The National Council Licensure Examination is the examination that all nurses have to take in order to practice. Just like high school students attend SAT preparation courses in order to do well, many nurses use an NCLEX preparation course to hedge their bets when it comes to passing this all-important exam. An NCLEX preparation course helps nurses improve the odds that they will do well on the test itself.
It achieves this by:
Reinforcing the information they are likely to encounter on the NCLEX.
Using practice questions developed from older exams.
Providing a review of the points covered in their original nursing degree or diploma program.
Registered nurses take the NCLEX-RN, while practical nurses take the NCLEX-PN. Therefore, there are different test prep courses available for these two groups, since their exams are somewhat different. Both of them help the same way, by giving nursing students the chance to review material and take practice tests before sitting for the NCLEX proper.
Why is the NCLEX so Important?
The NCLEX is the test that determines whether a nurse is a nurse or not. Without a passing grade on an NCLEX, graduates of nursing programs are just graduates, not nurses. In all states, licensed practical nurses and registered nurses must have passed an NCLEX in order to practice legally. If they are caught practicing without having passed the test and received a nursing license, they may face fines and jail time, and can even be prevented from practicing medicine in the future.
The Rundown on NCLEX Prep Courses
An NCLEX preparation course isn’t a requirement to take the NCLEX, so it isn’t strictly necessary. Many nursing programs also have excellent pass rates (some are as high as 100%), so students of these programs aren’t likely to need a preparation course before their exams. For students who allow some time to elapse between graduating and taking their exam, and students that don’t feel confident in their ability to do well on the NCLEX without help, a preparation course can give them the assistance they need to get themselves licensed.
State Boards of Nursing regulate who is and is not eligible to take the NCLEX in their state. In some states, registered nurses must have a bachelor’s degree before sitting for it. In others, a nursing diploma or associate’s degree is sufficient. No state allows nursing students to take the NCLEX after just an NCLEX preparation course. They must always have graduated from some kind of Board-approved nursing program first. These preparation courses only serve as a way for students to review material before taking the exam, they do not allow people who haven’t graduated from a nursing program to take it without completing the required core coursework.
NCLEX Preparation Course Providers
There are plenty of good NCLEX prep courses available, many of which are offered by online schools like Kaplan, or test review sites like Hurst Review Services. Unlike actual nursing degree programs, it isn’t necessary for an NCLEX prep course to be Board-approved. So, students can choose whichever one they are the most comfortable with, and that they think will be the most help to them. To find a good preparation course, look at the percentage of their students that have passed the NCLEX. If a course doesn’t offer these statistics, try to find one that does or at least one with a money-back guarantee.
Don’t compare an NCLEX course based on price. Since they aren’t required to be Board-approved, some unscrupulous NCLEX courses have cropped up that look like deals, but aren’t actually any good at helping students pass. Avoid review sites that try to pass themselves off as official NCLEX sites- only the NCSBN homepage should be treated as a reputable source of examination information.
Taking the NCLEX is the event that all nursing programs lead up to. Without it, a nursing graduate can’t practice. With it, a nursing graduate finally becomes a full-fledged nurse and can interact with patients in a clinical setting. An NCLEX preparation course can help you become more confident in your ability to pass the licensure exam, no matter whether you’re an aspiring registered nurse, or licensed practical nurse.