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How to Pass the NLN PAX and Curb Testing Anxiety

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Here are tips on how to pass the NLN PAX, an entrance exam vital for nursing school entrance, combatting testing anxiety and study tips

Are You Worried about Passing the NLN PAX?

How to Pass the NLN PAX and Curb Testing Anxiety

I am proud to say that I passed my NLN with a composite score of 130 (=87 percentile). The third time is a charm! It was a long and frustrating road. The testing anxiety, tears, and doubt were very defeating, but the third time was filled with laughter and confidence! Here is how I've studied for the NLN (I broke each study method down into the categories that the test was given). I also provide tips on test anxiety and confidence!

My Study Tips for the NLN:

1. DO Buy the red book (preferably with the CD ROM) – While I didn't really care that much for the book (some things were hit and miss), I really appreciate the math, science, and verbal sections from the CD, the tests helped tremendously! I am being biased. I feel the CD was more correlated to what was on the test than what the book had (if it makes sense). I like the CD because you can customize your own practice tests and get feedback on them, which comes in handy.

2. DO buy the practice exams from the online website – These MATCH the format from the exams and the questions, let you know what to expect! The PAX bonus is timed. If the PAX or Bonus PAX exam is purchased, it does have a study guide, which helps out if one lacks a certain objective, such as dividing fractions (They are very strict on copyright, so you are not allowed to copy nor print). The downfall is that the tests repeat themselves from time to time.

3. Know your weak points and master them – Whenever I took this test, my biggest weak point was the MATH, and second to that was the word meanings! After studying them over and over, I went from making 70s to making 98's and 100s.

4. Keep communication open with your testing coordinator – Your testing coordinator will give you great resources as well! Be honest about your testing anxieties and what you lack in, and they will likely help you!

5. Give yourself breaks – To avoid being burnt out I would give myself a day or two off!

How I studied for the English/Language section of the NLN:

1. I emphasized the verbal language/ word section – I am an avid reader, yet the word knowledge part frustrated me when I took it the last few times. I decided I was going to put more emphasis on this part. I brought the PAX Prep Verbal Exam, which also consisted of reading, and took the exam to see where I was. I would like to add that I feel that the verbal ability/word section is a big part of the English portion!

2. After taking the exam, I made a word list - I used the right answers to study. I made a Quizlet of the words that I learned, and when I retook the prep exam repeatedly, and new words appeared, I plugged them into the Quizlet.  Also too reviewing other's quizlets helped very much as well! In this word list, I made sure to add pictures ( this helped me visualize the word)

3. I practiced my verbal lists for at least 45 minutes to an hour – Even if I was familiar with the material, I practiced my butt off when it came to the words. In a week, I'd practice the Quizlet every day for at least an hour. Studying every day helps tremendously because the words actually stick.

How I studied for the Math Section of the NLN:

1. After the exam, I wrote every question down whether I got it right or wrong! – This was very pivotal for me. After taking my exam, I looked over everything and recorded every question, whether I got it right or wrong!

2. I practiced the problems myself – Of all the questions that I've written down, I practiced several every day until I felt comfortable enough with them.

3. I used my community college's tutoring services and testing resources – My community college's tutors are very skilled, kind, and patient. A few days before my tests helped me drastically improve my math skills! Along with this going to the library's website, I was able to find tests about the NLN that helped me tremendously!

4. When studying math, I took breaks between every question – Previously, when taking the NLN, I rarely took breaks. When doing a question, I'd take a 15-minute break before I complete the other one.

5. Discovering MATH PAX NLN Quizlet -  While cruising on Quizlet, I noticed how other's practice questions differed a bit, so I studied those problems as well!

How I studied for the Science section of the NLN:

1. Common knowledge – In all honesty, I remember a good chunk from the science prereqs, so most of the questions (except some of the Chemistry and physics) made sense to me.

2. Constantly practicing the questions over and over – When taking the PAX prep exam, I practiced each test over and over, like twice back to back!

3. Quizlets!! – As annoying as this sounds, Quizlet helped A LOT! Looking over PAX problems helped tremendously.

4. Mometrics - Consider using mometrix for the science section (especially for physics).

How long did it take me to prepare for the NLN :

I registered for my test on the 29th of April and tested a week after Mothers Day. I studied for 4 weeks, and I studied every day for at least 2 hours minimum. Two tips I will include are while studying: have a good support system and socially disconnect for a while, you'll get a lot done!

What to do the week before the test:

1. Practice Tests! – One thing that helped me pass the PAX exam was the red book's CD. I took the three comprehensive exams during that week to see where I was at! I pooled 160 questions and I did very well!

2. Brush up on subjects you feel insecure about – In this case I put a bit more emphasis on math and some on sciences. I didn't overdo it but made sure I understood important concepts that the tests offered.

What to do the night before:

1. Review but don't go overboard – I reviewed for this test at least 2 times, once in the morning, took a break, and then before dinner, and that was it! For example, I studied around 11 am to 1 pm and then again from 5 pm to 7 pm and let that be it!

2. Prep your materials – You will most likely need a form of identification of some sort like a student ID or a driver's license. I prepped my materials I needed before my test and had them waiting in my bookbag. Usually, pencils and paper weren't required (to bring, they were provided).   

3. Chill out – Watch your favorite movie, play a video game, go out to eat. It may seem stupid to say chill out before a test, but it helps very much! The night before a test and your attitude/demeanor make things much easier.

4. Sleep well! – Get at least 8 hours of sleep! I used to sulk at this, but I can assure you 8 hours is not a myth after changing my routine!

The day of the test:

1. Try not to review – Try not to study as much. It helps, from experience reviewing too much before the test left me in complete brain fog.

2. Have a good conversation / watch something inspirational – A good chat or an inspirational video or talk can put your mind at ease! If you are religious or spiritual, praying also helps. Also laughing helps too!

3. Do your best! – That's really all you can do! You've studied, and you've learned, and now's the moment of truth!

4. Eat a meal before testing! – Being hungry during a 2-hour test isn't the greatest idea and something I had done before.. a terrible mistake! Eating your favorite meal or something fulfilling can help you stay focused.

5. Dress comfy – While testing, I usually wear the most comfortable thing I can get my hands on, usually a t-shirt, leggings, and comfy sneakers. While testing, it's important to wear something that won't tug or create distractions.

After testing:

1. Congratulate yourself! – You did the best you could do, and although this may seem like a weird tip, being kind to yourself is key in this!

How I "minimized" my testing anxiety!

During the last two attempts at NLN testing, I was so frantic and anxious that I didn't sleep at night. I would cry and couldn't eat. While the anxiety hasn't disappeared, it has greatly minimized! Here are a couple of tips on how I minimized my severe testing anxiety!

1. Treat the test like any other -  When it comes to testing, especially for PAX-NLN, I would act as if the PAX was a life or death situation. When I just studied as if it was a normal test, I wasn't as nervous as I usually would be!

2. I tested by myself – The last few times, I tested in groups, although both were supported. I always hated when someone said they were so nervous because it made me more nervous than I already was! This time, I tested by myself, and it was a very therapeutic setting. I say this because having the opportunity to play peaceful music and walking around made me much calmer!

3. I started to believe in myself – Saying to myself, "I can do this!" and actually meaning it made a huge difference! Along with this, I looked back on other accomplishments I've made, which kept me going too!

4.  Don't overthink it – Looking back on this test, I made simple mistakes, mainly because I overthought everything!

One thing I would like to add is that I thank Allnurses and my supportive family and friends as well! If help is needed or you want to know how I studied, I listed references! If you want my personal quizlet for English feel free to DM me.  For those who have taken the PAX, how did you study?

🙂 


References:

Review Guide for RN Pre-entrance Exam 3rd Edition

PAX Science NLN Exam

PAX RN Math Test Questions

PAX Prep Math Exam

PAX-RN Secrets Study Guide: Nursing Test Review for the NLN Pre-Admission Examination (PAX)

Hello there! I am a nursing student hoping to get into my technical school's Fall of 2021 program. If you are a pre-nursing student needing help , I will help in any way possible.

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6 Comment(s)

CommunityRNBSN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community health. Has 3 years experience.

One more: Expect to be nervous, and know that you can still do great on the test while you’re nervous!  Sometimes I’ll be waiting for a test thinking “Oh no, I’m so nervous. I’m going to forget everything I learned, I won’t be able to focus!”  But you can— even if you’re really scared, your brain can still remember everything you know and you can do well. 
 

I also read some great advice once from an Olympic athlete. He said, Work on getting enough sleep in the 2-3 nights leading up to the competition. Because the night before, you’ll probably be too keyed up to really sleep well. That will be okay, because you’ll be well rested from the previous nights. I loved that! 

4 hours ago, CommunityRNBSN said:

One more: Expect to be nervous, and know that you can still do great on the test while you’re nervous!  Sometimes I’ll be waiting for a test thinking “Oh no, I’m so nervous. I’m going to forget everything I learned, I won’t be able to focus!”  But you can— even if you’re really scared, your brain can still remember everything you know and you can do well. 
 

I also read some great advice once from an Olympic athlete. He said, Work on getting enough sleep in the 2-3 nights leading up to the competition. Because the night before, you’ll probably be too keyed up to really sleep well. That will be okay, because you’ll be well rested from the previous nights. I loved that! 

That's amazing ❤️ Thank you for these tips

What the heck? There’s now a test just to get into nursing school? No idea if it’s out there, but Kaplan all the way 

11 minutes ago, St.BaptistRN said:

What the heck? There’s now a test just to get into nursing school? No idea if it’s out there, but Kaplan all the way 

how is the Kaplan?

Tacocat, ADN, RN

Specializes in Community/Public Health. Has 1 years experience.

12 hours ago, St.BaptistRN said:

What the heck? There’s now a test just to get into nursing school? No idea if it’s out there, but Kaplan all the way 

My program had the TEAS. I think it varies depending on the program but a lot of schools are requiring it now. 

4 hours ago, Tacocat said:

My program had the TEAS. I think it varies depending on the program but a lot of schools are requiring it now. 

Yeah  it varies  from school to school but personally I feel that HESI/TEAS gives you more choices in terms of schools.