How does happyNCLEX work?

QUESTION: How much time do I need to learn problem-solving skills?

JOAN: I recommend 2-3 hours of practice daily, ideally, 5 days a week for 8-12 weeks. No more than 4 hours a day of prep is needed or recommended.  The average minimum time needed for new graduates is 8 weeks. For repeat testers, 12 weeks. Those who work full time and have a family, often take a few additional weeks. If more time is needed to get comfortably above passing, that’s okay.

Training is set up for you and easy to follow. No planning is required. Training is delivered through demonstration and guided practice, live and on-demand.

I hold your hand throughout training until you are ready to let go and test strong.

Learning and practicing problem-solving skills is a process like learning any new skill. It takes daily practice over a period of several weeks. Training is low stress and testers actually enjoy the training.


QUESTION: How do you teach critical thinking?

JOAN: I follow the NCSBN Test Plans. NCLEX questions are written and evaluated using Bloom’s Taxonomy for the cognitive domain. I teach you to read questions using this process. It reduces anxiety, helps you to understand the question clearly, and puts you in the right place to apply your knowledge. You learn by demonstration and guided practice. It’s a skill set that’s easy to learn but like any skill, takes practice to improve. My curriculm is designed using NCSBN Clinical Judgment Measurement Model.


QUESTION: What do I need for training?

JOAN: You need internet access with the ability to stream video and join live webinars, have a test date, or at least, have your ATT or be in process to obtain Authorization To Test. If you are a nursing student preparing for an exit exam or you’re waiting for your ATT, contact us to help you decide the best time to start.

You do not need a Qbank in this training. All tasks include question practice. If you are using a Qbank, I provide research-based instructions to use your Qbank effectively to evaluate progress and readiness to test.

International Nurses need a functional level of English in oral, comprehension, reading, and writing skills. International Nurses can request a language assessment: email [email protected] or call 727 967 1891


QUESTION: I am interested in your program; however, I’m currently waiting for my ATT to retake the NCLEX for the 2nd time. Training is recommended for 8-12 weeks from registration. I still don’t have my ATT, but hope to receive it in the next few weeks. Would it benefit me to purchase your program now, or wait until I receive my official ATT?

JOAN: If you don’t have an ATT, let us know before you register and we’ll help you decide what to do. 


QUESTION: I just need to know if I will be able to access the training and coaching at my available time, which will be evenings after work everyday?

JOAN: Yes! Group Coaching demonstrations are held at different times to meet the needs of members and all are recorded. Training is self paced and personal coaching keeps you motivated, on your time.  


QUESTION: Is your program a “guaranteed” NCLEX pass like HURST or KAPLAN? Is there any way to add private sessions?

JOAN:  No money-back guarantee. I will work with you until you pass. Why is it that 90% of testers who come to me have failed several times, most having trained with big companies that offer a guarantee? What good is that guarantee? Keep repeating for free? It’s very expensive to have to repeat the NCLEX. Not just in fees but emotionally too. After a fail it’s another several months you are not earning a nurse’s salary. My mission is to end the cycle of repeat testing. NCLEX is a skills game, not a monster. Learn the rules and practice. That’s how problem-solving works. Most testers don’t need private session but if you do, we can arrange it. 


QUESTION: I’m worried that if I don’t pass this time… My mind is not concentrated, I don’t know why… I don’t know if the material I’m using enough. Using master RN, Lippincot 2016, Kaplan, Saunders

JOAN: The more materials you use the more confused and scattered you get. And research shows, the more materials used, the lower the pass rate. You’re spinning and creating more anxiety. You need to focus. You need to be organized, improve your concentration, and learn how to handle questions using the cognitive skills outlines in the NCSBN Test Plans.


QUESTION: Does the program have content? Is it a review or strategies?

JOAN: Of course training includes content! How is it possible NOT to learn content through question demonstration and practice? The problem is, the continued focus after graduation on “study” for NCLEX. The CONTENT of the NCLEX (according to the NCSBN Test Plan) is CLIENT NEEDS and NURSING PROCESSES. You need the ability to use problem-solving skills to apply your base of knowledge. If you’ve graduated nursing school, you have a base of knowledge. You need problem-solving skills for NCLEX because the exam is CONCEPT based.

There’s no need for lectures or textbooks. And yes, you will learn new content and concepts every day while learning to let go of the need to know everything, because it is impossible to know everything. This program prepares trains you in the problem-solving skills you need for a professional licensing exam and continuing education. It’s an essential switch to make. 


QUESTION: So you don’t study anything… Right? So from what I understand you learn problem solving skills.

JOAN: You learn in a way that allows you to retain new  information more effectively than the the way you’re used to studying- lectures, note taking, and cramming texts- as you did in nursing school. You’ll learn the way professionals learn in continuing education- through demonstration and guided practice.


Why You Can’t “Study” for NCLEX


QUESTION: What if I reschedule and want more time? How does a possible extension work? 

JOAN: I’m flexible with end dates within reason. Some members need more time because of work and family. That’s fine. You can also pause your membership if needed in case something unexpected comes up.


QUESTION: I have a question about the 2 hrs a day and 4-5 days a week coaching. It would be hard for me to do that since I work full time different hours everyday. Is there a way to do this 4 hrs a day, 3 days a week? I am a repeat test taker and I work 12-hour shifts. I graduated many years ago and have taken the NCLEX 4 times so I know that I need help. 

JOAN:   We’ll help you work out a schedule by making practice a priority while keeping your days in balance and you will no longer feel overwhelmed.


QUESTION: I don’t have much time. I just need help with critical thinking because I’m able to eliminate 2 but then I have 2 left to choose and I often I choose wrong. There are many questions I don’t know the content and don’t know to break it down to answer them right. I test in less than 3 weeks.

JOAN:  You need the required problem-solving skills and the ability to make an educated guess. If you’re often down between 2 you’ll get this fast. You can make good progress in a few weeks but most testers who start training realize they need to practice and decide to postpone testing for an additional few weeks. Taking time to practice problem solving is the difference between passing and being only near passing. If you have limited time because your ATT is set to expire, we can discuss adding private coaching, after setting up a needs assessment. 



Who is Joan Palmeri?

More questions?

email: [email protected]

or call 727 967 1891 (weekdays, Eastern time)



What is NCLEX Content?

Let’s clear up confusion about NCLEX Content. 

Nursing school is CONTENT based. The NCLEX is CONCEPT based.

NCLEX is not a test of academic knowledge. Your ATT proves you have a knowledge base. NCLEX tests if you can think.

Clearly, it is impossible to know everything. Nursing is an ever-expanding body of knowledge and you will be faced with something you don’t know when testing. Are you able to make a critical decision with the limited information given?

NCLEX is designed to test if you can think, if you can control your emotional response and use problem-solving skills to make an educated guess based on the limited information given in a question. 

NCLEX is a professional exam that requires clinical judgment. It tests “entry-level mental competence.”

NCLEX tests skills and abilities. You can’t study the way you did for academic tests when you were a student. Instead, train to manage each question, each situation, and the exam performance overall. 

happyNCLEX training follows The NCSBN Clinical Judgment Measurement Model and is delivered by demonstation and guided practice, live and on-demand..

Learn to approach questions the way they are written and evaluated, using Bloom’s Taxonomy for the cognitive domain. This skill set is required for NCLEX as well as nursing certification exams, job interview testing, and continuing nursing education. Your investment in learning critical-thinking skills for NCLEX retains its value throughout your nursing career.

It’s so easy when you make the switch from study to practice, from student to professional.

End the cycle of study-fail-study-repeat and learn to apply critical thinking to NCLEX.

happyNCLEX training details

See how learning problem-solving skills helped these testers.

More information on NCSBN Clinical Judgment Measurement Model

Resources for nursing COVID-19

NCSBN offers a series of training videos for new nurses to manage care during COVID-19 pandemic: ACCESS HERE

NEED PPE? Here are organizations to contact for help individually and for teams:

Project N95

Masks 4 Medicine


MedShare is a crowdfunding site to help organize fundraisers in your area.

Nurses House helps nurses financially who are unable to work.


More resources will be added as they are verified. Comment below if you have more resources to share. thank you

How to Get Out of NCLEX Hell

Does your nursing school curriculum include critical-thinking skills training?

NCLEX evaluates your ability to use clinical judgement because most entry-level nursing tasks require critical judgment and decision-making skills.

Do you know how to clearly identify what NCLEX style questions are asking? Are you able to use problem-solving skills to get to the correct answer step by step? Are you able to make an educated decision comfortably or do you get stuck second-guessing yourself?

There’s a big difference between getting stuck at near passing and testing above the passing standard and it is determined by your ability to use higher-order thinking.

NCLEX questions are designed using Bloom’s Taxonomy for the cognitive domain. Do you know how to read NCLEX questions this way? (see page 4 of the nscbn test plan – 2019 RN) (PN test plan page 4 also)

If critical-thinking skills were not taught across your nursing school curriculum, you’re at risk for repeating NCLEX.

The good news is, you can catch up in 12 weeks. Here’s how.



How to Control Distracting Thoughts

Is your brain a tornado of conflicting thoughts about NCLEX?

Past attempts unsuccessful? Worried how you can make it this time?

Are your thoughts racing? Is there a voice in your head telling you all kinds of fearful things? Saying you can’t do it, you’ll never do it?

Who is that crazy person in your head? It’s not you.

You can teach yourself to observe that speaker in your head. Are you going to let someone talk to you like that? These thoughts are simply unchecked thinking. Check in. Look at the thoughts. Aren’t they crazy?

YOU are not your thoughts. YOU are the witness to your thoughts. YOU are the witness to your thoughts, your emotions, and everything you experience. Pay attention. Miracles are everywhere.

What is your mind telling you? What is the truth?

Thoughts about the past or the future create anxiety. The way to manage this is for our minds to be active or relaxed in the moment. When we’re engaged in solving a problem, we have just the right amount of anxiety to keep us alert. When we let our minds relax, our brains get refreshed to think clearly and creatively once again. 

How do we control the thoughts about the past and future that can torture us and cause all kinds of misery?

If there’s one book I could require you to read it’s this one.  This is the single most helpful guide to using your head. Available in all public libraries and about $10 for the Kindle version if you want to buy it.  The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. 

You’ll learn that those thoughts are not you. YOU are the witness to your thoughts. Singer teaches us how to manage this in a clear and effective way. You will no longer “get into getting bothered” but instead you’ll learn to “get into getting free.” 

Here are 3 short talks by Michael Singer to help you to control distracting thoughts. Sign up for free access

Were you taught not to ‘pass the buck?’ 

This misinformed teaching creates confusion for NCLEX testers. 

Here is just one recent example:

Question #36: (Copyright F.A. Davis)

Mental Health: #36. A young child, Joey, was admitted to the pediatric unit with a fractured jaw, bruises, and multiple cigarette burns to the arms. The mother reported the father hurt the child. A man comes to the nurse’s station saying, “I am Joey’s father; can you tell me how he is doing?” Which statement is the nurse’s best response?

  1. “Your son has a fractured jaw and some bruises but he is doing fine.”
  2. “I am sorry I cannot give you any information about your son.”
  3. “You should go talk to your wife about your son’s condition.”
  4. “The social worker can discuss your son’s condition with you.”


Student Question: For mental health management, question #36, I thought that sending the father to speak to the social worker about his son was ‘passing the buck’. Please if possible explain again why that will be the answer. For answer #2, I thought that the nurse shouldn’t give any info because he hurt the kid. And if he did, then he didn’t care much about the kid to hurt him in the first place.


What would you do? What is the nurse’s best response?

“Passing the buck” is one of the worst things taught in test prep! Healthcare is a TEAM effort. You cannot manage care alone. This is the social worker’s role, not the nurse’s role and you are required to assign this task appropriately. If you chose #2, what are the chances you have a violent man who doesn’t like that answer? You just put yourself, your staff, and your client in danger. #2 is not a true statement. At this time, it’s uncertain if the father has legal rights (most likely) or has lost his parental rights in court because of a past incident (possibly.) Clearly, he needs to be referred to the social worker. 

The keyword is BEST so the question is asking you to choose policy, not opinion.

The correct answer is #4.

The definition of “passing the buck” is to shift blame on someone else because you didn’t take responsibility to make a critical judgment. You are responsible to delegate and assign when appropriate.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to let go of the misinformed teaching to ‘pass the buck.’ 

Focus on learning the rules of delegation and assignment. This begins with knowing what your priorities are.

Were you taught not to ‘pass the buck?’

Find Flow After a Fail

“Not Yet” Joan Palmeri, NCLEX Whisperer

Just experienced an unsuccessful attempt at NCLEX?

How are you feeling right now? Devastated? Frustrated? Angry? Are you an emotional wreak because you’re experiencing this as a traumatic event? You’re most likely physically and emotionally tired, worn out, overwhelmed and generally useless after a fail.

Recognize your need to recover. Be the nurse right now for yourself. Let yourself feel what you feel without letting your mind judge the feeling or define you. Every feeling is temporary.


Today you are the nurse and the patient. Nurture yourself. Heal yourself.

Here’s research-based advice for getting yourself back in the game and across the finish line with a PASS.

EXERCISE: You need 20-30 minutes of exercise a day. Not to be “bikini ready” but simply to be healthy. Not only is it bad for your heart to carry too much extra weight for your body type and frame but what’s important for you right now is that exercise increases stress-reducing hormones and is the best mood balancer available. You have been bombarded with stress hormones. You need to counter that. Go for a morning walk. Put on music and dance. Go to YouTube and search for free exercise videos. Try something new: Yoga, Pilates, Zumba. Do something different for exercise every day. Do it first thing in the morning so you don’t procrastinate. Get up earlier than everyone else in your house if necessary.

NATURE: Get a touch of nature every day. This is easy on a morning walk. Every inner city has a park. Grow some houseplants. Wrestle with the dog. Pet the cat. A connection with nature is a connection to your true self. Shakespeare said, “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” This is your way back home. A way back to your true self.

EMOTIONAL WELLBEING: Stay in the moment as much as possible. Don’t go too far into the past or the future. Both past thinking and future thinking create anxiety. Train your mind to quiet down and focus by practicing daily meditation. Make time to meditate and you will see how much more free time you’ll have. Your thoughts will stop racing and you’ll be able to see a thought and ask yourself, “What purpose does this idea serve? What is this idea in my head that is trying to sabotage me? This is anxiety talking. I’m letting this go.” Avoid contributing your energy to these illusions.

Practice gratitude which is proven to change brain chemistry. Wake up every morning and say it out loud: “I’m thankful to be alive. I’m thankful for this delicious cup of coffee. For my family. For my eyesight. I’m thankful to be part of a prep program that is helping me clear my head to be able to think clearly!” Writing down something you’re thankful for everyday is even more effective.

FOCUS ON THE NEW EXPERIENCE: When you become a licensed nurse, you will help your patients adapt to dealing with many changes in their lives. Some will have to learn to walk again after a trauma, learn to speak again after a stroke, learn to adapt to lifestyle changes after a heart attack, learn to live with sobriety after detoxing from drug and alcohol abuse, and many other life-changing situations. How will you help your patients cope? By embracing what is new. You need to let go of the way you “studied” in the past and start to prepare like a pro. You are in training. Commit to it cheerfully. Smile and remind yourself that growth is a process, sometimes painful, but the outcome is sweet.

Begin today by focusing on your whole self. Know this is possible. Know that all it takes to pass the NCLEX is for you to be in good physical and emotional shape so you can think clearly.  Once you feel you’re strong and happy again, you can go on to the WORK PHASE.




The work phase begins with cleaning up the past. Pack up your nursing school books and old prep materials. Store them away, all the while being thankful for the learning they gave you.

Clean up your prep environment at home. Create a clean, uncluttered, quiet space where you can do your Home Practice with no distractions. Try to create an area that is as dull as the test center will be. Just you and your computer. This is where you will rehearse for a strong NCLEX performance.

Once your prep area is set, take yourself out on a date. A date with yourself (not with your lover, your BFF, or your kids.) Take yourself out to a movie, to window shop, browse a book store. Go ice skating at a local rink, to a museum, take a ride on a Ferris wheel, go out for ice cream- anything that will make you happy. The idea is to show yourself some love and appreciation. This activity will also open up your creative mind- a part of your brain that doesn’t get much exercise in nursing school (which is mostly memorization.) I date myself every week. It keeps me sane. You’ll be more in touch with yourself and more refreshed to begin working again.

Recognize the need to increase reading comprehension skills and speed for NCLEX and improve these area by reading for pleasure every day. Research shows reading detective novels is highly effective in building reading skills as well as enhancing critical-thinking skills for standardized tests. Sue Grafton has a great series that starts with A is for Alibi and goes through the alphabet. Available in libraries. Get on it.

Once you’ve organized your prep environment and had some “me” time, you’ll be ready to move on to the FLOW PHASE.


Flow is a high-energy experience with something you can pour your heart and soul into. Is it nursing? If so, your approach to NCLEX prep needs to be relaxed and full of curiosity and passion.

Every question is a patient. It’s not some horrible thing that’s testing your knowledge. It’s a living, breathing human being who needs you. See a patient in the questions. Even if it’s a straight knowledge question testing lab normals, see that data and imagine who the patient is. Male or female? How old is s/he? Infant, toddler, teenager? Is it a young single man? A 35-year-old married woman? A 75-year-old widower? Once you have a person in mind, SEE their health/wellness. What do they need? How can I help? Is there a life-threatening situation here? Do I need a physician? Using your imagination this way opens up your intuition. Soon you’ll just know what someone needs.

Flow is the state where we have no thoughts about the past or future because we are totally committed to the present moment. Athletes know this when they’re practicing their sport. Musicians know this when they’re playing their instruments.

Remember when you first learned to drive and had to think about everything? Seat belt. Adjust mirrors. Look four ways. Hyper-alert. Then once you know how to drive, you just get in the car, put on the sunglasses, turn on the music and go. This is the process of learning any new skill. First you are aware of how to do it. Then with practice, you find your flow. 


Contact Joan Palmeri directly at [email protected]


Why You Can’t “Study” for NCLEX

NCLEX is a professional licensing exam, not an academic exam.

The biggest mistake I see repeat testers making is continually trying to “study” for NCLEX.

In college, most nursing content needs to be memorized. You listened to lectures, read textbooks, took notes, crammed, and spit it all back on a test. And it got you through nursing school. 

NCLEX requires you to make the transition from student to professional.

What’s the difference? Critical thinking.

The NCLEX tests your ability to make an educated guess based on the limited information given in a question. Can you do that?

And if you’re still trying to “study” for NCLEX, what are you studying? The entire content of nursing?

That’s crazy when you think about it.

You will never know all the content in the field of nursing, EVER. Why would anyone think you can learn all the content that can possibly come up on your exam by test day? 

Do you know how to make an educated guess when you don’t know the content? Isn’t learning how to problem solve more of a priority than studying?

Study Guides Are Useless


The #1 search term for “NCLEX” according to Google Analytics, is “NCLEX Study Guide.”

Everyone is searching for a guide that doesn’t exist.

Study guides are cram sheets and test-taking tips. They might’ve helped in a pinch in nursing school but are worthless as prep tools for NCLEX.

Here’s a tip: Stop wasting time “studying” where learning is delivered through lectures, reading, cramming, and testing. Studying works for an upcoming academic test but how much of that information do you retain after the test?

You can study for the rest of your life and repeat the exam over and over if you don’t have the required problem-solving skills for a professional licensing exam.


What is the NCLEX testing? What is the Content?

There is one guide that clearly explains NCLEX content- what the NCLEX is testing you on- and that is the NCSBN Test Plan for PN and PN. Visit the NCSBN website here to review the student guides.  

NCLEX tests application.

NCLEX tests if you can make a decision, if you can manage your emotions so you can think and use sound judgement.

NCLEX tests “entry-level mental competency” because most entry-level nursing tasks require critical judgment. 


What skills does the National Board say are required to pass NCLEX?

Problem-solving skills. It’s that simple.

(From NCSBN) “Since the practice of nursing requires application of knowledge, skills and abilities, the majority of items are written at the application or higher levels of cognitive ability, which requires more complex thought processing. These questions require a candidate to utilize problem-solving skills in order to select the correct answer.” See this and more at NCSBN Q&A.

Learn problem-solving skills so you can confidently apply your knowledge and make an educated guess when confronted with unknown content. It’s what the National Board tells you is required to pass a professional licensing exam. Stop studying like it’s a nursing school exam. The NCLEX is a different beast altogether.

A tester’s goal is to be able to comfortably make an educated guess in any given question scenario. 


What kind of prep have you been doing?

If you’re still listening to content lectures as much of nursing school curricula was delivered, you most likely will retain 5% of it.

Do you prep at home with a stack of NCLEX Test Prep books from all the major publishers? All that time and money wasted for about a 10% Retention Rate.

Maybe you’re watching a recorded lecture series from a content-based prep company or listening to audio lectures on-the-go?  Good for about a 20% Retention Rate if you repeat them over and over and over and over.

How is your learning currently delivered?

What forms of prep can you do to ensure top Content Retention Rates where the time you spend on prep allows you to retain at least 50-90% of what you learn? 

In this program, I DEMONSTRATE critical-thinking and problem-solving skills needed to handle NCLEX questions. Then you will practice your skills and see improvement each week.

You will naturally learn new content daily, refresh your memory, and make connections between new learning and past learning so you’re expanding knowledge. At the same time, you’ll learn how to handle NCLEX questions using strong problem-taking skills.



When you become a nurse you will TEACH OTHERS. You will continue to learn throughout your nursing life and share your wisdom with your clients. Learn how to learn now and these skills will take you through your continuing higher education as you build your nursing career. You need solid critical-thinking and judgement skills for NCLEX and your for your nursing career. 

That study guide or cheat sheet you’re looking for?

It’s all inside of you. Unleash it. Learn problem-solving skills. 

happyNCLEX TRAINING details




How To Stay Sane

Are your thoughts racing?
Is there a voice in your head telling you all kinds of fearful things? Saying you can’t do it, you’ll never do it?
Who is that crazy person in your head?
It’s not you. 
You can teach yourself to observe that speaker in your head. Simply watch the thought.
These thoughts are simply unchecked thinking. That crazy voice we all have in our heads.
Check in. Look at the thoughts. Aren’t they crazy? Are you going to let someone talk to you like that?
YOU are not your thoughts. YOU are the witness to your thoughts. YOU are the witness to your thoughts, your emotions, and everything you experience.
Pay attention. 
This is why I wholeheartedly agreed with Carrie Fisher when she said, “I’m very sane about how crazy I am.”

What is your mind telling you? What is the truth?


Are You Ready to Test?

Readiness to test. What does it mean to be ready?

In my many years of experience with testers of all ages and from diverse backgrounds, I believe readiness is determined not by a percentage of correct answers on a random set of NCLEX practice questions but by performance and competency in these key areas:

Mental Readiness includes the ability to understand emotions and to control test anxiety; concentrate at a high level during independent practice sessions, the ability to embrace errors in question practice with the understanding that this is the best way to increase content knowledge daily and make learning stick in long-term memory; and to understand and demonstrate higher-order thinking and the critical-thinking process.

Physical Readiness includes the stamina required to physically be able to sustain concentration without fatigue for three full hours for an outstanding exam performance. Daily practice must include good nutrition, 20 minutes of daily exercise, and mind rest or meditation practice for brain health and good night’s sleep. Physical readiness is as important for your exam performance as it is for a productive professional life.

Letting Go of Perfection is a key to readiness. How well do you manage unknown situations and outcomes and deal with questions when confronted with content you feel unsure of? Embracing uncertainty increases your capacity to handle an always-increasing body of knowledge creatively and ethically. How comfortable are you with uncertainty, change, and complex situations- skills essential to nursing practice?




In this talk I answer the questions: “How do I know I’m ready to test? & “What can I do the day before testing?”


Prayer Before Testing

Be with me as I take this exam.

Keep my mind alert and my memory sharp.

Calm my nerves and help me concentrate.

I know that you walk with me,

Guiding my path and inspiring my heart.

I pray that I would feel you with me,

And that your friendship would soften the pressure I feel.

I pray that I would pass this exam and go on to new things with you.

Thank you for your peace and your love in my life.

Thank you for your kindness and care for me.