Although nurses graduate each term, May and June remain known for new grad nurse season. Congratulations to all the new grads whether you be total newbies or seasoned nurses with a higher education degree. Welcome to the nursing family You are all so very needed!
For the newbies, the NCLEX is next for RN’s and LPN/LVNs. Time to hit the books again. My best advice for this has always been to join a study group. It worked well for me and I’ve always encouraged it. Each person picks a topic or specialty and after great research, presents it to the group. There are many great study guides available and if you’re in a group each person can purchase one to share. I distinctly remember one particular guide had test questions at the end of each section, and for psyche nursing I recognized many of the same questions on my exam. What a relief! We had worked so hard on those together and I was well prepared. Psyche was probably my absolute worst rotations. But I passed it because we all worked so hard together.
Test taking just by itself can be totally overwhelming. We didn’t always have the best learning situations in my program with professors who got pregnant and one who sadly got very ill with cancer. They missed some sessions with severe morning sickness and issues with chemotherapy and expected us to learn straight from textbooks. Studying in our group, we had a few who were already RNs (who didn’t have to take the NCLEX again, but came along to help us), and a several like me, who were total novices. We each played a significant role in tutoring ourselves and each other and even the seasoned nurses said they learned new things as well. We interpreted the information in different ways and could explain it in ways the professors hadn’t. It just gave us all a fresh look at the material and the confidence to live through the testing! It also helped us to understand the way to use our critical thinking skills to uncover the best answer. Use your best detective skills to peel away the layers and find the best answer.
There are numerous online practice tests you can take and they’ll give you feedback on why an answer is incorrect. Most nursing programs design their exams to emulate the NCLEX process, but these practice tests can help you get your mindset ready and help you understand what you did wrong on the questions you missed. It’s a perfect opportunity to take advantage of either in your group studies, or on your own…or both.
The thing you must remember about the NCLEX is that it’s testing your Critical Thinking Skills. In almost every case, more than one answer will be correct, but one is more correct than the others. Yes, they are designed to trip you up and it’s up to you to figure out which one is best. The hardest thing for many people is to NOT read into the question! Do not add details that are not there! Read that again! Don’t Read Into the Questions!! Conversely, when an answer provides more information ta is in the case study or question, don’t assume it to be correct or even wrong for that matter. Consider (and Read) each answer carefully. Look for the trick part. Does everything fit and follow the Nursing Process? Stop, take a deep breath, close your eyes, let your shoulders relax and then proceed. Don’t rush, but don’t take too long. Your first instinct may just be right, but prove it. Look at the other answers and find why they don’t fit as well…or perhaps one seems even better.
You do need to prepare! So set aside the time to do so. You will need about a week at minimum! And you also need to take care of YOU. Clear your calendar. Explain to loved ones and friends you need time to study and prepare and then you’ll have plenty of time to be together. Silence your phones and don’t did into emails. This is a licensing exam and it’s meant to be difficult to ensure the safety of the patients you’ll be caring for. Get proper sleep. Get some exercise, but keep it simple. You’re not training for a marathon. Eat nutritious meals and don’t overdo the caffeine. Remind yourself that you passed nursing school so you DO know how to do this! You’ve got this! CONGRATULATIONS!!!