first you need to find out if your state bon accepts excelsior schooling. (many do). college network / rue.. etc... all go through excelsior. they buy excelsior programs but charge you extra.. so the best thing to do, is go right to the source (excelsior). there is a disclaimer in excelsior's
site about these programs.
i recently signed up through excelsior so i'm a beginner, but you can find a lot of information on their site. they also provide you with an advisor (once you're enrolled).
first step is applying, get your transcripts in order (from other schools you attended... you can't send them in yourself, the school you attended has to).. then enroll.
you have general education requirements that you must meet (see the website) then there are 7 nursing concepts and the cpne.
once you've satisfied everything, you'll be able to take the nclex.
as far as study guides... go to ebay!! you'll find a lot of people selling theirs.. compare prices
i haven't taken any tests because i just enrolled and have started to receive all the information.. it would be nice to talk to someone who has gone through / completed the program.