NCLEX Test-Taking Strategies and Tips 

Aspiring nurses must take and pass the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) post-graduation to earn their nursing license. Most nursing school students dread the NCLEX, but it’s not as bad as it may seem! While nursing school helps you prepare plenty, you need the proper NCLEX test taking strategies to succeed on your exam day.

Follow these seven NCLEX test taking tips to practice NCLEX-style questions and pass on your first try.

1. Read each question carefully

pencil filling in scantron bubbles

NCLEX questions are not designed to trick you, but they can be a little challenging. If you’ve had plenty of practice with NCLEX-style questions or practice exams, then you should know to read every question very carefully. Pay attention to keywords and adjectives, and you should think about how you would phrase or answer the question in your own words. The key is to understand what the question is really asking and use your critical thinking skills (aka clinical judgment). When in doubt, carefully read each answer and you might find a clue!

2. Don’t stress, make an educated guess

You will run into an NCLEX question that stumps you—it’s inevitable. You can’t skip the question and move on, but what you can do is guess! While you may not want to leave it to chance, you have to in this instance. The exam does not allow you to skip or go back to an NCLEX question. Make an educated guess and use the process of elimination when faced with a tough question. 

3. Pace yourself


With that being said, don’t spend too much time on one single question. This is a timed exam that has a maximum of 135 questions over the course of five hours. That means you have about 2 minutes per question if you end up taking the full-length exam. Examinees only have to take the maximum-length exam if their score is too close to the passing standard.

4. Read the last part of the question first

When reading NCLEX questions, it may be helpful to start backwards to find exactly what you’re looking for. For priority NCLEX questions, choose the safest answer for your patient. Some nursing students picture themselves doing the task and not returning back to determine if the answer is what will help the patient the most. Don’t forget ADPIE and assess the situation first before implementing a solution!

5. Get familiar with adaptive testing

The NCLEX uses computer adaptive testing (CAT) and adjusts to the difficulty level of the next question based on the previous question. This doesn’t mean it makes the exam easier. Instead, questions are not too easy and not too hard. Familiarize yourself with CAT by taking NCLEX practice exams. Knowing the interface and item types will help you get accustomed to this testing format. 

6. Know your testing center

Calculate the route to your testing center and your commute time. One thing you don’t want to do is be late. Plan to show up at least 30 minutes early on the day of your exam. If you’re more than 30 minutes late, you won’t be allowed to take the NCLEX that day and you won’t get your money back. Read the candidate rules, policies, and procedures in advance too.

7. Stop the last-minute cram 

young man stressed and tried from studying

The last thing you need is a last-minute study session. While you may be tempted to review the night before your exam or the morning of, trust your gut and keep a positive mindset. The most important thing you can do is get enough rest. In the morning, prepare to pack a snack and drink, have your identification ready, have your confirmation number, and take a deep breath.

Picmonic NCLEX Tips 2023: Practicing NCLEX-style Questions

pass the nclex guaranteed

Picmonic, a visual learning study tool, can be a valuable resource for practicing NCLEX-style questions and enhancing your memory retention with fun, creative picture mnemonics. Here’s how you can practice NCLEX-style questions with Picmonic’s unique research-proven approach. 

  1. Resources: NCLEX questions are unique in style and format. They require critical thinking skills in order to display your clinical judgment abilities. Utilize Picmonic’s NCLEX resources to learn about the exam’s format and item types. Picmonic has an NCLEX study plan, webinars, workbook, pharmacology topics, and everything else you need to practice for the NCLEX.
  2. Picture mnemonics: Choose specific nursing topics or categories you want to practice using Picmonic’s comprehensive picture mnemonic library. With thousands of available nursing facts, you can pick and choose topics you want to learn, review, and master.
  3. Unlimited quizzing: Picmonic can help you practice NCLEX-style questions with unlimited quizzing. If you get an answer wrong, you can try again!
  4. Daily-spaced repetition quiz: In addition to unlimited quizzing, Picmonic has an NCLEX question of the day to help you maximize retention and reduce the forgetting curve.  Download Picmonic’s user-friendly app to never miss your daily NCLEX question.
  5. Personalized dashboard: You can monitor your performance and track your progress over time using Picmonic’s personalized dashboard. To make studying more exciting, you can even earn achievements!
  6. Pass Guarantee: Last, but certainly not least, Picmonic guarantees you’ll pass the NCLEX on your first try. That’s guaranteed success! Learn more by visiting here

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