How to Tackle the NCLEX in the COVID-19 Era



Arming yourself with knowledge about the test itself is the most important strategy for passing the NCLEX. In the last few weeks, there have been some significant changes to the NCLEX due to COVID-19.
We are hearing from students and educators alike that changes to the exam are causing more anxiety than usual. But even under regular circumstances, nursing students should be sure to stay up-to-date with the latest news about the NCLEX to make sure that they are well prepared. You can learn more about news and developments by visiting the National Council of State Boards of Nursing’s website.


Despite the changes to the NCLEX that will happen because of COVID-19, the NCSBN reports that “extensive analysis indicates these changes will not affect the necessary measurement characteristics, difficulty of the examination, the pass rate, or the candidate testing experience.” This means that while there may be changes to elements of the NCLEX, such as test dates or length of the exam, your studying habits should not change. The difficulty of the exam will not change, nor will the focused level of preparation needed to pass the test. So, it may take longer for you to be able to take the exam due to limited testing sites, but you can still keep yourself sharp by utilizing all resources available to you.


Just like running a marathon, preparing to pass the NCLEX is about endurance. Unlike other tests you may have taken, you can’t cram for the NCLEX. Kaplan has provided NCLEX prep over many years and has found that students who pass the first time have spent several weeks to months in daily review and preparation.

NCLEX Knowledge vs. Real-World Experience: What is best?

The NCLEX uses evidence-based practice. If you’ve worked in healthcare you may notice that each different facility has a slightly different way of doing things that are considered safe and effective. However, you can’t assume that this applies to the NCLEX. For the NCLEX, you must assume that you have a perfect situation, with ample time and resources to perform your duties. Choose your answers to the NCLEX based on this “perfect world” scenario.


The most important piece of advice that I can offer in preparing for the NCLEX is to stay calm. This is a very challenging time for everyone, and it is more important than ever to find ways to focus your attention and stress into something productive. Fortunately, you have something amazing to focus on: becoming a nurse! As you prepare for and take the actual exam, be sure to take brief mental breaks by looking away from the screen, removing your hands from the keyboard, stretching sore or tired muscles, taking a deep breath, and telling yourself, “I’ve got this!”

Maria Flores-Harris, DNP, RN, CNE 

Executive Director of Nursing

Dr. Flores-Harris has over 25 years of experience as a registered nurse in the clinical and educational settings. She received her Bachelor’s of Science and Master’s of Science in Nursing (Geriatric Nurse Practitioner focus) from Clemson University and remains loyal to her Clemson Tigers! She received her Doctorate degree with a focus on Nursing Education Leadership from American Sentinel University. She has served in many roles including nursing faculty and director roles in practical nursing and registered nursing programs.  Presently, Maria is employed as the Executive Director of Nursing for Kaplan Prep & Achieve. Her areas of interest and expertise are nursing school success, NCLEX success, learning science, academic integrity, and test construction and item writing. She is a member of the Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society and the International Center for Academic Integrity.