What to Remember About Studying for the NCLEX

Staff Writer
May 3, 2022

It’s here! We have your weekly set of NCLEX study tips!

We at Joyce are committed to helping our students pass the National Council Licensure Examination, and so we want to share some of the wisdom we’ve gained over the years. Really, it’s all about strategy. In our last set of NCLEX study tips we wrote about specific questions to look out for, and this week’s strategies are similar.

1. Know Your Lab Values

After you graduate and begin working as a professional nurse, you take a lot of vitals and order a lot of lab tests. You have to know normal lab values for common lab tests, because the results will affect your delivery of nursing care. The NCLEX writers know that, and so they’ll test your knowledge of normal lab values.

2. Remember Your Math

Because so much of the NCLEX tests practical knowledge, it expects that you know how to perform mathematical computations (e.g., calculation of IV rates and drip factors, medication dosages based on the order and labeled dosage, conversion of units of measurement).

3. Be Wary of “Airway”

It can be a good guess, but don’t always select “airway” as the best answer. Because so many people default to that choice if they’re stumped about the question, the NCLEX can throw it into unrelated scenarios to trip students up. Pay attention to the question. If the patient does not have an airway problem, this is not the best choice.

4. Look for Key Words

Some questions contain a ton of information, which can be intentionally confusing. If you feel barraged by details, pay attention to what’s most important. As you read the questions, pick out key words that help you identify the real problem and lead you to the correct answer.

5. Only Pick One

Last week we warned that in some situations, no answer may seem right, so you should pick the one that sounded most right. Well, the opposite can be true. If everything sounds like a good choice, remember that with multiple choice questions, there is only one correct answer, or best option.

6. Read the Whole Question

It’s tempting sometimes to glaze over the question and go right to the answers. This can even convince you you’re moving quickly and efficiently, but it will hurt you in the long run. Be sure to read the entire question before reading the options, because you often have to go back and read it anyway to understand everything. And if you don’t, you run a high risk of choosing the wrong answer.

7. Focus on the End

The last line of the question can often be the most important, so turn your focus there, and re-read it if necessary. This is the stem of the question and will state what the question is asking and/or what you should be looking for in the answer, so you need to understand it fully to answer correctly.

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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