Greetings to all pre-nursing hopefuls,
The purpose of this post is to assist potential NLN PAX (for RN) takers in achieving the highest score possible. I have perused this forum and the World Wide Web in order to condense all the information that I have gathered on how to succeed on the test. There will NOT be any sample questions from actual Pre-RN/PAX tests in accordance with Allnurses.com forum policy. Further information can be obtained from the NLN Review Guide for RN Pre-Entrance Exam book.
I received a score of 156 composite with percentage of 99 on DI AD and ALL on my NLN PAX exam taken on February 9, 2011 at Phillips Beth Israel School of Nursing in New York. My raw scores were 55/60 Verbal, 38/40 Math and 50/60 Science. I spent approximately 1 month studying for the test, dedicating about 1-3 hours a day. I was an honor student (4.0 GPA) in high school but did not do so well in college (3.0 GPA) with a human biology major. I am turning 27 in 2011. Lastly, I am male if that matters.
About the test:
I took the paper-based test (PBT) and was given a Scantron, and a single piece of white scratch paper along with the exam booklet. The PBT results are mailed to the address you provided when you registered within 10-14 days. There is also a computer-based test where your scores are available either immediately or within 24-48 hours.
The actual test consists of 80 verbal, 54 math and 80 science questions in three separate sections. Only 60, 40, 60, respectively, are counted toward your final score. You will have exactly 60 minutes per section and cannot go back or forward to other sections at any time. During my exam I was allowed 5 minutes of break time between sections and could go to the bathroom. Food and drinks were allowed at Phillips Beth Israel. You are allowed to write/mark on the test booklet but it and the scratch paper cannot be taken home. Bring your own writing utensils.
Tips and Strategies:
I highly recommend the previously mentioned NLN Review Guide for RN Pre-Entrance Exam book (by Jones and Bartlett), even if you are a recent high school or college grad. This book will familiarize you with the type of questions on the exam. Additionally, I used the McGraw-Hill's Nursing School Entrance Exams along with CliffNotes.com's online Biology, Chemistry and Physics study guide, all which I found to be helpful in complementing the NLN Review Guide.
Allow yourself at least two weeks to study, especially if you haven't been in school for a few years. It only takes about a week to go through the entire NLN Review Guide so plan your study time accordingly if you intend on cramming. Stay calm, and guess if you run out of time.
For the Verbal section:
I suggest using Freerice.com's English vocabulary multiple choice test to refresh your vocabulary (and help a good cause while you're at it). Another good site to use is http://www.toeflvocabulary.com/
If you know all the words on that list along with the synonyms and antonyms you will be in great shape for the PAX. In general, any high school SAT/ACT vocabulary review book will work. For the reading comprehension of the exam I found that studying the NLN Review Guide and the McGraw-Hill book was enough. Do not bother with the Mc-Graw Hill's Grammar/Sentence Structure/Spelling/Punctuation chapters as those will not be on the PAX.
What worked for me and others that I talked to for the reading comprehension part is to read the questions before reading each passage. Only read the questions pertaining to that passage; try not to read the answers. This gives you a general template or something to pay attention to while you read the passage. Caution: some people find that this distracts them from the actual reading, so decide for yourself.
Lastly, most people can finish this section within 60 minutes. If you are a slow reader, practice reading health/science articles from the New York Times or other reputable newspaper. Ask yourself these questions after you read the articles: what would be the best title for this article (aside from the one already given) and what are some facts that support article's theme.
For the Math section:
The NLN Review Guide is 100% dead-on in terms of what you need to know to do well. 54 questions in 60 minutes is BARELY enough time (imo) and there is very little room for errors. There are percentages, fractions, multiplications/divisions involving decimals and some basic algebra/geometry. Although most people did very well here, few manage to finish all 54 on time without guessing. I myself ran out of time and had to guess on the last 4 questions.
My advice is to time yourself using the NLN Review Guide's Mathematics (Section B & Comprehensive Exams). Do the practice questions as many times as it takes to be comfortable with the pace. You will have to be quick and precise. This is the section where you have to do well to get into a high percentile. A score of 38/40 got me a 99% on ALL but only a 98 on AD.
Some questions you can take shortcuts to save time by either converting fractions to percentages or vice versa. It's also a good idea to know formulas for areas/perimeters of basic shapes i.e. square, rectangle, triangle, and circle.
For the Science:
For most people this is the make or break section. The important thing to keep in mind while studying is to know the fundamental concepts, especially regarding physics. For example, does it make sense to you that volume increases as temperature is raised or do you just know the formula? Can you explain the concept of volt and amp to a child without using the equation V=IR?
I spent the most time on this section as I knew it would be the most challenging. There were questions about cellular structures, human anatomy, tonicity, ecology/earth science, and evolution for the biology part. Chemistry was fairly light and required no specific formula to solve. Those with excellent memory will do well here.
Do not underestimate the physics part. You have been warned. There WILL be quite a few of these puppies on there; everything from temperature to gas/pressure to energy and electricity. You will have to interpret graphs, charts, tables and pictures.
Physics wasn't my best subject so I studied my butts off here. I recommend the McGraw-Hill's Nursing School Entrance Exams book in addition to the NLN Review Guide. It is more detailed in the science section than the latter especially when it comes to physics.
Do study the CliffNotes' online physics guide. It is a bit beyond what you need to know for the exam but every little bit help, if you can manage. Additionally, know the concepts and formula for velocity, acceleration and be able to read related graphs. The laws of Newton, gas laws (Boyle's and Charles'), Ohm's Laws are all fair game. Again, if you only know the formulas you will only get half of the questions right. Concepts and fundamentals are important here.
Finally, believe in yourself. Give yourself the best chance to succeed by preparing early and never let go of that drive and will to be the absolute best. Don't settle for "oh if I get an 80% I will be happy." The exam is not a sink or swim situation but it is a chance to prove yourself to schools out there looking for students who do well on standardized tests. Let me know if you have any questions about the PAX. Good luck to all and God bless!
This link can give you an idea of how well others did and their feelings/strategies, etc. Check the stickies for other information regarding other tests or nursing need-to-knows.