Home Nursing Blog Taking Your NCLEX – Tips on How to Prepare Yourself

Taking Your NCLEX – Tips on How to Prepare Yourself


After taking the Nursing Local Exam (NLE) in 2008, I didn’t take the NCLEX exam immediately and took it after more or less after a year. So, I have to bring out my books again and study. But NCLEX exam has a different approach compared with the local boards, therefore you have to attack it differently.

The first step to prepare is to familiarize yourself about this type of test.

NCLEX comprises of different type of tests. Unlike the local exam which only has a multiple choice type. One of the feared type of this test is the SATA which means Select All That Applies. You must be able to select ALL the correct answers and if you miss even only one, your answer will be considered wrong.

Another type could be drug computation. Wherein you should compute for the dosage of the medication base from the problem presented. There is also one type where you should arrange the nursing procedure  from the first thing to do up to the last in its proper order.

Nevertheless, it will be totally different from the local board exam aside from the fact that it will be done electronically in front of a computer. I’m not here to scare you but for you to over prepare for it.

Just like everyone else, I also got scared as I started reviewing my lessons. I don’t know how to start because of the preliminary things I’ve learned. However, let this not discourage you because if I can pass it, then you can also. My average when I passed the local board was only 78.2%. Nevertheless, I was still able to pass my NCLEX exam in 75 questions.

What does it mean by 75 questions?

NCLEX exam has a minimum number of 75 questions and a maximum of 265 that you can take up to 5 hours. Since it is a computer generated exam, it can gauge if you pass or fail the test after 75 questions. If you definitely pass or fail after 75 questions, the computer will stop. However, if the computer is not certain about your score, it will give you until 265 questions. Anyhow, it will just stop at any question until the computer can determine your score. Some nurses stopped at 120th and 265th question and still passed the test.

So, after familiarizing the type of tests and the how the test determines if you pass or fail, it’s time for the main event. The review of the main nursing subjects.

Gauge yourself on which subject you do best. For example, if you know, you do well on psychiatric nursing, pay less attention to it because you must prioritize the subjects you know you had a hard time with. When I started reviewing the Medical Surgical Nursing, I even have to chop off the different system of the body and start creating a timetable and started working on my planner.

I made a schedule of the subject that I should concentrate on a particular day. And you must really stick to it. Procrastination has no room this time. I started studying around 3 months before the exam. I also enroll myself in a review class but I’d rather do it alone because I hated the commute going there so, most of the time, I review by myself.

Learn the best time your mind is working well. If you are a night person and prefers to study at night, then, pattern your schedule with the time you are most comfortable with.

I also cut my day into two. The first part will be studying and the other part will be question and answer portion. But as the test day approaches, I concentrated more on answering more questions. I started answering 30 questions a day up to around 50-80 questions per day.

Nevertheless, don’t forget to take some rest every week. Take one day off and just go out with your friends and family to get rid of the stress you are feeling. Always have enough sleep and never forget to pray and ask for guidance.

Don’t also forget to have a healthy diet and exercise once in a while.

Finding the right place to study is important also. If you can’t study at home, try going to the library or coffee shops where you can read your notes with your full attention.

As for answering the question, I answer each question and go with the rationale immediately. Though, that may not work for you, you should find a strategy that will work best for you.

Around 2 weeks before the exam, I started answering random questions from different subject areas and see how I do when it comes to the score. Remember, you don’t always have to pass the test as long as you know why your answer is wrong. It will suffice. You must pay attention to the rationale rather than just knowing the correct answer.

Two days before the exam, I just relaxed and didn’t study anymore. I just exercised and had some good night sleep and prepare myself physically. During that time also, we visited the testing center so, I won’t be lost the day of the exam or be late.

This is so important, REMEMBER TO BRING YOUR PASSPORT. You won’t be allowed to take the test without it. I knew someone who forgot her passport and wasn’t able to take the test. It could be very frustrating.

The night before your test day, sleep early, set your alarm, pray before going to sleep and pray again when you wake up. Eat well before going to the test center and take a deep breathe before taking the exam.

As long as you did your best, you are all good. Take it lightly with an once of determination and you will definitely pass it with flying colors.

I'm Trixie (@iamtwixietops) and I'm a Registered Nurse/ Blogger who works in a BPO company, usually works at night and struggles to find some random things to do during the day. Loves hanging out in coffee shops, book stores, library, going out with friends and messing up with her sisters. I am not a writer but writing is one of my stress relievers. http://www.trixiericablanca.org/