10 Tips and Tricks for the NCLEX PN exam

The Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) functions under the directions of physicians (doctors and surgeons) and registered nurses in a variety of healthcare settings. Individuals attend accredited LPN training programs with such courses as pharmacology, nursing, biology and supervised practicums in clinical settings. After completion of this field of study, the LPN can sit for the NCLEX-PN exam.

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) provides the NCLEX-PN Exam for the LPN. This test over 5 hours contains an average of 117 questions, but if the candidate fails to answer questions correctly, the number of questions can increase up to 205. The number of items varies between individuals, because it is based on the candidate’s response to previous items. A total of 72 percent of NCLEX-PN test takers passed in 2014.

Top ten tips and tricks for studying and taking the examination comprise of the following items:

  1. Reasons for failing to pass the NCLEX-PN include inadequate preparation, poor knowledge of question styles and procedures, and extreme nervousness.
  2. Plan a study schedule six months in advance of the NCLEX-PN exam using the outline at the NCSBN LPN Test Plan site to organize your study strategy.
  3. If you study better in a group, contact classmates from your LPN program to plan study sessions using the outline listed in #2 above. If a formal class motivates you better, check with your LPN program or your State Board of Nursing for review courses in your location.
  4. Create lists, pictures, diagrams or flash cards of main topics from the outline. Pictures are worth a thousand words when learning material. Flash cards for NCLEX-PN can be found online for a fee.
  5. Devote time to active learning by reviewing material listed on the NCSBN LPN outline. Focus on textbook answers as all the questions reference back to a source like a textbook not hospital experience. Sites like “Review for the NCLEX-PN” provide a good overview starting place. ATI Testing lists the most difficult questions to answer involve the areas of prioritization, lab values, delegation, infection control and airway-breathing-circulation (abc). Candidates grapple with understanding these areas.
  6. Practicing test taking skills by taking exam questions in the multiple choice format over and over on a computer. If one wants to pass the exam, this step is critical in preparing for the NCLEX-PN exam. Review the NCSBN PN Test Plan, because it shows examples of all the types of multiple choice questions. Board Vitals offers the LPN candidate practice questions to build the skill for taking multiple choice questions. Candidates state that “Board Vitals offers well-written practice questions with highly detailed explanations.”
  7. Use the NCSBN’s Review for the NCLEX-PN Examination for material that contains practice questions and feedback from a nurse professional.
  8. Plan for the examination by knowing the location of the test-taking site. Take photo identification (e.g., driver’s license, state id, passport or military id) to check in.
  9. Schedule yourself for 8 hours of sleep before the exam, eat a protein breakfast (not sweets that wear off in two hours), ingest plenty of water (no food or water allowed in the exam) and arrive early to use the rest room right before checking in.
  10. During the exam, read the multiple choice question first prior to viewing the answer; then preview the answers and choose your response. Guess if you do not know the answer as no penalty exists. Carefully read the questions as it prevents wrong answers.

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