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




40 replies
  1. Kimberley Bhopaul
    Kimberley Bhopaul says:

    Hello Joan! I Recently found out I failed my Nclex RN today and I am devastated and feel horrible! I want to do your program! please help!

  2. kaur
    kaur says:

    i passed my general nursing and midwife diploma from india 5 year ago
    now i m green card holder in usa i want to continue my study here
    i got eligibility from california board of nursing to take the rn nclex exam

    i want to know where from i start my study
    step by step could u help me out to plan for study thnk u

    • Joan Palmeri
      Joan Palmeri says:

      Hi, happyNCLEX training is planned out for you. See details at the “NCLEX training” tab on the website menu. See the FAQ tab for more information too. Call the office if you have additional questions: ‭(302) 359-7917 weekdays, eastern time.

  3. lou
    lou says:

    Hi Joan Palmeri! saw your name in uworld group and someone recommended you to me. i recently took my nclex rn exam, my 4th time which i thought im going to pass because my previous result was near passing, i used uworld and la charity for my 4th take, review class in my 3rd take. im not really sure what is wrong with me taking the exam, i felt confident for my last take, i prayed hard, exercise before answering uworld but still did not pass. im rn in Philippines graduated 2006, took nclex 2x in 2007, after 10yrs i retake again june and nov.

  4. Beth
    Beth says:

    Hi Joan,

    I failed my NCLEX PN for the second time today. Graduated from nursing school this past August. I am not sure where to begin. I feel like a failure. Where do I start?

    • Joan Palmeri
      Joan Palmeri says:

      Every training option is the same in that this program teaches the problem-solving skills needed for NCLEX. Then there is an option to add a private training session, and the Remedial option includes 2 private sessions. Read each option description for details: https://www.happynclex.com/training/

  5. Marcie
    Marcie says:

    Hi I’m a repeat test taker.I’ve taken the LPN 5x already but failed before that I went for a classroom review setting I did used HUrst, Kaplan, U world but I don’t know why I still cannot passed the exam,,,How in the world can I memorize the signs nd smptoms of each diseases,the medications of each diseases ohhh I don’t know where I’m gonna start

    • Joan Palmeri
      Joan Palmeri says:

      The mistake you’re making is to look at NCLEX like it’s a nursing school exam that tests memory. It’s a professional licensing exam that tests your ability to use critical judgement. Keep studying and keep repeating or learn the required problem-solving skills that you need for NCLEX and for nursing practice.

  6. LC
    LC says:

    Hi Joan,
    Finished nursing school in May. Took my first attempt in August and did not pass. I answered 228 questions and ran out of time. I felt so defeated and depressed! I am scheduled to retake on Nov 9th. I really need to figure out another way and I came across your ad on FB. Which program do you think I should sign-up for? And should I push back my test date? I look forward to learning “Joan’s way!”

    • Joan Palmeri
      Joan Palmeri says:

      Start with the basic Open Pass which fits your situation. We’ll discuss test dates one you get started. Plan to test within 8 weeks or so.

  7. D. A. Vee
    D. A. Vee says:

    Hi, Joan!

    My friend sent me a link to your program this morning. I am a repeat test taker. I took the NCLEX on 8/1 having studied 8 weeks with UWorld, Kaplan (Test banks) and Hurst (content review). I felt SO overwhelmed when I took NCLEX, as I was ill-prepared for it. It took me all the way to 265 questions, and 2 days later, I found out I didn’t pass. I was “near passing” on all subjects except “Mental Health” where I scored “above passing”, go figure, I have a Masters Degree in Social Work with an emphasis in Mental Health. I have been using Hurst review again, and I keep scoring 50-55% on all my quizzes and tests from Hurst. I am anticipating taking the NCLEX end of October 2017, but I am terrified that my overall percentage is 50% not high enough to walk into NCLEX again, but when I took it the first time my average was 48%. I write all this to ask, will your program help me learn to break down test questions? also in NOT 2nd guessing? I noticed when I review all my tests that my 2nd guessing is causing me to score way lower bc had I went with my gut I would be scoring 67-76%. It kills me because I don’t know what I am doing wrong.

    • Joan Palmeri
      Joan Palmeri says:

      Come work with me! You simply need to learn problem-solving skills. You will be so relieved. Training isn’t called “happy”NCLEX for nothing. Do you see that you can’t continue to “study” for NCLEX? You have a base of knowledge (and good insight I’d guess from your educational focus.) You just need to learn how to play the game.

  8. connie johnpaul
    connie johnpaul says:

    I came across your training program through uworld, I finished nursing school a while ago, and i have scheduled to test in novemeber, what are your recommendations for me at this time? being that i have forgotten most of my contents.. I intend to enrol in your training next week.

  9. IMMA
    IMMA says:

    will be joining your programe next week,it will be my first and last attempt I really pray I pass I heard so much about you from my foreign graduates friend that used u to pass,am suppose to test sep 26th but I want to move to October.

  10. Loveleen
    Loveleen says:

    I have taken Nclex 3 times and failed. I tried hurst review and when I took the Nclex the 2nd time I was really close to passing then I took it the 3rd time using hurst review again and failed. I was wondering if this program will work for me. I have already spent a lot of money on Hurst review and the Nclex; I really want to know if this will help me.

  11. Shanshen
    Shanshen says:

    Hi my name is Shenella I just register for your program , this is my first time taking this exam and I’m looking forward for your help and success at my first time at nclex


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