepare. 

2. How Long Should You Study for the NGN?

So, how long does it take to study for the next gen NCLEX? That all depends on how ready you feel. If your nursing program offers a comprehensive next generation NCLEX prep course, you may be ready to take the exam shortly after graduating. 

If you feel you need some time refreshing your knowledge, take more time to study. Two months will probably be enough time to study if you 1) spend enough time each day studying and 2) make the most out of your studying time. 

3. How Many Hours a Day Should You Study for the Next Gen NCLEX?

Most nursing students spend about three to four hours a day studying for the next gen NCLEX. There are multiple online forums and groups where nursing students and current nurses share their experiences and study habits. 

If you are unsure of how much time you may need to dedicate to studying, search out some of these online discussions from people who have been in your shoes previously. 

4. Can I Study for the NGN in Two Weeks?

It is commonly recommended that you spend at least six weeks studying for the next gen NCLEX. However, you can take a couple of practice quizzes and tests to evaluate how prepared you are. 

If you feel prepared and do well on the practice tests, then two weeks may be enough time to study and refresh your knowledge. If you do study for the next gen NCLEX in two weeks, aim to spend four to six hours a day studying. 

We don’t necessarily recommend doing all your studying in two weeks. If you do find yourself in a situation where that is all the time you have, it is definitely possible to pass the NGN with only two weeks of studying. 

5. How Hard Is the NGN?

The next generation NCLEX is a challenging test that checks if nursing graduates are prepared for safe and competent practice. Success requires thorough preparation, including solid nursing knowledge, sharp critical thinking, and effective knowledge application. Passing often demands substantial study and readiness.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of which path you go down, the next generation NCLEX is the final major step in achieving your goals and becoming a practicing nurse. Pay attention in classes, take prep courses and online practice tests, and follow our study tips to make sure you do your best and show off all your hard work and skills on the test. Good luck!

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