After graduating from the nursing program, all graduates must pass the NCLEX, exam in order to practice nursing in the United States. The exam consists of four parts: Safe and Effective Care Environment, Health Promotion and Management, Psychosocial Integrity and Physiological Integrity. Along with being comfortable with what to expect, having a strategy and studying smarter is key to success.
Practice More than Memorizing
The NCLEX-RN tests to see how students think about material and apply it, not simply if you understand what a concept is. When reviewing for the exam, choose a review course that makes you utilize critical thinking skills. When studying concepts and terms, try mentally putting them in context to better understand their relevance in a real world setting. Knowledge is the first step in preparing for the test; application of what you know will be the key to doing well.
Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Before the test, take a series of practice tests and identify where your strengths and weaknesses lie. After receiving your results, pick the areas that are your weakest and spend extra time focusing on these areas in order to get a better score that is well rounded.
Hit the Books and Make Use of All Your Resources
Aside from consulting mentors and taking a review course, there are plenty of resources which can aid you in your studies.
- Forums: You can register to forums online specifically for the NCLEX where others, like you, who are studying for the exam can chat and get advice from peers and those who have taken the exam in the past. These forums have threads with discussions on technical questions as well as advice on how to prepare for the test physically and mentally.
- Apps: Multiple apps are available for download featuring a mixture of flashcards and practice questions similar to those you can expect to see on the NCLEX. Having these apps on your smart phone or tablet allows you to bring study material wherever you go.
- Social Media: Social media is also a great medium for students to discuss topics for the exam. If you are unsure about a practice question or a concept, chances are another student somewhere has the same questions. Many students use Facebook and Twitter to compare notes and stay current on what others are talking about regarding the NCLEX.
Study and Teach in Groups
A way you can prepare for an exam is to form a study group to give and receive help from your peers. Teaching material you are familiar with forces you to review the material and really master it in order to clearly explain it to another person. This method of group studying is also the most effective for reinforcing material into your memory. When members of your study group can help each other learn everyone benefits whether they are teaching or being taught.
Eat, Sleep, and Exercise
While the NCLEX may become the top priority in your life in the months before the exam, do not forget to take care of your health! Having a balanced diet, getting plenty of rest, and exercising regularly will help you feel your best for the test. Staying healthy will allow you to maximize the amount of material you retain and keep a positive attitude going into the exam.
Like any important exam, planning and practicing long before the test will help you become familiar with what to expect and calm your nerves. Use these tips to help study more effectively and better prepare yourself for one of the most important exams for your career.