Taking the NCLEX exam can be a nerve-wracking experience, but it does not have to be.
You have been studying the material for months now, so there is no doubt you’re academically prepared.
But, there are some last-minute things you can do before the exam to give you a little bit of an edge over other less-prepared students.
10 Last Minute NCLEX Tips
Check out my tips below for some important last-minute NCLEX tips.
1. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Make sure you finish studying early the night before the exam and go to bed early.
Experts say you should avoid studying the night before any major exam because the material you study stays in your brain’s short-term memory, displacing the knowledge you learned before.
Spending your last night before an exam frantically studying till late will result in poor concentration during the exam and may actually cause you to fail the NCLEX.
2. Eat a Healthy Breakfast
To make sure your brain has enough energy to last the grueling four to five hours of testing, eat a healthy breakfast on the day.
The best breakfast food will be filled with low GI carbohydrates like rolled oats porridge or low sugar muesli, which will provide slower energy release and help keep your blood sugar stable.
Even if you feel particularly anxious, try to eat a nutritious breakfast. Scrambled eggs on wholewheat toast will provide lots of protein to make you feel full for longer.
Follow that with some cut-up fruit like banana, berries, and apple, and don’t forget a handful of nuts to provide heaps of long-lasting energy for mental alertness.
Related: How is the NCLEX Scored?
3. Bring the “Right” Snack With You to the Testing Site
Eating food high in sugar will help you feel good for a few minutes, but then your blood sugar levels will dip, and you will feel sluggish and out of focus.
Forget about bringing those doughnuts and chocolates to eat during the scheduled breaks.
Instead, prepare your snacks the night before. Some good snack options include:
- Packing some apple slices sprinkled with lemon juice to prevent browning
- A couple of hard-boiled eggs (take them to the venue already shelled for ease of eating)
- A whole-grain pretzel spread with some peanut butter
The whole grain will keep your blood sugar levels steady, and the protein in the peanut butter will keep you feeling full.
4. Dress Appropriately and Comfortably
The clothes you choose for the NCLEX need to be comfortable.
Even though that tight top looks stunning, nobody in that venue will care, and it will make you uncomfortable, preventing you from concentrating on the questions in front of you.
The best way to dress is to make sure you are warm enough without overheating or shivering from being too cold.
Wearing a short-sleeved shirt with a sweater will let you remove it when it’s too hot in the venue and prevent you from getting too cold.
If your exam is scheduled in the winter months, remember you will need to leave your coat, hat, scarf, and gloves at the entrance as these are not allowed in the testing area.
5. Make Sure You Know Exactly Where You’re Going
There is nothing worse on your exam day than getting lost on the way to the venue. This is especially true if you’re writing in an unfamiliar place.
If your test venue is in a town other than your hometown, you should learn how to get to the venue from the hotel.
Ideally, you’d want to do this the day before the exam.
Take a test run to figure out which bus or taxi gets you to the venue, and don’t forget to find out exactly where the testing room is located in the building.
You may also want to locate the bathrooms, so you take as little time as possible for the scheduled bathroom breaks.
6. Don’t Cram Before The Exam
Cramming before the NCLEX (or any exam for that matter) does NOT work.
It is one of the most destructive ways to study, and it often fails.
Remember, the exam will ask for the material you have already studied and passed assessments in nursing school, so you’ve already assimilated most of the required knowledge.
The most productive way to prepare for the NCLEX exam is to go over things like lab values, pH levels, or the six rights of administering medication.
Trying to cram too much material on the last night before the exam can negatively affect your performance, and you will feel your mind going blank when taking the exam.
7. Avoid Alcohol The Week of the Exam
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, drinking alcohol before a test impairs memory for up to 48 hours after consuming alcohol.
Having impaired memory would not be good when you need your mind as sharp and focused as possible.
Some people claim that alcohol relaxes them, and they can study and perform in exams more effectively after having a few shots.
However, scientific studies have found that alcohol has a detrimental effect on academic performance.
If you want to relax on the last night before taking NCLEX, find an alternative relaxing activity rather than drinking alcohol.
You don’t want to jeopardize your chances by choosing to drink before the test.
Related: Signs You Passed the NCLEX Exam
8. Avoid Excessive Caffeine Before the Exam
Deciding whether you should drink coffee and ingest caffeine in various forms (like energy drinks) is tricky.
On the one hand, caffeine enhances memory and improves mental alertness.
On the other hand, if you ingest too much caffeine, it has a damaging effect on your ability to focus.
Taking too much caffeine will
- make you jittery
- unable to concentrate
- unable to sleep and get a good night’s rest
- negatively affect your performance
So, if you drink coffee regularly, there is no reason to stop drinking it before the exam, but don’t consume more caffeine than your regular amount.
9. Set an alarm clock
On the morning of the exam day, you must rise early enough to have time to shower, dress, and have a healthy breakfast on time without undue rush.
Having an unhurried morning routine before you leave for the venue will ensure a good frame of mind for the test.
To make sure you awake on time, set an alarm clock to wake you up at a given time.
10. Be confident
Be confident that you have done sufficient preparation to pass the NCLEX.
Having a positive attitude will go a long way to passing the test.
Remind yourself of all the obstacles you have already overcome to get to the point of writing the test that will allow you to put into practice all those years of studying.
This is it, so be proud of yourself for getting here.
Related: How to Pass the NCLEX-The FIRST Time
So, it all starts with getting a good night’s sleep.
If you take the time to plan and prepare for the exam day, everything will fall into place, and all you will have to do is focus on answering the questions correctly.
By following this list, you will set yourself up for success, which is what I wish for you.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions related to “last-minute NCLEX tips.”
What should I do the night before taking the NCLEX?
The night before taking the NCLEX, you need to take it easy and relax. Stop studying, make sure you have a good dinner, and go to sleep on time.
Is there a trick to passing the NCLEX?
There’s no trick to passing the NCLEX. The main thing is to study, get a good NCLEX review course and make sure you’re studying the right material, the right way.