Are you preparing to take the Next Generation NCLEX? First, let me just say, don’t panic. Second, you are doing a good thing by researching how others have been successful. Modeling what others have done to reach the same goal you want is always a good starting point.
Navigating the complexities of the Next Generation NCLEX RN exam requires strategic preparation and a keen understanding of its unique challenges.
I too felt overwhelmed by the lack of personal experience stories regarding the Next Gen NCLEX. This exam only went live for the first time in Spring 2023. That is not a lot of data to work with.
In this blog, we’ll unravel the essential strategies and insights vital for success in this first-of-its-kind examination, while providing a roadmap for aspiring nurses to confidently conquer this critical milestone.
How To Pass the Next Generation NCLEX-RN Exam:
A Step By Step Guide
“Success is sweeter when shared. Help others climb the ladder, and you’ll find yourself on higher ground.” Anonymous quote.
1. I Took Advantage of the Nursing School Exams
Nursing school exams’ sole purpose is to prepare you to take the NCLEX. Nursing school is unlike any other degree program out there. In most degree programs, the tests are designed to pass that specific class and to get credit on your transcript. Then you move on.
As you know, this is not the case in nursing school. Yes, you need to pass your classes and get transcript credit, but there is a bigger picture at play. Licensing boards will take away a nursing school’s accreditation if they are not effectively producing nurses capable of passing the NCLEX.
So take advantage of your nursing school exams. The questions on these exams likely come from an NCLEX practice test bank that only your teachers have access to. Most programs should also have revamped all their exams with Next-Gen NCLEX content as well by now.
Additionally, the more nursing school exams you take, the less test anxiety you will likely have on the big day. Instead of going into nursing school exams with a negative energy, frustrated at how many exams you have to take, go into them with a positive energy, appreciating all of these practice opportunities.
Yes, I was nervous for each and every exam in nursing school. However, I always made sure to put a smile on my face. Science has shown that smiling, even when you don’t want to, lifts your mood. Every test is a milestone and means you are that much closer to achieving your goal.
2. I Used A High-Quality Study Resource to Prepare
Repetition leads to mastery…
Why would you study by writing and re-writing notes? Or passively reading purchased cheat sheets and colorful picture guides? Yes, those are a nice refresher, but that is not going to be the best strategy when it comes to preparing for regular test-taking in nursing school.
So how should you study in nursing school and for the NCLEX? Take practice test after practice test after practice test…
Your Best Grade is the resource I used to study for all of my HESI exams in nursing school. HESI exams are specifically designed to help prepare you for the Next Generation NCLEX.
Additionally, Your Best Grade has NCLEX prep as well with a simulated CAT adaptive test you can take twice right before you take your NCLEX.
If you can’t do well on your HESI exams, you can use that as your prediction on how you would do taking the NCLEX at that moment. But do not let that discourage you. There is still time to turn this around.
Your Best Grade has the best nursing school prep test banks around. These questions are very difficult and high-level. Because of this, they make the questions on the HESI, and even the NCLEX, seem easy.
One of the biggest mistakes I see nursing students make…
When they get an answer wrong, they get upset or frustrated and just move on to the next one without reading the rationales. They will either skim them or not look at them at all.
You need to understand why you got the question wrong so you don’t make that mistake again. Even as a very high-achieving nursing student, I got many practice questions wrong. It was my strategy!
I would rather get the questions wrong at home where they don’t count, than on tests that DO count. Don’t be afraid to get questions wrong. In my experience, it sticks even more when there is a sting behind it.
Your Best Grade has top-tier rationales to help you understand what the HESI and NCLEX are looking for in your answers. Don’t be afraid to get answers wrong. Don’t let it discourage you. Just read the rationales over and over until you understand.
Also, don’t skip questions you recognize. You will be surprised and think you remember the answer, but get it wrong. The more you see the same questions the more confident you will be with that material and will be less likely to get similar questions wrong on other exams. So retake the practice exams multiple times, not just once or twice.
3. I Prepared For At Least 3-4 Weeks for the Next Generation NCLEX
You are going to be tempted to take your NCLEX immediately after graduating, but that is not something I personally recommend. Even as a 4.0 nursing student who scored well over 1000 on my HESIs, I knew that wouldn’t be too wise.
Give yourself a week to breathe after nursing school. You went through a lot, use that time to reflect and transition to NCLEX prep.
I personally used a full week to focus on self-care. I caught up on my favorite TV shows and basked in the glory of not needing to study for a nursing school exam like I had almost every day for the entire two years.
Once I gave myself that week off, I studied every day for one month for the Next Generation NCLEX. Because I gave myself this much time, I never felt pressure to cram.
My goal was to take 1200 practice questions before the NCLEX.
In 30 days that is just 40 practice questions a day. As the test was approaching though, I started doing about 70-100 questions a day. Except for the day before the exam. The day before the exam I took 2 Readiness exams on Archer, and called it a day.
I can only speak for myself, but this approach allowed me to walk into the NCLEX not shaking like a leaf. I felt as relaxed and confident as I possibly could. Of course, there was adrenaline and some fear in the back of my mind because that is a natural reaction when something is this important to you.
However, as I was taking the exam I realized that I was in fact very well trained and well prepared. When the test shut off at 85 questions, I did not feel like I had failed. I felt confident I passed.
When I saw my RN license uploaded to the board of nursing I was ecstatic, but I was not surprised. I knew I did everything right in my preparation. This is why I feel confident in giving you this roadmap of advice.
4. I Watched Videos On the Content I Wasn’t Understanding
Nursing school videos are a great and FREE tool out there on YouTube. Again though, they are not supposed to be your sole study resource. Use them as a refresher and/or clarifier of nursing school material.
When you are taking your practice questions on Your Best Grade and do not understand the rationale, type that in the search of YouTube. Watch some videos, and this will likely connect the missing dots.
RegisteredNurseRN is a great teacher and goes into a lot of detail, Level Up RN is great for giving a shorter refresher. Nexus Nursing really teaches you how to answer nursing school and NCLEX questions. I used to literally hear her voice during tests in my head. She was truly so helpful in teaching how to approach NCLEX-style questions, and she is just so underrated.
5. I Went In With a Positive Mindset
I touched on this a bit by going into nursing school exams with a positive mindset, not a negative one. Additionally, I would even tap into a level of gratitude, gratitude that I even had this opportunity in the first place.
You would be amazed at what this does to your nerves during testing.
This might sound cheesy, but I had a mantra that I would recite in my head before every exam in nursing school, and before I took the Next Generation NCLEX as well.
My personal mantra was, “You are the moon, the stars, and the entire universe. You can do this because you helped create this entire experience for your growth and expansion.”
I believe you should create your own confidence-building mantra based on your own personal spiritual beliefs as well. Even if you identify as atheist or agnostic, mantras are powerful and can be anything you want them to be.
6. I Made Peace With The Fact I Will Never Know Everything, and I Don’t Have To…
You will never know the answer to every single question on the Next Generation NCLEX, and the good news is, you don’t have to.
If you aim to get a 70-75% on your practice tests while preparing for the NCLEX, your chances of passing are in the 90th percentile as I’ve heard.
What does that tell you? Well, it told me that I could afford to miss a lot of questions on the NCLEX and still pass. However, I did not let this give me a free pass to slack off. I worked way too hard for this, so my goal was to still try to get every answer correct to the best of my ability.
“Aim for the stars, and you might land on the moon.”
Always aim higher than you think is possible. You will be very pleasantly surprised where you end up.
The Next Generation NCLEX doesn’t expect you to know every single answer. This is a critical thinking exam. They just want to make sure you are a safe nurse. Understand ADPIE, ABCs, and Maslows and you will answer safely far more consistently.
Here is an article I wrote on how to approach nursing school questions. There is a formula and a strategy and you need to understand this as a baseline at the very minimum.
7. How I Prepared The Night Before and the Morning of the Next Generation NCLEX Exam
As I briefly touched on above, I only took a few readiness exams on Archer the day before my NCLEX and I stopped studying early. There is no point in studying all night long if you have been consistently taking practice tests for a month.
You have no idea what is going to be on your NCLEX, and again, this is not a memorization exam. This is a critical thinking exam. If you follow this roadmap, you will be fully prepared to critically think through the NCLEX.
If you have given yourself the month of study, you have built up that skill already. You do not need to torture yourself by doing it all night before your test.
Stop studying early, eat a good dinner, get to bed early, and give yourself at least 7-8 hours of sleep. Tell yourself, you have done everything you possibly can, and release it.
The morning of the NCLEX, I woke up giving myself about 3 hours to get ready. I let myself wake up slowly and jumped in the shower. I drank a cup of coffee and gave myself plenty of time to get to the exam.
The last thing you want to do is to rush to the exam because you are running late. Aim to show up at least 30 minutes before your exam starts. If you are someone who runs chronically late, aim for 40 minutes.
How To Pass the Next Generation NCLEX-RN Exam On The First Try: Our Conclusion
In conclusion, mastering the Next Generation NCLEX-RN exam on the first try demands diligent preparation and a strategic mindset. As we’ve explored the intricacies of this updated NCLEX exam, it’s evident that success lies in a holistic approach – from embracing innovative question formats to cultivating critical thinking skills.
By adhering to the tested strategies discussed in this blog, aspiring nurses can navigate the challenges of the Next Generation NCLEX-RN with confidence. Remember, it’s not just about memorizing facts but honing the ability to apply knowledge in dynamic scenarios. Continuous practice, repetition, and a focus on clinical judgment will prove instrumental to your success in passing this exam.
As you embark on this journey, keep in mind that success is not merely defined by passing an exam; it’s about embodying the qualities of a competent and compassionate nurse. The Next Generation NCLEX-RN exam serves as a gateway to a fulfilling career in healthcare, and by mastering it on the first attempt, you set a solid foundation for a future of impactful patient care.
If at first, you don’t succeed…
However, if you need to retake the NCLEX again, this does not make you a less competent nurse. Nerves get the best of people all the time, it is not a reflection of your character or capabilities.
The key to passing the Next Generation NCLEX-RN exam on the first try lies in a comprehensive and strategic approach. It is my hope that this roadmap helps guide you in that direction.
Combine dedication with the insights shared in this blog article, and you’ll be well-equipped to not only conquer the exam but flourish in your role as a compassionate and proficient healthcare professional. Best of luck on your journey to success!