I'm here to do everything in my power to help new nursing graduates succeed in their chosen profession. One of the entry-level requirements for a nursing career in the United States is passing the National Council Licensure Examination or NCLEX. Every prospective nurse who hopes to join the ranks of practicing Registered Nurses or Licensed Practical Nurses must pass the NCLEX RN or PN. In the following guide, I offer my best advice for finding a qualified, knowledgeable, and compassionate NCLEX tutor to help study for the NCLEX.
Study for the NCLEX With a Practicing Nurse
Whether it is the NCLEX-RN or the NCLEX-PN, the licensure examination was created by a committee of appropriately credentialed nurses to ensure that recent nursing school graduates have the necessary knowledge base to practice as entry-level nurses safely. In other words, the test is developed by nurses for prospective nurses to ensure that they can think like a nurse.
Since patient safety depends upon a knowledgeable nursing staff, the bar is set relatively high for the NCLEX. In 2019, the percentage of NCLEX-RN re testers who passed was as low as 40.4%. While some states have higher pass rates, many recent graduates don't pass the NCLEX on their second try. Finding an NCLEX tutor who is an RN will increase the chances of thinking like a nurse.
Get a Dedicated NCLEX Tutor
The NCLEX is a specialty examination, so a qualified tutor must have a working knowledge of the test's current content and format. While the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) offers test plans for the RN and PN exams online, a tutor who focuses on preparing for this exam can maximize performance by assessing performance and developing performance improvement plans.
Many tutors are available who tutor the MCAT, biology, or other related areas, but they do not have the professional preparation or experience needed to critically reason through bedside nursing scenarios. While the NCLEX exam contains a variety of question types often found in other exams, such as graphic, exhibit, fill-in-the-blank, and multiple-choice questions, it is the only one that requires candidates to utilize the nursing assessment, diagnosis, planning, intervention, and evaluation steps that are used in nursing care across settings. Therefore, recent graduates who want a piece of the professional pie need to find dedicated nursing and NCLEX tutors.
Enjoy Professional On-boarding While Preparing To Pass the NCLEX
One of the aspects of nursing I most enjoy is the close, professional ties I have with other nurses. Nursing patients and their families through some of the most challenging life events builds strong bonds and efficient working relationships with colleagues. When recent graduates study for the NCLEX with a working nurse, they can learn how nurses work together to strengthen one another's knowledge and skill base for improved patient outcomes.
When recent graduates study for the NCLEX with a professional nurse, they also receive valuable mentorship such as lots of practical wisdom. New graduates can also ask their tutor for job leads. Every nurse was once a new nurse who depended on their new professional community for help getting established. Even if a tutor doesn't have job leads, they have valuable personal experience finding and keeping that first nursing position.
Talk To Prospective NCLEX Tutors
A recent graduate needs to find out a tutor's philosophy, approach, and personality as it relates to the NCLEX. While tutoring companies and individual tutors often have impressive web pages, such sites should only be a starting point for finding the right tutor.
Once a new graduate finds a tutor that seems like a good fit, I recommend interviewing the tutor on the phone or through an online video call. In my experience, I have found that a tutor's personality comes through a lot more when they must answer random questions in real-time. Since 93% of communication is nonverbal, a video conferencing environment can give a prospective student a more comprehensive view of a potential tutor.
During a video or phone interview, I think it's especially important for a prospective student to watch the tutor for signs of:
Hire an NCLEX Tutor on a Trial Basis
I understand how time pressure can alter a new nursing school graduate's thinking. When the state issues a Graduate Nurse or Graduate Practical Nurse credential, the clock starts ticking, and the race is on to pass the NCLEX. After all, once these temporary practice permits expire one year after graduation, employers might not be able to hold a nursing job.
Even though this time pressure is genuine, I can also speak to the value of slowing down and logically considering the options. In selecting a tutor to work with, I wish more recent graduates would realize they can hire and fire tutors until they find someone who meets their needs.
Since the goal of studying for the NCLEX is to pass the test, an excellent tutor gets results. Most tutors will provide multiple NCLEX-style quizzes or tests for students. There are also several commercially available NCLEX-preparation books and question banks that many nursing schools allow their recent graduates to access. My advice for hiring a tutor is to take a few pre-tests, attend three or four tutoring sessions, and conduct a post-test. If scores don't improve, then find someone else to help you study for the NCLEX. This happens all of the time to professional tutors and is something they expect during their practice.
Request a NCLEX Study Plan From the Tutor
Passing the NCLEX requires much more study than can be accomplished in an hour or two of weekly tutoring. It is my professional opinion that creating study plans for students is a part of a tutor's job. If a tutor won't create a plan for a student, then the student needs to find another tutor.
A reasonable study plan needs to consider the student's learning style, attention span, and time available for study. In my experience, the minimum time most students need to spend studying for the NCLEX is two to three months. This time-frame assumes a strong foundation in nursing school content.
A successful study plan will balance daily practice in reasoning like a professional nurse, answering NCLEX style questions with a comprehensive review of the most crucial concepts needed for independent practice. Excellent study plans also include frequent opportunities for self-assessment, ideally more than one practice test per week.
Find a Retest Specialist, if Needed
I can see how many new nursing school graduates can assume everyone is passing the NCLEX. After all, who posts anything but winning smiles and passing scores? I want everyone to know that not passing the NCLEX on the first try is more common than many think.
In my experience, recent graduates who need to take the NCLEX another time need a tutor who can analyze test performance using the Candidate Performance Report (CPR) NCSBN sends to students who don't pass the exam. CPR is an appropriate name because an experienced tutor can use this document to bring career prospects back to life. Although reviewing content and answering questions is still important, I believe second-timers need specialized techniques for combating the self-doubt and performance nerves that are more common in repeat test-takers.
Whether a student is taking the NCLEX for the first time or not, finding a suitable tutor can help to make the process less stressful and more successful. In my experience, the feeling of becoming a new nurse makes all of the preparation and tutoring worth it. I wish everyone who needs to clear this hurdle the best of luck and welcome everyone who has already passed the NCLEX to this marvelous profession.