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How To Study for NCLEX

Are you a nursing student preparing for the NCLEX-RN exam? Well, congratulations! That means that you are at the end of the long nursing school road. This test will now validate everything you’ve worked hard for and all you have learned. No pressure, right?

You’ve already heard that the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN® exam) is unlike any test you’ve seen before. So how are you supposed to study for it? Don’t worry. We’ve compiled some tips to help. Here’s how to study for the NCLEX.

Know the Test Plan 

The NCLEX-RN nursing licensure examination is reviewed every three years to ensure the content is consistent with current entry-level knowledge and skills. Questions may change slightly, or the board could add new competency areas. So it is important to find the NCLEX-RN Test Plan to get an idea of what to study and where to focus the most attention.

The NCLEX-RN Test Plan:

  • Tells RN candidates what areas they will be tested on
  • Describes the content categories and details RN candidates must know
  • Provides sample questions

Students can find the current NCLEX-RN test plan on the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) website

NCLEX study

Take Practice Tests

Practice makes perfect. That is why it is important to take as many practice exams and review as many test questions as possible. Most nursing schools offer some form of NCLEX-RN review or study course. Don’t miss those opportunities. They can be one of the best ways to prepare. 

Students who do not have access through their nursing program can find paid courses and free review questions online. Crush Your Exam put together a list of popular nursing website study courses ranging from $49 to $499. Some offer a guarantee that users will pass the exam if they purchase the product. 

Schedule time each day for studying and practicing NCLEX questions. And experts recommend taking at least two full simulation exams. Doing so can help prepare the mental endurance needed for the big day.

Study with Mnemonics

A mnemonic is a jingle, word, or rhyme that triggers the brain to remember important information. For example, what does Roy G. Biv bring to mind? 

Mnemonics are a popular way to study. And science has recognized that they work. Nursing mnemonics make it easier to study for the NCLEX. Look for tricks online or come up with your own for test day. And don’t stop with word games. Visual learners can use images to retain information.

The current Guinness Book of World Records memorization record holder, Chao Lu, recited the 67,890 digits of pi in 2005. And he shared his secret. Lu assigned pictures to the digits, such as a chair for “00” or a horse for “99.” And then, he imagined a story using the keywords. He was able to retell the story and recall the numbers. 

Associating nursing concepts with songs or imaginary pictures can make them stick in your brain. And the more creative, the better, because:

  • Minds pause longer to think about weird interactions
  • Strange ideas are less likely to be affected by other memories
  • Memorable ideas are associated with emotion and become more ingrained


Take Advantage of Study Guides and Apps

Study guides are great because they organize a large amount of information into manageable sections. 

Nursing school can feel overwhelming because there is so much to learn. Study guides outline essential topics and cover details for review. Readers can identify weaker content areas and focus more time studying those concepts without missing the big picture.  

Many study guides have print versions and web versions. Either one is fine. Choose the one that feels most comfortable. A lot of NCLEX study guides also offer a mobile app companion.

Mobile apps make it possible to study anywhere. Take advantage of the time you have until test day by using digital study applications. Here are a few to check out.


Now that you know how to study for NCLEX, there’s nothing left to do but to do it! Good luck!

But we know with these study tips and your hard work, you won’t need it 😉

Do you have an NCLEX study tip to share? Tell us below! And if you enjoyed your break today, subscribe to our blog for more like this!

Sarah Falcone BSN, RN

Sarah Falcone BSN, RN


Sarah S. Falcone BSN, RN is a dedicated nurse based in Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX. Her first nursing gig, was night-shift floor nurse in women's services (PP, L&D, nursery). Through a series of fortunate events, she found home health and a passion for helping seniors age in place. Connect with her on LinkedIn.


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