It’s the dreaded beast. The looming disaster. The thing all nursing students dread above all…the NCLEX. While it may seem that test item writers have the sole mission of making nursing students suffer, that couldn’t be further from the truth. According to NCLEX expert Diane Billings, EdD, RN, FAAN, all of the questions on the exam are designed to ensure that new nurses know everything they need to know for their safety and the safety of patients, starting with the very first day. So what happens when you are a talented nurse but choke on tests? Below are Billings’ top hints on how to ace the NCLEX:
Know the Plan
The framework used for all NCLEX questions is the test plan. All questions on the test will be focused on the concepts outlined in the plan. Fortunately, the plan is free and available for viewing through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. The test plan includes the categories of nursing under which you should organize your studying efforts for the exam. These categories are:
- Client rights
- Informed consent
- Case management
- Health promotion and maintenance including newborns, aging, and health screenings
- Use of equipment
- Home safety
- Use of restraints
- Infection control
On Test Day
On the day of the big test, it is recommended that students take things slowly and read every question very carefully. When you get nervous, you are likely to skip over important key words that can change the entire meaning of the question.
While testing, read one question at a time and think of your own answer before reading the choices. This will make it easier to pick the answer that best matches your thoughts without becoming distracted and confused by other options.
Answer based on the information given. Never choose an answer based on assumptions, variables, or other criteria that are not specifically stated. Keep it simple and answer the question the way it is asked.
The questions on the NCLEX are designed to be difficult. Before you attempt to take the examination, make sure you know the information thoroughly and are able to critically and analytically apply it to a variety of scenarios. If you think you may be ready, consider taking a practice test or test prep course for a measure of your readiness.