6 Tips to Consider When Taking the NCLEX

Staff Writer
May 3, 2022 | 10 min read

Are you ready for some more NCLEX advice? The National Council Licensure Examination sounds scary, and it’s the last big hurdle for nursing students to overcome, but if you strategize well, the exam shouldn’t frighten you. In last week’s NCLEX post, we shared some general information about the NCLEX itself. Today, we’re continuing in that vein with more strategies about choosing the best answers.

1. Think Textbook

NCLEX scenarios are based on textbook practices, not necessarily on the real world. Remember, this is a national nursing exam, so it has to follow standardized practices. The way you do things in clinicals or where you work may not be the way things are done everywhere, which is why the test is focused on evidence-based textbook knowledge. When answering questions, focus more on what you learned in nursing classes than in hospitals.

2. Pick the Best of the Worst

As you’ve probably experienced in nursing school clinicals, sometimes no answer to a situation sounds right, but try to consider which one sounds more right. If you dislike all of the answer options, choose the option that you dislike the least.

3. Remember There’s a Precedent for Everything

There is always a doctor’s order for all options presented. If one option sounds totally wrong on one question, don’t discount it as always wrong. If the same option appears in a later question, it may in fact be the right answer for that scenario.

4. Focus on the Client

When you imagine yourself in the scenarios created on the NCLEX, your imagination can grow, and you gut instinct may lead you to try a variety of treatments. The only information you have, however, is what’s listed right in front of you. Look for answers that focus on the client in the question, and choose the best answer for solving the client’s problem.

5. Consider Children Are Unique

If you’ve taken nursing classes or worked in pediatric settings, you know children require certain approaches and procedures, which can throw you off as you’re completing the NCLEX. With each question, consider every client to be an adult, unless otherwise directed.

6. Pay Attention to Ages

On a similar note, if the question mentions a client’s specific age, there is a reason for doing so. Look for the answer that goes along with something unique to the age of the client. As you answer the question, be thinking about why knowing the age is important, as that can direct you toward the best answer.

P.S. We love feedback. Post to our Facebook page with comments or requests for specific information you’d like to see in the series.

Happy studying, and see you with our next NCLEX study tips post next week!

– Cheryl Armstrong, MS, RN
– Britt Baer, RN, MSN-HCSM, SANE

For more NCLEX study strategies and advice, you can download our full NCLEX ebook here, for free!

About NCLEX Wednesday: Joyce’s NCLEX review course has helped our nursing students pass the NCLEX with flying colors. We’re spreading the love to all nursing students as part of a weekly series. Nurses unite!


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