Tips From a Nurse: How to Pass the NCLEX Exam

You’re here because you want to pass the NCLEX-RN exam. If you don’t, then you can continue Googling about One Direction or continue reading and pass the information to someone you know who’s itching to be RN-ized.

In line with my topic, allow me to brag just a tidbit. I passed the NCLEX-RN exam in one take. Some might think, “Oh, maybe she’s uber-intelligent. That’s why she passed the exam in one take”. I’m not. Well, I can do the Fibonacci sequence on good days (not today and not tomorrow, either). *flips hair back*

Here’s how one nurse passed:

Set A Goal

Why do you want to pass the NCLEX-RN exam? The obvious answer would be, “Because I have to”. But why? Is it for yourself, your parents, your boyfriend, for your annoying and jealous neighbor who keeps comparing you to her kids or your dog, or to make the world a better place (whatever)? It doesn’t matter as long as you have a goal. Write that goal on a bond paper and tape it where you can easily see it. Mine was on my bathroom mirror. Very effective motivational tool, I tell you.

The NCLEX Exam

Whoa! Exam already? Yes! Buy a Q & A Review for NCLEX-RN. Any good one will do. The one that I used is great and helped me a lot!

Before you study for the exam properly, test yourself first. Once you’re done with your own NCLEX-RN exam, you’ll be able to assess which area or areas (or Biological System) you have to concentrate on. You’re a nurse; assessment should always come first!

I made more mistakes with the Musculoskeletal questions and concentrated more on that. This saves time, and you can do more important stuff like catching up on Jersey Shore. I answered the Q & A book for 2 weeks straight, then read the NCLEX-RN reviewer for almost 2 months. Two days after I read the last page, I took the exam.

Be Faithful

Faithfulness (die K-Stew) is one virtue that pays well. I only used one book and stayed with that book in sickness and in health.

About 96.78% of my friends who took the exam and failed used a minimum of 3 books. Most of them enrolled in review classes. I didn’t because I preferred to study alone and at my own pace.

Here’s the thing – books jumble up words that have the same meaning. For example, a heart has only one definition presented in various contexts in different books. You’ll get confused if you use a lot. Master just one, and you’ll do great.

Choose one that does not use metrical structure to get to a point; the simpler, the better. If you had to read a sentence thrice before you understood it, get a simpler version. You will not retain any information if the book is too difficult to understand.


This is a practice for when you get that much-coveted license. Do your own charting and stick to it! Make a schedule of your review days. Example:


























Read Chap. 1


Read Chap. 1

Read Chap. 1

Read Chap. 2

Read Chap. 2

Read Chap. 3

Read Chap. 3

I highlighted the column once done. You can be creative and put a smiley sticker or something. We won’t judge, promise.

Do Not Memorize

Get to the bottom of things. Analyze, analyze, analyze. If you memorize things, you’ll lose them immediately. Concentrate on the rationale. You can, however, memorize the formulas for the equations, units of measurement, and laboratory values. Analyze the rest.

Study Hard

I studied on average five hours daily and up to twelve hours on weekends. A day before the exam, I went to the spa. While getting an incredible massage, I prayed – “God, you saw how hard I studied, please let me pass the exam.” After 75 questions, the computer screen turned black, and I had a mini heart attack. After a couple of weeks, I got a letter that started with “Congratulations”.

Tips: The questions in the exam are things that you already know. Surprise! Don’t get all anxious and worried about the exam because you are being tested for something you already know. Your first answer is usually the correct one; don’t change it. Don’t believe those who tell you what the content of the exam is; it changes. Don’t talk to anyone before the exam. Focus on what you know.

The NCLEX-RN exam is just like the Olympics. You train hard to get a medal. Make sure that the medal is gold!

Allow me to be the first to congratulate you and welcome you to our noble profession. Onward and upward, fellow RN!

7 thoughts on “Tips From a Nurse: How to Pass the NCLEX Exam”

  1. Am preparing to take my Nclex exam for the first time. What can be the secret of writing and passing on my first attempt i need help because i don’t want to go in for it twice

  2. Ive taken the test twice failed it both times. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong at this point. The second time i felt like i had really passed it. Its not like i felt that i didn’t know the material i was being tested on and then when i got my results i was shocked depressed and hopeless. Im doing saunders and nclex 10000. How can i learn to choose the best answer?

  3. Argh, the NCLEX. I took it in downtown Chicago, in a building next to the El. Train went by about every 10 seconds. I knew the answers to about 2 or 3 questions, and had to use The Force for the rest. It cut me off after 75 questions. I knew that I had failed spectacularly, even though they say that if you’re cut off after 75, you (almost certainly) passed. Which I did. Still a bad memory 2 years later.

    1. Scotty,

      When I took the test I also had that feeling of dread, but ended up passing with 75 questions.
      When you’re future is dependent on the results of a test it can mess with your mind for sure.

  4. I think he key for me was that I didn’t wait til I graduated to start studying. I bought an NCLEX book the minute I started nursing school and used it to study for my tests. Even though I didn’t know all the material, reading the rationale of the answers was really helpful, it made me way more comfortable with the way the questions were worded and the mind set that one needs to pass the NCLEX. Learning to figure out what is “the most correct” answer was key in passing, if you ask me.

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