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Nurses Week NCLEX Review 2024: Comprehensive Study Guide for International Nurses & Repeat Test-Takers

Nurses Week is a time to celebrate the nursing profession and recognize the vital role nurses play in healthcare.

For international nurses and those retaking the NCLEX exam, it’s also an opportunity to focus on preparing for this challenging test.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to ace the NCLEX, from study tips to test-taking strategies.

Whether you’re an international nurse looking to practice in the U.S. or a repeat-tester determined to pass, this article will provide the information and resources you need to succeed.

Also Read :

  1. NCLEX for Foreign Nurses: A Comprehensive Guide
  2. Top 10 Tips to Pass the NCLEX on Your First Try
  3. NCLEX Review Centers for International Nurses
  4. Understanding the NCLEX Test Format and Question Types
  5. NCLEX Requirements and Application Process for International Candidates

Understanding the NCLEX

Nurses Week NCLEX Review 2024: Comprehensive Study Guide for International Nurses & Repeat Test-Takers

The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is a standardized test that all nursing graduates in the U.S. and Canada must pass to receive their nursing license. There are two versions of the NCLEX:

  • NCLEX-RN for registered nurses
  • NCLEX-PN for practical/vocational nurses

The NCLEX uses computerized adaptive testing (CAT) to measure a candidate’s competence. The exam is pass/fail and can be anywhere from 75 to 265 questions, depending on how consistently the tester is answering questions above or below the passing standard.

Most questions are multiple choice, but other formats like fill-in-the-blank, hot spots, and ordered response may be included.The NCLEX tests nursing knowledge and skills in four main categories:

  1. Safe and Effective Care Environment
  2. Health Promotion and Maintenance
  3. Psychosocial Integrity
  4. Physiological Integrity

For a more detailed overview of the NCLEX, including sample questions, check out the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) website.

NCLEX Requirements for International Nurses

International nurses who want to practice in the U.S. must meet additional requirements to take the NCLEX. These include:

  • Graduating from a government-approved nursing program that is comparable to a U.S. program
  • Passing an English proficiency test like the TOEFL or IELTS
  • Meeting all licensure requirements in the state/territory where you plan to practice
  • Applying for the NCLEX through the nursing regulatory body (NRB) in that state/territory

The NCSBN has a helpful resource page for international applicants with links to each state’s NRB and detailed instructions for the application process.

Start researching requirements early to ensure you have time to gather all necessary documents.

Study Tips for NCLEX Success

Thorough preparation is key to passing the NCLEX. Give yourself plenty of time to study – ideally several months. Create a study schedule and stick to it as much as possible. Here are some tips to make your studying more effective:

Understand Your Learning Style

Everyone learns differently. Some people are visual learners who benefit from diagrams and videos. Others learn best by listening to lectures or discussing concepts with others. Many are hands-on learners who need to practice skills to fully grasp them.

Think about what learning methods work best for you and incorporate them into your study plan.

Use Quality Study Materials

Choose up-to-date, reliable resources to study from. Some recommendations:

Many of these resources offer question banks, practice exams, video content, and mobile apps to make studying more engaging and convenient. Compare options to find what fits your needs and budget.

Focus on Areas of Weakness

As you study, you’ll likely find certain topics more challenging than others. Make a point to spend extra time reviewing your weak areas. Many prep resources can identify knowledge gaps and generate quizzes focused on those topics.

Practice NCLEX-Style Questions

In addition to content review, it’s critical to practice with NCLEX-style questions.

The more familiar you are with the exam format, the more comfortable you’ll feel on test day. Aim to explain rationales for both correct and incorrect answers to deepen your understanding.

Join a Study Group

Studying with others is a great way to stay motivated and learn from different perspectives. Look for NCLEX study groups in your area or online. If you can’t find one, consider starting your own with classmates or colleagues.

Take Breaks

It’s important to be consistent with studying, but be sure to give yourself breaks too. Aim for 30-50 minute study sessions with 5-10 minute breaks in between. Longer breaks every few hours will help you recharge. Use this time to stretch, snack, hydrate, or do a relaxing activity. Avoid burnout by taking a full day off each week.Nursing Abroad canada nurse 1

Managing Test Anxiety

The NCLEX is a high-stakes exam, so some anxiety is normal. However, if test anxiety is interfering with your performance, there are things you can do to manage it:

Develop a Positive Mindset

Believe in your ability to succeed. Replace negative thoughts like “I’m going to fail” with positive affirmations like “I am prepared. I will stay calm and focused.” Visualize yourself answering questions confidently and getting a passing result.

Practice Relaxation Techniques

Deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery are proven ways to reduce stress. Incorporate these into your daily routine, especially in the weeks leading up to the exam.

This relaxation techniques handout from the University of Michigan has instructions you can practice.

Take Care of Your Health

Eat nutritious meals, stay hydrated, exercise regularly, and prioritize sleep (aim for 7-9 hours per night). Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol. Taking care of your physical health will improve your focus and emotional resilience.

Seek Support

Talk to family, friends, or a therapist about your anxiety. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or encouragement. Consider joining an online support group for NCLEX takers like this one on Facebook.

Test Day Tips

Thorough preparation will boost your confidence on exam day. To set yourself up for success:

Plan Ahead

Schedule your test appointment well in advance. Familiarize yourself with the testing location and parking situation. Do a test run if needed. Gather required documents several days before. Pack snacks and lay out comfortable clothes the night before. Being organized will minimize stress the day of the exam.

Arrive Early

Plan to arrive at the testing center 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment. This will give you time to check in, store your belongings, use the restroom, and get settled.

Read Carefully

Read each question fully before looking at the answer options. Identify keywords and key phrases. Try to anticipate what the correct answer will be before looking at the choices.

Use the Process of Elimination

Rule out answer choices you know are incorrect. If unsure, make an educated guess – there is no penalty for wrong answers. Don’t leave any questions blank.

Manage Your Time

Though the NCLEX is untimed, try to keep a steady pace to avoid fatigue. Aim to spend no more than 1-2 minutes per question. If you’re stuck, make your best guess, flag the question, and move on. You can return to flagged questions at the end if time allows.

Nursing Abroad istockphoto 491669480 612x612 1
Young adult African American female nurse or doctor is checking paper patient chart and holding digital patient charts in digital tablet. She is standing in hospital emergency room while she makes her rounds.

Take Scheduled Breaks

You can take two optional breaks during the exam. Use this time to use the restroom, eat a snack, and mentally regroup. Avoid discussing exam content with others.

Trust Your Instincts

Go with your gut if torn between two answer choices. Don’t second-guess yourself or change answers unless you’re certain you made a mistake. Your first instinct is usually right.

Special Considerations for Repeat Test-Takers

If you’ve taken the NCLEX before and didn’t pass, don’t get discouraged. Many successful nurses had to retake the exam. Use it as a learning opportunity to identify and overcome your weaknesses. In addition to the general tips above, here are some specific suggestions for repeat testers:

Analyze Your Exam Results

Carefully review your Candidate Performance Report (CPR) from your previous attempt(s). This will break down how many questions you answered in each content area and how you performed compared to the passing standard. Use this information to guide your studying. Spend more time on your lowest performing areas.

Evaluate Your Study Methods

Reflect on how you prepared previously. Did you give yourself enough time? Did you use a variety of study resources? Did you take practice exams? Did you study in a conducive environment? Be honest about what did and didn’t work. Make necessary changes to your study plan.

Build Your Test-Taking Skills

In addition to building your nursing knowledge, focus on improving your test-taking strategies. Practice identifying keywords, eliminating wrong answers, managing your time, and staying calm under pressure. Consider investing in test prep resources that include test-taking tips and practice exams.

Consider a Review Course

If you’ve struggled to pass the NCLEX multiple times, a review course may be worth the investment. Hurst, Kaplan, and ATI offer live and online review courses specifically for repeat test-takers. These provide structure, expert instruction, and peer support to keep you on track.Nursing Abroad website for dentists sydney mediboost australia

Seek Accommodations If Needed

If you have a disability or medical condition that may affect your ability to take the NCLEX, you may be eligible for testing accommodations. This could include extra time, a separate room, or assistive technology. Contact your state’s NRB for information on how to request accommodations.


Passing the NCLEX is a major milestone on your journey to becoming a licensed nurse in the U.S. For international nurses and those retaking the exam, thorough preparation is essential.

Use the tips and resources in this guide to create a customized study plan, build your test-taking skills, and manage anxiety. Remember, the NCLEX is just one step in a long and rewarding nursing career. With hard work and determination, you WILL succeed!

For more information and support, check out these resources:

Best of luck on your NCLEX journey! You’ve got this!

Click here to start your NCLEX prep today!

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