This is a question I often receive that many people share how much they struggle with passing the NCLEX. Inside of this article we will be discussing a very specific plan and strategies to successfully passing your NCLEX-RN exam. This will teach you how to create a NCLEX study plan that works.
I will be breaking this down into four main components to teach you how to pass this exam.
#1- KNOW YOUR CONTENT AREAS
To pass the NCLEX-RN exam there are a total of eight categories of this exam.
- Management of Care
- Physiological Adaptation
- Pharmacological Parenteral and Therapies
- Health Promotion and Maintenance
- Safety and Infection Control
- Psychosocial Integrity
- Reduction of Risk Potential
- Basic Care of Comfort
Let’s go through each of these areas so you have a much better understanding of what they mean and what you should cover in each area.
Management of Care
To successfully pass this category, you need to learn prioritization, delegation, health care administration and organization of nursing care. I know for many test takers the way they measure if their preparedness for this exam is by how well they can answer priority and delegation questions. I will tell you right now that this is only a part of it. To know how to answer these questions you have to understand what needs to prioritized and how.
STRATEGY– IDENTIFY THE PATHOPHYSIOLOGY
You need to be able to identify the pathophysiology of one disease over the other so you understand why you should see one first over the other.
For example, the pathophysiology of a patient with COPD exacerbation involves impaired gas exchange as a result of alveolar walls being collapsed inside of the lungs. This would result in the patient having difficulty breathing (Breathing). But if you have a patient with peripheral vascular disease this results in poor circulation within the patient’s lower extremities (Circulation) which means in the event of who you would see first, it would be the patient with COPD over the patient with peripheral vascular disease.
This leads to the next category of physiological adaptation. To succeed in this category, you need to pay close attention to what is the acutal pathophysiology of each disease process that you learn. If you can not differentiate between one over the other, you will constantly struggle in this area.
TIP: HOW TO STOP FORGETTING THE CONTENT
Oftentimes the reason why people will state that they will study and then forget what they studied is because they have not taken the time to really know the patho of each disease process they learn.
Pathophysiology definition: the disordered physiological processes associated with disease or injury.
Pharmacological Parenteral and Therapies
There’s a multitude of topics you need to learn and know to master pharmacology. You need to not just be aware of multiple types of medications, their rationales, side effects, adverse effects as well as also drug calculations and more.
I recommend grouping the medications like in the diagram I posted for you below. If you need help with grouping the medications, you can download my free, “How To Master Pharmacology” guide here.
Inside of our School of the NCLEX Refresher Program, you will learn how to learn the medications in an easy and condensed matter along with also learning various topics including breaking down for you how to correctly do dosage calculations.
Health Promotion and Maintenance
This category is all about understanding and knowing the normal human development from infancy to elderly age. This would includes topics arounds pediatrics and maternal health. This usually only covers about 9% of the exam so it is the smallest.
Safety and Infection Control
To do well in safety and infection control you need to know hand hygiene, standard precautions, hazardous principles, disease transmission, and more. You need to also be aware of important procedures that promote patient safety such as how to don on gloves or maintaining sterile technique.
This category is all about knowing mental health disorders and issues, understanding how the state of the patient’s mental health influence the overall outcome of the patient and also medications that treat psychosocial disorders.
Reduction of Risk Potential
This is one of the areas that alot of repeat test takers struggle with alot. Because to do well in this category, it means that you are able to recognize complications before they even happen. You can see potential emergencies because you recognize what could potentially go wrong with your patient. This also includes knowing labs, vital signs, diagnostic tests, nursing procedures, preop and post op care.
Basic Care of Comfort
This means you understand topics such as patient positioning, diets, nutrition, activities of daily living and patient hygiene. To be successful here this means you understand the diagnosis of the patient or the procedure they have undergone and how it influences or changes the needs of that patient.
#2- LEARN MULTIPLE STRATEGIES
The way to increase your success with the NCLEX is to learn more much strategies of how to learn the content, how to answer questions and how to think more critically.
Strategy Example: Creating A Study Plan Based On Your Weak Areas
The very best way you can study for your exam especially as a repeat test taker is studying based on your weak areas. The reason why I say this is the best for repeat test takers is because oftentimes you are close to passing your exam but there are specific areas that you’re not scoring high enough for the test to pass you. The overall nature of your exam needs to score the above passing mark for it to pass you. Once you identify your weak areas, then you’re going to plan you’re studying towards strengthening these areas.
Here’s a visual example of one below.
Inside of our School of the NCLEX Refresher Program, you start off the program by completing a pre-assessment test to help you evaluate your weak areas before you start studying the content on the exam.
Another strategy is that you need to pay attention to the details of what you are studying. Here are a list of quick strategies that will help you to excel.
- Look for how to two similar topics differentiate as much as what they actually are. For example, the difference between hypokalemia vs hyperkalemia.
- Look closely at the key words in a question. Some important key words are the age, ethnicity, and diagnosis of a patient. (Inside of our SSTNS 3.0 program, we go over multiple key words and how to find them in a question).
- Know the different names of the same thing. Many times the reason why people fail with the content on the exam is because they are not aware that one topic is actually the same as another topic. For example, hyperthyroidism can often be exchanged with Grave’s disease.
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