Here is a list of some bad NCLEX advice I’ve heard over the years for those that are repeating the test. Don’t make these mistakes! And it wouldn’t be complete without some GOOD NCLEX advice instead. Here are the top 5!
1) BAD advice: Just do hundreds of questions a day and as many as you can.
GOOD advice: Do between 25-100 questions a day, depending on how much time you have available. After you do the questions, actually understand WHY it was the correct or incorrect answer. Then you can use that content or concept to answer other questions correctly. Write that content down if it was unfamiliar to you.
2) BAD advice: Forget about all that clinical experience to answer questions or (in other words) Don’t use your real-life experience.
GOOD advice: Use caution if you are using your clinical experience to answer NCLEX questions if the intervention the nurse did seemed unsafe or a shortcut. If the situation seemed really unusual, then you probably don’t want to use that experience either. The NCLEX asks about what typically happens in a disease process not some crazy exception. You can absolutely use your clinical experience when it comes to labs, signs and symptoms, understanding what meds are for and most interventions you did for the patient.
3) BAD advice: Retest as soon as you can (in 45 days).
GOOD advice: Retest when you are ready because you gave yourself enough time to review content and practice questions. That is typically longer than 45 days. After you’ve failed you don’t want to do anything for at least a week because you are devastated. Then reality kicks in and you realize you need to start at it again. From the day you start preparing again, you need about 8 weeks (56 days).
4) Bad advice: It’s not about knowing the content, it’s about critical thinking.
GOOD advice: It absolutely is about knowing the content, so don’t think you can get by and not study anything. It’s also about critical thinking, using test-taking strategies and controlling anxiety. But #1 is KNOWING THE CONTENT.
5) BAD advice: Sign up for Uworld and do all their questions and write down all their rationales.
GOOD advice: Buy a content review book (I personally use and like the Saunders book, but you can buy whatever you like as long as it covers content) and start reviewing content from the book. Also, buy some practice NCLEX questions to apply the content you are re-learning. I use the NCLEX Mastery App, but you can also use Uworld or any other source you fancy.
Have a question about NCLEX advice you’ve heard and want to know if it’s good or not? Post your question in the comments section.
I have received bad advices like this so many times as I am a repeat test-taker for the third time. I have been through it all and now I’m preparing for my next boards with more caution than ever. With regards to content, it’s not so much about how much you know but it’s about how well you understand nursing content. Another bad advice I also received from those who successfully passed their boards is “you’ll never feel ready. Just do practice questions and gauge from there and go with your gut and believe you’ll pass. Book your exam right away.” I believe the real way to know you’re ready for the NCLEX is knowing and understanding nursing content well! As well as utilizing test-taking strategies and scoring well in practice questions and reviewing weak areas.
Hi Nigel – That was very well said! My gauge with students to say if they are ready to test is: 1) what are you scores with questions? If it’s less than 70%, then you are either not knowing the content well enough or don’t know how to apply it, 2) you are making very few analyzing mistakes and ONLY get it wrong because you didn’t know the content.
I agree! I think the biggest hurdle for most NCLEX test-takers is knowing where to start and how to follow a quality study plan.