When it comes to taking NCLEX, sooner is better, according to several studies. However, if you find yourself making statements like those below, read on, as you may need more convincing to stick to this advice.
"I think I'll get a year of real-world clinical experience before taking NCLEX."
"I just graduated and need to make some money before I pay for NCLEX test prep and exam fees."
These are two common statements we hear from international nurses in regards to when they plan to sit for the NCLEX exam. Whether these are legitimate reasons or simply "excuses," the fact of the matter is that waiting may adversely impact your NCLEX scores. This recommendation of the sooner the better is supported both scientifically and anecdotally:
A recent study conducted by the National Council of the State Boards of Nursing (a U.S. association whose members include the boards of nursing in all 50 U.S. states) determined that lag time to sit for the NCLEX is inversely related to candidates' pass rate on the NCLEX. Or put another way, as you wait longer after graduation to take the NCLEX your ability to pass it goes down.
The publisher of "NCLEX for Dummies" states, "You should take the exam as soon after you graduate as possible because all that information you crammed into your brain is still fresh. Many students wait months before taking the exam because they feel that they aren't prepared. But the longer you procrastinate, the more you have to study, and the less chance you have of passing on your first try. So take it as soon as you possibly can."
Even Maryam Syed, one of the famous few who have passed the NCLEX in just 75 questions states, "I don't recommend waiting very long after graduation to take the NCLEX take it while the information is still fresh." In case you did not know, 75 questions is the minimum number possible in which to pass the NCLEX computer adaptive test, but it can take all the way up to 265 questions.
With all of the advice and research telling nurses to take the NCLEX soon after graduation, it would seem to be a clear decision.
So why do internationally-trained nurses wait to take NCLEX?
A 2009 study by Woo, Wendt, and Weivel found that international candidates cited the following as main reasons why they held off on taking NCLEX:
Not confident in ability to pass the examination - 11%
General test anxiety - 6%
Not enough time to prepare -18%
Registration or authority-to-test letter expired - 11%
We at PassportUSA contend that confidence and anxiety will only be alleviated by the proper use of test prep materials. Anxiety will likely not subside nor will confidence grow no matter how long you wait after graduation unless you prepare effectively. Further, the longer you wait after graduation, the LESS time you will have to prepare for the NCLEX. Why? Because life happens. Work, romance, children, and so forth will all be fighting for more of your time as you move farther away from graduation.
The above is not meant to deter or discourage nurses that have waited to take the NCLEX from now doing so. Although research shows there is a relationship between delay in taking NCLEX and passing, it should be reiterated that a delay in taking the NCLEX does not cause a candidate to fail.
With ample refresher courses and test prep time we are sure you will do fine. The best advice we can offer is to stop delaying your #AmericanDream.