How to Prepare For the NCLEX-PN Exam – Study Tips and Resources

The NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) is an examination for the licensing of nurses in the United States. There are two types, the NCLEX-RN and the NCLEX-PN. After graduation from a school of nursing, one takes the NCLEX exam to receive his or her nursing license, a requirement before practicing nursing in any state.  NCLEX examinations are developed and owned by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc. (NCSBN). For public safety reasons, each state board of nursing issues a license based on the successful completion of the appropriate NCLEX examination.  NCLEX examinations are designed to test the knowledge, skills and abilities essential for the safe practice of nursing for entry level personnel.  Before you can take the examination, you will need to attain an “Authorization to Test (ATT)” from your local Board of Nursing. 

How to Prepare For the NCLEX-PN Exam…










Graduate from an Accredited Practical Nursing Program…

It should go without saying, but we are going to say it anyway, that attending and graduating from an accredited nursing program that has an established, high NCLEX-PN Pass Rate is pretty important and the first step in preparing for the NCLEX-PN exam.  It’s certainly not going to help your odds if the program that you just spent all of that money, time, and energy on, did not properly prepare you for the exam.  Make sure the school of nursing you choose has a high NCLEX_PN Pass Rate for their graduates.

Understanding the Exam…

Review the Candidate Bulletin on the NCSBN Website.  The bulletin provides valuable information about the testing process, testing format, testing centers and further preparation tips beyond this article. Download and review the most current NCLEX-PN Test Plan. This document will break down the structure of the exam and the topics covered. It will give you a good idea of which topics you should spend the most time studying. Subjects may include coordinated care and safety, health promotion and maintenance, physiological integrity-basic care and comfort, pharmacological therapies and physiological adaptation.  Be sure to check this site often and before you actually test, as the exam format and the topics covered are subject to change.

Review your coursework, text books and notes from your practical nursing program …

Develop and follow a study plan that will allow you to review all of the material you covered in class in smaller, more manageable sessions.  Don’t try and study the entire course in one day, spread out your study plan over enough time to allow you to study the key points from your entire course without an all-night cram session.

Form a study group…

Get together with your classmates and form a study group for the NCLEX-PN exam.  They can be a tremendous help when recalling certain material or sharing notes or perspectives that you might not have.

Use practice exam questions…

There are several published study guides on the market for the NCLEX-PN exam.  If you have the means these guides can be a great tool.  They often have a series of practice questions that are in the same or similar format as the actual NCLEX-PN exam itself and can put you at ease with this format very quickly.

Taking and passing the NCLEX-PN exam can and should be a milestone in your journey to start a new career and a capstone to an academic achievement that you earned.  You can increase your chances of passing the exam and reduce test anxiety by being properly prepared before, during and after your exam.

If you are preparing for the NCLEX-PN exam, we would like to officially wish you…the best of luck!

and by that we mean:

“Luck is when opportunity meets preparation” – Seneca

For more information about a career in the practical nursing field, or to speak with an admissions representative and apply for career training, contact Centura College today by visiting our Practical Nursing Program Webpage.

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Comments (7)

  • Kevin's Review Reply

    Here are a few more NCLEX tips:

    1) Memorize your Lab Values and Common Medications

    Even though the NCLEX is testing your critical thinking, I was surprised how many medication and memorization questions were on there. Don’t memorize everything, but get the basics: medication classes, the most common medication in each class, how to easily recognize them.

    2) Get an NCLEX book

    A study group is great, but not everyone has time to be always meeting. Individual review with an NCLEX book seemed to help me a lot, especially when practicing questions. There’s a lot of great information in Kaplan, Saunders, and LaCharity’s books.

    3) Review, don’t Study

    Don’t set out to relearn everything in the last few years, it won’t happen. Review it. Refresh yourself on nursing principles, how to keep patients safe, how to prioritize, what has to be taken care of now vs what can wait until later.

    at 10:49 pm
    • Centura College Reply

      Hi Kevin! Thanks for reading and commenting. You offered some great additional tips and your site is full of useful information!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      at 1:41 pm
    • Houry Azadian Reply

      Hi, I have read your article and found it very helpful. I will be taking my NCLEX PN Feb 8,2014. I have been using sanders and Kaplan and have also been practicing answering as many questions as possible. thanks for your help!

      at 11:24 pm
      • Fab Reply

        What have you been studying? I take mine soon also and I am nervous

        at 8:21 pm
  • Diana Reply

    I failed my first test now I’m concerned on what to study. It seemed everything I studied was not on the test now I’m very nervous about taking it again. I need help!

    at 10:59 pm
    • Centura College Reply

      Hi Diana!

      Thanks for reaching out to us. If you are a Centura College graduate, you should contact your campus program coordinator for assistance. If they are not available to help, please feel free to contact the campus executive director and ask for some assistance.

      Hope this helps!

      at 12:38 pm
  • Jean Joseph Reply

    I failed nclex pn second time. I am very concerned on what to study. I’m very nervous about taking it again.

    at 2:11 pm

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