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How to Stay Motivated While Preparing for the NCLEX

Victoria Derlin, BS, RN, BSN Nursing and Student Advice

Congratulations! You have graduated from nursing school! This is a huge accomplishment but the hard work is not over yet. Unlike many other majors, nursing requires you to take a licensing exam called the National Council Licensure Examination or better known as the NCLEX before you can start working as a registered nurse. The purpose of the NCLEX is to make sure that it is safe for you to begin practicing as a nurse. Studying for an important test like the NCLEX can seem daunting and intimating. That is why we have compiled the following tips for you to stay motivated while preparing for the NCLEX. Continue reading if you want to give yourself a leg up on the best ways to help yourself pass the NCLEX.

Create a Plan and Goals

Before beginning your studying you should create a study plan for yourself. Begin building your plan by asking yourself the following questions.

  • What is the best way for you to study?
    • How did you learn best while you were in school?
    • Are you a visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or reading/writing learner?
  • What are you going to study?
    • Are you going to use a test prep book?
    • Are you going to use an online test prep program?
    • Are you going to hire a tutor?
    • Did your school provide you with any study resources?
    • What were your weakest test subjects or type of test questions in school?
  • When are you going to study?
    • Do you have other responsibilities that you must fulfill along with your studying?
    • How much time are you going to be able to study every day?
    • Do you learn better in the morning, afternoon, evening, or night?
    • How much time do you have to study until your test date?
    • Is this time going to be sufficient enough to help you get prepared?
  • Where are you going to study?
    • Do you have a quiet place in your home with no distractions?
    • Do you have a nearby library or coffee shop you could use?

You can start creating your study plan and getting organized by answering the above questions. The answers to these questions are going to be different for everyone. Your plan and goals must be realistic, specific, attainable, and time bound.

Sometimes Plans Change

You have created your study plan and are ready to get started. Just know that no plan is set in stone and you are going to hit roadblocks along the way. You need to be flexible and may need to reevaluate your plan as time goes on. If you find yourself struggling with a certain topic or type of test question you will need to spend more time on that weakness. Don’t get discouraged when this happens. If you find a certain topic easy for you, then you may be able to spend less time on that topic since that is already one of your strengths. Just know that plans change so don’t beat yourself up about it.

Set Up Your Space

Get your study space set up. Make sure your study space is free of clutter and distractions. If you plan to study somewhere with a TV, cover that TV up with a sheet so that you aren’t tempted to put it on in the background. If you have an office that you plan to study in but it has a bunch of junk mail piled up in it, take the time to get rid of that junk mail and anything else that you can throw out. Our brains like organization and having a clutter free and distraction free space will make studying easier for you.

Your bed or bedroom is usually not a good space to study because your brain may be tempted to rest and not get any work done. It is best if you have a couple of study areas so that you can switch it up when you are getting bored or tired and need a change of scenery. Consider using your local library or a quiet coffee shop.



Just like our brains like organization, they also like routine. Build a daily study routine that you stick to everyday. This will make your brain and body more prepared to learn. Are you going to wake up and study for a couple of hours every morning? Or are you going to settle down in the evening and study for a couple of hours? Don’t make your plan to study all day, everyday. This is not realistic. If you have that much time to dedicate to studying that is great but don’t be overzealous. Plan to study for a couple hours in the morning and take a two hour lunch break to decompress then study for a couple hours in the afternoon. Don’t let studying take over your whole life. This will lead to burnout and will be a detriment to your learning.

Switch Up Your Study Methods

Everyone learns differently and has a different learning style. During nursing school you hopefully figured out your best learning style. There are four types of learning styles, which are visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or reading/writing. In some cases you may be a mixture of all these learning styles. It is important to figure out which learning style you are and to use that learning style to your advantage but also try to switch it up sometimes.  If you are struggling to grasp a certain concept you should try to learn it in a different way. Instead of just reading the material, try watching a video on it, listening to a podcast, or creating a visual for yourself.

Take Breaks

Breaks must be a part of your study time. This allows your brain time to process what you are learning. Depending on your personality, you may prefer to take breaks every 30 minutes while others prefer a break every hour. During your breaks try to get outside to get some fresh air, get some exercise to keep your brain alert, or get a snack or beverage.

Ask For Help

Consider having a study buddy. Someone to help you review material or quiz you. This could be a friend from nursing school or even a family member. Even if they don’t know anything about nursing, you could use them to help you study by making them your audience. Teach them out loud what you are learning and allow them to ask you questions.

Hire a Tutor

Does all this planning and studying still seem overwhelming and daunting? Consider hiring an NCLEX tutor. A good tutor will help keep you focused, accountable, and on track to pass the NCLEX. They will help lessen your test anxiety and help get you prepared for your test. Hiring a tutor is one of the best investments you can make in yourself. If you feel too stressed and burdened to even start, reach out to a good quality tutoring service such as ThinkNCLEX. They will be a huge asset to your study plan for the NCLEX.

ThinkNCLEX is not just a big bank of test questions. The tutors don’t just teach you the same material you learned in school. Instead they focus on teaching you the testing strategies to pass the NCLEX. They teach you how the test is written and break it down for you to understand. They provide multiple readiness assessments so that they can see what your weaknesses are and what you specifically need to work on. Their program has tutoring sessions that include independent assignments and readiness exams. Everyone gets a personalized plan so that you can focus your studies on the areas where you need improvement.


Staying motivated while studying for a big test like the NCLEX is difficult. You must create a plan and stick to it. Having a good study space and routine will help you get started. Switching up your study methods, having a study buddy and taking breaks will help you keep going. Hiring a good quality NCLEX tutoring service like ThinkNCLEX will keep you accountable and motivated throughout your NCLEX studying journey so you can ace your test.