What is the NCLEX?
The most extensive test nursing students take is the NCLEX. It’s the required exam for nurses to earn licensure and practice nursing. This test is vital to their careers, as The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) states it is one of the main steps in becoming a nurse. The others include:
- “Graduating from a recognized nursing program,
- Meeting the specific requirements of the state board of nursing, and
- Passing the National Council of State Boards of Nursing NCLEX examination for registered nurses (RNs) or licensed practical/ vocational nurses (LPN/VNs)” (Source).
The NCLEX-RN specifically is similar to the typical standardized tests you may think of in high school (ACT / SAT) or graduate school (GRE). However, it focuses entirely on nursing. The exam is taken over the computer and comprises approximately anywhere between 70 and 200+ questions. Students have five hours to complete the test.
For more detailed information about the NCLEX, visit: https://nurse.org/resources/what-is-the-nclex/.
NCLEX prep session and the Hartman Initiative
In the Hartman Initiative’s local program, Natalie Cekovich leads practice sessions for the students. Usually, she focuses on different specialties in each session she leads. In her last session, her questions focused on pediatric nursing.
Cekovich boiled down one way to think about pediatric nursing-focused questions as “what is appropriate for a child to do at what age.”
For the NCLEX in general, she also gave valuable tips, tricks, and wisdom as she walked the students through practice questions. Her goal, she said, was to teach them the science and art of deductive reasoning.
Along with their medical knowledge, deductive reasoning is one of the main components in succeeding in the test. For example, all the answers may be correct on a question, but on some questions, it is asking for the best possible solution—not just an applicable answer.
Cekovich guides the students in their own knowledge in an encouraging and helpful way.
Tips & Tricks
Here are some NCLEX tips and tricks straight from the past session:
- Read carefully. Really read the question. Cekovich emphasizes the NCLEX likes to use terms like “Most,” “Least,” and “Select All,” so it’s important to keep that in mind when you choose your answer.
- Use mnemonic devices. Using word pictures in your head can help you remember certain concepts. The most traditional mnemonic device would be acronyms. However, Cekovich gave the example of association as a key trick. Two examples of association she gave:
- Think of a child you know that meets the description of a question. Although this isn’t always true by any means, if a question asks about a two-year-old and you can think of your nephew in that stage, it helps frame your mind around the scenario.
- Think of a medical diagnosis similar to the one the question might be bringing up. Comparing illnesses this way can help you categorize their similarities and differences.
- “Keep going.” No matter what, keep going and keep persevering. Cekovich reminded the students that this is one of the most tested times they will experience in their careers, but if they can make it, they will pass and succeed. So keep studying and keep going when you’re taking the test. There is an end.
For more information about the Hartman Initiative’s local program, visit: https://hartmaninitiative.org/local-programs.
National Council of State Boards of Nursing. “NCLEX Fact Sheet.” NCSBN. 2022. https://www.ncsbn.org/publications/2022-nclex-fact-sheet.
Jividen, Sarah. “What is the NCLEX?”. Nurse.org. November 2, 2021. https://nurse.org/resources/what-is-the-nclex/