Student life


Why I Started Studying for the NCLEX 6 Months in Advance

(and Why You Should Too)
Written by Yu Liang

There are three things in life that you cannot avoid … death, taxes, and if you’re a nursing student: the NCLEX.

I know it sounds crazy, studying so far ahead of time for an exam I’m not even scheduled to take yet. But, from professors using “select-all-that-apply” questions to HESI exit exams, theoretically, our entire time at nursing school has been preparing us to take the NCLEX. 

In my last semester of nursing school, we take a synthesis class, which I like to call “NCLEX PREP 101” because it covers everything we’ve ever learned. We also take Acute Adult Health (Med Surg II), which covers all the major body systems. Being the over-achiever that I am, I usually study for classes in advance before they start. Because the content was so comprehensive, I figured I could hit two birds with one stone and start my NCLEX prep early. 

Here are the resources I’m using: 

Book cover for Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN, 8e

Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN

I try to do at least one chapter a day but give myself time to relax and have no strict structure. I was reading because I was interested, not because it was required, and this mindset made me a lot more consistent. I couldn’t complete all the chapters before the semester started, but I made sure I reviewed the topics that were going to be tested and covered in class. Each chapter has practice questions at the end directly related to the content covered, so you’re able to pinpoint which areas you’re unfamiliar with and focus on those. 

Saunders Q&A Review Cards

I’m also a big fan of multi-tasking, so I always try to bring some flashcards with me. I have a long train commute to work and clinicals and I’d rather spend that time doing something productive. That’s why I absolutely love using flashcards to quiz myself. I might not be getting all the questions right, but the rationales are readily available and they're so convenient to use.  

book cover for Saunders Q&A Review for the NCLEX-RN, 8e

Saunders Q&A Review for the NCLEX-RN

As I get closer to graduating, I’ll be a lot more focused on using practice questions. However, because I still need to brush up on key concepts, I’ll save this for when I’m more confident and have a better foundation of knowledge. Focus on making sure you know the information first, and then test yourself to see if you know the information by doing practice questions. Pro tip: try doing 75 questions in one sitting to see how you would do if it were *actually* the NCLEX.

I highly recommend using NCLEX study materials as an adjunct to your lectures & PowerPoints to study for nursing school exams. From experience, my grades have been so much better since I’ve started doing so, and wish I started earlier. It seems overwhelming, but pace yourself, and let yourself breathe. You got this! 


Yu Liang

Future Nurse | Elsevier Student Ambassador