How To Study Nclex

Last Updated on August 28, 2023

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How To Study Nclex

Regardless of profession, age, or nationality, studying for a test can be daunting. Whether you are trying deal with nerves or just trying to find the motivation, it is always more appealing to sit on the couch and watch TV. However, if you would like to practice as a nurse in the United States, you do need to pass the NCLEX exam. After learning and understanding the NCLEX exam requirements for foreign nurses, it is time to hit the books for the actual exam. An international recruiter will help you through your journey, but there will also be time to study on your own. Here at 10 study tips for the NCLEX exam.

Discover your style

You may not have thought much about it, but we all have our own preferred method of study. Some of us need complete silence, while others may like to listen to their favorite tunes. Do you need a study buddy or do you thrive on your own? Do you study better in the morning or just before bed? Well before it is time to take the exam, take the time to figure out your preferred study style and stick with it!

Make a plan

Once you know what your most effective study style is, you need to decide where and when to do it. Would you rather study in the library, at a coffee shop, or your own home? Will you study before, during, or after a meal? Will you study as part of a group or in your own zone? Some of these may sound like an afterthought, but will relieve stress when planned out. All you should be focused on for study day is the material.

Take it in pieces

We are all guilty of cramming for exams the night before. We are creatures of habit and that habit is procrastination. However, studies show the odds of retaining all of the information in one night of studying are low. This may also lead to an exhausted test taker the next day. As part of your study plan, break out what sections you will study every day. If you are only responsible for a small amount each day, you will feel less overwhelmed. When you are in control of the material, you have a better opportunity to succeed on the exam. Devote at least one hour to study time every day, even if there is no test in the foreseeable future.

Leave the phone in the other room

This may be the toughest study tip to adopt. We are all addicted to our devices. All day and night we find ourselves constantly checking our phones for messages, social media engagement, or even just the battery life. These small screens are the enemy of an effective studier. The best plan of attack is to remove the temptation all together. Intentionally leave the phone in another room or at home. We somehow survived without cell phones not too long ago and you will survive for an hour of focused study time.

Take strategic breaks

Making a plan for your breaks will give you something to look forward to and curb your urge to slack off. You can take a break after a specific section, after you successfully answer a set of questions, or at specific time. These breaks should not last longer than 15 minutes at a time so you do not get too far “out of the zone.” On the flip side, it is important to take breaks. Moving around helps get the blood moving and keeps the brain focused. Also, studying with a full bladder can be very distracting.

Ask for help

Sometimes the hardest thing to do in life is to ask for help. In the world of studying, it can be essential. Resources are available in many forms to help you be the most successful you can be. The help can be from a fellow aspiring nurse, a roommate, a tutor, or even a recruiter. You can have someone else ask you a set of practice questions or to help explain a section. There are also specific NCLEX exam requirements for foreign nurses so do not hesitate to ask for help understanding those requirements. Remember, we are all in this together!

Answer practice questions

The best way to prepare for a test is to take mock versions of that test as many times as you can. Reading through the material is important, but if you do not know how it will be applied during the exam, you may feel overwhelmed on test day. If you are studying alone, read the questions out loud. The best thing to do is to ask a friend or classmate to test you. If you get some or even all of the questions wrong, do not stress! This is all a learning experience and you can always revisit the material until you get it right!

Incentivize yourself

We all love a reward. While passing the exam is the true gift, providing small motivators throughout the study process may be an effective method for you. Tell yourself if you get through the next three sections, you will take yourself out for ice cream. Did you answer all of the practice questions correctly? You have earned that little trinket you’ve had your eyes on. These incentives do not have to cost any money. As long as it can motivate you to get through a study session, go for it!

Eat healthy

This tip may sound contradictory to the tip above it, but this is specifically speaking to the study process. “Brain food” is a real thing and can be key to keeping you focused on the material. Healthy study snacks include anything with omega fatty acids or “healthy fat.” Examples of these study-approved snacks include avocado, nuts, eggs, and salmon. Only after completing the round of studying do we suggest indulging in your incentive food.


This may be the easiest tip to understand, but the one we all fail the most. A full night of sleep is often more effective than pulling an “all-nighter.”  This is why it is important to break up your studying in pieces over several days and weeks. Our brains need to recharge. If we do not get enough sleep, we will struggle to focus on both the studying and the exam itself. When we are tired, we are also more likely to make poor eating choices. We may also consume more caffeine when we are tired which can negatively affect our thought process. So make sure you hit the hay as much as you are hitting the books!

How To Study For NCLEX In A Month

Preparing for the NCLEX can be a challenging task. One of the questions many new graduates ask about their NCLEX prep is: How long do I need to study for the NCLEX? Recommended study times may vary depending upon the level of preparation needed and can range anywhere from four to twelve weeks or more. 

Although this article provides a guide to studying NCLEX in one month, it is highly recommended you allocate more than just four weeks to prepare for your exam. You may unschedule and reschedule your testing date by contacting Pearson Vue at least 24 hours in advance of the date and time of your appointment local standard time.



This week, spend two to four hours developing a study schedule. Think of your study schedule as your roadmap to success. You won’t know where you’re going without a road map. You can use a blank sheet of paper with thirty boxes or a digital or paper planner. If you already keep a personal calendar, consider integrating your study schedule with the system you already use. 


First, select an NCLEX Test Date and write it on your calendar. You can always change this later, but having a date to work towards will help guide your studying. Once your test date is set, work on scheduling practice tests, along with review and remediation times for filling in for the remaining dates leading up to test day. You will want to make sure this study plan is catered to your personal NCLEX prep needs; whether those needs are content, practice, test-taking strategies—or all three.


Practice tests (preferably realistic Computer Adaptive Tests) are great to get a “feel” for where you are in your study plan. Your test results can be used as an indicator for areas of further study, and as a checkpoint to measure your progress. Spend time remediating test results. If there are content areas you’re still unfamiliar with, spend one or two days refreshing subject content using engaging content videos and other methods that give you quick, focused review. Once you have reviewed, fall right back in with your study plan.

One secret to NCLEX success is question exposure. Taking, reviewing, and remediating as many test questions as possible is key. An important aspect of exposure to the questions is establishing a realistic practice setting. Avoid distractions, don’t look up answers during your exam, focus on your thinking to come up with the correct answer! Pull together practice question resources that will expose you to a minimum of 3500 questions. That might seem like a lot of questions. And it is! But the key to NCLEX success is answering questions, not studying content. 

You should also aim to get plenty of other Qbank practice with realistic, NCLEX-style questions that include complete explanations—but we recommend taking no more than 150 Qbank questions per day to avoid burnout. Make sure you remediate ALL of your practice questions on these tests, not just the questions you’ve missed.


Start by setting a regular schedule to answer 63 questions in the morning and 63 questions in the evening. Follow each testing session with a review and remediation period of every question, not just the questions answered incorrectly. It is important to review all questions in order to ensure that you clearly understood why the correct answer was right and that it wasn’t just a lucky guess.


Continue to work through practice questions, taking breaks after each testing session. Review and remediate the previous practice set prior to taking the next practice set. Remediation is just as important, if not more important than answering questions. This phase of NCLEX prep will not only help you understand your test-taking style but also reinforce less familiar content. A content refresher may help you select correct responses to future practice questions – especially if you can gain a clear understanding of why you answered a question the way that you did.


As test day approaches, your anxiety may begin to rise. Self-regulation techniques, such as mindfulness techniques (meditation, yoga, reciting positive affirmations) and exercise can help improve your focus and stamina while reducing anxiety. Negative self-talk may also cause a loss of focus and create additional stress. Here are a few stress relievers to get you through this last week: 

  • Make sure you take regular breaks throughout study periods.
  • Keep healthy snacks on hand.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water, and low or no caffeine.
  • Go for brisk walks. Exercise will help allay anxiety and promote relaxation.
  • Get adequate sleep. Plan your schedule so that you are getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep.
  • The day before the NCLEX (Day 29) – schedule something fun, relax and get in the proper mindset!

Before the test day, we also recommend you visit the NCLEX Test site in order to familiarize yourself with the location and how long it takes to travel there. This will prevent additional anxiety on the day of the test and give you an idea of how much travel time you’ll need. Read our post about NCLEX strategies for even more tips.


The big day has arrived – but you’re ready! You’ve been preparing for weeks using these strategies:

  • Develop your NCLEX study guide
  • Review NCLEX exam questions and materials regularly
  • Take NCLEX practice tests
  • Practice self-regulation techniques 

Remember to repeat positive affirmations: “I am prepared. I will be successful.” Now walk into your NCLEX Test site and pass that test. For more information, here’s what you can expect on the day of your exam.

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