20 NCLEX Tips and Strategies Every Nursing Students Should Know


The NCLEX is the final frontier of most nursing students to reach their dream of becoming a full-fledge registered nurse. But the NCLEX is definitely not easy and entails a lot of preparation to successfully hurdle this big challenge.

Luckily, there are many resources to help you pass the exam like answering practice questions, enrolling yourself in a review center, and also these 20 brilliant tips and strategies every NCLEX taker should know:

1. Never choose an answer that leaves the patient. Always provide safety.

2. Don’t “do nothing.” Because you always have to do something.

3. Don’t read into the question. Never assume anything that has not been specifically mentioned and don’t add extra meaning to the question.

4. Don’t pass the buck. Never choose an answer that passes work off to anyone else.

5. If you see an option you have never heard of, do not choose it. It’s like a signal from your brain that that is not the correct answer.

6. When choosing which patient to see first, choose the patient who is the most unstable. Patient’s who are most likely to perish, most critical, or will suffer further injury without immediate action should be prioritized first.

7. Always assume the NCLEX hospital has unlimited staff, equipment, and resources. Know that health care facilities in the NCLEX are always ideal.

8. Restraints are always the last option and are almost always the wrong answer.

9. Choose the least invasive choice first. Issues concerning airway, breathing, or circulation should be addressed first, then move to choose the least invasive procedures (e.g., change of position, therapeutic communication with the patient).

10. Never choose an answer that delays treatment. These distractors do not coincide to safe and effective nursing care.


11. Assess the client first, before implementing a treatment. If there’s a choice that pertains to assessment of the patient, choose that answer.

12. Find a commonality between the choices if you encounter a question which you are unfamiliar with. If two or more answers are alike, choose the option that is different.

13. If the question includes the words “severe” or “acute” when referring to something such as pain, choose the answer that fixes that specific problem.

14. If the question is about endorsement, always report anything new or different to the next shift.

15. In general, put clients with the same or similar diagnoses in the same room.

16. After comprehending the question, decide what is the problem then pick answer that you can do as a nurse to solve it.

17. Select an answer that is focused on the client.

18. Answer select all that apply (SATA) questions as a true or false. Go down the list of choices one by one and ask yourself if the choice answers the question. For more tips about SATA questions, see: 12 Tips to Answer NCLEX Select All That Apply (SATA) Questions.

19. Rephrase the question. Putting the question in your own words can pluck the necessary info to reveal the core of the stem.

20. Make educated guesses. If you can’t make the best answer for a particular question, give it a guess. The board exams is not a “right minus wrong” type. It is important for you to answer every question even if you have to guess.

These tips and strategies are just one way of preparing for the NCLEX. To come fully equipped for the exam, try out our practice NCLEX questions.

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Matt Vera is a registered nurse with a bachelor of science in nursing since 2009 and is currently working as a full-time writer and editor for Nurseslabs. During his time as a student, he knows how frustrating it is to cram on difficult nursing topics and finding help online is near to impossible. His situation drove his passion for helping student nurses through the creation of content and lectures that is easy to digest. Knowing how valuable nurses are in delivering quality healthcare but limited in number, he wants to educate and inspire students in nursing. As a nurse educator since 2010, his goal in Nurseslabs is to simplify the learning process, breakdown complicated topics, help motivate learners, and look for unique ways of assisting students in mastering core nursing concepts effectively.


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