The final step to obtaining a registered nursing license after graduation is passing the NCLEX exam. If you’re eager to start saving lives, you’ll have to wait just a bit longer. Typically, you can take the exam 45 days after graduation [1]. However, the date varies state by state. The first step is to complete the two-step registration process on NCSBN. Once approved, you’ll have 365 days to take the NCLEX.

But, when is the best time to take the NCLEX? The answer depends on the person. Test anxiety is a normal reaction and there are ways to manage stress beforehand. Just remember, you’ve already dedicated four years to studying nursing. Paired with the right resources, preparing for the NCLEX can be a breeze. Check out our six study tips to improve your studying habits, test-taking skills, and pass the NCLEX exam with flying colors.6 Study Tips to Pass the NCLEX Exam on the First Take

Identify Your Learning Style

Are you a visual learner or auditory learner? Traditionally, students have been taught to retain information through reading and writing. However, it’s difficult to grasp concepts about the human body with just words. For visual learners, draw sketches of the specific body system or color code medication formulas. For auditory learners, watch an animated video and follow along by verbalizing when touching each body part or system. Repetition can help connect complex concepts and improve retention.

Teach With Live Feedback

One of the best methods to retain information is through teaching. Form a study group and alternate roles as teacher and student. Teachers should be able to clearly explain concepts and students can prepare questions to further demonstrate knowledge. This is a form of two-way communication that allows live feedback. It’s an active form of learning that can improve information retention when done regularly.

Build a Realistic Study Plan

Dedicate which days of the week you plan to study and set up learning goals to achieve by the end of each session. Goals can be defined as specific content being mastered or passing x amount of practice questions. It’s recommended to study 25-30 hours per week so distribute those hours accordingly. Cramming study hours can lead to burnout. Usually, burnout results in the inability to accurately recall information due to exhaustion. That’s why it’s important to pace yourself and efficiently use your time to master the exam one step at a time.

Imagine a Perfect World Scenario

With some clinical experience under your belt, it’s easy to fall back on the systems and procedures set by that facility. Unfortunately, the NCLEX operates off of the assumption that scenarios are set in a perfect world. Approach exam questions as black or white and eliminate the what if’s. Answer questions with research-based and evidence-based practices that are widely known in the nursing field.

Build Test Experience

Familiarize yourself with the language and taxonomy. The NCLEX consists of multiple choice questions that range from fill in the blank, multi-response, hot-spot, and more. Some questions will be based on a scenario that demonstrates correct analysis, evaluation, and understanding of best practice. The exam is not meant to trick you, but syntax is very important. Build up your test experience to minimize anxiety while taking the exam.

Learn Calming Techniques

Exam day can be nerve-wracking, regardless of how many hours were dedicated to studying. While taking the exam, you can self-regulate the stress with breathing techniques and momentary breaks. Saving questions for later doesn’t mean you’re failing. Look away from the computer screen and stretch your body. After re-centering yourself, continue the exam and stay confident in your abilities.

After hitting “Submit Answers”, you can let out a sigh of relief. You’ve overcome the final hurdle for a nursing license! For the future nurses interested in jump starting their career, check out our available nursing jobs for part-time and full-time positions. Eisenhower Health has a plethora of resources for our nurses to enjoy a healthy and fulfilling career in Coachella Valley, CA. Our blog has more insight on nursing career advice to help prepare you for nursing school, job interviews, career advancement and more.


[1] UWorld Nursing. (2021). How Long Should You Wait To Take the NCLEX After You Graduate?

Originally posted on 19/10/2021

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