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How to Prepare for the NCLEX

How to Prepare for the NCLEX

The field of nursing is booming! In fact, the employment of registered nurses is expected to grow 7% from 2019 to 2029,  which is much faster than the national average for all occupations. Ottawa University’s RN-BSN program prepares our future graduates to land their dream job. Typically, nurses who have a master’s degree in nursing (MSN) have even better job opportunities than those without one, which is why our BSN graduates often pursue their MSN upon completion of their program. Remember, the pathway to becoming a nurse starts with the right program that fits your flexible schedule. If you are thinking about enrolling in a nursing program or are close to the completion of your program, then you must become familiar with the steps in preparation for passing the NCLEX exam for nursing.

What is the NCLEX Exam?

Congratulations! You have made the decision to enroll in nursing school and you are now ready to be the nurse you have dreamed about for what seems like forever. Wait…. there is one more challenge to getting that registered nurse license…. passing the NCLEX!

If you have been wondering what the NCLEX exam is, then you should first know what it is for. The purpose of the exam is to determine if it's safe for you to begin practice as a nurse. The exam itself has four major categories and eight subcategories regarding meeting client needs. As an NCLEX candidate, you should visit the National Council of State Boards (NCSBN) of Nursing website and review the candidate information. It is important to review the Test Plan as this will give the most up-to-date information on test content to the candidate. Also, make sure to look at the NCSBN’s Candidate Bulletin and Information page for helpful information. 

As you prepare for the NCLEX, you should know that it is a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT), which means the computer adjusts to your correct or incorrect answers. The computer is looking for a 95% confidence interval that you are competent and will pass the exam. There are at least 75 questions on the exam, with a total of 265 questions possible. Please remember, you do not automatically fail if you answer more than 75 questions. Just keep going and do not self-evaluate your performance as you test. 

How to Prepare for the NCLEX

  1. Know the test format---CAT. And how it is graded (75 questions, max of 265 with a 95% confidence interval)
  2. Don’t self-evaluate during the test
  3. Manage your test stress
  4. Know your study style - how you learn/retain information
  5. Make a study plan—when and where to study
  6. Don’t draw from past clinical or work experience—use your critical thinking; each situation is different, and you need to make the best nursing decision for that question
  7. Hone your test-taking skills - practice, practice, practice
  8. Use test prep resources—there are many books available, websites, etc. to help you prepare and practice questions
  9. Go beyond practice questions—this is where the testing process, the NCSBN website, and any extra information is to your benefit
  10. Prepare for your big day
  • Get plenty of sleep the night before
  • Make sure to eat even if you are nervous; your brain needs power
  • Put gas in the car the night/day before
  • Set multiple alarms so you are on time
  • Layer your clothing to adjust to the temperature in the testing environment
  • Schedule your exam according to your body’s time preference (for example, if you are a morning person, schedule early)

NCLEX Exam for Nursing

The more you research the available resources regarding the NCLEX exam for nursing, the better advantage you have of passing. Therefore, in your preparation, do more than study; arm yourself with knowledge of the testing process also. The NCLEX Candidate Bulletin & NCLEX Information Flyer are extremely beneficial as you plan for the exam.

Passing the NCLEX exam for nursing is a definite challenge but completely achievable when you plan ahead. Be positive and keep up your preparation a little at a time every day. Throughout your online nursing program, the experienced instructors at Ottawa University teach you the knowledge and skills needed to prepare you for your dream role as a nurse.

Ottawa University's Unique RN-MSN Option

Ottawa University’s accelerated, online RN-MSN program is designed specifically in mind for the Registered Nurse (RN) who has graduated from an accredited program. A current, unrestricted RN license obtained in the U.S. is required.

Our highly distinguished online nursing program features:

  • Personalized attention by expert faculty and staff to ensure you have the support you need to succeed.
  • Patient-focused curriculum designed to assist graduates to function in today’s complex educational and/or healthcare systems.
  • Highly qualified instructors with years of real-world experience.
  • Customized education is offered through 2 concentrations (Nurse Educator and Nurse Leader).

Ottawa University's Accreditation

Ottawa University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (, a regional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. 

The baccalaureate and master's degree Nursing program at Ottawa University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Ottawa University makes it easy for you to transfer credits, which keeps your tuition costs down. We also conveniently offer courses in accelerated 8-week terms to reduce your time to completion of your online nursing program. These are just a few of the reasons why we are proud to be the best, fastest, and most affordable option locally in the Kansas City, Milwaukee, and Phoenix areas, as well as serving students nationally through our online degrees.

Now that you know how to prepare for the NCLEX, reach out to an enrollment advisor today for more information about our online nursing degrees!

See Also:

Benefits of an Advanced Degree in Nursing

Nursing and the Patient Experience

What You Need to Know About the Nursing Shortage


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