Graduating from nursing school is no less than an accomplishment. After all the hurdles and long hours of study, it’s good to find yourself closer to your goal of becoming a registered nurse. Now that you have proven your competency in the classroom, you must pay attention to the next step of your professional journey – the NCLEX exam.
In this blog, we will be discussing all that you need to know about the NCLEX exam. If you are a nurse who aims to become a registered nurse then keep reading to know more.
What is NCLEX Exam?
The National Council Licensure Examination, famously known as the NCLEX exam is a mandatory test required by the association of nursing to assess a candidate’s eligibility for practising entry-level nursing. This exam is only open to students who hold an accredited nursing degree.
Nurses with a vision of working as registered nurses must know that it’s important to meet the basic requirement of clearing the NCLEX exam. It is one of the foundational steps in building a successful nursing career.
If you have successfully completed your nursing education, then acquiring a nursing license is a step you must not forget. On successfully clearing NCLEX, you are entitled to begin your entry-level practice as a nurse. Without clearing the NCLEX exam, there is no career progression in the field of nursing in Canada. So taking the exam is a prerequisite to building a successful nursing career.
Things to Remember While Preparing and Taking NCLEX
1. Format of NCLEX: The NCLEX exam usually comes in a computerized adaptive testing format. This also means that at the time when the exam is going on, the computer will be producing algorithms for new questions on the basis of past performances. The test bank is actually comprehensive and includes different prompts on different topics.
It must be noted that the exam contains a minimum of 75 questions in all and a maximum of 265 questions. A candidate can pass the test when sufficient questions get answered to stay above the pass line. However, the candidate fails the test when they do not arise above the pass line.
In essence, almost everything above the pass line is counted as passing the exam and anything that is below the line counts as not passing the exam. You can start on the line with question zero and as you keep answering the questions, it becomes easy to get closer to the passing line and vice versa.
Additionally, the candidates must always keep in mind it is not useful to self-evaluate when they take the test. The key is to focus on going forward with one question at a time. What might seem easy to one person can be challenging for someone else. Passing NCLEX is an important nursing requirement in Canada. So, all questions must be given a fair amount of attention.
2. Stick to a Study Style: Everyone has different studying styles and for passing the NCLEX exam, the nursing students in Canada must be clear about their own. For instance, if you understand concepts by making a visual representation of information then it makes sense to draw things.
On the other hand, if you are an auditory learner then you can listen to lectures on the internet that teach nursing students to prepare for NCLEX. In case you learn the best through classroom discussions then creating a study group where you can talk about important concepts while memorizing them can be helpful.
As a rule of thumb, learning from videos and discussion portals helps students understand the difficult concepts better. You can make notes of concepts, try them and connect them as well. Evaluating what you are learning from a holistic approach and connecting it to a clinical experience can be helpful.
3. Stress Management: If you are a nervous test taker who has just completed your nursing courses in Canada, chances are you could be anxious. With some stress management tips, your stress can be easily managed.
Although anxiety is a real thing, it is important to remember that you have made it through nursing school successfully, so you must continue to do your best while being optimistic about taking the exam.
If you end up being nervous just from the pressure of such an important test then there are some ways of keeping the stress at bay. Prepare for the exam seriously but don’t make studying your life. It is necessary to maintain a balance during the weeks and months that lead up to the exam.
Remember to exercise, sleep, and do everything that keeps your head lighter. When you will keep a balance, your mind won’t build up tension for making the exam anything more than it actually is.
4. Study Plan: You must commit to the preparation that the test deserves if you plan to score well. Start studying with a plan and be consistent in following so that you can succeed. Make a timetable that sets a schedule of the days during which you will study, take the day off, and when you will take practice exams.
NCLEX exam is an important part of becoming a registered nurse and studying without a specific plan is only going to waste your time. It is not about the number of hours you put in, but it is about using those hours in the most productive manner.
NCLEX is not an exam that you can pass by cramming things. It is rather a holistic test that is taken to test the knowledge of candidates who have recently completed the nursing courses or the ones who have been practising for some time.
5. Invest in Reference Books: When preparing for the NCLEX exam, it is always a good idea to have some reference sources. The more study material you have, the broader your scope of learning is.
Before buying a book or reading material, you must check the customer reviews and the content grid to check if it offers something new. One book that students must have as a source of reference is “Medical-Surgical Nursing” by Lippincott. Details about the book can be seen right here. You can also check with your friends and peers if they are following some different reference material. To sum it up, the more you invest in reference material, the better it is.
Solve Practice Questions: The practice questions are entirely the best and one of the most significant parts to prepare for the NCLEX exam. It’s good to practice a maximum number of questions a week before the examination. This is the best way to revise what you’ve been studying in all these months of preparation.
However, just simply taking the practice questions will not be enough. Along with practicing them, it is also necessary to look up these questions and see if you have answered any of them incorrectly. The practice questions offer explanations on why the answers are right or wrong along with outlining the particular content topic under which the questions fall.
Make a note of all the concepts you want to revisit so that you can focus on all the important problem areas in the next study sessions. Besides this, the key is to practice as much as possible so you can get used to the computer testing experience. Revise as much of the question bank as possible before the exam so that you can go miles ahead.
7. Test Taking Skills: The NCLEX exam is for testing nursing knowledge extensively. The candidates should implement the test-taking strategies to eliminate the wrong answers and avoid any extremes such as ALL or NONE answers while putting patient safety first.
With increasing practice, the candidate will begin to notice a pattern in the answers. It is important to notice a pattern in the answers so that the test can be completed efficiently. Additionally, using deductive reasoning even if you have no idea about the concepts is highly advisable.
Once you adapt to the recommended test-taking skills, you will have no doubt encounter and answer the difficult questions as well. Use a similar systematic approach to eliminate all answers based on knowledge and words of answers.
8. Relax Before Exam: You must use the morning before the exam to relax your mind and avoid studying. Instead, you can focus on meditating, exercising, running, etc. Focus on maintaining a positive thought flow and do not allow your mind to wander into any kind of fear.
This will put you in the right frame of mind. If you have focused on doing your best then do not worry about the results. Take the test with an open mind and the result will be good. If it is not good, then you should not hesitate to appear again.
9. Do Not Hesitate to Reappear: Candidates who do not clear the NCLEX exam on the first attempt should not lose hope. Instead, they must reappear for the examination with better practice and planning.
Failing the exam does not necessarily mean that you lack knowledge and skills but it simply means you need to match the level of difficulty of the questions. If you fail, you’ll receive a diagnostic profile that evaluates your performance in the NCLEX exam.
Read it carefully. You will see how many questions you answered on the exam. The more questions you answered, the closer you came to passing. You can re-appear for the exam after a gap of 45 days after the initial administration.
However, you must keep a check on the number of attempts you are allowed. Chances of attempting the examination depend on which NCLEX exam you are writing.
While preparing for the NCLEX exam, one of the most important things that you must keep in mind is that it is important to believe in your potential as that is the first step that helps you pace forward in your nursing career.
Remember the tips mentioned above to do well in your NCLEX exam because they can help you do well in your exam. When the nursing students have made it far in their journey that they feel ready to gain a license, NCLEX is just another step to complete.