Before And After You Take The NCLEX: What You Need To Know

Before And After You Take The NCLEX: What You Need To Know
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Summary: Nursing school has its many challenges for student nurses. But when it comes time to show all you know from your lessons, you must take the biggest test of your career—the NCLEX. Here's what you need to know to be prepared for testing day.

What You Need To Know Before You Take The NCLEX

Taking the NCLEX is a huge step in any nurse's life. After years of classwork and in-hospital experience, all of your hard work hinges on finding success on this single test. If you weren't bright enough to pass, you never would have gotten to this point in the first place.

However, people still struggle before the NCLEX, both internally with their nerves and externally with the test itself.

In this article, we go over everything you need to know to get ready for the testing day and to make things a little easier for yourself.


The most important work you will do for the NCLEX takes place before you take the test. Below, we take a look at a few steps you can take to get yourself registered and prepared for this important exam.

Step 1: Apply

The NRB needs to know that you are eligible to take the NCLEX. When you apply, they will evaluate your eligibility based on your transcript, but they will also look to see if you require any accommodations that could make the test more comfortable for you to take.

These accommodations will already be listed in your academic transcript, under some form of a learning plan. They might include more time to take the test or something along those lines.

Step 2: Pay Your Fees

NCLEX fees vary based on region but can set you back a pretty penny. There are additional fees involved with rescheduling or modifying other details of your test time, so be careful when you make your initial registration. Mistakes could cost you down the line.

Step 3: Authorize Your Account

This is a silly but mandatory step. Once you've made your payment, registered, and so on, you will need to verify your account by following the steps provided by an email that they will send to you.

If you've ever made an online account before, the authorization steps should feel familiar and straightforward.

Step 4: Pick A Date And Location

Once you've gotten your credentials established, you will be allowed to pick a date and time to take your test. There are testing locations established literally all over the world. Most people don't have a problem finding one that is nearby, but if you live in a remote area, you may need to drive a bit to get to the testing location.

Step 5: Study

You knew this one was coming. Now that you've got all of your other ducks in a row, it's time to make sure that you are prepared for the test itself. Of course, none of this should feel like Latin to you—the materials in the test will be largely derived from core healthcare concepts that are baked into all accredited nursing schools. Your nursing school may even be able to provide test-taking resources—particularly if you are still enrolled as you begin to get ready to register.

That doesn't mean that you can blow the test off. The flip side of the coin is that the test contains years' worth of information. You won't know exactly what it will cover. You're not even sure exactly how the questions will be asked—which can make a big difference in the outcome of your evaluation.

Study time is when you will work out all of that uncertainty. If you look online, you should find lots of materials, including sample questions or even full sample tests, that will point you in the right direction and also help you monitor how well your study sessions are going.

Don't work yourself into a panic. If you put in the work and take the test seriously, you will get good results. You may also find that it helps to speak with an RN about the test. While they won't be able to provide you with concrete details—the test changes specifically to prevent people from passing off answers—they can give you a good idea of what to expect on exam day.

Step 6: Prepare To Take The Test

Once you've done all your studying, it's time to get in the right frame of mind for taking a test. Here are a few ways you can help get yourself into test-taking condition.

  • Go to bed early the night before: While you may be tempted to do a little more cramming, study after study shows that binge study sessions the night before a test usually do more harm than good. Instead, go to bed at a sensible time and refrain from drinking or other behaviors that might dull your comprehension speed the next day.
  • Give yourself prep time in the morning: You should also wake up early enough in the morning to give yourself a comfortable routine. Drink your coffee, eat a healthy breakfast, shower, get dressed, etc. You don't want to feel rushed. Not only can getting up too late put you at risk of missing your test time, but it also puts you in the wrong frame of mind going in. You want to be relaxed and ready to go.
  • Stay calm and test on: You've done all the right things. Now, it's time to sit down and take that test. You've got this.


The time after you take the test can be nerve-racking—you want the results, and you certainly want to start working on the life that those test results can help facilitate. However, post-test life isn't nearly as strenuous as the steps described above.

Your test results are supposed to come in within six weeks. If they do not, contact the testing organization to fix the problem.

Hopefully, this is the step where you receive your passing score and then move on with your life. If not, don't panic. You can still retake the test. The guidelines specify that you must wait at least 45 days before you can take the test again. It feels like a long time, but it gives you plenty of opportunity to bone up. And now that you have already taken the test once, you will know exactly what direction to take your studying efforts going forward.