So far in our series, you’ve learned how to take notes and to study like a nursing school ninja. You’ve built the foundation, and now it’s time to take down your biggest opponent – The Test. Here’s a few NCLEX® test prep tips before, during and after:
Use practice exams regularly. In the days leading up to the test, complete 50 to 100 practice exam questions every day. Determine what questions you answered incorrectly, and review the correct answers. The following day, go over any questions you got wrong. Another way to do this is to use every ninja’s favorite weapon: Picmonic. After learning new Picmonic cards, test yourself to see how much you remember from the card. It’s a quiz and fun in one!
The final day before the test, don’t do any practice questions. Give your brain a one-day rest.
Nutrition plays a vital role in the function of your brain. Your brain needs glucose and fat to function, so be sure to eat a healthy dinner the night before and a healthy breakfast the morning of the test. Even if you do not usually eat breakfast, try to get something in your system. We offer some quick breakfast suggestions in this blog.
Incorporate polyunsaturated (healthy) fats into your pre-test meals, such as fatty fish like salmon, flaxseed, almonds and walnuts.
About 16 to 20% of students suffer from high test anxiety, while another 18% experience moderately high test anxiety. If you belong to either of those groups, there are a few things you can do:
Also, be sure to check out our post about the NCLEX® exam. This exam is unlike all your other nursing tests. What you don’t know about the NCLEX® could keep you from passing, and we tell you all about it in The Shocking Truth About Passing the NCLEX®.
This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to see a term you recognize and skip the rest of the question. This is how tricky professors catch the skimmers. Don’t be a skimmer. Read the question thoroughly and be sure you understand it before you move onto the answer options. Some test masters even recommend thinking of what the answer could be before reviewing the options below.
Remember, a great ninja knows when to be patient and thorough (hint: always!).
Simple words like always, most, first, and initially can change the context of a question dramatically. Be sure you identify these words and how they affect the question’s scenario before choosing an answer.
Those with test anxiety often return to questions and change their answers. Don’t do this! Statistically, your first answer is more likely to be the right one. Overthinking will just lead to confusion and second-guessing, which are not good test-taking companions. Go with your gut, and leave your answers once you’ve chosen.
We don’t recommend this strategy for everyone, however it can be effective. Perhaps try it out on a smaller test, and see if it works for you. The strategy is this: Read the question. If you know the answer immediately, answer it and go to the next one. If you don’t know the answer right off the bat, then skip it and move on to the next question. Once you’ve answered every question that you knew right away, return to the ones you skipped and work through them.
This is a helpful tool for those who stress over the test time limit and mentally freeze up. It ensures the test taker answers every “easy” question correctly and can devote time to the more complex questions.
If you’re waiting on test scores, don’t let the worry consume your life. Instead, grab your fellow nursing school ninjas and head out for some stress-busting fun. Instead of an all-night rager than will leave you feeling spent the next day, go play mini golf or cook up your favorite dish. You deserve a brief rest before you get back to it!
Marlee Liberman, RN, Master Nursing Scholar
As a registered nurse, Marlee understands the struggles that nursing school throws at you – not to mention the overwhelming pressure preparing for the NCLEX®! Marlee brings a unique skill set and perspective to Picmonic with her previous degree in broadcast journalism, her creativity in video production, and her wandering nomad lifestyle. Her blend of talents provides her with the knack for simplifying complicated concepts and demystifying the world of nursing.
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Remember more, boost your test scores and maximize your potential with Picmonic, the world’s best visual study tool for nursing school! More than just pharm flashcards and study guides, the Picmonic Learning System will help you dominate your classes, review for the NCLEX® and more, with our research-proven mnemonic learning system.