How to Study for NCLEX-PN?

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Are you an aspiring licensed practical nurse or licensed vocational nurse preparing to take the NCLEX-PN exam? You have probably finished your nursing education and are ready for the workforce. However, you must first pass the critical exam to obtain your license. The NCLEX-PN might be daunting, but you can confidently complete it with the right strategy.

This article will guide you through practical techniques to help you study and prepare to ace the exam. From creating a study schedule to practicing sample exams, you will find the tools you need to succeed. Find everything you must know about the exam!

What is the NCLEX-PN Exam?What is the NCLEX-PN Exam?

The acronym NCLEX-PN stands for National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) administers the exam in the US. The NCLEX-PN exam is a standardized test for those wanting to become a particular nurse.

The exam will test you on various aspects of your qualification. Some include your abilities, knowledge, and skills you must obtain to practice within the US. You can become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or even a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) through the exam.

The exam is now computerized and adaptive, which means that the test taker’s level of competency is determined by their responses to the previous questions. Hence, if you answer a few questions in a row, the question you will find next will be more complex.

Before diving deeper into the exam specifics, you might wonder how long it takes to study for the NCLEX-PN exam? The amount of time will vary depending on your availability, prior knowledge, and familiarity with the exam format. However, you should aim for 6-8 weeks of dedicated study time to adequately prepare.

The exam will assess your understanding of various areas of nursing. To find out more details about the exam, read below.

Number of Questions on the NCLEX-PN

Every LPN or LVN candidate must fully complete 85 questions on the exam. The maximum amount of time that one person can answer is 150. This is all information provided by NCSBN’s Test Plan. You will have a total amount of 5 hours to successfully complete the exam.

Out of the 85 minimum amount of questions, 52 of these items will directly address one of the 8 content areas that we will further discuss below. 18 of those will revolve around clinical studies. The remaining 15 items are pretest items that will not contribute to the final grade.

Keep in mind that the length of the exam will vary according to your individual pace. Moreover, as the exam is adaptive, things will differ according to whether you answer correctly. Hence, do not compare yourself to other people. Maintaining a consistent pace while performing on the exam is also recommended.

Types of Questions on the NCLEX-PN

There is a range of different questions you might find on your examination. Some include:

  • Multiple-choice questions: these are the most common type of questions on such an exam. They require you to choose one answer out of the set.
  • Select all that apply (SATA) questions: this type of question requires you to choose all the correct options. There can be two or more correct options, and some credit might go to some of the right items.
  • Ordered response questions: this type of item asks you to put the set of options presented in the correct order. Hence, the questions might include nursing processes or ask you to arrange specific steps of an event in order.
  • Fill-in-the-blank questions: you might be asked to fill in the blank with a calculation of some sort.
  • Hot spot questions: this item will present you with an image, and you must select a specific area on the image to answer the question.
  • Chart/exhibit question: you might find yourself analyzing tables, charts, or other visual representations that you must interpret and then answer a question.

Remember, these questions are meant to assess a range of nursing competencies. You must be quick, practice enough, and think critically. The exam will push your limits and test you on various aspects of your knowledge.

Topics Covered on NCLEX-PN

So, do you want to learn how to study for the NCLEX-PN exam? The percentage of the items will address various client needs. Below is a detailed analysis of the content covered and the portion of distribution:

  • Safe & Effective Care Environment
    • Coordinated Care: 18-24%
    • Safety & Infection Control: 10-16%
  • Health Promotion & Maintenance: 6-12%
  • Psychosocial Integrity: 9-15%
  • Physiological Integrity
    • Basic Care & Comfort: 7-13%
    • Pharmacological Therapies: 10-16%
    • Reduction of Risk Potential: 9-15%
    • Physiological Adaptation: 7-13%

To further understand how the subjects are addressed and divided, check out the NCSBN official curriculum. Remember that clinical judgment processes will be measured through approximately 18 case study items. There are also additionally 10% of stand-alone questions.

7 Study Tips to Help You Pass the NCLEX-PN

7 Study Tips to Help You Pass the NCLEX-PN

So, what is the best way to study for the NCLEX-PN? There was no one specific method. However, as the exam includes a variety of question formats, we provide you with separate study tips to prepare you for the examination.

Develop a study schedule

Make a realistic study schedule that includes regular study sessions in the weeks or months leading up to the exam. Make sure you allocate time each day to cover each of the four categories discussed above to ensure you have a well-rounded knowledge.

Use NCLEX-PN study materials

Since there are ample resources online, you should utilize them. They have been designed to target the NCLEX-PN exam, so go through review books, flashcards, and online exams. These provide you with a good overview. An excellent resource to start with is Simple Nursing.

Take practice exams

The NCLEX-PN practice exam is available from multiple references. You should find one that simulates the format and content of the actual exam. Hence, find help and get comfortable with the structure of questions. Start with the exam provided by Practical Nursing. Then, employ the ones found on NCLEX PN Practice Questions Organization.

Identify your weaknesses

Pay attention to the areas where you struggle. Focus on those and study more often for them. You should even use the NCLEX-PN flashcards from Quizlet. The more flashcards and questions you solve, the better you can target the weakest areas.

Review nursing fundamentals

It is essential to go over the basic nursing concepts. Those include anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, and pharmacology. This will help you address more specific questions or ones that address the fundamentals of nursing. Moreover, they will assist you with building a solid foundation for the clinical study questions.

Understand the nursing process

Familiarize yourself with the nursing process. This includes assessments, diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation. This will allow you to be better prepared. You should even go through the article provided by Harvard University about the responsibilities and duties of an LPN. Understand the key to answering questions, which relies on patient care and management.

Take care of yourself

Sleep, food, and hydration are essential to performing well on examinations. Take care of yourself by eating healthily, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising regularly. Ensure you take breaks between your study sessions. Burnout can affect your ability to focus and retain information while studying and hinder your performance in the exam.

Is NCLEX-PN Harder Than NCLEX?

Is NCLEX-PN Harder Than NCLEX?

The NCLEX-RN and NCLEX exams assess your competency in nursing practice. But the level will differ. The NCLEX evaluates the proficiency of registered nurses. However, the NCLEX-RN is for those aspiring to become LPNs or LVNs.

Generally, the NCLEX is considered to be more difficult. This can be correlated with the passing rate of the PN results. Registered nurses have a higher level of nursing education and practice. Hence they will face more complex questions on the exam. That is why many regard the NCLEX as more complicated than the NCLEX-RN.

However, both exams are challenging and require test takers to demonstrate various abilities. That includes knowledge, skills, and demonstration in nursing practice. The difficulty of the exam is incredibly subjective.

Remember, the exam is never the same for everyone. In other words, the difficulty of the exam is subjective. It will vary according to how much you have prepared, your education, and your accumulated experience.

Regardless of which exam you take, both require dedication, focus, and effective strategy strategies. It would help if you used the tips above to prepare for either exam. You can feel confident and well-prepared by utilizing study materials and resources, taking practice exams, and focusing your efforts on areas requiring improvement.

As for the ultimate NCLEX-PN study guide, we recommend the Kaplan Test Prep Book. You will have access to two practice tests, tips and tricks, online resources, and access to videos. This provides you with a range of references to optimize your study journey.

Wrapping Things Up: How to Study for the NCLEX-PN?

Finally, the NCLEX-PN test is essential in becoming a certified practical nurse or licensed vocational nurse. Exam preparation can be complex, but with the correct study tactics and tools, you can feel confident and well-prepared on test day. You can gain the information required to pass the NCLEX-PN test by setting up a study program, using NCLEX-PN study resources, and taking practice examinations.

The secret to NCLEX-PN test success is to be focused, motivated, and confident in your skills. Remember to take care of yourself while studying and to seek out resources and help as required. Good luck on your path to becoming a certified practical or vocational nurse!


Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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