Tips for Retaking the NCLEX

Failing the NCLEX-RN on your first go does not mean your career as a registered nurse is over. There’s still hope if you don’t pass. With the right attitude and preparation, a setback can actually be a setup for your future success.
By asking yourself the right questions and learning from your mistakes, you may even be better off than if you would have passed the first time. So don’t despair! Here are a few tips to help you onto that track if you’re experiencing this.

Keep a positive attitude

Above all, a positive outlook plays a large role in passing the NCLEX exam. Given our emphasis on psychosocial integrity, reminding yourself that you are well-prepared for the exam becomes a key component for success on Test Day. Remember, you made it through tons of exams in nursing school—this is just one more!

Reflect on your NCLEX exam study habits

Once you’re in a productive mindset, take a moment and examine what may have gone wrong the first time you took the NCLEX. Could you have prepared more or more efficiently? Here are a few things to ask yourself when preparing the second time around:

  • Did you try to learn a lot in a short period of time?
  • Did you do enough practice questions?
  • Did you take time to review the correct answers for the questions you got wrong?
  • Did you try timing yourself?
  • Did you take an NCLEX-RN prep course?

Minimize other factors

Even if you did everything you could have done to prepare effectively for NCLEX Test Day, many other factors can throw off your score and concentration. Were you feeling stressed because you were running late? Did you run into traffic? Did you wait until the morning of the exam to check what you needed to bring and pack up? If you answered yes, it’s a good idea to retake NCLEX exam at the same location so you know how to get there. It may also help to pack your bag the night before the test. Pack your license and any additional materials you may need so that you have more time the morning of, and you don’t get flustered. Minimizing fear of the unknown will help calm your nerves and help you perform better.
Ultimately, the key to passing the NCLEX the second time lies in an assessment of yourself. After all, this is far from the end of your career; it’s a learning experience. Reflect back on your study habits, and replay everything that happened on Test Day to figure out what you can improve upon the second time. Again, the extra review and effort you put in can give you the advantage in the long run.

Increase your chances of passing the NCLEX the second time around by prepping with Kaplan’s various course options.

Bad NCLEX Study Habits

Once you reflect on your NCLEX study habits, consult this list. Did you do any of the following? Did you get enough practice answering NCLEX questions? Have you learned strategies for attacking each question type? If you did any of the following, you may not be prepping the right way.

Don’t buy numerous NCLEX review guides

There is a plethora of excellent NCLEX review guides circulating throughout the bookstores. No doubt you will feel lost the minute you walk into the store to buy one. But please, only buy one! Yes, there is a lot of material to review, but buying multiple books will only complicate your study process.
Unless you’re superhuman, it’s unrealistic to believe you will be able to recall all of the material at any given point in time—and that’s perfectly acceptable! That is why you work with a team and strive to become a well-rounded intellect that can not only study and recall information, but also critically think and deduce a conclusion based on your knowledge.
The goal in NCLEX review is to put what you’ve learned throughout nursing school to the test.

Don’t read textbooks

You’ve done enough reading throughout your schooling. This is the time to put that knowledge to the test—literally!
Questions, questions, questions! You should be challenging yourself and completing between 50-75 NCLEX review questions a day. This study method is actually quite beneficial because it forces you to commit to an answer and use test taking skills, such as process of elimination to come to an answer.
While completing questions, if you do not recall a topic, that’s the time to open your NCLEX review guide or textbook and review the concept. By the end of 75 questions you will be mentally exhausted. The goal here is to pass the NCLEX exam, not reach burn out before your nursing career even begins.

Don’t doubt yourself

You’ve worked so hard and long for this—you can do it! No one said it was going to be easy. It is most important to stay confident, talk yourself through those inevitable moments of exasperation and wanting to quit, and know yourself.
Everyone reaches a point where they need a break. Don’t feel guilty for still enjoying yourself and having social life during NCLEX review. It is not humanly possible to study every waking moment until test day. The goal here is to approach each day with a fresh mind, ready to work.

Don’t study the day before

The day before the NCLEX exam is yours! I feel as though studying so close to the exam will only create last minute nerves as you review material and perhaps don’t recall certain concepts. Hang out with friends, eat a good meal, exercise—do anything that’s going to make you feel good.
We want to create positive energy as we approach the exam! The goal is to take a deep breath and be confident, knowing you’ve worked your hardest and have done all you can.
RELATED: From Failure to Success — Helping Students Achieve Success When Retaking the NCLEX