NCLEX PN test taking strategies

Best NCLEX PN Test Taking Strategies to Pass the Exam 2024

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Updated at May 16, 2022

For many nurses, NCLEX certification is a major accomplishment that allows them to demonstrate their talents and apply for open nursing positions. It’s vital for anyone planning to take the NCLEX exam to develop and practice appropriate test-taking strategies. In this article, we’ll go over what the NCLEX test comprises and provide some NCLEX PN test taking strategies.

What is the NCLEX Test?

The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLE) is an exam that must be passed in order to become a registered nurse (RN) or a licensed practical nurse (LPN) (LPN). As a required component of their education, students studying to become licensed practical nurses or registered nurses may sit for the NCLEX-PN or NCLEX-RN exams, respectively.

The Registered Nurse exam has a greater emphasis on managerial or administrative skills, whereas the Practical Nurse exam places a greater emphasis on coordinating treatment with other medical experts. In order to take any of the exams, you are going to need an accredited nursing degree.

How Hard is the NCLEX-PN?

NCLEX PN test taking strategies

To begin, there is some excellent news to share with you: In the year 2020, the first-time pass rates for LPN/LVN candidates who received their education in the United States are expected to be 85.32 percent. In 2019, females accounted for 85.63 percent of the total population. It seems that 41,303 individuals out of a total of 48,234 candidates for the NCLEX-PN were successful in passing the exam.

It is intended to be challenging for candidates taking the NCLEX-PN. The purpose of this test is to determine if you have what it takes to successfully care for the lives of other people in a manner that is both safe and effective. After passing the NCLEX-PN exam, it will be clear that you are competent enough to continue giving the same level of patient care that you have been getting.

A solid foundation for your professional life may be built by completing a licensed LPN or LVN program, doing well in your academic work, and doing admirably in clinical rotations. Your previous education and professional experience are where the vast majority of the material you’ll need to pass the NCLEX will come from. The NCLEX questions will still need that you grasp the material in order to provide an appropriate response to them. When it comes to preparing for your exam, you are going to be responsible for putting in the necessary time and effort on your own.

There is no easy way out or silver bullet to pass this exam. If you want to do well on the test, you will need to be familiar with everything that is included in it. After all, nursing is a difficult profession that often demands its practitioners to make snap judgments on the treatment of their patients.

You need to show that you have learned and mastered the required skills and information by passing this exam in order to demonstrate that you are qualified to provide the best possible therapy to your patients. You will be well on your way to passing the NCLEX on your very first try if you follow these tips. With the assistance of these useful recommendations, it is possible to achieve success while taking examinations.

NCLEX PN Test Taking Strategies

NCLEX PN test taking strategies

Below are NCLEX PN strategies that can be beneficial for you:

Recognize the structure

You will be better able to prepare for the topic at hand and develop a successful study approach if you have a comprehensive grasp of the examination format. The examination uses computerized adaptive testing (CAD), which indicates that the questions are adapted to meet the requirements of each individual candidate based on their unique characteristics.

The multiple-choice questions that students are presented with while taking the test may be altered by CAD based on how well they are doing at the moment. The performance of the test taker and the questions that are on the exam determines the number of questions that are included in the six-hour exam, which may range anywhere from 75 to 265 questions.

Take control of your stress levels

Your ability to concentrate will improve if you take steps to reduce the amount of tension you experience and maintain a level of calm and attention during the exam. While you are preparing for the test, it is important to remember to take breaks at regular intervals and get adequate sleep.

During either the practice exams or the actual exam, taking a few moments to focus on breathing deeply and then returning to the task at hand may be helpful in reducing anxiety. By putting your attention only on your breathing, you may be able to slow down your pulse rate.

Observe the questions attentively

The question will become much easier to understand the more thoroughly you read through the questions and search for keywords. When you have a clear understanding of the question being asked, it is much simpler to come up with the most appropriate answer and to choose an option with complete self-assurance. If you are still confused by the question, look at the solutions; if that doesn’t help, try reading it out loud or reading it more than once; any of these strategies should help you comprehend the material better.

Be able to respond rapidly to inquiries

When it comes to the NCLEX, you shouldn’t spend an excessive amount of time studying or trying to figure out a question that you’re having difficulties with. If you answer the question to the best of your ability and then go on to the next one, you will likely save time throughout the exam and prevent yourself from second-guessing your answers. It is very necessary for you to focus on the current topic at hand while simultaneously maintaining a consistent pace throughout the whole of the exam in order to prevent yourself from running out of time.

Get organized by creating a study schedule

It is essential to design a study plan and schedule in order to ensure that one’s exam preparations are carried out in the most productive and time-saving manner feasible. Once you have registered for the test, one of the first things you should do is determine how many days and nights you will be able to commit to studying. Once you have this information, you can determine how much time you have left until the exam. If you keep to a fixed study pattern each week, you will have a better chance of staying focused on your studies and taking breaks when you need them.

Take a test-prep course

You may be able to study the content for the NCLEX more rapidly and acquire extra test-taking skills if you enroll in exam-prep classes. Some test preparation courses additionally include a tutor or a guide who will assist you in answering questions and provide you with insightful comments on how well you performed on practice tests. There may be differences in the benefits that one receives from taking a test-prep course in-person versus online.

Make use of resources for standardized testing

The NCLEX exam preparation aids include study guides, test-prep books, and NCLEX PN practice test, all of which have the potential to assist you in preparing for the exam in a more efficient manner. When you employ these resources, you will have an easier time recalling previously learned material if you have helpful study materials that can be physically annotated or in which notes may be taken. When you are shopping for test preparation resources, reading the reviews of each product will help you assess whether or not it has benefited other students and others who have taken the exam.

Take note of the questions that you answered incorrectly

When you are taking practice exams, recording your erroneous answers or highlighting them with a highlighter will help you review the questions more easily and identify the content areas in which you need more study. After you have finished with a practice test, it is a good idea to go back and examine all of the questions that you answered incorrectly to see if there is a consistent trend. Then you should either do some studying or search for questions like this so that you can get some experience responding to them in the future.

Consider the most favorable scenario in each case

Responding to questions about a fictitious healthcare scenario while imagining that you are employed at a hospital that has an unlimited supply of personnel, funds, and medical supplies will need you to act out a role similar to that of a healthcare professional. Keeping in mind what is most beneficial for the hospital will assist you in focusing on the issue at hand and selecting the most appropriate response, despite the fact that this may not be a situation that is relatable to your own experiences.

Take the exam early

In order to improve your chances of getting a good grade on the test, you should schedule it for as soon after you finish your degree as you can. In addition to this, you will have the opportunity to test yourself, which will provide you with a better understanding of how the examination is structured.

If at first, you don’t succeed, don’t panic; there will be time for you to study before you take the test again, and this time you’ll have a better knowledge of the questions and the content that you need to go over. If you wait too long before the test, you may have to relearn certain information, which will add more time to your study schedule.

Search for relevant and useful keywords

Keeping an eye out for keywords as you go through questions will help you have a better understanding of what’s being asked of you and guide you toward the right response. In addition to that, it may be used to quickly identify undesirable alternatives. It is best to avoid giving responses that focus on absolutes such as “always,” “only,” “never,” and “all,” as there are very few things that operate or function without an exception, especially in the medical or nursing field.

Do a self-assessment

It is very necessary to refrain from evaluating either yourself or the answers you are choosing while you are taking the test. The more you dwell on your answers, especially the ones you’ve selected in the past, the more probable it is that you will lose concentration on the questions that you are now attempting to answer. If, while taking the exam, you find yourself judging either your answers or yourself, you might consider pausing for a few moments to take several slow, deep breaths and then refocusing your attention on the questions you are now attempting to answer.

Use True or False when answering SATA questions

On the NCLEX exam, a section referred to as “Select All That Apply” will require you to choose a variety of responses that have a strong connection to the statement or topic that is presented in the question (SATA). If you approach these questions with a true/false mentality, it will be much easier for you to find all of the appropriate answers. Examine each answer to see whether or whether it is relevant to the question being asked, such as “Who should be considered the patient’s family?” Choose this response if it is the right one. Leave it blank if it’s false.

Make educated guesses

When dealing with more challenging issues, it is possible that making an assumption based on relevant information may save you time and effort. When you are faced with a challenging question, it is important to take some time to read it carefully before moving on to the possible answers. As you go through the choices, you may eliminate incorrect replies to zero in on the one that is most likely accurate. It is possible for you to increase your likelihood of getting the answer right to fifty percent by eliminating two of the four possible options.

Choose client-focused answers

When formulating responses, it is important to bear in mind the client or patient you are serving. It is essential for a nurse or any other medical worker to provide emotional support to patients and maintain clear and open lines of communication with them. Answers that are beneficial to patients, can be effectively conveyed to them, or have an emotional connection to them have a greater chance of being correct, provided that they continue to be pertinent to the issue at hand.

Maintain good health

In the days preceding up to the exam, doing everything you can to keep your physical and mental health in excellent shape can make it easier for you to focus and correctly retain information. During preparation for the NCLEX test, it is critical to maintain a healthy lifestyle by participating in regular physical exercise and consuming a diet that is abundant in fruits and vegetables. It is recommended that you schedule some time for physical activity while you are studying so that you will have enough time to continue leading a healthy lifestyle. Exercising may help lessen test-taking anxiety and stress, and it can also reduce stress overall.

Always choose research-based answers

Answers that are supported by extensive research are always going to be preferred.

Responses that are supported by research are favored above those that are based on personal experience due to the fact that each individual’s life experiences are unique. Even while some test takers may have relevant job experiences, such as internships or entry-level employment, it is quite possible that their answers are not totally accurate. This is because some test takers may have lied on the exam. Instead of relying on whatever you recall from the experience, look to the facts and evidence to help you choose an answer.

Make use of the process of elimination

When you are presented with a question that requires you to pick the most appropriate response from a set of potential responses, the process of elimination is a useful strategy to use. Using the process of elimination, it is feasible to reduce the number of choices available to you by removing responses that are incorrect. Before going on to the next question, you need to be sure that each answer you provide is pertinent to the illness or virus that you are being questioned about. It is possible that this is not the best response since the symptom is shared by another sickness or virus.

Rephrase the question

Rephrasing a question means putting it in your own words and asking it in a different way. Altering the language of a question might help you have a better understanding of what is being asked of you and provide the best answer possible. Additionally, it may be of use to you in removing any superfluous words or phrases and concentrating on the primary subject or argument that is being stated. Consider saying the question out loud to yourself to assist you in rephrasing it in a way that is more easily accessible to you so that you may better grasp it.


It should come as no surprise that this is a lot harder than it seems. On the other hand, there is a multitude of meditation software and online resources available to assist you in relaxing. When it comes to locating strategies that might alleviate tension, it is difficult to do anything wrong. Whatever works best for you, whether it’s listening to music, practicing yoga, or just taking frequent pauses from studying, your method may be whatever you need it to be.

You should make an effort to participate in activities that you like doing. This in no way implies that you should slack off on your academic pursuits. Instead, schedule time in which you may unwind, relax and enjoy yourself. Discovering ways to lessen stress is something you should do if you want to keep your brain functioning at its best, even if doing so seems contradictory.

This is another area in which the results of our practice exams might potentially have a significant effect. It is a mistake to underestimate the level of anxiety you will feel on the day of the test, especially if the examination you are taking has the potential to affect the next several decades of your professional life. You may obtain a better understanding of the content and structure of the exam by practicing with NCLEX PN practice questions. When the day of the exam finally arrives, you will have complete faith in your ability to do very well and pass with flying colors.

What to Do If You Did Fail the NCLEX PN?

NCLEX PN test taking strategies

You prepared well for the NCLEX exam and then took it; at this point, you are expecting the results with bated breath. Your stomach dropped as you saw what you had acquired. The NCLEX test was unsuccessful for you. What are the following measures to take?

It’s natural to feel devastated and downhearted after finding out that you didn’t pass the NCLEX. It is crucial, in the aftermath of a tragedy, to allow yourself space to process your feelings and recognize that this is only a setback and does not indicate that you have given up on your ambition of being a nurse. Please keep in mind that you have successfully completed all of the requirements for your nursing degree, and there are still many opportunities for you to pass the NCLEX test. Here is the next phase in the process.

Process your result

The worst thing that can happen to a fresh nursing graduate is for them to have a failing score on the NCLEX exam. Accepting the fact that you did not do well on the NCLEX is an essential first step in getting over your disappointment and attempting the test again. In order to be successful in your next endeavor, you must first acknowledge the fact that you were unsuccessful in a previous attempt, regardless of the cause for your failure.

It’s possible that giving yourself only one day will make it much easier for you to process the results of your NCLEX exam and move on. Take some time to process the information you’ve gathered and evaluate your progress. At this point in the process, it is entirely normal to have feelings of hopelessness and frustration; thus, you should give yourself some space and time to work through these emotions.

Learn from your NCLEX failures

A Candidate Performance Report is sent out to each and every candidate who was not successful (CPR). The CPR is what discloses whether or not a candidate has met the passing requirements in each of the eight topic areas covered by the NCLEX-RN exam. Candidates who received scores “below or near the passing standard” in their Candidate Performance Reports should focus the majority of their studying efforts on the portions of the report for which they received these scores.

Specify a new date for testing

After you’ve had some time to reflect over and evaluate your feelings, you may be ready to learn the formality of retesting (and maybe cry into a pillow). There is a waiting period of forty-five days in between each attempt at the exam, which means that there is hope for everyone.

In order to get more information, kindly get in touch with the National Council. You may also go to if you want further information on the process of reapplying for the position. It’s possible that your school may ask you for this as well. The process of retaking the exam is often well-established at a lot of different institutions. It is imperative that you get in touch with your school as quickly as humanly possible.

Review your previous study plan

After deciding on a new testing date, it is necessary to devise a strategy to ensure that you pass the NCLEX the second time around. Create a timetable for your studies that takes into account the free time you have. The first thing you should do is think back on the preparations you made the previous time around. It’s possible that your lackluster study habits contributed to your NCLEX failure. +

Create a list of the aspects of your performance that may need some work, and be clear about the ways in which you aim to alter your approach for the next time this comes up. There are two scenarios that might have played out here: either you studied too much or not enough. It is essential that you schedule sufficient time in your schedule to prepare for the impending test far in advance of the actual day of the test.

It’s possible that certain topics need more research, or that you need to brush up on your knowledge of a few others. Find out what they are right away so that you may better organize the time you spend studying later. It’s possible that your NCLEX Candidate Performance Report may point out the parts of the exam’s material that you need to focus more of your attention on studying for.

Build another effective strategy

Next, create a study plan along with a study timetable for yourself. Create a schedule for the day of your next test, and be sure to follow it religiously so that you don’t forget anything. On the calendar, be sure to include the dates and hours of each event.

Focus on topics that you are not confident in (especially subject areas in which your NCLEX CPR indicated that you fared the worst), but also incorporate review and practice of information that you believe you have a firm grasp on. The NCLEX CPR indicates that you fared the worst in certain subject areas. Techniques for taking exams as well as examples of questions from previous exams should be included in your approach.

You should aim to put in at least five full days of study per week, with two days off in the middle of the week. Do not spend more than six hours per day studying, with breaks occurring every 45 to 60 minutes. The only exception to this rule is when you are taking a full-length practice test.

Retake the exam

You can face the retest with self-assurance now that you are certain that you have reevaluated your studies and prepared appropriately for it. If you take the NCLEX more than once, you will have a deeper comprehension of both the test’s format and its material. Instead of ruminating on your prior mistakes, you should focus on answering each question in turn, making use of the strategies and concepts that you have laboriously acquired via your preparation process.

NCLEX PN test taking strategies can be effective or not depending on your ability, study habit, and numerous other factors. We hope that via this article, you can find out a great strategy for NCLEX PN, which can be suitable for you.