Preparing for the NCLEX-RN Exam


What is the NCLEX-RN

The NCLEX-RN or National Counsel Licensing Exam for Registered Nurses is a standardized exam that all nurses in North America, and many other countries, must take before they can work as a Registered Nurse. The test is taken after graduating from a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.


The test uses Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) to score the exam. The NCSBN illustrates how CAT is used, and why it works for the NCLEX through the following explanation: 

Why CAT?
CAT is used for the NCLEX because it:

  • Reduces the number of “easy” items that high-ability candidates receive; “easy” items tell little about a high performing candidate’s ability
  • Reduces the number of “difficult” items low-ability candidates receive; candidates tend to guess on items that are too difficult which can skew results
  • Reduces item exposure and subsequent security risks
  • Improves precision of measurement of the NCLEX candidate’s ability related to nursing and
  • Provides a valid and reliable measurement of nursing competence

How Does CAT Work?

  1. Every time you answer an item, the computer re-estimates your ability based on all the previous answers and the difficulty of those items.
  2. The computer then selects the next item that you should have a 50% chance of answering correctly.
    • This way, the next item should not be too easy or too hard
    • The computer’s goal is to get as much information as possible about your true ability level
    • You should find each item challenging as each item is targeted to your ability
  3. With each item answered, the computer’s estimate of your ability becomes more precise.


The NCLEX decides if the test taker passes or fails based on the following three caveats: 

1. 95% Confidence Interval: Questions 1-75 are evaluated to determine if you passed or failed based on if your answers fell above (right answer) or below (wrong answer) the 95% confidence interval (red line on the chart).  If a pass/fail cannot be determined by this measure (because there were some questions above and some below the confidence interval) then the next evaluation criteria would be used.

image2.  Maximum Length Exam Rule: If the 95% confidence level is too close to determine a pass or fail then the computer will allow you to continue answering questions, up to question 265.  The first 60 questions are disregarded, and the pass or fail determination depends on questions 75-265. These questions are still judged by if they fall above or below the 95% confidence interval, but they may give a clearer picture than the first grading test because there are more items to answer.


3. Run Out of Time Rule: The NCLEX-RN exam has a maximum time limit of 6 hours. If the pass/fail determination has not been decided by the 6 hour mark then the last 75 questions will be graded to determine pass/fail. If all of the last 75 questions are correct, then you pass. If even one is wrong, then you fail.


Read more about the NCLEX-RN format and grading scheme here.

How Do I Prepare:


Here are some resources compiled by the University of North Carolina (Source):

NCLEX Review Resouces
Here are some current review materials to help you prepare for NCLEX. An NCLEX review book is a helpful tool to have throughout the curriculum as it provides additional practice with multiple choice test items.

  • Saunders’ Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN by Silvestri, 6th edition
  • Saunders Q & A Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination by Silvestri, 6th edition
  • Saunders 2014-2015 Strategies for Test Success – Passing Nursing School and the NCLEX Exam by Silvestri, 3rd edition
  • Saunders Q&A Review Cards for the NCLEX-RN Examination by Silvestri and Silvestri, 2nd edition
  • Davis’s NCLEX-RN Success by Lagerquist, 3rd edition
  • Davis’s Q & A for the NCLEX-RN Examination by Ohman, 2010
  • Mosby’s Comprehensive Review of Nursing for the NCLEX-RN Exam by Nugent et al., 20th edition
  • Kaplan NCLEX RN 2013-2014 Edition: Strategies, Practice, and Review
  • Lippincott’s NCLEX-RN Review Made Incredibly Easy, 5th edition
  • Lippincott’s NCLEX-RN Questions and Answers Made Incredibly Easy, 5th edition
  • Lippincott’s NCLEX-RN Alternate-Format Questions, 4th edition

Mobile Apps

  • ATI Mobile Mentor
  • HESI Q&A for the NCLEX-RN Exam
  • Saunders Mobile Review Questions for the NCLEX-RN Exam
  • Saunders Mobile Review Questions for the NCLEX-RN Exam Lite (FREE)

Tips for Buying NCLEX Review Materials

  • Purchase the most current edition. The NCLEX test plan changes periodically and your review book should be consistent with the latest test plan.
  • Many books have CD’s with extra questions or may provide links to extra questions on-line. The more practice questions you do, the better prepared you will be for the NCLEX exam.
  • Question and answer books should include rationale for each answer; look for resources that also include other helpful information with each question, such as testing strategies.


And finally, here are some of the (FREE) resources that I’ve compiled from around the web:

NCLEX Studying and Test Taking Strategies

When it comes to studying, remember to do what works for you. If you are a visual learner, get a white board and draw the physiology diagrams. If you prefer to listen find books on tape, audio lectures, or find other audio learners in your program and get together to study by explaining question rationales to each other. 

Brilliant Nurse - NCLEX Strategies and Study Tips Blog

How to Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam

Tips from Grads for Preparing for the NCLEX

NCLEX Mastery App (free)

Nursing Show -Breaking Down NCLEX Questions

Free Practice Tests and Sample Questions

Practice tests are key. The questions on the NCLEX are known to be a bit different to the multiple choice you are used to. First, understand how to answer multiple choice questions (see this resource if you need help with that). Then use these resources and time yourself to get an idea of how your body will react to the pressure of being timed.

Mighty Nurse - NCLEX and HESI Practice Questions

4Tests - Free NCLEX Practice Exam

Test Prep Review - NCLEX Practice Test Questions

NCLEX Practice Quiz and Study Questions

Brilliant Nurse - 75 Free NCLEX Questions

Study Guide Zone - NCLEX RN Study Guide

Quizlet - NCLEX Questions - Free NCLEX-RN Practice Test

ProProfs Webschool - NCLEX 150 Questions, Answers and Rational - NCLEX Exam


Exams for Nursing

NCLEX-RN Exam Cram

Nurse Labs - NCLEX Practice Questions


Remember, as with everything on the internet, use with caution. Just because a website states something as true, it does not mean that it is the most correct answer. The idea behind providing these links is to guide your studying and to gain a feeling for the style of the NCLEX questions.


Good luck everyone! 

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IM CRINGING. You can honestly be like this but call others racist?

You know you’re a racist when you can ignore how mainstream spaces push out and reject the experiences of women of color and call us racist when we create spaces for ourselves.. You dare violate her fucking space like that because YOU fucked up and tried to jump into a conversation that you had no business trying to be a part of..? What a hateful ass racist wench you are.. Smh.. You know about racism..? You understand sexualized racism..? THEN GET A FUCKING CLUE..

What a black woman experiences as a rape survivor is often different than what a white rape survivor will go through. The law treats us differently, our rapist may of have had targeted us for different reason, our cultures treat us different, it’s just different. Even how we heal has to be different, we aren’t allowed to heal the same way white women are. My therapist is a white woman, I love her, I wouldn’t go to any other therapist.. However, I often have to explain things unique to my culture because there is a difference. Honestly, black women need a space that is just for black women. White women, if you are offended, no one gives a fuck.

So basically, what this bitch is saying that if her blog is the only thing in the world that gives a clinically depressed, suicidal white woman comfort, said white woman should fuck off and kill herself? Honestly, I know you’ll just come back and say “yes, because that’s what mainstream does to black women” I worry about America, because you can be damn sure it’s not like that in the UK. And Tumblr, your hypocritical bullshit is brilliant. “We’re all the same. But we need to be treated differently because our cultures are different, and if not that’s racist. But treating us differently is also racist.” 

how about the person above me go fuck themselves with their self-righteous phony indignation. White have NO problem excluding poc from their spaces, but let a Black woman do it and y’all get in your feelings hard.
And FUCK that bullshit about it “not being the same in the UK” cause that is the BIGGEST fucking lie EVER told. Ask WOC in the UK how they are mistreated in healthcare and other communities. Y’ll phony asses swear up an down, it’s just the U.S. that’s so racist, but ignore all the POC/WOC who tell you the racist shit they go through.
Why would a white woman seek out comfort in a space meant for Black people? WTF is wrong with y’all that you NEED to be in a space that is meant to provide comfort for a completely different group.
Grow the fuck up. Everything ain’t for or about you. 

hey fellow white people in this post: do you realize that we (white people) literally think that black people have lower pain tolerances than we do?
it’s a documented fucking phenomenon (those are three different, independent studies with large sample sizes that have been accepted by the professional medical community)
we literally see black people’s pain as LESSER than ours. it’s called the racial empathy gap. there is no way we can understand what it’s like to be treated like that, like our suffering is lesser. 
as a result, if black people want to make a space for just them and the pain that they have experienced, leave them the fuck alone. listen to what they actually have to say and respect their wishes. is it really a big fucking deal that you can’t participate in ONE PARTICULAR community?? educate yourselves. 

Okay I’m going to create a blog for white women who have survived rape and abuse and y’all aren’t allowed to get pissed. Okay? Okay.

If thats what you want to do thats fine. I wont intrude or get pissed off. If you want some links or any kind of information just let me know. There are alot of blogs on here for rape survivors that I can link you to that are really supportive. But I wish you all the luck with your blog💕

To the white people who are attacking black sexual assault survivors for creating safe spaces for themselves: I sincerely hope you go fuck yourself now and forever. It is not our place as white people to police the safe spaces created by and for people of color.  You, your attitude and your sense of entitlement are the exact reason these women are having to create safe spaces for themselves in the first place.  Seriously. Go. Fuck. Yourself.


"Consensual sex" is just sex. To say that implies that there is such a thing as "non consensual sex", which there isn’t. That’s rape. That is what it needs to be called. There is only sex or rape. Do not teach people that rape is just another type of sex. They are two very separate events. You wouldn’t say "breathing swimming" and "non breathing swimming", you say swimming and drowning.

(via misandry-mermaid)

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This is NOT the caption I want to see when I’m reading up on world news pertaining to Black Women.
Yes, you are stealing our subculture and erasing Black Women from it. Don’t pretend you’re innocent and blame less because you are fighting for your rights as well. You can still perpetuate white supremacy.

This entire article reads as “You shouldn’t be chastising us for our wrongs, but thanking us for them instead because we can help you and you need to be grateful for that…As we steal your culture. “

i saw BW tweeting this guy today, but i was too tired to investigate why. sweet mother of christ.

This so condescending.


The gay community would NEVER tolerate a straight ally telling them “You shouldn’t push away the very people who are trying to help you. And you should be grateful to us!” NEVER!
"Fucking white people"
every person ever at least once regardless of skin color, heritage, or religion (via vvankinq)

(Source: spicy-vagina-tacos, via resurgance)