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How To Study For The NCLEX: Tips To Help You Ace The Exam

November 19, 2022
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NCLEX Study TipsHow Long Should You Study For The NCLEX?FAQs: How to Study For The NCLEX


Reviewed by:

Luke Hartstein

Former Admissions Committee Member, NYU Grossman School of Medicine

Reviewed: 5/13/22

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

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 NCLEX. 

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

However, a bit of studying and refreshing on the topics that will appear on the NCLEX is highly recommended. Continue reading for our tips on how to study for the NCLEX and ace the exam.

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NCLEX Study Tips

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

1. Familiarize Yourself With the NCLEX Format and Structure 

One of the best ways to make the most of your studying is to know what to focus on. The 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 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. 

4. Create an Effective Study Plan 

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. 

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

5. 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. 

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. 

6. 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. 

7. Take Note of Potential Trick Questions 

Be prepared to answer potentially tricky questions on the exam. Don’t worry: the 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: 

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

8. 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. 

9. 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.

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How Long Should You Study For The NCLEX?

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

FAQs: How to Study For The NCLEX

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

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

This one is up to you! The best way to study for the 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 NCLEX?

So, how long does it take to study for the NCLEX? That all depends on how ready you feel. If your nursing program offers a comprehensive 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 NCLEX?

Most nursing students spend about three to four hours a day studying for the 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 NCLEX in Two Weeks?

It is commonly recommended that you spend at least six weeks studying for the 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 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 NCLEX with only two weeks of studying.

Final Thoughts

The 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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