There’s no doubt that nursing programs are rigorous, but many nurses underestimate just how tough it can be to prepare for the nursing board exam and pass it successfully. Considered an “exit exam” for nursing degrees that measures and quantifies a student’s learning during the program, the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) examination is the only way for nurses to become fully certified and employable within the profession. The stakes are high, but nurses stand their best shot at success if they follow a few simple steps, starting with lots of studying and review.

Study Hard and Study Often

Perhaps it should go without saying, or perhaps it seems overly simplistic, but studying is the best way to prepare for the NCLEX. The kind of studying that nurses will do is a bit different from the studying that most students do in advance of GMAT, GRE, or LSAT tests, however. Instead of studying highly theoretical concepts and question structure, nurses will actually have to study the material that they learned during their two or four years enrolled in an undergraduate nursing program. Though there is some theory in the NCLEX question pool, most questions are practical and depend on the information taught in the classroom.

This is a great time to find old notebooks and textbooks. These sources of information will guide nurses through a comprehensive review of classroom theory, lab sections, and clinical experiences. With proper studying underway, nurses have already enhanced their chances of NCLEX success.

Take a Review Class

The test preparation industry is thriving, thanks in no small part to the popularity of graduate school in today’s economy and the persistence of many professional certification options. Furthermore, students who enroll in a test prep class tend to do better on the NCLEX, and other tests, when compared to their peers who only studied independently. Though there is an additional fee charged for enrolling in this program, it’s a small price to pay if it allows nurses to take their board exam just one time. By paying only one exam fee, rather than several, nurses are saving potentially hundreds of dollars.

For nurses who want to make sure that a review class is truly worth their time, many companies offer “pass rate” documentation online that nurses can review before they commit to the fees and classes. This will clarify just how good the class’s return on the investment is in the end.

Calm Down

There’s a secret about major admissions or exit exams that many people don’t consider: stress is the number one way to get questions wrong and risk having to retake the test. Nurses are understandably worried about their performance on the NCLEX and their score’s implications on their professional possibilities. However, becoming overly stressed can actually cause nurses to miss easy questions, overthink their responses to some prompts, and perform worse on the test than they would if they took a moment to calm down and proceed logically.

To prepare for the test on test day, take a deep breath and keep things in perspective. The test allows multiple attempts, but it should be easy for nurses who paid attention in class, succeeded in clinical experiences, and earned good grades during their final two years in the program.

Achieving Success: Prepare Well and Remain Calm

The NCLEX is a challenging exam that assures proficiency for a high-impact profession. This test isn’t easy, but studying comprehensively, taking a preparation class, and letting go of stress on test day can help nurses master it. With these strategies in place, nurses will easily pass the nursing board exam and move into professional careers.

For more information on nursing degrees, please see: Top 10 Cheap Online RN to BSN Degree Programs 2014.