Thursday, April 25, 2013


This is a wonderful time of year for many nursing students. You can smell graduation in the air!  The ceremonies are planned, dedications are written, and families are making travel plans. How exciting! The long and hard (sometimes almost impossible) journey to become a nurse is almost complete.

However, once the celebrations end, nursing students face the daunting task of passing the NCLEX…ugh. Many find themselves completely stressed out- especially if they have test anxiety. Passing any exam requires one part knowledge and one part strategy!! I blogged about test taking strategies on my RTConnections blog. If you haven’t read it, you might want to read it now  There are proven strategies to increase your chances of passing any exam – even the dreaded NCLEX.
When studying for NCLEX, make sure you're tapping into brain science to help strengthen your knowledge AND strategy.

Focused attention:  The power of 90 minutes.
Your brain is designed to focus intently in 90-minute bursts. During this time, your brain functions at higher levels, information is stored, memory enhanced and clarity of thoughts are heightened. After 90 minutes, however, your brain loses focus and need restoration. The problem is that many students try to cram and study for hours and hours or worse, pull an “all nighter”. Brain science tells us that after 90 minutes, cognition and focus drops.

Avoid distraction: Turn off the TV, MP3 player, and Words with Friends!!
My daughter always studied while listening to music or the TV. Why? She said it helped her to focus. Unless she is a super evolved human, she is wrong (I kept trying to tell her this but she didn't listen to me!).  Brain science tells us that if you really want to learn something and commit it to memory, during these 90-minute chunks you must have complete silence. Why? Because even if you think it’s just “background” noise, your brain is distracted by it. You may not be aware, but your brain is always taking in information – visually, through sound, and through smell. To allow your brain to focus intently on the content, it can’t be distracted by anything else.

Brain Science Strategy
Turn off all televisions, radios, cell phones, iPods, etc. Schedule study time in 90-minute chunks. Focus on one or two topics (perhaps the cardiac vascular system and cardiac meds). Study intently for 90 minutes. Then, do something mindless. Do some laundry, take a walk, listen to music, or call a friend. The key is to give your brain a rest for at least 30 minutes.  After your brain has rested, commit to another 90-minute chunk. Repeat this pattern for the total amount of time you have to study.

Remember, passing the NCLEX is part knowledge AND part strategy!

Welcome to wonderful world of nursing. I’m cheering for your success!

Take care and stay connected.


 For more great tips, make sure you "like" me on Facebook,"follow" me on Twitter and YouTube and subscribe to my blog. Also, check out my new book on nurse-to-nurse bullying and eBook, Survive and Thrive: A guide helping new nurses succeed! 

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