Yesterday I started with a look at studying for the NCLEX Nursing Exams.  Tomorrow, check back for my final section on getting ready the day before and the day of the NCLEX Nursing test.

Today, I want to look at how to assemble a methodical study program to prepare for the test.

Here’s a sample NCLEX Exam study plan:

  1. Start off with how many days you have left before you take the test.
  2. I always recommend you rest up that day before the test and not study so subtract one from the number of days remaining.
  3. Now you have your days remaining to study.  Take the number of practice test questions you have chosen to tackle and divide that number by the number of days remaining until the NCLEX exam date.
  4. Make a schedule to work through that number of questions every day using the methods described below and stick to it!

Here’s a look at a sample of how it might work:

  1. You have 20 days until you test.  That means you have 19 days to study (20 – 1 = 19)
  2. You have 1500 test questions to review.
  3. Take 1500 and divide it by 19 (1500/19 = 78.9 )  You need to do 79 questions a day.
  4. You schedule yourself 2 1/2 hours every day for the next 19 days (including today) and commit to it!

Day One

On the first day take the first 79 NCLEX practice questions and answer them.

Now check your answers.  However you do on these questions, it is not a prediction of anything but a step in the review of you test taking skills.  Move on to the next step.

The Most Important NCLEX Preparation Step

Right away, go back and look at every single question again.  Ask yourself these questions as you go:

  • Why did you get the answer right or wrong?
  • If you guessed right (or wrong), do you understand what you missed in the question?
  • Does the answer’s rationale make sense to you?
  • On the answers you got wrong, do you know what in the wording of the question or answer tricked you into picking the wrong answer?
  • Read the question again. Are you able to pick out the phrase that points to the key subject it is asking you about?

When you’ve done this with every question, set the test aside for the rest of the day.

Day Two

Start off by taking the 79 questions from Day 1 again and grade your answers.

How did you do?  Hopefully, your review from yesterday helped you improve.  Let’s move on to the next set and see if you picked up any tricks from yesterday’s questions.

Repeat the steps from the first day with your new set of 79 NCLEX review questions.  When you are done, grade your answers.

Go through the same question by question review, asking the questions listed above.

When you are done, set the test aside and forget about it until tomorrow.

Day Three

Day 3 is just like Day 2.  Take Day 2’s questions again, grade them, and then move on to the next set of questions.

Repeat these steps everyday according to your schedule until the last day on your review schedule. This should be two days before the test.

The last practice day

All the steps are the same except that after the review you are going to lean back and pat yourself on the back.  You are done!

Reading The NCLEX Questions – Learn the Clues

The trick each day is to learn your patterns for getting questions right or wrong.  Pick out the things that make you stumble over a question.  While you go along, you may discover that you need to review a particular area of your nursing knowledge. Remember, though that this process is about the NCLEX and standardized test question structure.

When you have finished a sample review like the one outlined above, you will have reviewed 3,000 questions! That is pretty amazing and the magic of having a systematic approach to taking your test.

Check back in tomorrow for more testing and preparation tips for the NCLEX RN exam.


Looking for a selection of NCLEX Practice Exam Questions?  Try these options I recommend from

NCLEX® Review 4000: Study Software for NCLEX-RN® (Individual Version)

Lippincott’s Q&A Review for NCLEX-RN® (Lippincott’s Review for Nclex-Rn)

Prentice Hall’s Reviews & Rationales: Comprehensive NCLEX-RN(R) Review (Prentice Hall Nursing Reviews & Rationales Series)

Mosby’s Review Questions for the NCLEX-RN® Examination (Mosby’s Review Questions for NCLEX-RN)

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