...with some exceptions, of course

caine= local anesthetics
cillin= antibiotics
dine= anti-ulcer agents
done= opiod analgesics
ide= oral hypoglycemics
iam= antianxiety agents
micin= antibiotics
nium= neuromuscular blocking agents
olol= beta blockers
ole= anti-fungal
oxacin= antibiotics
pam= antianxiety agents
pril= ace inhibitors
sone= steroids
statin= antihyperlipidemics
vir= antivirals
zide= diuretics

Preparing for the NCLEX-RN Exam

What is the NCLEX-RN

The NCLEX-RN or National Counsel Licensing Exam for Registered Nurses is a standardized exam that all nurses in North America, and many other countries, must take before they can work as a Registered Nurse. The test is taken after graduating from a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

The test uses Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) to score the exam. The NCSBN illustrates how CAT is used, and why it works for the NCLEX through the following explanation: 

Why CAT?
CAT is used for the NCLEX because it:

  • Reduces the number of “easy” items that high-ability candidates receive; “easy” items tell little about a high performing candidate’s ability
  • Reduces the number of “difficult” items low-ability candidates receive; candidates tend to guess on items that are too difficult which can skew results
  • Reduces item exposure and subsequent security risks
  • Improves precision of measurement of the NCLEX candidate’s ability related to nursing and
  • Provides a valid and reliable measurement of nursing competence

How Does CAT Work?

  1. Every time you answer an item, the computer re-estimates your ability based on all the previous answers and the difficulty of those items.
  2. The computer then selects the next item that you should have a 50% chance of answering correctly.
    • This way, the next item should not be too easy or too hard
    • The computer’s goal is to get as much information as possible about your true ability level
    • You should find each item challenging as each item is targeted to your ability
  3. With each item answered, the computer’s estimate of your ability becomes more precise.


The NCLEX decides if the test taker passes or fails based on the following three caveats: 

1. 95% Confidence Interval: Questions 1-75 are evaluated to determine if you passed or failed based on if your answers fell above (right answer) or below (wrong answer) the 95% confidence interval (red line on the chart).  If a pass/fail cannot be determined by this measure (because there were some questions above and some below the confidence interval) then the next evaluation criteria would be used.

2.  Maximum Length Exam Rule: If the 95% confidence level is too close to determine a pass or fail then the computer will allow you to continue answering questions, up to question 265.  The first 60 questions are disregarded, and the pass or fail determination depends on questions 75-265. These questions are still judged by if they fall above or below the 95% confidence interval, but they may give a clearer picture than the first grading test because there are more items to answer.

3. Run Out of Time Rule: The NCLEX-RN exam has a maximum time limit of 6 hours. If the pass/fail determination has not been decided by the 6 hour mark then the last 75 questions will be graded to determine pass/fail. If all of the last 75 questions are correct, then you pass. If even one is wrong, then you fail.

Read more about the NCLEX-RN format and grading scheme here.

How Do I Prepare:

Here are some resources compiled by the University of North Carolina (Source):

NCLEX Review Resouces
Here are some current review materials to help you prepare for NCLEX. An NCLEX review book is a helpful tool to have throughout the curriculum as it provides additional practice with multiple choice test items.

  • Saunders’ Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN by Silvestri, 6th edition
  • Saunders Q & A Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination by Silvestri, 6th edition
  • Saunders 2014-2015 Strategies for Test Success – Passing Nursing School and the NCLEX Exam by Silvestri, 3rd edition
  • Saunders Q&A Review Cards for the NCLEX-RN Examination by Silvestri and Silvestri, 2nd edition
  • Davis’s NCLEX-RN Success by Lagerquist, 3rd edition
  • Davis’s Q & A for the NCLEX-RN Examination by Ohman, 2010
  • Mosby’s Comprehensive Review of Nursing for the NCLEX-RN Exam by Nugent et al., 20th edition
  • Kaplan NCLEX RN 2013-2014 Edition: Strategies, Practice, and Review
  • Lippincott’s NCLEX-RN Review Made Incredibly Easy, 5th edition
  • Lippincott’s NCLEX-RN Questions and Answers Made Incredibly Easy, 5th edition
  • Lippincott’s NCLEX-RN Alternate-Format Questions, 4th edition

Mobile Apps

  • ATI Mobile Mentor
  • HESI Q&A for the NCLEX-RN Exam
  • Saunders Mobile Review Questions for the NCLEX-RN Exam
  • Saunders Mobile Review Questions for the NCLEX-RN Exam Lite (FREE)

Tips for Buying NCLEX Review Materials

  • Purchase the most current edition. The NCLEX test plan changes periodically and your review book should be consistent with the latest test plan.
  • Many books have CD’s with extra questions or may provide links to extra questions on-line. The more practice questions you do, the better prepared you will be for the NCLEX exam.
  • Question and answer books should include rationale for each answer; look for resources that also include other helpful information with each question, such as testing strategies.

And finally, here are some of the (FREE) resources that I’ve compiled from around the web:

NCLEX Studying and Test Taking Strategies

When it comes to studying, remember to do what works for you. If you are a visual learner, get a white board and draw the physiology diagrams. If you prefer to listen find books on tape, audio lectures, or find other audio learners in your program and get together to study by explaining question rationales to each other. 

Brilliant Nurse - NCLEX Strategies and Study Tips Blog

How to Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam

Tips from Grads for Preparing for the NCLEX

NCLEX Mastery App (free)

Nursing Show -Breaking Down NCLEX Questions

Free Practice Tests and Sample Questions

Practice tests are key. The questions on the NCLEX are known to be a bit different to the multiple choice you are used to. First, understand how to answer multiple choice questions (see this resource if you need help with that). Then use these resources and time yourself to get an idea of how your body will react to the pressure of being timed.

Mighty Nurse - NCLEX and HESI Practice Questions

4Tests - Free NCLEX Practice Exam

Test Prep Review - NCLEX Practice Test Questions

NCLEX Practice Quiz and Study Questions

Brilliant Nurse - 75 Free NCLEX Questions

Study Guide Zone - NCLEX RN Study Guide

Quizlet - NCLEX Questions

Tests.com - Free NCLEX-RN Practice Test

ProProfs Webschool - NCLEX 150 Questions, Answers and Rational

RNpedia.com - NCLEX Exam


Exams for Nursing

NCLEX-RN Exam Cram

Nurse Labs - NCLEX Practice Questions

Remember, as with everything on the internet, use with caution. Just because a website states something as true, it does not mean that it is the most correct answer. The idea behind providing these links is to guide your studying and to gain a feeling for the style of the NCLEX questions.

Good luck everyone! 


WORK BACKWARDS ON EACH QUESTION. Read the answer options first. Then, read the question and pick your answer.
You will realize your first instinct more clearly. Halfway through reading the question, you’ll already know which answer you want to pick, the “most correct answer.” It keeps you from over analyzing and wasting exam time.

To stop yourself from automatically reading the question first, use THIS TRICK:
Put the scrap paper or scantron over the exam. Slide it up as you go, to reveal just the answers first, then the question and so on (you’ll be starting with the last question on that page). Once you’ve made this a habit, you’ll be surprised at how much smarter you feel. If you know the material, your instincts are there. You just have to acknowledge and trust them.

I have struggled with Dyslexia and ADHD my whole life. My special Ed teacher taught me this method in middle school. It helped me test faster so I wouldn’t get as distracted and be mentally exhausted afterwards. Twelve years later, I started nursing school which so graciously induced extreme test anxiety. I was having panic attacks just thinking about exams. It terrified me. I really wanted to be a nurse and I knew I was smart enough but the exams were just… well you know… nursing school! I was so discouraged and suddenly unsure of myself and my goals. My psychiatrist (a former RN) reminded me of the backwards method and my test scores and times improved even though I was studying the same amount. I shared the tip with my study group and they started doing it. It started catching on until all 100+ students were doing it. During exams, the sound of everyone’s scrap paper inching up the desks made me smile. I was never more sure that I wanted to make a career out of helping others thru their struggles.