10 Best NCLEX Prep Books for 2020: Top Picks & Reviews
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Choosing the best NCLEX review book plays a huge role in passing the NCLEX exam. It is essential that you consider a resource that fits your learning style to make the most out of it. Even if you already have a study circle and a good grasp of nursing concepts, it remains a wise investment to get yourself a reliable prep book.
For this roundup review, I give you Saunders Comprehensive Review as the best choice of book from the rest of what I have listed here. Other materials, however, are comparable to some extent. Read further below and check what works for you.
10 Best NCLEX Prep Books
1. Saunders Comprehensive Review
The Saunders Comprehensive Review (1) is considered to be consistently labeled as the best NCLEX review book because of several reasons, one of which is its plethora of practice questions. With more than 5,000 practice questions, you will get complete coverage of all nursing topics, thereby adding to your confidence during the test day.
Moreover, the author continuously updates the content to make it more relevant, especially considering the changes in the nursing environment over the years. Another reason that makes this book a top-rated NCLEX study guide is the visuals like charts, images, and tables that break the monotony of the texts.
Aside from the thousands of questions, this NCLEX prep book is also easy to understand. It uses simplified grammar to ensure that students understand each concept right away with less to no confusion. Even better, there are detailed explanations for both correct and wrong answers to expand your knowledge on the right approach to answer the question.
I also enjoy the format of this book because the questions are provided at the end of each chapter. This format takes advantage of the idea that it is better to review the practice questions while the pieces of information in each chapter are still fresh. Lastly, you will get exclusive online access to more resources that would help clarify the book’s content when you purchase it.
- Over 5,000 practice questions
- Helpful visuals
- Easy-to-understand language
- Detailed test-taking strategies and rationale
- 85-question comprehensive exam
- Full-color design
- Easy-to-use index
- Kindle version is difficult to use
- Some questions have a low degree of difficulty
It’s one of the top NCLEX review books for many reasons–bulk information yet easy to digest. The test-taking strategies and other beneficial features certainly give you the confidence you need for the actual test day.
2. Kaplan’s NCLEX-RN Drug Guide
Kaplan is a known provider of courses and study materials, including the NCLEX-RN Drug Guide (2). Although it is not a comprehensive NCLEX prep book, I included it in this list because drugs and medications form a huge part of the exam. Due to this, Kaplan dedicated a book that specializes in the said section.
This book offers a great deal of information about medications with over 300 drugs explained with a flashcard format. Included in the explanations are details on application, contraindication, uses, and properties. There is also a thorough index on common names, brand names, correct pronunciation, and medical abbreviations. Even better, the drugs are arranged by category, which is more beneficial than alphabetical order.
It also comes in a smaller size than the regular textbooks, so carrying it is no hassle.
If you are struggling with this section, this NCLEX review book is the material to rely on. You can achieve a thorough understanding of medications relevant to your future practice as a nurse.
- Wide coverage on drug information
- Incorporates flashcard format
- Drugs are arranged by category
- Portable enough to carry
- Not comprehensive
Use it as a supplementary material only, especially if you feel that you have learning gaps on drugs and medication. Do not rely on this because it is not as comprehensive as other NCLEX study guide books.
3. Mosby’s Comprehensive Review of Nursing
The 20th edition of Mosby’s Comprehensive Review of Nursing for the NCLEX-RN Examination (3) is a great collection of relevant nursing topics that can help you ace the NCLEX exam. It has over 800 pages of information that cover all of the main topics.
As per several student reviews, this NCLEX prep book is a huge volume that makes it intimidating to use. Nevertheless, the content makes it one of the best NCLEX books out there. It has tons of practice questions with colorful charts and illustrations, especially necessary for students who are visual learners. Moreover, it includes two full-length practice exams that can help build your endurance in taking lengthy tests like the NCLEX.
Another unique feature of this book is a section dedicated to nursing management practices, such as prioritization, task management, and governance. There’s also a CD included that you can use to tailor your quizzes and to help you focus your study plans.
- Broad coverage of nursing main topics
- 4,200 practice questions
- 2 full-length practice exams
- Practice questions with colorful charts and illustrations
- An entire section on nursing management practices
- The volume is intimidating
- The delivery of information is slightly redundant
- The rationales are not clear enough
This book contains more than 600 alternate item formats that will train you well in dealing with these types of questions.
There is an option to create your own flashcards, which is great because you can customize them according to your learning pace.
4. Lippincott Q&A Review for the NCLEX
The Lippincott Q&A Review (4) may not be as comprehensive as the Saunders Comprehensive Review but it incorporates the similar types of questions and difficulty found in the real NCLEX examination. It also mimics the format of the exam that helps students get used to what to expect in the exam.
Even more, this NCLEX prep book is so affordable that it is highly voted as one of the best NCLEX reviewers. It contains more than 6,000 questions that will help expand your active learning and critical thinking skills. There is also a self-analysis page for better individual practice. The content is color-coded to aid you well in grasping information easily.
I recommend this book for students who are already familiar with the NCLEX syllabus because it uses a direct approach to question and answer. Otherwise, it may come out as an overwhelming study material. The four major topics in this book are mental health, medical-surgical, obstetric, and pediatric nursing.
- Over 6,000 practice questions
- Same questions and difficulty as the actual NCLEX
- Mimics the format of the actual exam
- Color-coded content
- Tips on dealing with NCLEX style questions
- An online resource to aid the book
- No rationales for incorrect answers
- Book’s content is similar to the online resource
- Contains some typographical errors
If you’re looking for budget-friendly resource material for the NCLEX, then the Lippincott Q&A Review is my best recommendation.
Content updates of this book are driven by objective data from the Lippincott NCLEX-RN PassPoint.
5. HESI Comprehensive Review
For students who have time to prep ahead of time before the NCLEX examination, the HESI Comprehensive Review (5) gets my seal of approval. Despite it being a comprehensive NCLEX review book, you won’t be overwhelmed with the content because it is arranged into chapters, and the terms used are simple and clear.
For enhanced learning, this book also uses various teaching techniques to explain complicated concepts. Plus, there’s plenty of supplementary guides to augment what you already know, such as hint boxes, short lessons, charts, and pictures. Detailed explanations of answers are also well-thought-of to keep students from getting stuck with complex nursing questions.
The high-quality paper used in this book also adds to its overall value as one of the best NCLEX study guides. Preparing for the NCLEX for several months won’t be an issue with this book because it’s durable enough to hold off constant shuffles of month-long study preps.
Finally, its online counterpart provides additional practice questions that can help sharpen your test-taking skills.
- Contents are well-organized
- The format is engaging
- Easy-to-understand language
- High-quality glossy paper
- Detailed explanations for retention
- Online resource equivalent has less than 300 practice questions
- Contains some typographical errors
The HESI Comprehensive Review is the best book to study for NCLEX-RN if you have several months to study. The engaging format also makes it lively to use and not boring or tiresome. Based on the title of the book itself, you can use it for both NCLEX-RN and HESI exams (6).
6. NCLEX-RN Content Review Guide
Another book from Kaplan is the NCLEX-RN Content Review Guide (7) that summarizes all the significant nursing concepts. This book has only around 600 pages but covers enough that will help you learn without going through a full NCLEX course.
It is considered to be one of the best study guides for NCLEX-RN because it is both easy to access and understand. It is accessible because there is an online resource companion when you purchase the book, and this is where you can access some of the sample questions and notes on study strategies. Because it uses plain terms, pieces of information are easy to grasp.
If you are struggling in meeting up with your own study schedule for the NCLEX, this book may be able to help. This is because it follows a certain study plan that enables you to cover the complete content without wasting time. Kaplan’s decision tree strategy is also found in this book.
- Well-presented nursing concepts for easy retention
- Easy-to-understand language
- Uses a study plan to help you be on track in studying
- Incorporates Kaplan’s famous decision tree strategy
- No full-length practice exams
It is not as comprehensive as Saunders, Mosby’s, and HESI, but the summarized content will surely suffice your study requirements. I personally appreciate that this NCLEX study guide is also mindful of the students’ need for a study plan, which is vital when you are using it without a tutor.
7. Illustrated Study Guide for the NCLEX RN
This book is considered to be a unique choice from our list because it’s a study material with tons of visual presentations. The Illustrated Study Guide for the NCLEX-RN (8) uses well-curated charts and mnemonics that aid your learning as you go through each nursing concept. Even better, the book presents concepts in colorful boxes for easy retention of information.
When you purchase this NCLEX study guide, you will also be provided with access to its comprehensive online resource with over 2,500 practice questions. Through notecard pages, key concepts are well-laid out for your in-depth understanding of what’s in the book. In other words, the online portal supplements the book.
Of course, I consider it as one of the best NCLEX prep books because it has the most recent addition of information crucial to your practice as an entry-level nurse.
- Abundant illustrations
- Comprehensive online resource
- Contains the most recent information
- Heavily summarized
- There is a gap between the book and the online portal
This book focuses on the visual presentation of nursing concepts; hence you ultimately need to refer to the online portal for the explanations and rationales. Therefore, I do not recommend that you depend solely on this book. For an explanatory guide, utilize the online portal in the Evolve web resource (9).
8. Davis Q&A Review for the NCLEX RN – Greatest Number of Questions
Quite closed to Saunders Comprehensive Review, this NCLEX book entitled Davis Q&A Review (10) is one of the best NCLEX review books because it contains the greatest number of questions. It has 2,750 practice questions in the book and another 10,000 practice questions in the online portal link to it.
The other feature of this top-rated NCLEX review book that I love is the quality of its questions. Each one is set at the right difficulty level to ensure that you will be challenged enough. A few student reviews even say that some questions in the book are tougher than the ones in NCLEX.
Moreover, the types of questions are intuitive in a way that can help you identify your learning gaps. To handle various question types, there are also guidelines included in the book. Plus, the two sets of full-length practice tests help you get used to how the actual NCLEX examination progresses.
- A large database of questions
- A greater degree of difficulty of the questions
- Easy-to-understand organization of chapters
- Comprehensive rationales for the questions
- 2 full-length practice tests
- Kindle version is difficult to use
- Some typographical errors
You won’t go wrong with this book’s wide plethora of questions that can enhance your readiness for the NCLEX. The additional features, such as the NCLEX study guide definitely adds value.
9. Prioritization, Delegation, and Task Management
First off, I would like to tell you that this book is best paired with a comprehensive reviewer like the Saunders Comprehensive Review and Davis Q&A Review. Simply put, those comprehensive prep books provide you great coverage of information in order to pass the NCLEX, while the book Prioritization, Delegation, and Task Management (11) aims to make you a better nurse.
This book is unique because most NCLEX prep books focus on providing you practice questions and content review so you can pass the test. This one, however, focuses on testing your ability to deal with practical concerns that nurses are facing today.
It covers three areas of principles in caring for a patient: prioritization, delegation, and task management. These three areas target to develop your critical reasoning and problem-solving skills to come up with a resolution.
Also, keep in mind that the NCLEX exam has recently given more emphasis on these areas, which is why the book also provides you with suggested strategies and approaches in dealing with different nursing real-life scenarios.
Overall, it is an amazing book with practical content but it cannot be used by itself. Instead, use it along with some of the best NCLEX-RN review books.
- Focus on practical nursing scenarios
- Difficult questions for critical thinking
- Detailed explanations of every answer
- Answers are a bit subjective
- Cannot be used on its own
It’s a fantastic resource book with practical uses that will be beneficial even when you’re already a nurse. However, if you use it with a goal to pass the NCLEX, then pair it with other comprehensive prep books.
10. Exam Cram NCLEX Practice Questions
Last on our list is a budget-friendly and time-intensive type of NCLEX prep book. The Exam Cram NCLEX Practice Questions (12) is the best NCLEX study guide for those who have little time before the test. The format of this book is intentionally designed for quick study sessions and easy recollection of information.
Included in this resource material are key nursing concepts and 1,250 practice questions that are all formulated to refresh and sharpen your memory, even if you’re in a rush to learn. For example, cram sheets are used for relevant concepts that require last-minute test prep.
As a user-friendly textbook for the NCLEX, it also offers a CD that can help you familiarize the exam questions. If you don’t have a grounded experience with what goes on in the NCLEX, then we recommend you get the comprehensive study guide.
- Cram sheets for relevant concepts
- Not comprehensive
- Contains some typographical errors
This book is best as a quick reviewer to refresh your memory, but not as a main NCLEX prep book. This is because most concepts are given only in brief overviews.
How to choose the right NCLEX prep book?
There are a lot of features you have to consider before choosing the right material to use. Some of the things you have to pay attention to are as follows:
- Wide coverage – You have to make sure that the prep book you buy is comprehensive enough and covers all nursing concepts in explanatory level. Examples of the comprehensive review books are Saunders, Mosby’s, HESI, and Davis Q&A. You can also look into the number of questions provided and whether they’re provided online and on print.
- Detailed explanations and rationales – Look for a book that gives clarity to the content through detailed explanations and rationales for every question and concept.
- Study tips and test-taking strategies – Aside from great content review and tons of questions, choose a book that adds value to your test prep with the inclusion of study tips and test-taking strategies which will help you succeed in your prep time and actual test day.
- Easy-to-understand – Choose an NCLEX prep book that makes the study experience easy for you. Some of the signs you have to check are the use of simple language, visual presentation, and good organization of concepts.
- Level of difficulty of the questions – Passing the NCLEX requires you to be adept at the most difficult nursing scenarios as the exam targets to test your critical thinking skills in handling these various nursing situations. Therefore, you have to prep with a resource book that gives you an edge in terms of answering difficult questions, which are common in the NCLEX.
You would also appreciate a book that mimics the format and level of difficulty as the real NCLEX examination like Lippincott.
- Additional Features – Consider a book that includes full-length practice exams to help you get used to how the actual NCLEX feels. You may also look into additional features like an online portal for extra study resources, companion CDs, and study plans.
Taking into consideration a lot of factors, I voted Saunders Comprehensive Review as the best book from the list. For the next choice of the best NCLEX reviewer, I recommend Davis Q&A Review and HESI Comprehensive Review.
If you need to master drugs and medications, the Kaplan Drug Guide that covers this particular section is a suitable choice. The book on Prioritization, Delegation, and Task Management is also the perfect option if you want to hone your practical skills in nursing. You can even use it as a refresher when you’re already a nurse.
For quick study fixes, you can try the overflowing nursing content of NCLEX Content Review Guide of Kaplan, Illustrated Study Guide, and Exam Cram.
You may check the NCLEX review courses online to learn more!
- 1. https://www.amazon.com/Saunders-Comprehensive-NCLEX-RN-C2-AE-Examination-Nclex-Rn-ebook-dp-B01K4UK4C4/dp/B01K4UK4C4/ref=mt_kindle?_encoding=UTF8&me=&qid=
- 2.. https://www.amazon.com/dp/1506223478/ref=as_li_ss_tl?&linkCode=sl1&tag=nursefocus-20&linkId=7de45b16ea25d2905dfd61be09710a27&language=en_US
- 3. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0323078958/ref=as_li_ss_tl?&linkCode=sl1&tag=nursefocus-20&linkId=3ad65c38e00b3c3905c4a73859d433d8&language=en_US
- 4. https://www.amazon.com/dp/1469886618/ref=as_li_ss_tl?&linkCode=sl1&tag=nursefocus-20&linkId=8d80ff7cf6fc3b4cce3ce8bdd4d90fc2&language=en_US
- 5. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0323394620?creativeASIN=0323394620&imprToken=gZDMAPoPx4MVSHdlzBr7fA&slotNum=28&tag=kthorndy44-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1&psc=1
- 7. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0323394620?creativeASIN=0323394620&imprToken=gZDMAPoPx4MVSHdlzBr7fA&slotNum=28&tag=kthorndy44-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1&psc=1
- 8. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0323530974?creativeASIN=0323530974&imprToken=PQxi-fjMpb2bJQeQ9KXZwA&slotNum=44&tag=kthorndy44-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1&psc=1
- 9. https://evolve.elsevier.com/cs/
- 10. https://www.amazon.com/dp/080364079X?creativeASIN=080364079X&imprToken=PQxi-fjMpb2bJQeQ9KXZwA&slotNum=36&tag=kthorndy44-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1&psc=1
- 11. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0323498280/ref=as_li_ss_tl?&linkCode=sl1&tag=nursefocus-20&linkId=f5c83a2518ddf23087358e45c96d8e46&language=en_US
- 12. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0789757532?creativeASIN=0789757532&imprToken=PQxi-fjMpb2bJQeQ9KXZwA&slotNum=40&tag=kthorndy44-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1&psc=1
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