Test Prep Strategies to Pass the NCLEX-PN Exam the First Time

preparing for NCLEX-PN
preparing for NCLEX-PN

Test Prep Strategies to Pass the NCLEX-PN Exam the First Time

Nursing can be an incredibly rewarding career, but if you want to become a practical nurse, you will be required to pass the NCLEX-PN exam and earn your license. Any test can cause a bit of anxiety, and when it’s about your nursing license, it can be stressful. But it will be awesome when you pass the test, achieve this important milestone in your career, and become a licensed practical nurse (LPN). If the NCLEX-PN is in your future, here are a few tips to help you pass the exam on the first try.

Know What the NLEX-PN Exam is All About

This licensing process is administered by the State Boards of Nursing and the exam is administered by Pearson Vue. The test will determine whether you are ready to begin your career in practical nursing. You’ll be tested on four different areas:

  • Safe and Effective Care Environment—Includes coordinated care and safety and infection control.
  • Health Promotion and Maintenance—Includes the aging process, disease prevention, high-risk behaviors, lifestyle choices, and health promotion programs.
  • Psychosocial Integrity—Includes grief and loss, support systems, coping mechanisms, and behavioral management.
  • Physiological Integrity—Includes basic care and comfort, pharmacological and parental therapies, reduction of risk potential, and physiological adaptation.

The test consists of multiple-choice questions, fill-in-the-blanks, short answer response, drag-and-drop, chart and exhibit, and identification of anatomical spots.

Tips to Pass the NLEX-PN Exam

Here are a few tips to help you ace the test on the first try:

  1. Be Prepared for the Format—The NCLEX-PN is a little different than other exams you may have taken in the past. You will answer a minimum of 85 questions on your way to a passing grade. If you demonstrate the minimum competency through those 85 questions and answers, you will pass. If you do not demonstrate the minimum competency after the first 85 questions, you can answer up to 205 questions to do so. You’ll have five hours to complete the entire exam, which will be administered via a computer.
  2. Create a Study Plan—Set a schedule for yourself that blocks out time each day to study. You might want to tackle one category on one day and move to another category on another day. You can also set goals for yourself, such as how many practice questions you want to tackle per day.
  3. Connect Concepts—Don’t just re-read notes or textbooks. Take the time to connect the concepts you study to lessons you’ve learned in your clinical rotations or from experiences that you’ve heard about from your teachers.
  4. Teach Others—To make the concepts stick, take the time to “teach” some friends and family members. When you recite the knowledge you’ve learned, you help commit it to memory. You can also use mnemonic devices, such as acronyms or songs to help you remember important facts.
  5. Ask Others to Quiz You—Make flashcards and ask classmates, friends, or family members to quiz you. The study process can seem less daunting when you get some help from others.
  6. Take Practice Exams—You can register for a practice exam on many different websites, that will give you the chance to see what the real exam will be like. Costs for practice exams can range from $49 to $149, depending on how many months you want to access the material.


A good practical nursing training program should include thorough NCLEX-PN preparation and review. At Porter and Chester Institute in Connecticut, we offer a Practical Nursing training program conducted by nursing professionals who know the knowledge, skills, and practice you will need and your instructors will help you prepare for your NCLEX-PN exam. Fill out the form to learn more.