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Five General Tips for Test Taking

Nursing students are often anxious on the day of the NCLEX® exam. After all, taking the exam is a culmination of years of nursing school, nights spent studying, and professional preparation. While taking the NCLEX® is a big deal, it shouldn't stress you out if you've been studying consistently. Good preparation builds confidence and relieves anxiety!  One way to help ensure you are prepared is taking a prep course, which will encourage you to start thinking about the exam long before taking it. However, for some people, test day jitters can make the test-taking process more stressful than it would otherwise be. Don't let anxiety get the best of you. Here are five tips for taking the NCLEX® exam:

1. Get a good night's sleep 
This is a common test-taking tip students hear from grade school to college and beyond. Of course, it also applies in the professional world. In general, cramming is a last minute effort to make up for not studying properly beforehand. Not only can this potentially overload you with information, but it can take away from getting the much needed rest you'll need to be alert on test day. Going to bed early will also allow you time to wake up early and enjoy a protein-rich breakfast. 

2. Read everything 
It's easy to skim over instructions and exam questions in hopes of saving time, but this practice opens up opportunities to miss important information. Reading everything all the way through can also possibly save time, because you won't constantly be rereading for elements you skipped over. Furthermore, not taking the time to read directions can lead to careless errors.

3. Arrive early 
Don't arrive to the exam feeling rushed. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing recommends arriving 30 minutes early.This will allow you time to turn over electronic devices to testing officials, present your identification, use the bathroom and prepare your test area before the exam begins. If a person is more than 30 minutes late to the NCLEX®, it can result in them having to forfeit the exam.In such cases, prospective nurses have to schedule a new exam and repay the test fee. Have the location of the test center mapped out before the test date and leave extra early in case you get lost or experience traffic delays. 

4. Plan ahead 
The NCLEX® is a long test, and it's important to prepare accordingly. Those taking the RN test have up to six hours to complete the exam, while those taking the PN have five.2 The first break isn't offered until two hours into the exam, so it might not be a great idea to chug the rest of your coffee before the exam begins. You cannot take any personal belongings into the exam room, so you'll want to make sure you can fit anything you bring along in a storage locker. Overall, knowing the rules of the exam beforehand will help you ready yourself to sit down and focus on test day. 

5. Be confident 
Everyone takes tests differently, and some may be prone to feelings of nervousness and anxiety. In the case of the NCLEX®, the exam is an opportunity for you to utilize all of the knowledge you learned in nursing school and during your NCLEX® prep course. If you've been going to class, learning from clinical work, studying and generally making the most of your education, you'll be able to approach the test with confidence. You don't want to second guess yourself constantly during the exam. The NCLEX® is your time to shine and prove you're ready to enter the nursing workforce. 

"Study guides and strategies,"

"Exam day process," National Council of State Boards of Nursing.


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J. Carraway, RN

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