Monday, December 12, 2011

How I'm Already Preparing For NCLEX

So I don't graduate for another year, probably won't be taking the NCLEX until sometime in January 2013...but I'm already preparing for it.  Not just by paying attention in classes and such..I'm actually making notes, note cards, and study materials.  I had mentioned this on twitter and some of my fellow nursing tweeps asked what all I was doing, so I decided to write up a blog post about it.  Who knows...someone else might get some good ideas from what I'm doing.  And if you do, and NCLEX cuts you off at 75 questions with a passing score, you totally owe me some chocolate or something  ;-) there isn't anything real fancy about my NCLEX prep.  First of all, I'm depending a lot on ATI, which if your school isn't using ATI, this might not apply to you so well.  In my program, our instructors give us the ATI chapters that correspond to the content we're covering in class, so we're technically supposed to be reading our textbooks and ATI books to prepare for class.  I was much better at this at the beginning of the semester before clinical responsibilities ramped up, but what I would do was read the chapter and take notes in a designated ATI notebook.  I know...reading and taking notes, what a concept.  But reading it is one interaction with the material...then writing it is the second interaction with it...and there ya go, 2 interactions with the content.  Plus all your ATI notes are in one labeled notebook, so when the time comes for you to study hardcore before you take the NCLEX, your information is all right there, no having to look through class files for it all.  Now I admit I will need to go back and do a lot of reviewing and adding information to my notebooks, because clinicals kinda took over my life for a good portion of the semester...but I at least got started with a good method.

The second thing I did was to make Pharm Cards.  I got a little multi-colored index card spiral "notebook" (if you will) at Wal-Mart and started filling in drugs.  The first ones I added were psych drugs, since there are so many of them and they're kinda confusing, plus it helped me in mental health class this past semester!  But anyway, each class of drugs has its own page, with the class name, common drugs by generic and trade name, what they do (in simple terms), what they treat, and any other basic information.  Then on the back of the card I listed common side effects, contraindications, any special notes -- such as the toxicity levels and signs/symptoms for Lithium, not giving Digoxin if the full-minute apical pulse is less than 60 bpm, etc. -- and any other pertinent information.  I still need to go back and add some drugs we discussed this semester, but I have quite a few in there already, which makes for a really good start.  Then when studying for NCLEX, I'll just review my Pharm Cards and make sure I know the listed information.  Again, all info right in one spot, no need to go back and search through class files and notes.

Finally, I have another index card "notebook" that I've filled with various odds and ends information.  Like basic assessment order, common abbreviations, mnemonics, ABG's (the 4 ABG problems, their signs/symptoms, and common situations that cause them), and anything else that I decide to add in there.  This is one of those things where I just kinda know what I need to add in there...I may have the same information in my ATI notebooks, but if it's something super important, or something that can be confusing, it goes here.

Oh yeah...I do have one of those NCLEX prep books, with practice questions and such.  I haven't had a chance to really do anything with it yet, but it might be a good idea to start.  Plus I do the NCLEX Style questions at the end of every textbook chapter I read, plus any textbooks that are tied to the Evolve website, I get online and do the test-prep chapter questions.  Basically anywhere I can find questions, I will answer them, just to get the practice of thinking like the NCLEX wants me to.

So that's my NCLEX prep method.  I'd like to hope it will help me when that dreaded study week or two (or month...ick, that sounds horrendous!) finally gets here...that I won't be scrambling to find all my material, that having worked on it here and there throughout the semesters will prove to be a smart move...but we shall see!

Hope this helps!  :-)


  1. Yay! You made the blog post! :) GREAT info and ideas. I'm definitely going to have to remember all of this ;)

  2. I started preparing even before my first day of nursing school. Pretty much with the placement letter for my LPN program. I have already begun studying for the RN program and NCLEX, even though I don't have my placement for that yet.