The Best NCLEX Review Books of 2019

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The National Council Licensure Exam or NCLEX is the nationwide licensure exam for nurses all across the United States and even Canada. Anyone who has finished nursing school and has applied for a nursing license from his/her state board of nursing can take the NCLEX. And because the United States takes great caution in giving out nursing licenses to make sure the public is safe, the exam is far from a walk in a park. But, with the help of our top prep books for the NCLEX, you will be able to take the exam equipped with more knowledge and confidence.

Our Favorites for the Best NCLEX Review Books (the best out of the bunch)

Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination by Linda Anne Silvestri

There is no better prep book to use for your review than Saunders especially if you are looking for the most comprehensive package or for something that builds you from the ground up. With over a thousand pages of good content, this book not only reinforces your knowledge but also gives you enough confidence to tackle the NCLEX with your head high up.

The review portion of this prep book is so thorough and quite detailed yet does not seem too wordy or heavy. In a sense, it gives you the right amount of information without having to overload your brain with too much content. The best part about it is that it is well written and easily understandable even for those that are just trying to build their knowledge on nursing.

If you are a visual learner, Saunders should be on your list. The entire book is printed in full color but not in a such a style that might get a little bit irritating. The colored design simply makes the book more engaging and appealing not only for those who prefer visual aesthetics but also for any type of learner as well.

To help bolster your question-answering skills, the book contains over 5,000 NCLEX style questions and a full-length practice exam that is designed to help improve your retention as you progress through this prep material. These questions are not your normal nursing questions because they were specifically crafted to mirror the same quality of questions you will be encountering during the NCLEX. In a sense, they are challenging enough to improve your critical thinking skills while also helping you adjust to the actual exam’s style of questioning.

Each question has their own corresponding answer explanations, which are all thorough and detailed enough to help you understand your mistakes. In that regard, you will not be left hanging wondering how and where you got it wrong. At the same time, you are also given an avenue to improve that area of weakness in case you encounter similar types of questions in the exam.

For such an informative and thorough prep book, Saunders’ price tag on Amazon can be considered a good bargain. You may also opt to rent for about half the price if the price is too steep for you. But you should opt to purchase the book because it works as a good reference. On top of that, it might be the only book you need as many satisfied customers on Amazon were able to pass the NCLEX on this book alone.

What makes it unique:

  • Its comprehensive review portion is second to none in terms of how thorough and detailed it is.
  • The book is a treasure trove of practice questions that each have their own detailed explanations.

Why choose this book:

  • It is the complete package in the sense that it not only bolsters and reinforces your knowledge but also builds your confidence in answering NCLEX style questions.
  • This book is the best prep tool for those who are not confident in their foundational knowledge.


NCLEX-RN Prep Plus by Kaplan Nursing

Kaplan is another leader not only in the field of nursing prep books but also in the entire review books industry. However, it stands out particularly well with its NCLEX prep tool because of how this book tests how well you know how to apply your knowledge in real-life situations. It is also one of the best books at giving you advice on how to tackle the NCLEX questions.

Arguably one of this book’s best features is how it breaks down what you need to know to answer the NCLEX questions properly. It provides you a great walkthrough on the strategies you may want to take when taking the exam. In that sense, this prep tool helps you in more ways than just giving you a thorough review or sets of practice questions.

Speaking of content review, Kaplan Nursing was able to make it easier for anyone using the book to study the material for short periods of time. It did so by breaking down the chapters into easily digestible formats that allow its readers to breeze through the content review section. That means that you do not have to waste time reading through long and time-consuming chapters. That is good news if you only need to recall the most important concepts instead of re-learning everything from scratch.

When it comes to practice questions and tests, this book ranks as one of the best in that department. It might not trump other prep tools in terms of sheer volume of questions and tests but it does excel in terms of quality. Many regard Kaplan Nursing’s book as the closest to the actual NCLEX’s level of difficulty. In that sense, this book’s practice test will build your confidence as you are already used to how challenging the NCLEX questions are.

For its price on Amazon, NCLEX-RN Prep Plus is one of the most affordable NCLEX prep books on the market but is certainly on par with the more expensive competitors. It might not be the most voluminous book in terms of content but it gives everything you need to know to not only pass the NCLEX but also excel in it as well.

What makes it unique:

  • The chapters are a breeze to read.
  • It has the optimal difficulty level when it comes to practice questions and tests.

Why choose this book:

  • Go for this book if you are already quite confident in your nursing foundations because it really serves its strict purpose as a review book.
  • It gives you a good sense of the type of questions you will be encountering in the actual NCLEX.


The Runners-Up for the Best NCLEX Review Books (still good but a little lacking)

Lippincott Q&A Review for NCLEX-RN by Diane Billings, Desiree Hensel

Unlike some of the other books on this list, Lippincott is a prep tool that primarily contains practice questions. Everything else is secondary or even non-existent at all. That said, this book houses a wealth of over 6,000 practice questions. That is more than enough to take up your free time and to also hone your mind and question answering skills.

The questions are logically arranged in terms of difficulty. That means that you will be starting with easy questions and will encounter the more difficult ones as you steadily progress through the books. This ensures that your mind will slowly adjust to the difficulty and does not suddenly get shocked if it encounters challenging questions out of the blue.

If you are looking for a book that enhances your test-answering skills, there probably is no other material that ranks right up there with Lippincott in terms of overall quality in that department. It might specialize in only one thing but it does that job more effectively than any other tool on the market. That is why it is worth the price tag it comes with.

What makes it unique:

  • It focuses on practice questions.
  • The practice questions are arranged in terms of difficulty.

Why choose this book:

  • You might not pass or perform well on the NCLEX if you rely only on your content review. In that regard, you also need a book that gives you enough practice questions to work with.


HESI Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination by HESI

HESI is another popular choice for the NCLEX and is actually a favorite among those who have successfully passed the exam. One of the main reasons as to why this prep tool has become such a success is that it tends to be a lot more clear and concise compared to the other competitors. The charts were also thoughtfully crafted that they really attract the attention in the best of ways.

If you want a more targeted review when using this prep book, you can find summaries of every topic. These summaries or hints point out the most important things you need to keep in mind so that you do not have to waste time and effort on the concepts that are not really that vital to passing the NCLEX.

The chapters are also well formatted and are set up according to the different systems or clinical areas. You can easily move from one topic or chapter to another if you are looking to focus more on certain concepts and important details. And the best part is that the chapters are not too wordy and heavy. In that sense, you can spend an entire reading session without getting tired or mentally drained.

HESI contains 700 NCLEX styled practice questions to help you keep track of your progress. It also even has an entire section or chapter that is dedicated to talking about the NCLEX as well as the strategies or tips that can be quite helpful on the day of the big test. The index portion is also quite nice as it contains informative and important tables.

Overall, it is a great book to use and is only a little over 400 pages long. That means that it is not a very long read and is quite concise and straight to the point. The only problem is that it is quite expensive for a book that is not as comprehensive as some of its other competitors. Its price tag is a little steep for some people. But, other than that, it is a prep book that is of the highest quality.

What makes it unique:

  • It is organized very well such that it is easy to move from one topic to another.
  • It is written in a clear and concise manner that does not waste your time.

Why choose this book:

  • It is one of the best books you can use if you are short on time.
  • For all other cases, it is quite informative and useful. It should be one of your top choices if you are not shy about spending more than you have to.


The Best Value for Your Money for Best NCLEX Review Books (good and affordable)

NCLEX-RN Practice Questions Exam Cram by Wilda Rinehart, Diann Sloan, Clara Hurd

This prep book is exactly what its title says it is. It is a book that specializes in practice questions and on helping you cram for the big exam. In that sense, it provides you with every detail you need and all of the test-answering practice time you can get especially if you do not have the luxury of time before the NCLEX.

Because it works as a cram book, there is a quick reference portion that serves to help you study in the quickest way possible. You can even tear the portion of the book that contains all of the important facts and concepts that you should memorize for the NCLEX.

And because the authors kept in mind that the students using this book do not have a lot of time left to review, they decided to speed things up by making it easier for you to look up the rationale to the answers of the questions. Though it might seem like a minor detail to some, it will ultimately save you a lot of time in the long run especially if you are skimming through hundreds or even thousands of practice questions.

For a book that contains 1,250 practice questions, the price tag is more than a good price to pay especially if you consider the fact that this book is supposed to be for those who are short on time. In that regard, it gives you value for both your time and your money.

What makes it unique:

  • It focuses primarily on practice questions but it still contains a quick reference guide you can use for a speedy review.
  • It made it easier for you to look up the answer explanations or rationale.

Why choose this book:

  • It was made for those short on time and are on a tight budget.


Summary of the Best NCLEX Review Books

Wrapping everything up, here are the top NCLEX review resources we went over today:

ProductList PriceNumber Of Pages
Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN® $66.95 1152
NCLEX-RN Prep Plus 2018 $54.99 528
Lippincott Q&A Review for NCLEX-RN $59.99 1132
HESI Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination $69.95 408
NCLEX-RN Practice Questions Exam Cram (5th Edition) $34.99 475

Our choices for the best NCLEX prep books were carefully chosen based on quality and affordability. It is also important to note that you need a good mix of content review and test-answering practice if you want to stand out and perform better than everyone during the exam. Because of that, the best choices for you should be the ones that not only develop your foundational knowledge in the field of nursing but also build your confidence by testing out your preparedness. That said, all of the NCLEX books we have chosen serve such purposes.


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