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Studying for NCLEX: Balancing it all

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As senior nursing students and new graduates begin studying for the NCLEX, they may find themselves falling into a routine that eventually runs them into the ground. With all of the competing obligations of work, family, school, studying, and caring for self and others, it’s no wonder that so many people get overwhelmed. When it comes to successfully passing the NCLEX, it is essential that candidates get adequate time to study and develop strategies for NCLEX success. To help you find the balance in it all, this article will discuss a few effective ways you can get the most out of your effort, while still having time to live your life and take care of things other than the NCLEX.

by Damion Jenkins Damion Jenkins, MSN, RN (Trusted Brand)

Specializes in NCLEX Prep Expert - 100% Pass Rate!. Has 11 years experience.

Is studying for NCLEX taking up all of your time?

Studying for NCLEX: Balancing it all

Many NCLEX candidates spend WAY TOO MUCH TIME studying before writing their exam. They read their textbooks, review all of the notes from their lectures, rewrite their flashcards, and stay glued to their computer screens watching countless hours of instructional videos. It’s no wonder so many candidates get overwhelmed and either put off taking the exam, or rush into it unprepared and have an unsuccessful attempt. Instead of studying yourself to death, set some easier, yet impactful goals that will optimize your time studying.

Here Are Some Ways You Can Balance It All:

TIP 1 This is a test. Set a time limit of 3 to 4 hours per day of study time.

More than 3 or 4 hours of study time per day and your focus begins to decline. If you cannot give it your full attention, then don’t waste your time studying. Time is valuable, so don't waste it! You could be using that time to cuddle with loved ones, or enjoying a nice family meal.

TIP 2 Be sure to study when you are most alert and have the most uninterrupted time to complete your goals.

If you are a morning person, then be sure to set time aside each morning to study. If you are unable to get away from others during the times you’ve chosen to study, see if you can optimize your study time by using noise cancelling headphones, or going to a room where others cannot interrupt.

TIP 3 Always give it your best effort when answering practice questions.

The goal is to simulate taking the NCLEX every single time. With this repetition, you will build your stamina, focus, and ability to improve your scores. Don’t feel like you need to answer questions just for the sake of answering them because this will not help you. If anything, you will waste valuable time that could be spent doing something else that will help you stay balanced, like exercising or meditating.

TIP 4 Optimize your resources by sticking to one resource at a time.

So many people find themselves swimming in a sea of NCLEX prep resources. Many new grads feel that it’s beneficial to have every single test-taking strategy book, and gain access to every online question bank, but in actuality, it often causes unnecessary stress and confusion. You see, each NCLEX prep resource is created and written by very different people with varying levels of experience. Some resources have been around for a long time and rely on strategies that were designed for previous NCLEX test plans. Other resources offer no additional insight to the exam and only offer a detailed review of nursing content. If you have too many varying resources, the problem becomes that you will not be able to identify what method works best for you. You may find yourself frustrated by the contradictions between resources, or you may feel lost on where to spend your time. By focusing on one resource at a time, you will be able to get the most out of your studying and improve your practice in answering NCLEX questions.

TIP 5 Get your friends and family involved in helping you study.

There are plenty of ways that you can spend quality time with friends and family while also improving your ability to recall important information. Since the NCLEX expects that candidates know all of the nursing content that they learned in school, it is essential to review certain facts on a routine basis so that you do not forget. You can make flashcards and have your friends and family quiz you. You can create a game that offers prizes to others for every answer you get wrong. No matter how you choose to get friends and family involved, having them support you on your journey is an amazing way to enjoy their company while also working towards your study goals.

As you can see, there are many ways that you can find balance while studying for the NCLEX. The goal is to study smarter and not harder, so that you can optimize your time and effort and enjoy your life outside of studying for the NCLEX!

Keep up the great work, and we’ll see you soon future nurse!

Do you find yourself struggling with studying? Post your thoughts below.

For more information download the NCLEX Study Guide ebook...

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Damion Jenkins, RN, MSN is an NCLEX Prep Expert and CEO of The Nurse Speak. Named the "NCLEX Whisperer" in an article by Nurse Beth, Damion provides individualized tutoring and mentoring services for nursing students, new graduate nurses and professional nurses alike. For more information about Damion and the services he provides, check out thenursespeak.com.

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4 Comment(s)

I don’t think I would have graduated with only three to four hours of study time.  

Damion Jenkins, MSN, RN

Specializes in NCLEX Prep Expert - 100% Pass Rate!. Has 11 years experience.

On 9/7/2020 at 5:02 PM, Queen Tiye said:

I don’t think I would have graduated with only three to four hours of study time.  

Hi Queen Tiye!

While it may be true that studying to pass nursing school takes more than 3 to 4 hours per day, when studying for the NCLEX, it is all about the quality of studying, not necessarily how much time is spent studying.

You see, when you are studying for exams in nursing school, you are focusing on memorization. So therefore there is a LOT of information that you have to review and retain in order to remember enough to pass your exams. 

When preparing for the NCLEX, you already learned so much, so its more about practicing NCLEX questions, and studying areas of weakness. This should NOT take more than 3 to 4 hours per day - especially when you need to make time for exercise, healthy meals, family time, and fun. 

Research shows that the longer a person studies, the less effective their studying becomes. https://www.edutopia.org/article/5-research-backed-studying-techniques

Before walking into the NCLEX, candidates should do their best to position themselves for NCLEX success! This means being rested, well nourished, and well practiced with study sessions that allow for finding the balance!

Thanks for your contribution to this discussion.



Oh, gosh! I took your post out of context. I agree, you don’t have to spend all day studying for NCLEX🙃.

Damion Jenkins, MSN, RN

Specializes in NCLEX Prep Expert - 100% Pass Rate!. Has 11 years experience.

12 minutes ago, Queen Tiye said:

Oh, gosh! I took your post out of context. I agree, you don’t have to spend all day studying for NCLEX🙃.

Haha, It's quite alright. I just wanted to clarify for our new grads! 

Thanks again for your contributions! 

Happy Labor Day!