NCLEX Study Plan 2023: How to Crack NCLEX Exam Without Coaching

Passing the NCLEX is a huge achievement for any nursing student who aspires to become an entry-level nurse. However, passing the exam needs intensive preparation, which involves the use of an NCLEX study plan.

When you follow and stick to an NCLEX study schedule, you will accomplish so much. You will also avoid distraction that is typical in any serious tasks like studying. In this article, we give you a sample study plan and some tips to follow to hit your NCLEX target! 

What Study Materials Do You Need?

Along with an effective NCLEX study plan is reliable study materials like NCLEX prep books. We recommend the following:

  • Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN (1) – It’s one of the best NCLEX review books out there because of its comprehensiveness and high-quality practice questions. It also has an easy-to-use index and uses clear and concise language.
  • Kaplan’s NCLEX-RN Prep Plus 2019 (2) – The eight chapters have practice sets to supplement your primary study material. The detailed rationales also help you clear out confusions when you study by yourself.
  • Exam Cram NCLEX-RN Practice Questions (3) – If you are in a rush, then this is the best option for you because of it’s so-called “cram sheets” for the relevant concepts.
  • Prioritization, Delegation, and Task Management (4) – This is the holy grail for a lot of nursing students because it gives emphasis on developing your critical thinking skills when it comes to practical scenarios. You can use this along with any comprehensive review book. 

I also recommend you check the official test plan (5) for you to know what to expect on the actual NCLEX examination. 

7 Tips to Remember to Make Your Study Plan Effective

Before we give you a sample NCLEX study schedule, here are some tips that you need to keep in mind to create an effective study plan.

Break down your study hours 

Here’s the thing, if you’re planning to study for a certain number of hours, which also depends on your study plan for NCLEX, then you have to listen to your mental preference. A straight five or six-hour-study time, for example, may work for some people but, believe me, most people would prefer to break it down to make room for breaks.

You can split it into half, so you’ll have two and a half or three hours study time, and then take a break for an hour before you continue for another half of your study time. Go out, flex those muscles. Have fun. Do whatever you like to relax and lighten up your mood.

Keep any distractions away 

Getting distracted with lots of things is one of the reasons people procrastinate. 

I believe we share the same sentiments when I say, social media is one of the biggest distractions. You keep checking your Facebook or Instagram. Avoid them completely when you’re studying. You’ll accomplish more when you do. 

Besides, you can always check out social media after you study. Also, create a study area that is away from the television and other sources of temptations, quiet, and conducive to learning. 

Invest in a reliable NCLEX course 

If you’re planning to purchase an online course, make sure to choose the most reliable one that also fits your learning needs. There are a lot of options out there. To avoid getting overwhelmed with the course options, refer to student reviews because they have honest testimonies. 

Choose a comprehensive NCLEX review book 

Similar to an online course, a review book for the NCLEX should also be reliable enough to use, especially when you’re studying on your own. Choose an NCLEX prep book with detailed explanations and rationales and tons of high-quality practice exams.

Use a mobile app 

If you want to utilize your idle time but you’re not yet in a conducive place to study, it helps when you have a mobile app like the NCLEX Mastery (6) and HESI NCLEX-RN Exam Prep (7). Most mobile apps dedicated to NCLEX prep have flashcards that you can easily view even if you’re out and about. They also help you squeeze in a quick review a few days prior to your NCLEX exam. 

Don’t forget to review the drugs and medications section 

I am saying this because the drugs and medication section forms a large part of the NCLEX examination. Fill up your learning gaps in this section by using supplemental study materials like the Kaplan NCLEX Drug Guide (8) and the Epocrates mobile app (9).

Ease up a little bit 

I understand the need to be serious on your quest to pass the NCLEX, but it’s also important that you don’t pressure yourself too much. If you know that you’ve been working hard in your nursing school days, then it’s a refreshing thought to consider that all you need is a review of those topics for you to pass the NCLEX.

If you’re still not confident, especially if you think that you have several learning gaps, then take it seriously but don’t forget to make time to relax.  

6-Week NCLEX-RN Study Plan

We’ve already discussed the tips on how to make your NCLEX study schedule effective. This time, we will give you a sample study plan for the NCLEX. This is a six-week-study plan to provide you with ample time to digest every nursing concept well. You can also make use of our suggested NCLEX study resources (links above).

Week 1 – Body Systems

Total study time: 28 hours

Hours per day: 4 hours

Start off with the body systems. It’s the perfect starting point for studying before you hop on to other topics like diseases and medications. In this section, you will know what body system is considered as normal or abnormal. Use the concepts provided in your NCLEX prep book, annotate, and take notes which will be helpful later on when you need to review.

Suggested study material: Saunders Comprehensive Review (book)

Week 2 & 3 – Diseases

Total study time: 56 hours

Hours per day: 4 hours

After week 1 on this NCLEX preparation plan, which is all about the fundamentals, it’s time to focus on diseases. I purposely dedicated two weeks for this section because NCLEX is all about testing you on how you well you evaluate a patient who shows certain symptoms and conditions. Also, it tests your critical thinking ability on what you will do to make the patient safe under your care.

Furthermore, it’s reasonable why you need two weeks for this as you would want to be able to recognize an intensive range of diseases and conditions.

Suggested study material: Saunders Comprehensive Review (book), Kaplan’s NCLEX-RN Prep Plus 2019 (book), Prioritization, Delegation, and Task Management (book), Objective Vs. Subjective Data: How to tell the difference in Nursing (10). 

Week 4 – Drugs and Medication

Total study time: 28 hours

Hours per day: 4 hours

There are nursing students who don’t allocate time studying drugs and medications but, as already mentioned, it forms a huge part in the NCLEX. Therefore, it’s essential that you dedicate one week of your NCLEX study plan schedule to this section. Of course, you have to learn the drugs by category, the dosing calculations, drug coverage information, and many others.

Suggested study material: Kaplan NCLEX Drug Guide (book) and Epocrates (mobile app) 

Week 5 – Practice Questions

Total study time: 14 hours

Hours per day: 2 hours

After the intensive focus on the previous essential sections, it’s time for you to take practice tests so you can apply what you’ve learned. During this week, you’ll answer practice questions that will test your knowledge. Plus, it’s a great way for you to identify your learning gaps if there are any. You can then use the remaining week to bridge those gaps and gain confidence as you approach the test day.

Also, we recommend that you hit a minimum of 75 questions per day. The two-hour-allocation per day should be enough for you to practice proper pacing although it doesn’t mimic the actual time provided to you during the NCLEX examination.

Suggested study materials: Exam Cram NCLEX-RN Practice Questions (book) 

Week 6 – Review

Total study time: 6 hours

Hours per day: 1 hour

Keep in mind that during this time, you’re most likely one week away from the test day. Make sure to review what you have learned and address the learning gaps you have pointed out when you were taking the practice tests. Re-read books and revisit areas that you have forgotten. This is also the best time to make use of your notes in order to sharpen your nursing knowledge.

The day before the NCLEX test, we recommend that you take time to rest. Also, have an abundant sleep the night before the exam to make your mind and body test-ready!

Note: This sample NCLEX study plan calendar is not for everyone. I believe you have your own set of preferences and commitments. Feel free to adjust the allotted hours per week accordingly.

You may also shorten the weeks to five or four weeks if you can dedicate more hours per day. I don’t recommend less than four weeks as it may keep you away from learning what you’re supposed to learn. However, I also understand that your circumstances may be different. If that’s the case, it’s the same drill – adjust the hours to designate time for the essential topics. 

What’s Next?

If you’ve noticed, the NCLEX study guide that I have given recommends studying on a daily basis. Therefore, I want to emphasize the need to do so. If possible, ditch other commitments during this time so you can focus on your NCLEX preparation. After all, your hard work will pay off when you pass the exam. Remember to stick to your NCLEX study plan for guaranteed success. 

Did you like our tips and the sample study plan? Share it with your nursing friends who are struggling to stay organized while studying the NCLEX.