Overcoming NCLEX Anxiety

SimpleNursing Editorial Team Jun 12, 2023
Nursing student, laptop and headphones of hospital music, podcast or radio in woman study research or mock up learning. Thinking, technology and medical student listening to healthcare audio for books success

You’ve made it through years of challenging nursing school coursework, practical rotations, and countless exams to reach this pivotal moment in your career — the NCLEX exam. The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is a crucial step toward becoming a licensed nurse. 

The NCLEX exam, a mandatory requirement for nursing licensure, can be an intimidating challenge for many postgraduate nurses. Anxiety can arise due to the high-stakes nature of the exam, fear of failure, and the overwhelming volume of content to study. 

Jump to Sections


  1. Effective Strategies to Manage NCLEX Anxiety
  2. What to Do About NCLEX Test Anxiety
  3. Overcoming Anxiety on Exam Day

By implementing techniques and tips, you’ll be better equipped to manage NCLEX anxiety, improve your study habits, and increase your chances of success on this crucial exam.

Remember, you’re not alone in this process. Remember to reach out to your peers, mentors, and support networks for additional guidance and encouragement.

Read more about the Next Gen NCLEX questions (NGN).

Effective Strategies to Manage NCLEX Anxiety

It’s natural to feel anxious about this high-stakes test that determines your ability to practice nursing. 

Overcoming NCLEX anxiety requires a multi-faceted approach. By implementing a combination of relaxation techniques, effective study strategies, and self-care practices, you can regain control of your anxiety and perform at your best on exam day:

  • Deep Breathing and Mindfulness: Deep breathing exercises and mindfulness techniques can help calm your mind, reduce stress, and promote relaxation. Practice deep breathing whenever you feel overwhelmed, and incorporate mindfulness exercises into your daily routine.
  • Time Management and Study Planning: Develop a structured study plan to organize your exam preparation. Breaking down the content into manageable sections and allocating specific study times will help you stay focused and prevent being overwhelmed.
  • Utilize NCLEX Practice Exams: Familiarize yourself with the exam format and content by completing practice exams regularly. This will help you build confidence, identify areas of weakness, and get accustomed to the time constraints of the actual test.

What to Do About NCLEX Test Anxiety (8 Tips & Tricks)

You’ve spent years studying tirelessly, attending lectures, and gaining hands-on experience in nursing school. Now, the moment to prove your knowledge and skills has arrived—the NCLEX exam. However, as the test date approaches, you can’t help but feel overwhelmed by anxiety, questioning if you are truly prepared. 

If this scenario sounds familiar, rest assured that you’re not alone. Many nursing school postgrads experience NCLEX test anxiety, but the good news is that there are practical steps you can take to overcome it.

Overcoming NCLEX test anxiety is possible with the right mindset, preparation, and support. Remember, you’ve already demonstrated your nursing knowledge and skills throughout your education. Trust in your abilities, implement these strategies, and confidently enter the exam room. 

With perseverance and determination, you can conquer NCLEX test anxiety and take a significant step toward realizing your dreams of becoming a licensed nurse:

  1. Understand the exam format and content.

One of the primary causes of test anxiety is uncertainty. Familiarize yourself with the NCLEX exam format, question types, and content areas. The more you know what to expect, the better you can prepare. Review the NCLEX test plan and practice with sample questions to gain confidence in your abilities.

  1. Create a study plan.

A well-structured study plan can alleviate anxiety and help you stay organized. Break down the content into manageable chunks and set realistic goals. Allocate dedicated time for studying each day, focusing on areas where you feel less confident. A study plan ensures thorough preparation and reduces last-minute cramming, which can intensify anxiety.

  1. Utilize reliable study resources.

With countless study materials available, choosing reliable resources that align with the NCLEX exam’s content is crucial. Consider using reputable review books, online NCLEX prep courses, or practice question banks. These resources can provide valuable insights, reinforce key concepts, and give you helpful NCLEX tips that familiarize you with the exams format and difficulty level.

  1. Practice, practice, practice.

The old age “practice makes perfect” holds true for the NCLEX exam. Practicing sample questions and mock exams can help you become familiar with the test format and build confidence in your problem-solving abilities. Additionally, it allows you to identify knowledge gaps and focus your studying on weak areas.

  1. Join a study group.

Studying in isolation can amplify anxiety. Consider joining a study group or finding a study partner to share the learning experience. Collaborating with others provides opportunities for discussion, clarification, and peer support. Explaining concepts to others not only reinforces your understanding but also reduces anxiety by fostering a sense of camaraderie.

  1. Employ stress-reduction techniques.

Anxiety can hinder your ability to concentrate and recall information during the exam. Incorporate stress-reduction techniques into your study routine, such as deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, regular physical activity, and sufficient sleep. These practices promote relaxation, improve focus, and enhance overall well-being.

  1. Visualize success.

Positive visualization can be a powerful tool in combating test anxiety. Close your eyes and imagine yourself confidently answering NCLEX questions, navigating through challenging scenarios, and successfully passing the exam. Visualizing success can boost your self-belief and alleviate anxiety by replacing negative thoughts with positive affirmations.

  1. Seek support.

If your test anxiety becomes overwhelming and begins to impact your daily life, don’t hesitate to seek support from friends, family, or professional counseling services. They can provide guidance, encouragement, and strategies to manage anxiety effectively.

Overcoming Anxiety on Exam Day

It’s natural to experience heightened anxiety on the day of the NCLEX exam. However, with effective strategies in place, you can minimize test-day anxiety and perform to the best of your abilities:

  • Adequate Rest and Nutrition: Ensure you get enough sleep the night before the exam and eat a balanced meal to nourish your body and mind. Avoid consuming excessive caffeine or energy drinks that may exacerbate anxiety symptoms.
  • Positive Visualization and Affirmations: Visualize yourself succeeding on the exam and affirm your confidence in your abilities. Repeat positive affirmations such as “I am prepared and capable” to boost your self-belief and reduce anxiety.
  • Digital NCLEX Study Prep Tools: Consider leveraging digital NCLEX study prep tools, such as online question banks and interactive learning platforms. These resources offer personalized study plans, comprehensive content review, and realistic exam simulations to enhance your preparation and confidence.

Take Control of Your NCLEX Anxiety and Prepare Effectively

Overcoming NCLEX anxiety is a journey that requires dedication, perseverance, and effective strategies. By implementing the techniques discussed in this article, you’ll be well on your way to conquering your anxiety and achieving success on the NCLEX exam.

Remember to prioritize self-care, maintain a positive mindset, and leverage the resources available to you, such as SimpleNursing. We help nursing postgrads enhance preparation and increase their chances of success. 

Start your journey to NCLEX success today.

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