Another key point on reviewing for the NCLEX, is know your normal laboratory data ranges. Lab test results on the NCLEX will not be flagged with an asterisk if the number is outside of normal ranges. NCLEX test takers must memorize the basic lab values. Focus on the blood gas values. These values in particular can be complicated. If you do not remember the normal ranges you will have no chance of answering lab value questions on the NCLEX. Many times these abnormal values will require further assessment.
It is also important to note that notifying the physician or contacting other health care workers is not the correct answer in many cases on the NCLEX. Remember the guidelines: Assess, Assess, Assess. Choose answers that require further assessment before contacting someone else on the NCLEX questions. Basically, collect more data and factual information before calling in other healthcare professionals.
Finally, think safety with all types of patient care on the NCLEX. If equipment breaks down and the patient is in trouble, work on solving the patient’s problems before getting someone else to fix the equipment. Let maintenance deal with the equipment mess and focus on getting the patient in a safe environment. The NCLEX is attempting to determine competencies related to all of the above situations.
NCLEX FormatNote: The NCLEX Exam is offered by Pearson VUE. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing has partnered with Pearson VUE to deliver the NCLEX exam. Pearson VUE offers both the NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN exams.
The NCLEX CAT testing format stands for a computer adaptive testing format. The computer during the NCLEX test will give you harder questions if you answer a question correctly or easier questions if you answer a question incorrectly. The first question on the NCLEX will be below the baseline required passing score. Consequently, a graph could be constructed using questions as points on the graph. The points above and below the passing baseline contribute to your overall testing score. The NCLEX test attempts to match you with questions that are at your level of nursing knowledge and understanding.
The NCLEX does not time each question presented in the CAT format. You are allowed to answer each question without time constraints. However, the NCLEX does have a test taking time of 5 hours.
Question 1: What is the maximum amount of time allowed to take the NCLEX?
Answer: 5 hours
Question 2: How do I prepare for the CAT format on the NCLEX?
Answer: Allow each question a reasonable amount of time and thought. Treat each question with the same level of difficulty. Don’t be scared if questions are getting “easier,” and you think that you are falling below the passing baseline of difficulty.
Question 3: What is the maximum amount of time that I could spend on each question on the NCLEX?
Answer: If you take the maximum number of questions a safe time would be around 1 minute per question on the NCLEX.
Question 4: What study aides have you found that help you understand the format better?
Answer: The link on the right of this page offers valuable help with the NCLEX format.
Question 5: What if the CAT format offers questions beyond the minimum number required to pass?
Answer: Keep taking the test and don’t get nervous. You still have the opportunity to do well and pass.
NCLEX Medical Terminology ReviewUnderstanding the medical terminology used on the NCLEX should be a top priority when preparing for the NCLEX. Medical terms can sometimes be confusing due to the use of medical abbreviations.
If you are unable to understand the medical terminology used on the NCLEX then you will have poor chance of picking the correct answer. Depending on your clinical rotations you may also be more familiar with certain medical terms in a specific area of nursing. Generally, nurses that have the broadest experience with medical terminology will have a better understanding to answer questions that contain complex medical terminology on the NCLEX test.
Take time to review the following abbreviations on the NCLEX test as well as a more thorough list as found in the NCLEX study guide linked to the right hand side of this page.
ADH - antidieuretic hormone
AML - acute myelogenous leukemia
APC - atrial premature contraction
ASD - atrial septal defect
BPH - benign prostatic hypertrophy
BUN - blood, urea, nitrogen
Ca - calcium
CA - cancer
CAPD - continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis
CC - chief complaint
CPK - creatine phosphokinase
CRP - C-reactive protein
DIFF - differential blood count
DOE - dyspnea on exertion
D/W - dextrose in water
ECT - electroconvulsive therapy
ESRD - end stage renal disease
FUO - fever of undetermined origin
GH - growth hormone
GSC - glascow coma scale
Hg - mercury
HLA - human leukocyte antigen
Hz - hertz
ICS - intercostal space
IPG - impedance plethysmogram
JRA - juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
Practicing nurses have the luxury of being able to look up medial abbreviations and definitions before making patient care decisions. However, the NCLEX test does not allow that option. If you are confused by the medical terminology on the NCLEX, you will not be able to use a medical dictionary for reference purposes.
NCLEX PreparationAssuming you've done thorough NCLEX review using a good NCLEX study guide, the most important thing that you can do preparing for the NCLEX is not stress out. A score in the 90th percentile is not required to pass the NCLEX test. You only have to show a minimum level of competency in the field of nursing.
- Begin your preparation by sending in your application to the board of licensure.
- Then schedule with the Chauncey Group for the exam. Finally, you will be sent authorization to test (ATT).
- Next set-up a time that works for you and show up with all the required documents at the testing center for the NCLEX. If you are recently married with a name change, bring your marriage license. You may not need it, but if you did it could cause you to miss your testing time.
**The testing center will require at least 2 forms of identification to allow you to take the NCLEX test.
Don’t make the mistake of altering hair color or facial hair prior to the exam. Your picture has to match the application picture. You will also have to be thumb printed to take the NCLEX. In addition, bring a drink and some snack food for your testing break and wear layered clothing. Students that take the NCLEX in shorts and a tee shirt may find the testing center unbearably cold and be unable to concentrate.
NCLEX-RN vs. NCLEX-PNThe differences between NCLEX RN review and NCLEX PN review aren't that great. One of the bigger differences between the NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN is the number of questions. Please review the following chart:
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Minimum Number of Questions
Maximum Number of Questions
Both of these tests require the same basic understanding of nursing practice and knowledge. The NCLEX-RN questions and the NCLEX-PN questions are presented with four multiple choice answer scenarios. In some cases, the NCLEX is using a more difficult question format that requires multiple right answers to be selected. However, the material that is covered is the same.
On the NCLEX-RN nursing students are required to concentrate for a longer period of time due to the higher number of questions. If the computer doesn’t turn off at the minimum number of questions, continue to answer each question in a reasonable amount of time. Do not begin to rush through the questions, because you may have to answer the maximum number of questions on the exam. Anticipate going the distance and concentrating on each question.
Obviously, some of the questions related to delegation of responsibility are different between these exams. Registered nurses will be asked to assign tasks to practical nurses and nursing assistants while prioritizing their patients. Likewise practical nurses will be asked questions that require assigning tasks to nursing assistants and requesting more assistance from registered nurses.
Many of the study guides on the market have questions that help understand the delegation of responsibility task with nursing.
NCLEX Testing Recommendations
- Watch out for the words: except, always and not in all NCLEX questions.
- Answer each question. You are not penalized for taking an educated guess.
- Get a good night’s sleep before the NCLEX.
- Wear layered clothing to the exam.
- Practice with a watch and bring a watch to the test.
- Study for each material section of the NCLEX individually.
- If you extremely weak in one area of content focus on that area.
- Don’t cram for the NCLEX. Read over a good practice study guide at least one week in advance.
- Stay away from negative talk about the NCLEX with other students.
- Know the route to the testing center,
- Double check that you have the appropriate ID prior to the NCLEX test.
- Work through several practice tests prior to the exam.