When it comes to passing the NCLEX, creating and sticking to a solid NCLEX study plan is just as important as showing up on test day ready to go. We’re going to share with you some tips on an effective 5-week NCLEX study plan to fit your busy lifestyle. Please read on if you are interested in what we have to say about a proper NCLEX study plan!
5-Week NCLEX Study Plan
For following this 5-week NCLEX study plan, you can use any NCLEX review book (see our list of the best NCLEX review books) you find helpful, assuming it meets the main criteria we outline below. I’d recommend starting off with the Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN, as it provides appropriate outlines for the body systems, disease processes, as well as practice questions at the end of each chapter.
The best overall NCLEX review book that is updated regularly to reflect the latest NCLEX-RN test plan.
NCLEX Study Tools Needed:
- Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN
- Prioritization, Delegation, & Assignment
- Kaplan NCLEX-RN Prep Plus
- Pearson Exam Cram
Week 1: Body Systems
- Total study time: 28 hours
- Study per day: 4 hours
Starting at the body systems, you should be reading the content provided in your NCLEX prep book as well as actively taking notes. This is all clearly needed before we can go into depth about diseases. The NCLEX is about critical thinking, and being able to start with a good baseline on what is normal versus abnormal in the body system will enable you to make calls when you see certain signs or symptoms of a problem in the workplace.
*Recommended NCLEX Study Tool:
Week 2-3: Disease Processes
- Total study time: 56 hours
- Study per day: 4 hours
Now that you have the body systems down pat, it’s time to dedicate a larger chunk of your time and energy into the disease processes, as this is what the NCLEX is going to be directly testing you on. The majority of the questions you will experience on the NCLEX will be asking you what your assessment or next move will be after given a set amount of information in regards to an ill patient, evaluating whether or not you will be able to keep patients safe under your care.
The reason you will need two weeks to be effective in studying the disease process is that you want to be able to recognize a wide range of conditions in the body system. The Saunders Comprehensive Review will outline the disease processes for you, so that you can study in a logical and meaningful sequence.
*Recommended NCLEX Study Tool:
Week 4: Practice Questions
- Total study time: 14 hours
- Study per day: 2 hours
We’ve hit the point where we can start practicing on questions rather than gorging on information day in and day out. Congrats! But we can’t throw in the towel yet. Practicing on NCLEX questions is critical in testing your knowledge and finding any remaining gaps you may have had in your study. You should be hitting at least 75 questions per day as you work through the recommended NCLEX study tools:
*Recommended NCLEX Study Tools:
For more NCLEX practice questions, check out our list of 10 Free NCLEX practice tests.
Week 5: Review
- Total study time: 6 hours
- Study per day: 1 hour
Leading up to the NCLEX, it is important to review everything you learned and practiced. This means looking at practice tests and seeing what you are getting wrong and going back to re-read and work through additional problems. Saunders Comprehensive Review provides a good outline for you to go back and look at key concepts that you may have forgotten or missed in your first wave of studying.
The review time is critical in perfecting your NCLEX test-specific knowledge. The day before the exam, put your books and notes away and take a complete break from studying. This is necessary for giving your brain a break and preparing you for the day ahead.
6 Steps for an Effective NCLEX Study Plan
First things first, let’s look at some general tips for an effective NCLEX study plan to make sure that you are on the right track before detailing the why’s and how’s:
1. Keep distractions at bay:
There is no point in “studying” when you are just distracted, pulling up Facebook, watching cute videos, and browsing nursing school memes. There are lots of apps out there to help you keep track of how much time you are spending on your phone or on certain apps, but I prefer to just outright block social media usage over a certain amount of time per day. There is an app called Block that does exactly this. We live in an ever-distracting environment, so the ability to focus yourself on your studies could make a huge difference when it comes to how much time you can devote to getting on with your day outside of studying.
2. Invest in a proper NCLEX review program:
Just like scrolling through Facebook won’t make you test higher on the NCLEX, using an NCLEX review book or class that you don’t enjoy can have negative effects on your preparation. Ask friends for recommendations on their favorite NCLEX review books or check out our list of the best NCLEX review books for the year.
3. Utilize flashcards or other mobile study tools:
Waiting for the bus? Commuting for work? Use this time effectively by studying for the NCLEX! Make flashcards with notes with some questions and answers you’ve been getting wrong as well as topics that you are struggling with. Quizlet has tons of NCLEX flashcard sets to choose from for free.
Also, many of the NCLEX review books come with access to websites so that you can view material on-the-go, such as Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN. Carry these mobile study tools in style with one of these awesome nursing tote bags.
4. Don’t forget to review medicines:
Knowing the endings of medicines as well as side effects is helpful for the NCLEX-RN. It’s important to do a brief review of meds, especially for any of you who may not have taken Pharmacology as seriously as you should have. We recommend Kaplan’s NCLEX Medication Review.
For those needing extra help on pharmacology, we’ve got a list of pharmacology flashcards to get you prepped.
5. Try to relax:
Most people pass the NCLEX on their first try, especially if he or she has been educated in the US. If you worked hard in nursing school, then a short review should already be enough for you to do well on the NCLEX. If you want to be reassured, we wrote an article about how hard the NCLEX is which we are confident will help you ease up a bit.
Still need to sign up to take the NCLEX? Get registered early so you don’t have to worry about it! Check out the NCLEX testing locations
6. Break up your studying:
If you’re shooting for a 4-week study plan, then you’re likely going to be studying up to 4 to 5 hours per day. I’m also guessing you’re not a robot. Which means it’s okay to take breaks in your studying. Not everyone has the same kind of studying patterns. I, personally, am at my prime early in the morning. That is when I would be able to get the bulk of my studying done. But 4 hours straight? No way. Have lunch. Spend time with your family. Then get back to studying for another hour or so.
General NCLEX Study Plan Tips:
- Study every day: 5 weeks is not a long time to prepare for the NCLEX, so it is imperative to keep the knowledge fresh in your brain. You can practice on high-yield questions daily with the help of BoardVitals. Enjoy our BoardVitals coupon, too!
- Don’t study the day before the test: This may contradict what we just said about studying every day, but it is extremely important to give yourself a mental break the day before the test. The brain needs a bit of time to relax and recover, especially before the long test you may have ahead of you.
- This study plan is not one-size-fits-all: We all have our own study preferences or amounts of time that we are able to commit daily to study. If you have more time to study, feel free to adjust this schedule to allow for shorter days of study. Same goes for those who may not have a full 5 weeks. Although I do not recommend studying with anything less than 4 weeks for the NCLEX, life definitely gets in the way and it’s good to be flexible and strategic where it counts.
- Consider an NCLEX prep course: Some students prefer studying in a course-like setting, and prepping for the NCLEX doesn’t have to be an exception. You can start your search with a free 5-day trial of CrushNCLEX.