Kaplan vs NCSBN NCLEX-RN Review

The reason why I am writing this review is because, just like you, you’re searching the internet to see what people are saying about the two most popular NCLEX review courses out there, Kaplan and NCSBN. When I was looking around I really didn’t find anything, so I hope this helps and points you in the right direction. Nursing Students NCLEX Article

Kaplan vs NCSBN NCLEX-RN Review

I am an older 30 year old male married with children who had very little if any experience other then nursing school in healthcare. I graduated from a much respected private university that had 98% of their grads pass the NCLEX the first time, according to the States statistics. Unlike many of my classmates, I had a hard time in nursing school. So I am not a smarty pants by any means.


If you lack the knowledge aspect of nursing this review will help. Reviews basic phys then goes through the related patho. Sometimes felt a little overwhelmed with info that did not seem to be important. There are some things in the review that could have been left out, like the word jumble.

The review is made up of 8 lessons corresponding to the content area of the NCLEX and a question and answer (Q&A) section. I can only speak about lesson 1, 2, 8 and the Q&A portions of the review because I did not complete the whole review. Each lesson is made up of several sections. At the end of each section there is a review of the section which was helpful in summarizing the section. Then at the end of the lesson there is a post test.

I started this review 2 weeks before taking the NCLEX again. My thinking was, since these people are basically in charge of the NCLEX then their questions should be similar to the NCLEX, NOT QUITE. I noticed the wording was different and at times confusing (I didn't know why the answer I picked was wrong). I concentrated on the Q&A section of the review and studied my weak areas according to the NCLEX-RN candidate report I got in the mail after I failed the NCLEX for the first time and the results from the Kaplan readiness report (which I will discuss later). The Q&A section only told you the reasoning for the correct answer and not why the other choices were wrong. It also did not tell you how you did overall or what areas you need to study/concentrate on. There was no way to go back and look at the answers to review. On top everything, the course has some technical glitches, such as accessing the glossary and access to Taber's online was not working, they said they were having technical problems... NICE. The pretest by NCSBN did nothing for me but tell me what questions I got wrong and what the correct answer was. It did not tell you your weak areas or how you did overall. Bottom-line, I don't think this course helped much, there is a reason why they don't offer a guarantee.


Out of the two review courses I took I strongly recommend this review, at first the $500 seems a lot but think about the money your not earning if you don't pass, believe me I sure did after I did not pass, IT SUCKS.

The course book, the best review book out of all the books I have (Lippincott's Review for NCLEX-RN, Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX, Kaplan's NCLEX-RN Strategies for the Registered Nursing Licensing Exam), the book has all the material you need to know to pass, no nonsense, no unneeded info. The only thing that Kaplan doesn't really review is drug calc, this I believe hurt me taking the NCLEX for the second time. Once I missed 1, I kept getting the same kinds of questions throughout the test...NOTE TO SELF...1kg = 2.2lbs not 1lb = 2.2kg...DAM IT! So yeah, don't forget the drug calc, matter of fact, I got the same kind of question again when I finally passed the test, nailed it and never saw another one like it.

Although the majority of the in-class portion of the review is just going over questions, the same questions you can go over yourself in the online portion of the review. The diagnostic and readiness tests are the most helpful, it tells you your weak areas and the questions are very similar to the NCLEX, unlike NCSBN, Kaplan tells you why the answer is correct and why the others are wrong. The readiness test, which you take during the second to last class, basically tells you if you're ready to take the NCLEX, from the 6 people I knew in the class, 5 scored above the borderline level and all passed the NCLEX within 1-2 weeks after the course, the other person scored just below the borderline level, he spoke with the instructor, studied more and took the NCLEX about 3 weeks later and passed. Keep in mind Kaplan's review course is very structured and if you follow their recommendations about how to complete the course you will pass the NCLEX, if I passed the NCLEX, you will too. Another important thing about Kaplan is that they have a guarantee, if you don't pass the NCLEX for the first time within 6 months of graduating nursing school they will refund your money. PLEASE LEARN FROM MY EXPERIENCE AND NOT GO THROUGH WHAT I'VE GONE THROUGH. IT SUCKED!

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask.

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Specializes in PACU.

thanks for taking the time to post your review.


Thanks for the very detailed review. I'm def going w/ Kaplan now, since they tell WHY the answers he chose were wrong. DF got his ATT last friday and is scheduled to test in 03/08.

How much time did you need to study?


You are very welcome. I recommend studying a minumum of at least 2 months. If you're going to take the Kaplan course that gives you enough time to read the course book, attend the classes, watch the videos on-line, take the 7 tests on-line, and do a lot of QBanks questions.

i also used ncsbn review on my first take and i did not pass. i hope ypu're right about kaplan coz thats what im using now for my second take. i just finished the online videos today. i'll start with the questions up until my exam date on the end of january. i didnt really read all of the stuff on ncsbn coz it looked like a lot of information. instead, i just did all the questions. and yeah, the questions on the actual were very much different from the ncsbn review. it really sucks to not pass. i hope it would be better this time around.

hi jay4! thank you for posting your review. i know i made the right decision to enrol last Jan.11, Friday, in Kaplan's Complete for International Nurses since I just came from the Philippines 5 months ago. My in-class part of the review will start on the 26th. Then, I have 4 months access to their online course. I chose it over NCSBN learning extension because I felt that a classroom setting will work right for me. Just like when I reviewed for the Philippine Nurse Licensure Exam.

I'm still waiting for my eligibility letter from BON until Feb.15. 'Coz I submitted my application last Oct. 15,'07. I have to wait for 3-4 months since I'm a foreign graduate nurse. I plan to take NCLEX-RN on March if everything will go smoothly.

Thank you very much guys for all the info. Good luck! and God bless to everyone!

Specializes in NICU.

I agree with Jay. I wanted to take a Kaplan course but as 500 dollars is out of my budget I looked for an alternative. I saw the NCSBN had one and bought a 3 week access for 39 or 49 dollars. After taking the pre-test and one and a half post tests I dropped using it. I disliked their wording and was hoping the pre-test would tell me what areas were my weak ones.

Well I have returned to my Davi's NCLEX-RN davis review book that they made us buy in nursing school. Wierdly enough there is a NCLEX pass guarentee with this book. Pretty cool for no class. It has a pre-test, tests after each chapter, a practice test, and a final test. It also has rationales for every correct/incorrect answer and tells you what area a practice question covers so if u wanted to take the time to write it all down, you can figure out your weak areas.

Too bad I didnt see this review before spending money. At least it was the push I needed to start studying.

Specializes in Emergency Dept.

thanx for the info. I have a question, What were you scoring on the qbank? because i started the qbank questions before i started the kaplan class, i was avrg 55, after completing kaplan class, my avrg is 55. I dont see the difference.

thanx for the info. I have a question, What were you scoring on the qbank? because i started the qbank questions before i started the kaplan class, i was avrg 55, after completing kaplan class, my avrg is 55. I dont see the difference.

i was scoring 60-67% on my qbanks.. not the recommended 75%.. but i didnt pass... sorry no help to ya huh? well i can tell you that my friend was getting lower scores than me and she passed her exam! after taking the exam i would suggest that you do a lot of qbank qs and review the priority qeustions on the nclex sample exam (i think its exam 3) also tests 6 & 7 were closest to nclex style questions.... hope that helps you any!

good luck!

Specializes in NICU.

well all i remeber is that my scores were making me sad. lol. So I ended up taking the hurst review. It was 300 for an online course(although it pained me to put myself more in debt). I realllllly liked it. There are video-ed overviews of each system and area. And you have notes to go along with it. The notes have blanks in them for you to follow along and fill in as you go.

:heartbeatMarlene Hurst is AWSOME.:heartbeat and thats all i have to say. She goes over the core content so efficiently and makes it so easy. Its the basics of everything you need to know. Not to mention all of the practice tests have rationales, a handful of which she goes over personally in the videos. She gives a lot of good advice to. So when i did my quizes I remebered her saying your percentage doesnt matter just focus on getting more right than wrong. (So id say just worry about that, since thats what NCLEX tests you on)

Id totally recommend the hurst review to anyone. You can check her out at http://www.hurstreview.com. Her review like many others has a 98% passing rate for first time test takers. And im proud to say im one of them :w00t: I just tested two weeks ago and would have loved more time with her review. Your suposed to spend 4 days on it. i tried cramming it into 3. But it still help tremendously.

I took my exam last December 2007 and sad to say... :down: FAILED!!! On the process now to take it again for the second time.:plsebeg:

I do agree with jay4 regarding NCSBN. Nothing against with NCSBN but the good thing with that online review... i like the way they present the tables of all the electrolytes, pictures, diagram and also it's affordable for those who have a tight budget like me (I bought the 3-week course for.. was it 49 US dollar?...can't recall now).

I feel like i want to enroll in a classroom review to be more focused. I have loads of review tools but i don't know how, where or what to start...I'm still confuse whether to try the KAPLAN. Waaaaaaa!!! I'm here in Las Vegas right now...do u know any NCLEX review center here...anyone?

So, guys...please more input...need ur help to solve my crisis.

And also, how long will it take for me to receive a reply from the BON. I just posted the Application form for retake of exam last 1st week of February. In case if i received the reply before the end of this month ...i'm planning to take the exam again on April (first wk)...is it possible? I mean with the paper works...of course on top of that i need to make sure if my mind is ready to encounter those questions again.

So please...THANKS!!!