20 Helpful NCLEX Test-Taking Strategies and How To Use Them

NCLEX test-taking strategies
  • Understand the format. …
  • Manage stress levels. …
  • Read questions carefully. …
  • Answer questions quickly. …
  • Develop a study plan. …
  • Take a test-prep course. …
  • Use test-prep resources. …
  • Make note of questions you got wrong.

Preparing for the NCLEX exam is a daunting task, but with the right strategies and tools in place, test takers can increase their chances of success. Passing the NCLEX is one of the most important goals for any nursing student, and having the right test taking strategies will help make the process easier. In this blog post, we will discuss important test taking strategies for the NCLEX. We will review the dos and don’ts of the exam, how to approach different question types, and how to manage anxiety and stress leading up to the exam. By reading this post, test takers will have the resources and tips they need to feel confident and prepared on the day of the NCLEX.


What is the NCLEX test?

To become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN), candidates must pass the National Council Licensure Examination test. A nursing student may choose to take either the NCLEX-PN for a licensed practical nurse or the NCLEX-RN for a registered nurse depending on their intended career path. The two exams are fairly comparable, but the PN exam frequently focuses on coordinating care among other healthcare professionals, while the RN exam frequently focuses more on managerial or administrative practices. Candidates for each exam must possess a nursing degree from a recognized university.

NCLEX test-taking strategies

The following list of NCLEX test-taking tips will assist you in getting ready for the licensing exam:

Understand the format

You can better prepare for the material and create an effective study plan if you are aware of the testing format. The examination makes use of computerized adaptive testing (CAD), so each person’s results may vary. CAD can change the multiple-choice questions that students receive during the test depending on how well they’re doing right now. Test takers may receive between 75 and 265 questions during the six-hour exam, depending on their performance and the questions the test offers.

Manage stress levels

Keeping your stress levels under control can help you remain calm and focused on the questions while taking the test. It can be beneficial to frequently take study breaks and get lots of rest while getting ready for the test. It helps to take a brief break from the test to concentrate on your breathing if you start to feel anxious during a practice exam or the real exam. Your heart rate can be lowered and your ability to respond to questions more effectively by paying attention to your breathing.

Read questions carefully

You can find the keywords and understand the question better by carefully reading the questions. Knowing exactly what the question is asking will enable you to confidently choose the best response and find the most appropriate response. Try reading the question aloud or reading the answers to see if they can give you more information about the topic of the question if you’re having trouble understanding it.

Answer questions quickly

It’s crucial to avoid wasting too much time analyzing or trying to figure out a question if you’re having trouble with it on the NCLEX. You can reduce exam time and avoid second-guessing your responses by providing the best response you can and then moving on. While it’s crucial to try your best to comprehend the question, it’s just as crucial to maintain a steady pace throughout the exam to avoid running out of time.

Develop a study plan

You can study for the test more effectively and less anxiously by creating a schedule and study plan. Calculate the number of days until the exam after registering for it, and then choose which days or evenings you can devote to studying. Maintaining a regular weekly study schedule can make it easier for you to fit in breaks and keep your exam motivation high.

Take a test-prep course

You can learn about the NCLEX information more quickly and acquire additional test-taking techniques by enrolling in a test preparation course. Some test preparation programs also include a teacher or mentor who can answer your questions and provide you with insightful feedback on how well you did on the practice exams. You have the option of taking a test preparation course in person or online, and both have their own special advantages.

Use test-prep resources

You can study more effectively for the NCLEX exam with the aid of impressive test preparation resources, such as study aids, test preparation books, and practice exams, in addition to test preparation courses. These sources can give you useful study materials that you can physically annotate or write in, which will make it easier for you to remember what you’ve learned. It’s wise to read product reviews before buying test preparation materials to make sure they’ve helped other students and test takers.

Make note of questions you got wrong

When taking practice exams, writing down or underlining the questions you erred on can make it easier for you to review the material later and determine which subjects you need to study more thoroughly. Consider reviewing all the questions you answered incorrectly after taking a practice test to see if there is a pattern in the topics covered by the questions. Then, do some research or look for questions that are similar so you can practice answering them in the future.

Assume the best situation for each question

It’s helpful to assume that the hospital has endless staff, resources, and equipment when responding to questions about a mock healthcare scenario. Regardless of whether it’s plausible based on your personal experience, visualizing the ideal scenario for the hospital can help you concentrate on the question and enable you to choose the most appropriate response.

Take the test early

Because the material is still fresh in your memory, taking the test soon after receiving your degree can improve your final score. It also enables you to take the examination and gain a deeper comprehension of how it works. If you fail the first time, it’s okay because you took the test early; you can retake it after studying and knowing the questions and what you need to learn more thoroughly. If you wait too long to take the test, you might need to restudy the material, which will increase the amount of time you need to spend studying.

Look for helpful keywords

Knowing the questions’ key terms as you read through them can make it easier for you to comprehend them and choose the appropriate response. It can also assist in quickly identifying options that aren’t the best fit. Avoid choosing answers that contain words that emphasize absolutes, such as always, only, never, and all, as few things, especially in the medical or nursing fields, operate or function without an exception. This is a useful tip that you can put into practice.

Wait to evaluate yourself

It’s crucial not to judge yourself or the answers you select while taking the test. Overanalyzing your responses, particularly those you’ve already chosen, can divert your attention from the questions you’re currently tackling. Consider taking a few deep breaths and returning your focus to the questions you are currently working on if you find yourself evaluating your answers or yourself during the exam.

Use true or false for SATA questions

Selecting multiple responses that are specifically related to the statement or topic in the question is required for Select All That Apply (SATA) questions on the NCLEX exam. Use a true or false approach when analyzing these questions to more quickly identify all the right answers. Check each response to see if it is true or false in relation to the question, for instance, if it asks who should be considered a patient’s family. If the answer is true, select it. If its false, leave it blank.

Make educated guesses

You can respond to more difficult questions without wasting too much time by making an educated guess. When examining a challenging question, carefully read through it first, and then read through the answers. Try to eliminate any options you know are incorrect as you read the answers in order to focus on the one that is correct. If there are four possible answers and you eliminate two of them, you now can make an educated guess that increases your probability of a right answer to 50%

Look for cues

Finding hints in the responses to the questions can guide you in making the best decision. Consider looking for specific details that encourage good things when examining questions about nursing or medical practices, such as:

Choose client-focused answers

It’s also advantageous to search for solutions that center on the client or patient when responding to queries. One of the top priorities when working as a nurse or in a similar medical position is frequently assisting and interacting with patients. As long as it still relates to the question’s main topic, an answer is frequently more likely to be correct if it assists, communicates with, or emotionally connects with the patient.

Stay healthy

Maintaining good health can aid in better memory retention and focus during the exam. It’s important to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and exercise frequently while studying for the NCLEX exam. To make sure you have enough time to maintain your health and fitness, try to incorporate exercise breaks into your study schedule, if you can. Exercise is a fantastic stress reliever and test anxiety management tool.

Always choose research-based answers

Always choose research-based solutions over experience-based ones because the latter can vary from person to person. It’s possible that even though some test takers may have relevant experience from internships and entry-level jobs, the information they’re using to answer the question might not be the most appropriate or accurate. Always choose an answer based on facts or evidence rather than on a memory you have from the situation.

Use process of elimination

It’s advantageous to employ the process of elimination when a question asks you to select the best choice among the available options. You can eliminate incorrect responses and concentrate on the right answer by using the process of elimination. For instance, examine each response to determine whether it pertains to the virus that is being described if the question asks about the primary symptom of a specific illness or virus. It might not be the best answer if the symptom is shared by another illness or virus.

Rephrase the question

Rephrasing a question means asking it using your own words. Rephrasing a question can make it easier for you to comprehend it and enable you to find the best solution. Additionally, it can help you find the main idea or question being posed by removing any words that might be distracting. If you need to rephrase a question for the NCLEX, try saying it aloud to make it easier for you to change the words and comprehend it.


How do you pass NCLEX strategies?

Keep reading for NCLEX tips that can help you pass the exam the first time you take it.
  1. Block Off Time to Study.
  2. Use NCLEX Exam Study Aids.
  3. Remember Needs Prioritization.
  4. Remember Your ABCs.
  5. The Answer Is Never “Do Nothing”
  6. How to Handle “Select all That Apply”’ Questions.
  7. The Night Before the Test.
  8. The Day of the Test.

How do you answer the NCLEX question you don’t know?

If you don’t understand the question, read the answers. Then go back and read the original question. You can get a sense of what the question is asking from the answers.

How do you answer NCLEX questions successfully?

NCLEX Test-Taking Strategies
  1. Identify Keywords. One of the best NCLEX preparation methods is to concentrate on keywords.
  2. Identify Repeated Words. …
  3. Do Not Second Guess Yourself. …
  4. Look for Opposite Answers. …
  5. Read the Entire Question Before Answering. …
  6. Eliminate Distractors. …
  7. Use Prioritization Techniques. …
  8. Reviewed By:

Is the NCLEX hard to pass 2020?

NCLEX Pass Rates For domestically educated students taking the test, the second attempt pass rate was 45. 56%. These results demonstrate that it is a pretty difficult test. Your critical thinking, understanding of the nursing process, and assessment abilities will be put to the test by the questions.

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