NCLEX Study Plan

I just wanted to share my study habits for the NCLEX-RN exam which I have just passed with 75 questions! Nursing Students NCLEX Article


NCLEX Study Plan

I just took my NCLEX-RN April 2017 and I got passed with 75 questions and had about 22-25 SATA questions (I tried not to focus on how many I got, but couldn't help it). I graduated in early December and there were delays from my school for getting an ATT, so I had about 4 months before taking the test. Here are the study habits that I kept through the 5 weeks of my studying.

Limit your distractions

I deleted my facebook and Instagram apps off of my phone so I wouldn't get too distracted. Delete whatever apps you're on for the majority of the day because those are the ones that always grab your attention. I also downloaded an app called Tide (Tide: Focus Timer to Study, Work & Relax on the App Store). It lets you set a specific time to study and a time for breaks and if you try to leave the app during the study time, it would beep and remind to you to stay on task. It also lets you keep track of how long you have been studying if you want to know that or set aside a certain amount of time each day. If your house isn't quiet, go somewhere else. Find a quiet study space like a library or Barnes & Noble (where you can use the NCLEX books too). I made sure to try to wake up early in the day to be ready to leave the house and arrive at the Barnes & Noble when it opened, that way it wasn't too busy and I would have a space to study in. Let your family and friends know you are going to be gone for said study time. This is the most important test of your career and it would benefit from focusing on studying. I still went out and worked, but tried to limit it the the bare minimum and made sure my family didn't distract me while I was already studying.

Find a study source that fits your learning style

I used a multitude of studying tools, but I think you should try the free trials and ask friends how their studying tools worked for them. I would recommend going to Barnes & Noble to look at the books and figure out which one was best for you. I personally did not want to pay the insane amount for Kaplan, so I bought the strategies book which comes with a practice test and strategies for the test (NCLEX-RN 217 Strategies, Practice and Review with Practice Test (Kaplan Test Prep): 9781562851: Medicine & Health Science Books). This was helpful and the practice test was similar to the style of NCLEX. There wasn't much of a difference from this and the Premier edition besides the fact that they have another practice test, but you don't need to buy the book to get that. I also purchased the NCSBN NCLEX review for the 5 week study plan. I figured this would be good since they make the exam. First of all, the review is very comprehensive. It is great to get if you feel like you have forgotten a lot from school. Secondly, they have a huge question bank that is valuable, but I wanted to cry while doing these because sometimes I would get 90% and others 40% it was frustrating, but I feel like these questions were a bit harder than NCLEX. Also, the review is only good on the computer, it does not come with mobile options, which I hated. I loved NCLEX Mastery, an app that has over 1,000 questions that have good rationales and separate categories, so you can choose certain areas if you are weak in some of them. This is a great tool to have because you can do it on the go, while waiting in line, while eating, etc - NCLEX RN Mastery. I used Saunders for the Comprehensive test in the back, which I liked, but it was difficult for me to answer questions in a book for a long period of time. I also got the NRSNG practice questions, but I did not like that resource. It doesn't let you see all the options of the question after you have answered it, so I found it difficult to learn from.

Keep rationales that stand out to you

If I didn't know something, or kept getting questions wrong on a specific topic, I would write it down on a notepad. I got a legal pad and separated the topics once I found ones I needed to remember and had that for "on-the-go" studying. I found that this would remind me of stuff I kept forgetting or had trouble understanding. I also did this with the practice NCLEX questions on my phone with screen shots and looking through them every once in a while.

Have "on-the-go" studying material

Its super hard to study while working or while traveling. I had a lot of family get togethers during my 5 week study session and worked quite a bit of slow shifts, so I had things that I could bring with me easily if I didn't have access to my NCSBN review. Like I mentioned, the NCLEX Mastery app is good for this purpose. NRSNG also has a couple of sheets with mnemonics and EKG readings, etc.

Review your meds if it was a weak spot for you

I have always slacked with pharmacology, but I made sure to start recognizing certain med endings that were similar so I would know them just by the name. Also, review side effects, but don't beat yourself up on knowing them all....its impossible. Know the ones that stand out and are life threatening. I personally liked watching the Picmonic videos on YouTube for some of the types of meds because they helped me remember.

Make sure to relax and take care of yourself

I got extremely stressed while studying for the NCLEX. Around the 3rd week, I started getting burnt out from studying about 4 hours a day. I recommend breaking up the studying each day. It is OK to have a day off of studying, but try not to give yourself a free day each week, because then you'll start to get lazy. While studying, make sure to have snacks and eat enough as well as get up and stretch out. You get very tired using your brain for such long periods of time, so you need to take those breaks outside or with your family relaxing.


First of all, the day before the test should not be a day of frantic studying. I relaxed out in the sun, but had a small study guide that I looked through a little bit here and there. I found myself getting a little anxious not studying, so this helped a little bit. Secondly, make sure to relax the day before and the day of the test. I made sure to go to bed early even though it was difficult. I also had all my things ready for me the night before so I wouldn't stress out that morning. I had a good breakfast, but not too big and drove myself to the testing center. When you finally sit down to start your exam, take a couple deep breaths before starting. Relax and tell yourself that you can do it. Be positive and use your knowledge you have gained over your nursing school career and your recent studying. Don't dwell on the questions and answers and try not to panic if you don't know the answer. Use the strategies you have learned and answer it the best you can. MAKE SURE TO READ THROUGH THE QUESTION AND OPTIONS. I almost picked the wrong answer for a couple because I read too fast thinking I had the answer!!


Registered Nurse

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Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.
tashiamevans said:
I just wanted to share my study habits for the NCLEX-RN exam which I have just passed with 75 questions!

Congratulations to you. ?

Congratulations and best wishes to you! And thank you for sharing your experience with NCLEX. Very inspiring!!!!:nurse:

Awesome! I bought the 5 week plan for NCSBN, but am doing it in 4 weeks. I just wanted the longer subscription coz I'm not able to study every day because of work and our pinning ceremony. We did ATI in my nursing program, and had to make a remediation plan on areas that we tested low-ish on a predictor test we took. I also have the Saunders book, and have used NCLEX mastery on the go.

It makes me feel better when you say NCSBN questions felt harder than NCLEX because there are times when I am absolutely disappointed in myself, haha!

I take my NCLEX July 6th and am just doing questions + rationales this week. July 5th, I have a "NO NCLEX" rule for myself and am gonna exercise, do yoga, and take a nice, hot bath with epsom salts to relax the night before :)