By Josephine Reid
An important thing to realize is that studying for your tests throughout nursing school and learning the content (rather than just memorizing/cramming for a test) is preparing you for the NCLEX. Throughout school you will learn content which will give you the foundation that you need for the NCLEX. Then in your last semester you could start preparing about the test taking strategies of the NCLEX; but for now, it's all about getting a good foundation, and that's what nursing school will give you.
Don't worry about content yet, but do work on NCLEX-style questions. Understanding the thought process behind NCLEX-style questions, which are completely different from other exam questions, will help you succeed in nursing school and on the NCLEX. The content will come with time. I didn't start prepping for the NCLEX until probably March or April before graduation (in May), tested in June, and licensed 2 days later. - RunBabyRN, BSN, RN, allnurses.com
Depending on what type of school nursing students attend, depends on when the NCLEX preparation begins. Usually, from the first semester, the school has a student taking computerized tests to see how well students score. Most students will eventually obtain study books and guides to begin preparing for the NCLEX-RN. During the last semester is usually a good time to start studying for the exam. The last semester for some schools is very busy, but by now the students should know how to manage time and some multitasking abilities.
During the last semester, nursing students won’t get as much studying done as they would like, but it’s a start. Also, by this time, you are more familiar with medical terms, safety, diseases, and diagnosis. Reviewing a few pages of review a day will help students get familiar with NCLEX study books. There are many study guides to choose from, but all of them have most of the same instructions. The study books will tell students how to prepare for studying for the exam and what to look for in certain questions.
The NCLEX exam deals more with familiarization of the questions than memorization. However, starting after graduation does not mean that a student will fail. A percentage of students that start studying early still run a small risk of failing. The studying that is done during the last semester is very minimal and should not be stressful.
See Examining the Relationship between Student Scores on the National Council Licensing Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and the Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) by Barbara B. Laird for more.