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Top 10 Benefits of Practice Exams for Nursing School and NCLEX Test Prep

Are you struggling with your nursing school exams? Or do you want to prepare yourself for the nerve-wracking National Council Licensure Examination or NCLEX?

Whether you want better grades while attending your nursing school or you are a nursing graduate who wants to pass the NCLEX with flying colors, doing practice exams will definitely benefit you.

What is NCLEX, anyway? The National Council Licensure Examination is the most recognized and well-known licensure examination for nurses worldwide, as it is the one that is used in the United States. Most nursing exams are patterned after the NCLEX.

The question styles such as ‘select-all-that-apply’ and ‘all but one’ are mirrored in these exams as these are frequently used in the said exam. Unlike other fields of study, many nursing students and graduates rely on practice exams as a way of studying.

These practice exams hone the nurse not only for future exam, but also in future clinical situations as NCLEX-type tests largely employ situational questions. There are several benefits to taking practice exams especially in the field of nursing.


After only taking your first few practice exams, you can become familiar not only on the subject matter (for example, pediatric nursing), but also on the types of questions that regularly appear in nursing exams.

Nursing students or graduates like you are able to develop test-taking strategies eventually, which will assist in answering questions in a timely and smart manner. Answering questions repeatedly allows you to note patterns and styles that are noticeable in exam questions, helping you in choosing the correct answers.

Upon taking the actual exam, you are less likely to get surprised or anxious over the various question types. In fact, you may be more able to smoothly adjust and answer because of your increased confidence and reduced self-doubt. With your mind cleared of doubts, you can now use proper analysis techniques and become more self-assured in answering the questions.

Development of Test-Taking Strategies

Once you have already taken several exams, you’ll be able to determine the types of questions that are easy or hard for him/her. In other words, strengths and weaknesses are determined. Students like you are able to focus on the types of questions or the subject matter that are more difficult.

An example of a test-taking strategy is determining keywords. By determining keywords such as ‘except,’ or ‘but,’ a test-taker like you is able to properly and safely answer a question. Another common strategy is the process of elimination.

This process includes removing the least likely answers and choosing between the most likely answers in order to reduce the difficulty by reducing the choices. This is usually employed in questions wherein you may be unsure of the actual answer. By crossing out other choices, you will be able to focus more on the remaining choices and correctly deduce the right answer.

Progress Tracking

Taking note of the results of the practice exams helps nursing students in determining whether there is improvement or stagnation. Think of the first few exams as baseline data or assessment data. From there on, if the scores are noted to be improving, it would mean the test-taking strategies that you are using are working and effective.

However, if the test scores start to drop, it may be a sign that it’s time to learn and employ a different strategy or that it is time to focus on a certain subject.

Solidifying Information

Practice tests assist in identifying problem areas and reassure that the knowledge is solidified. Answering the same question repeatedly, albeit in different forms allows you to see the different perspectives around a question or a scenario.

By being able to determine strengths, you will be able to devote more time to problem areas or more unfamiliar subject matters.

Decreased Stress and Anxiety

Getting used to answering NCLEX-type questions using practice exams allows nursing graduates to be more familiarized and calmer when taking the actual exam.

Due to the decreased stress levels, focus is enhanced and student nurses like you are able to really think about how to answer the questions. You will be able to employ the different test-taking strategies learned and correctly answer the questions in a timely manner.

Patience Development

Taking practice tests helps in developing patience. As you take more practice exams, you give more of your time in reading questions and in thinking possible answers more thoroughly. The questions are processed in your brain longer, and the incidence of answering rashly is decreased.

Because of this, you will learn to eliminate obvious wrong and similar answers. This particularly helps in questions that contain the words “except” or “select all that apply”.

A common mistake is to choose the obviously correct answers, not realizing that the question is to choose which is the wrong answer, or to choose all of the correct answers.

When you gain more patience through practice exams, you will find yourself getting excited about whether you’ve answered correctly and re-doing questions that you failed to answer. Reviewing previously answered questions helps spot missed and incorrect answers.

It helps you, the test-taker, to take note of keywords that had gone unnoticed the first time the question was read and answered. This way, the question is properly analyzed and is correctly answered.

Note Problem Areas

Problem areas are noted once progress is tracked when doing practice exams. This can help you determine areas of study to focus on.

Prior to taking the test, you may want to think about focusing more on your weak areas and increase their knowledge on the subject. This enhances productivity on your part and decreases the amount of time wasted on knowledge already mastered.

Knowing weaknesses also helps student nurses realize if test-taking strategies must be used instead of actual knowledge, thereby saving time while taking the exam. Once you realize that the answer is unable to be determined via knowledge alone, you may resort to the process of elimination and other test-taking strategies to determine the correct answer.

Increased Mental Stamina

Much like patience, taking practice exams develop a person’s mental stamina. In the beginning, student nurses are usually unable to finish exams productively, with mental focus decreasing gradually and carelessness increasing.

If you are not fully prepared for long exams, the quality of your answers may drop eventually. Remember, mental fatigue and strain start to affect the answerer’s mind and he/she begins to choose answers carelessly or starts to miss important keywords in questions. Taking practice exams helps prevent such mental stress.

Mental capacity is gradually developed when completing practice exams, helping you answer questions for longer periods of time during the real exam.

Pacing and Time Management

 Upon coming across similar questions, student nurses like you will be able to save time processing and is able to proceed with analyzing and answering.

Nursing Stat Facts
Nursing Stat Facts

This decreases the amount of time used and allows nursing students like you to utilize the time for more difficult questions. You may also use the time saved to review previous questions and answers.

Readiness and Preparation

As the date for your nursing final exams or NCLEX gets near, it is normal to feel a bit anxious. However, this anxiety will be mixed with excitement if you have taken practice exams over and over again. This is because you know that you have prepared yourself for the big exam and you are ready to ace it.

Practice tests help the future clinician answer questions using reliable methods that save time. This reduces anxiety and improves confidence. Increased patience and mental stamina allow any test-taker to think thoroughly and answer questions correctly.

Repetitive answering of questions solidifies knowledge and once you come across a similar question, you will be able determine the answer immediately. Overall, practice tests are very beneficial to the person who is preparing for a major exam.

Confidence is built, and patience becomes considerably longer. Moreover, time management skills are developed in real-time. Lastly, progress tracking that you gain from doing practice exams is a skill that is also noted to be useful in other endeavors.

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