After investing time and money into your LPN training program and successfully completing it, it's time to take the NCLEX-PN licensing exam. Give yourself the best odds of passing it the first time by keeping the following tips in mind:
- Understand the Exam Format - Familiarize yourself with the format of the NCLEX-PN so that you know what to expect on exam day. Understand that it is developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, NCSBN, and that the organization provides many useful test prep resources via its website. The exam takes five hours to complete. It uses computerized adaptive testing, which means that no two exams are exactly alike and that the answers you provide affect subsequent questions. Students answer anywhere from 85 to 205 questions.
- Know the Primary Exam Categories - You'll have an easier time with the exam if you have even a rough idea about what to expect in terms of test topics. The NCLEX-PN consists of four major Client Needs categories: Safe and Effective Care Environment, Health Promotion and Maintenance, Psychosocial Integrity and Physiological Integrity. As you organize your study strategy, consider which areas come easily to you and which are more challenging. That way, you'll know where to focus your efforts as you prepare to sit for this crucial licensing exam.
- Establish a Study Schedule - It pays to sit for the NCLEX-PN exam not immediately after completing your LPN training program. Give yourself a month or two to review and prepare. Set up a studying schedule to follow to ensure that you stay on track. Refer to the outline on the NCSBN website to organize it. It provides an overview of the types of topics that you encounter, advice on reviewing answers effectively, information about passing standards and much more.
- Set Up a Study Group - Stay motivated with your studying by teaming up with fellow LPN students. Contact people from your LPN training program to set up a study group. Use the outline mentioned above on the NCSBN website to organize your study sessions. If other students aren't available, sign up for a review course in your area. That way, you can get detailed answers and explanations for topics that you may be struggling with, which will go a long way toward helping you understand your weak points.
- Create or Purchase Review Materials - Don't limit yourself to just reading about the NCLEX-PN online or reviewing textbooks from your training program. Topics are easier to grasp when presented in various ways, so it pays to create or purchase review materials like flashcards, diagrams, and lists. As you use these materials, pay attention to which areas are easy for you and which are trickier. Over time, weed out the topics that you're solid on so that you can focus on ones that are more difficult for you.
- Review Materials on the NCSBN LPN Website - The NCSBN website includes a wealth of review materials that make it easy to prepare for the NCLEX-PN exam. Focus especially on textbook answers; on the exam, all of the questions are drawn from textbooks and related materials. Understand that certain topics are considered trickier for most students than others and focus on them. These topics include things like prioritization, delegation, lab values, and infection control.
- Take As Many Practice Tests As You Can - The internet abounds with practice exams that are based on the NCLEX-PN. Many free tests are available, but you should consider investing in some paid ones as well. Include several times in your study schedule for taking these practice tests to get more familiar with how questions are phrased and the general format. As you complete these practice tests, note which questions you answer incorrectly so that you can review them more thoroughly later. As you take more and more practice tests, you'll gain valuable insights into how to navigate the exam, which will help you feel more confident and prepared on the big day.
- Be Prepared for Exam Day - The last thing you want is to scramble around trying to figure out where to go and what to do when exam day arrives. Find out where the exam will be administered, and make sure that you know how to find your way there. Figure out how long it will take you to get there to ensure that you arrive on time. Have all of the materials that you'll need on exam day ready to go, including your ID.
- Take Care of Yourself - When a big, important exam is looming, it's easy to become stressed out and frazzled. Take extra good care of yourself in the days and weeks leading up to test day. Get plenty of sleep, exercise daily and follow a healthy diet. Don't cram for the exam the night before - or, worse, the day of - to avoid feeling overwhelmed. On the morning of the exam, try to relax a little. Give yourself plenty of time to get going so that you don't have to rush straight out the door.
- Believe in Yourself - Give yourself regular pep talks to keep up your confidence. After all of your training and preparation, understand that you are ready to sit for - and pass - this important licensing exam. Push any negative thoughts out of your mind as you head into test day.
- Take Your Time - Finally, take your time completing the actual exam. Read each question carefully before considering potential answers. Make sure that you understand the question before selecting an answer. Keep in mind that it's okay to guess if need be - there's no penalty for doing so - to avoid getting stuck on any particular question.
By keeping these tips in mind, you can ensure you pass your NCLEX-PN the first time.