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8 Tips and Tricks to Ace Your NCLEX Exam on the First Try

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Successfully pursuing a nursing career is contingent upon achieving a passing score on the NCLEX-RN examination and getting nursing certification. According to PrepAway, this instills a sense of uneasiness among student nurses about failing said examination. 

According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), the pass rate for the examination is as high as 80% among all candidates. Preparation is essential. Therefore, let us look at the eight tips and tricks you can use to ace your NCLEX exam on the first try. 

Consider taking a review course

The process of successfully passing the NCLEX examination might provide a tough challenge for individuals who have already completed their nursing education. NCLEX review courses benefit both graduate registered nurses and graduate practical nurses. 

The courses enhance their readiness to undertake the NCLEX examination successfully. Review courses provide comprehensive coverage of the content featured in the NCLEX examination.

It equips you with the necessary information and skills for successful performance on the examination day.

Be familiar with the material on the NCLEX

Knowing what will be covered in the examination will help you prepare for it more effectively. The good news is that the NCLEX-RN exam blueprint is standardised and structured around four client requirements. 

There is a breakdown of how much of the total score comes from each section. Students are given an idea of how many questions will be asked on each topic by looking at the test plan’s percentage ranges.

Effective and safe healthcare environments

  • Care management (17–23%)
  • Safety and prevention of disease (9–15%)
  • Maintenance and improvement of health (6–12%)
  • Integrity of the psychosocial system (6–12%)

Consistency with Physiological Principles

  • Fundamentals of health and comfort (6–12%)
  • Pharmaceutical and parenteral treatments (12–18%)
  • Potential risk minimisation (9–15%)
  • Adaptation of the body’s systems (11–17% of the exam)

Many students use this template to focus their study time on the topics that will have a greater presence on the test. But don’t ignore seemingly insignificant sub-groups. Your final grade will only improve if you get several of the same type of questions right. 

Students will have a lower chance of success if they try to focus solely on a small number of subject areas. The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) evaluates a candidate’s breadth of knowledge in nursing practice and communication skills.

Know the different types of questions to expect

You can take the NCLEX more confidently if you have a good idea of the questions you may expect to see there. The following categories of questions could appear on the exam:

  • Multiple choice. Most queries must be given in a straightforward multiple-choice layout consisting of a stem and four options. The best answer can only be one of those options.
  • Multiple response. This style is identical to multiple-choice questions in that you must choose all the appropriate options.
  • Graphs and charts. These inquiries are identical to multiple-choice questions in that you must choose the correct answer based on the data shown in the graph or chart.
  • Drug calculation. You should do some math to determine the correct answer for these questions. Remember to practise drug calculations.
  • Ordered response. All possible answers to this question are correct; you just need to put them in the proper order.
  • Graphic test. In this question, which is comparable to a multiple-choice one but has picture-based answer options instead of words, you must choose the best one.

Other information regarding NCLEX questions is also crucial. Examples of keywords that will be bolded are:

  • First
  • Best
  • Most
  • Increased
  • Immediately
  • Reduced

The NCLEX only recognises generic medicine names (not branded ones) in its testing. When solving problems requiring computation, students will be told whether to round to the following whole number or keep one or two decimal places.

Pick a learning strategy and stick with it

It’s clear that you need to put in some study time for this test, but you will only do well with a well-thought-out plan. The amount of information to retain is simply too much. So, you should figure out your preferred method of study.

  • Would you rather work alone or with others?
  • Would you like to have a tutor to help you out?
  • Do flashcards help you remember information, or do you prefer to learn through listening?
  • Maybe colour-coding your notes or setting aside a specific time each day to study would work best for you.

You should stick to your chosen study method once you’ve found it. Make a plan and use habit stacking if you have to. This is the process of establishing a new habit immediately following the termination of an existing one.

Consider setting aside regular time slots each week to study. Consider these study sessions similar to doctor’s appointments or job interviews. Don’t miss it; mark your calendar now.

Employ the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs

When preparing for the NCLEX-RN examination, it is advisable to familiarize yourself with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This is a means of effectively prioritszing patient care in any given scenario. 

This hierarchy asserts that it is imperative to attend to fundamental requirements before addressing any needs of a more advanced nature. 

In the hierarchy of needs, it is crucial to prioritise the fulfillment of physiological requirements before safety needs, love, and belonging, esteem, and needs relating to self-actualisation. 

Ensure that you follow the nursing process

When reading the questions and deciding how to respond, remember to utilise the nursing process, which consists of the five pillars of nursing. Many questions will feature some reference to the nursing procedure. Here’s a quick recap:

  • Think about what the patient could need.
  • Create a nursing assessment tailored to those requirements.
  • Create the treatment strategy in collaboration with the patient and their loved ones.
  • Carry out the treatment strategy.
  • Assess the results and make any necessary adjustments to the treatment strategy.

Get plenty of rest before sitting for your exam

Take the day off before the test to relax both physically and mentally. You’ve done all you can to set yourself up for success, so reward yourself for all your efforts with a bit of relaxation. 

For you to be in the right frame to tackle the test with clarity of thought and composure, you should spend the day before the exam doing the following:

  • Relaxing
  • Eating well
  • Getting plenty of sleep

Keep in mind application is important than theory

One common mistake is assuming that the NCLEX examination will be similar to what they learned in nursing school. While memorisation is helpful, the exam will focus more on how well you can apply the material.

Considering the importance of fast thinking and the ability to draw on experience, this makes perfect sense for nurses in the field. Questions can’t be answered with a simple yes or no; you must evaluate the situation and make a call.


Those are the tips and tricks you may use, and hopefully, you will ace your NCLEX exam on the first trial. Keep calm, and do not panic before and during your exams. 

Remember that preparation is key, so do your best and go through the study materials. If need be, take review courses. Good luck with your NCLEX exam!

David Radar, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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