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11 Top Resources for NCLEX Questions and Practice Tests

Posted by Hannah Muniz | Dec 6, 2019 5:00:00 PM

General Education

 

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To become a licensed nurse, you'll need to pass the NCLEX exam. One of the best ways to prepare for this is to practice with sample NCLEX questions and full-length tests. These questions help you get a better feel for what you can expect on exam day and what your biggest weaknesses are. But where can you find high-quality NCLEX practice questions and an official NCLEX practice test?

Here, we introduce our picks for the 11 best resources you can use for NCLEX questions and practice tests, from official materials to prep books and free NCLEX questions. We also give you a handful of essential tips to know for using these resources wisely.

 

What Is the NCLEX? Overview

The National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX as it's known, is a standardized test used to determine whether a candidate is ready to become a licensed entry-level nurse. It's used by every state Board of Nursing in the US and in Canada.

There are two versions of the NCLEX:

  • NCLEX-PN: For practical nurses (LPNs) or vocational nurses (LVNs)
  • NCLEX-RN: For registered nurses (RNs) seeking additional education

The NCLEX is computer-adaptive. This means the test will give you questions of varying difficulty depending on how well you do. For example, if you miss one question, the next one will be easier. Similarly, if you get a question right, the next one will be more challenging.

The main topics covered on both versions of the exam are as follows:

  • Safe and Effective Care Environment
    • Management of Care
    • Safety and Infection Control
  • Health Promotion and Maintenance
  • Psychosocial Integrity
  • Physiological Integrity
    • Basic Care and Comfort
    • Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies
    • Reduction of Risk Potential
    • Physiological Adaptation

While most NCLEX questions are multiple choice, you'll also get some fill-in-the-blank, multiple-response, and drag-and-drop questions.

The length of the exam varies depending on how quickly the computer can determine your level of competence (only after you've completed the minimum number of questions). Both versions of the NCLEX have a "passing standard" that candidates must meet.

In other words, the test will continue as long as it needs to (within the max time frame), until it can determine your competence.

Here are the minimum and maximum numbers of questions possible, as well as the time limits, for each version of the NCLEX:

  Min # of Questions Max # of Questions Time Limit Breaks
NCLEX-PN 85 205 5 hrs 2 (optional)
NCLEX-RN 75 265 6 hrs 2 (optional)

 

The official 2019 Candidate Bulletin recommends spending about one to two minutes per question on the exam (note that you can't go on to the next question without answering the one you're on).

In this next section, we present to you a list of useful resources for both official NCLEX practice questions and unofficial NCLEX questions.

 

11 Top Resources for NCLEX Practice Questions and Tests

A full-length NCLEX practice test can give you a leg up on test day because it helps you get used to the format of the exam, the content tested on it, and the time limit. But where can you find high-quality NCLEX questions with which to practice?

As it turns out, there are many online resources you can use, both official and unofficial. Let's look at which of these qualified for our list, starting with official NCLEX practice questions and tests.

 

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Official NCLEX Questions and Tests

Both the NCLEX-PN and NCLEX-RN are designed and administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN); therefore, all NCLEX questions created by the NCSBN are official.

Official questions are the gold standard when it comes to preparing for the NCLEX, as these will be most similar to the questions on the actual exam. At present, there are two sets of full NCLEX practice tests available through the official NCLEX website. These computer tests look very similar to what you'll see on test day.

The biggest pro is that these NCLEX questions all come from real past exams. Unfortunately, the NCSBN offers no free NCLEX practice questions or tests—everything comes at a (steep) price.

 

NCLEX-PN Practice Test Set

Cost: $150

You can buy a pack of two full-length NCLEX-PN practice tests through the NCSBN.

Here's what the set contains:

  • Two computer NCLEX practice tests, each with 125 questions
  • A five-hour time limit per NCLEX practice test
  • A tutorial to teach you about the different question types
  • A score report showing the percentage of questions you got right

Each exam is good for one time only and must be used within 45 days of purchase. You must take and finish the exam within the designated time limit—you cannot do part of it and come back to it later after the time limit has passed.

While you do get a score report showing you the percentage of questions you got right, you don't get to see which questions you got wrong.

 

NCLEX-RN Practice Test Set

Cost: $150

You can buy a set of two full-length NCLEX-RN practice tests from the NCSBN. This packet is the same price as that for the NCLEX-PN set above.

Here's what the set contains:

  • Two computer NCLEX practice tests, each with 125 questions
  • A six-hour time limit per NCLEX practice test
  • A tutorial to teach you about the different question types
  • A score report showing the percentage of questions you got right

Each NCLEX practice test can be taken just once and must be used within 45 days of purchase. Like the NCLEX-PN tests, you must finish each NCLEX-RN practice test within the time limit—you cannot do part of it and come back to it later.

You will get a score report that shows you the percentage of questions you answered correctly, but you don't get to see which questions you got wrong.

For French Canadians, there is also a French version of the NCLEX-RN practice test set available.

 

body_money_wad_dollarsNo need to bust out your savings for these NCLEX questions.

 

Free NCLEX Questions and Tests

This next section contains the best free NCLEX questions and practice test resources.

We picked them out based on how closely their questions mirror those on the NCLEX exam, how many questions and practice tests they offer, and how closely their interface matches what you'll see on the computer on test day.

Though none of these resources are official, they're high quality and definitely worth exploring, especially if you can't afford the official NCLEX practice tests above.

 

Nurse Plus Academy

This site is one of the best out there in terms of the sheer number of NCLEX practice questions it offers. Here, you have unlimited access to 500 free NCLEX questions, which cover all the main categories tested on the NCLEX-RN exam.

You can take short 20-question quizzes as well. Questions are randomized each time you take a quiz (it's similar to using flashcards). In addition, you don't need to make an account to access the NCLEX questions or quizzes here.

The quality of Nurse Plus Academy NCLEX questions is particularly high: questions are similar to what's on the exam, with some coming from Khan Academy, a top educational website offering many different test-prep resources and practice questions.

The biggest drawback is that there are no resources specific to the NCLEX-PN, but because the two exams have a lot of overlap, you should be fine using these questions in your prep.

 

Free NCLEX Questions

This aptly named site offers both three 75-question practice tests and a bunch of free NCLEX questions organized by exam category. According to the website, you can use these questions to study for either the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN. All questions are written by an experienced tutor.

On each NCLEX practice test, you'll be shown one question at a time, as you will be on the official test; however, you'll also be shown the correct answer as soon as you mark an answer, making it difficult to concentrate and hone your time-management skills.

 

RegisteredNursing.org

RegisteredNursing.org, an organization based in California and run by a group of real registered nurses, offers 200+ free NCLEX questions for the NCLEX-RN exam on its website. All of these questions cover the eight topic areas in detail. You could take the whole set of questions at once and treat it as an NCLEX practice test (or two tests).

Though the quality and breadth of NCLEX questions here is pretty good, the formatting makes for a somewhat strange test-taking experience: all the NCLEX questions are listed on a web page, and you can't click to choose an answer (you have to write it down on a piece of paper).

That said, answer explanations are all solid, and there is a great array of NCLEX practice questions offered. There is no practice test specifically for the NCLEX-PN here, but you should be able to use all the NCLEX-RN questions for your prep without issue.

 

Union Test Prep

At Union Test Prep's website, you can get one full NCLEX practice test at no cost. This resource is geared toward the NCLEX-RN and comes in the form of eight sets of practice questions, one for each major topic tested. As a result, by taking these sets all at once, you could simulate a practice test (you could also take questions and sections individually for more focused prep).

In total, you'll get 160 free NCLEX questions (each quiz has 20 questions). These questions are shown one at a time, and you can even choose to get a hint if you are having trouble. The answer explanations are pretty detailed as well, which is helpful if you're struggling to understand certain concepts.

One cool feature is that if you get a question wrong, you have the option of either guessing again or revealing the correct answer. Unfortunately, because answers are always shown immediately after you answer a question, you won't really get to hone your time-management skills with this NCLEX practice test.

 

Kaplan Free NCLEX Questions and Review

A big name in test prep, Kaplan offers free NCLEX questions as well as an NCLEX Question of the Day feature.

A short quiz containing four to five questions is available for each topic area of the NCLEX. Even though the quizzes aren't that long, they're presented in a format very similar to what you'll see on the actual exam. They're also pretty high quality in terms of content and difficulty. You get answer explanations once you finish a quiz, but some of these could be more detailed.

One slight downside is that you have to input your name and email to access the quizzes, but this is a small price to pay for quality questions.

 

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Paid NCLEX Questions and Tests

In addition to official NCLEX practice test resources, you might consider using paid NCLEX practice questions created by highly regarded test-prep companies and nursing groups.

Although the quality of unofficial NCLEX questions isn't nearly as good as that of official questions, they can still be a solid resource in your exam prep, especially if you've already used all the official NCLEX practice tests or can't afford to buy them.

The following resources for NCLEX practice questions were selected based on their overall quality, the reputation of the prep company, and customer ratings.

 

Saunders Comprehensive Review NCLEX Books

Cost: About $50 on Amazon

These highly rated books are some of the best resources for NCLEX practice questions and general content review. The two most recent editions are as follows:

Each book contains more than 4,500 NCLEX practice questions (with many available online) and one full-length NCLEX practice test for gauging your progress. Answer explanations are detailed, and you get a thorough content review of the whole test.

The only major downside to these books are their prices, which are quite high. Otherwise, these are excellent materials to use for NCLEX questions, tests, and general review.

 

Kaplan NCLEX-RN Prep Plus 2019

Cost: About $30 on Amazon

Kaplan's NCLEX-RN prep book provides you with two full-length NCLEX practice tests (one in the book, one online), as well as useful test-taking strategies, hundreds of practice questions, and in-depth answer explanations. All of the book's NCLEX questions are high quality and similar to those on the exam, so you can rest assured that you're getting in good practice with this resource.

Prep Plus is much cheaper than Kaplan's online NCLEX courses, making this book a solid choice for NCLEX practice, especially if you're aiming to save money.

 

NCLEX Mastery

Cost: $19.99 for one month (NCLEX-PN), $29.99 for one month (NCLEX-RN)

NCLEX Mastery offers two mobile apps you can use to prepare for the NCLEX test:

If you're more of a study-on-the-go type or you struggle to find time and space to study, this app is a great choice. With both versions of the app you get over 1,600 NCLEX practice questions, all designed by experts and based on actual test questions; you can access these NCLEX questions on your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Other features include the ability to track your progress, quizzes, a list of key terms, mnemonics to help you remember important concepts, and detailed answer explanations.

The two apps are highly rated on both Google Play and the Apple App Store, with the only notable complaint being the slightly steep price.

 

NRSNG Academy

Cost: $39/mo

With a NRSNG Academy account, you'll get online access to many useful NCLEX practice materials and resources, including tons of study tools, lesson quizzes, an app, and more than 6,500 NCLEX questions written by NCSBN-trained writers.

Though there's no full-length NCLEX practice test, you can make your own by simply mixing up this huge repository of NCLEX questions.

One nice benefit of this site is its 200% guarantee: if you don't pass the NCLEX test after using the prep program, you'll get your money back and that same amount in cash. If you're not sure about spending the money, you can start with a three-day $1 trial to get a taste for the questions and program as a whole.

 

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How to Get the Most Out Of NCLEX Questions: 4 Tips

Having lots of resources for the NCLEX is great, but what do you actually do with them to ensure you pass the NCLEX exam? Here are four critical tips to help you get the most out of your NCLEX questions and NCLEX practice tests.

 

#1: Always Prioritize Official NCLEX Questions

If you have access to any official NCLEX practice questions or an official NCLEX practice test, you'll want to prioritize these over any unofficial ones you have. Why? Because how you do on official NCLEX questions will give you the most accurate indicator of how you'll do on test day.

If you don't have any official questions to prep with, then try to prioritize higher-quality questions you have from reputable test-prep companies and/or nursing groups over those of lower quality.

 

#2: Take a Practice Test to Find Your Baseline

It's important to take an NCLEX practice test before you begin any in-depth prep for the exam. This will give you a sense for how well you're already doing and what you need to work on to raise your score. Any NCLEX practice test can be used, though I advise using an official test if possible.

Take the NCLEX practice test on a computer (to get a more realistic test-taking experience), and be sure to abide by official time limits (once again, that's five hours for the NCLEX-PN and six hours for the NCLEX-RN). In addition, take the entire test in one sitting and do not check your answers as you go.

Once you're finished, record your score and go over your answers. Ideally, your test will come with detailed answer explanations to help you understand why certain answers are right and figure out where you went wrong.

If you got a passing score, you'll need to focus mainly on just improving your test-taking habits and filling in any small gaps in your overall content knowledge. If you did not pass, however, you'll have to do more comprehensive review of all major topic areas.

 

#3: Look for Patterns in Your Mistakes⁠—and Target Them in Your Prep

As you study for the NCLEX, make sure to actively look for patterns in the questions you get wrong. For example, are you constantly messing up on questions about basic care and comfort? Are you getting wrong a lot of questions on health promotion? Finding that you often randomly guess?

Once you've identified the pattern, start to tailor your prep so that you're spending more time honing the skills and reviewing the content areas that are giving you the most trouble.

 

#4: Check Your Progress

If you have more than one NCLEX practice test, use the other one to check your progress around the middle of your study schedule. After, you can compare your results on this practice test with your baseline scores to determine where you've improved and whether there are still any areas or question types you're struggling with.

Ultimately, you can use this information to modify your NCLEX prep so that you're giving more attention to your weaknesses and any topic areas you need to review more than others.

 

Conclusion: The Value of NCLEX Practice Questions and Tests

The NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN exams are designed to test the skills and knowledge you must have in order to become a licensed, practicing nurse in the United States and Canada. Since the NCLEX is an important exam, it's critical that you make time to prep for it.

Using NCLEX practice questions and tests is one of the best ways to study for the exam and help you feel more confident on test day.

Here are our picks for the best resources for NCLEX questions and practice tests:

  • Official NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN practice test sets
  • Nurse Plus Academy
  • Free NCLEX Questions
  • RegisteredNursing.org
  • Union Test Prep
  • Kaplan Free NCLEX Questions and Review
  • Saunders Comprehensive Review NCLEX books
  • Kaplan NCLEX-RN Prep Plus 2019
  • NCLEX Mastery
  • NRSNG Academy
These four essential tips will help you get the most out of NCLEX practice questions and tests, so be sure to keep them in mind as you prep:
  • Always prioritize official NCLEX questions over unofficial ones
  • Take a practice test to find your baseline
  • Look for patterns in your mistakes⁠—and target them in your prep
  • Check your progress with another practice test

Good luck on the NCLEX!

 

What's Next?

To learn more about the NCLEX exam and what's on it, read our complete guide to the NCLEX.

Considering becoming a nurse practitioner? Our detailed guide to nurse practitioner schooling will answer all your questions and more. Or if you're leaning more toward the doctor route, check out our step-by-step guide to becoming a medical doctor.

What kinds of SAT scores do you need to get into nursing school? Get the answer here.

These recommendations are based solely on our knowledge and experience. If you purchase an item through one of our links, PrepScholar may receive a commission.

 

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Hannah Muniz
About the Author

Hannah received her MA in Japanese Studies from the University of Michigan and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California. From 2013 to 2015, she taught English in Japan via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.



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