As you get ready for the NCLEX, it’s important to know that time management is an important ingredient for success. Imagine the NCLEX as a bridge to your nursing career. To cross it successfully, you must find the right balance between understanding the material and answering questions effectively. That’s where good time management comes in. 

These practices go beyond the exam. They can help you form habits essential for your growth as a nurse. 

Understanding the NCLEX’s Structure 

Think of it as having a clear game plan for your nursing career. This awareness guides you and ensures you’re well-prepared to take on the challenges ahead in your professional journey. 

Read More: NCLEX 2023 Update: Everything You Need to Know About the Next Generation NCLEX (NGN) 

How Many Questions Are There in NCLEX Tests? 

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) oversees two National Council Licensure Examinations (NCLEX), determining eligibility for registered nurses (RNs) or practical nurses (PNs). 

The NCLEX-RN has a maximum of 145 questions, while the NCLEX-PN has up to 205 questions. Although not everyone needs to answer all questions, there’s a mandatory minimum. NCLEX-RN test-takers must answer at least 75 questions, and NCLEX-PN test-takers must complete at least 85 questions. 

The Computerized Testing System 

The examination process is tailored to each individual. After responding to a question, the computer program used in NCLEX exams assesses whether the answer is correct or incorrect. Answering a question correctly leads to a slightly harder one, while an incorrect answer results in an easier question. 

The computer assesses your performance and ends the test when it’s 95 percent certain of your outcome. If you’re doing well or struggling, your test might be shorter. If you’re somewhere in between, you might need to answer more questions for the system to decide if you will pass or fail. 

Test Content 

The NCLEX tests determine if you can use medical knowledge in real-life situations while caring for patients. Aside from memorizing terms or knowing all the bones in the human body, the tests also identify if you can use your knowledge to do nurses’ daily tasks. 

The tests have eight areas for assessing what you know and can do. The number of questions in each area might change depending on how well you answer other questions. Here are the areas and how much emphasis the exam typically places on each. 

  • Management of Care – 15-21 percent 
  • Safety and Infection Control – 10-16 percent 
  • Health Promotion and Maintenance – 6 – 12 percent 
  • Psychosocial Integrity – 6 – 12 percent 
  • Basic Care and Comfort -6 – 12 percent 
  • Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies – 13 – 19 percent 
  • Reduction of Risk Potential – 9 – 15 percent 
  • Physiological Adaptation – 11 – 17 percent 

Time Allotted for Tests 

The NCLEX-RN allows up to 6 hours, while the NCLEX-PN provides 5 hours. This includes the instruction time before answering questions and any breaks you take during the test. It’s possible to wrap up the test in 2 hours, but it depends on how many questions you answer and how well you’re doing. 

Since you don’t know how many questions you will answer, it’s a good idea to plan your time, assuming you’ll need to answer all of them. This way, you can avoid time constraints in case you have to answer the maximum number of questions. 

Effective Time Management Tips 

Figuring out the perfect way to manage your time depends on your personality, self-motivation, and how disciplined you can be. These strategies can help you handle your time better, especially when preparing for the next NCLEX.  

Before the exam, be sure to consider the following points: 

1. Understand how you use your time. 

A time log can be useful for understanding how you use your time. Keep a record of your activities in 15-minute intervals for a week or two, and then assess the results: 

  • Did you accomplish everything you needed to? 
  • Which tasks take up the most time? 
  • At what time of day are you most productive? 
  • Where does the majority of your time go? 

Identifying tasks that consume most of your time and evaluating if your time aligns with your priorities can guide your decision-making. Recognizing the time commitment for routine tasks also helps you plan more realistically, allowing you to schedule plans for other activities. 

Read More: The NCLEX Study Plan That Works: Crafting Your Ideal Timeline 

2. Create a routine and stick to it. 

A consistent routine is key to managing your time well. Make a schedule that fits your needs and try your best to follow it. Try to make your study routine similar to how you’ll do things on exam day. This helps you build the skills you need to succeed during the exam. 

Here’s a routine you can follow: 

Before Exam: 

  • Create a study routine by scheduling two hours of focused study every night after dinner. 
  • During these study sessions, you review your notes and materials. 
  • Take short breaks. 
  • Work on practice tests. 
  • Rest. 

On exam day, follow a similar routine: 

  • Eat a good meal. 
  • Review some key points. 
  • Go over some practice questions. 
  • Take short breaks during the exam. 
  • Rest. 

This consistent routine helps you feel more comfortable and confident as you’ve practiced managing your time effectively during your study sessions. If you can handle your time well while studying, it’ll be easier to use those skills on exam day. 

3. Keep your exam preparation schedule achievable. 

Before you start your test preparations, figure out how much time you’ll need. Then, make a realistic schedule that includes: 

  • What topics do you want to focus on, and for how long? 
  • Which days do you plan to study? 
  • The time of day you prefer to study. 
  • What do you aim to achieve in each study session? 
  • Things you decide not to include in your study plan. 

4. Maximize the productivity of your study sessions. 

While getting ready for your exam, aim to use your study time effectively. This involves selecting a suitable study environment, ensuring you’re genuinely focused on studying and avoiding procrastination. Here are some strategies to improve your study session’s productivity: 

  • Find a quiet and peaceful place to study; remove distractions from social media, TV, or others. 
  • Focus on one topic at a time. If you’re dealing with multiple topics, break them into smaller sections for easier handling. Additionally, divide your study sessions into shorter periods to maintain focus. 
  • Remember to take breaks during your study sessions. Recognize that your brain has limits on sustained focus. 
  • Be mindful that you’re actively absorbing the material, not just passing time. If it’s the latter, then find a more purposeful way to use your study time. 

5. Don’t focus too much on one subject. 

One common mistake is spending too much time on a single topic. While it’s important to allocate sufficient time to each topic, it’s equally important not to get stuck on one thing for too long. 

Overcommitting to one topic can leave you with insufficient time for other essential topics. If you notice yourself spending too much time, consider shifting your focus. Spend some time on a different topic before going back to the first one. 

6. Learn to say no when necessary. 

Another important element of effective time management is the skill of saying no. The temptation to agree to everything, especially in the nursing environment, can be strong. It’s important to decline things that aren’t significant to you to allow time for your priorities. 

Say no to additional study groups, events, or projects that aren’t necessary. You don’t have to take on every request. Learning to say no reduces stress and anxiety and it can give you more time to concentrate on what truly matters. 

7. Prioritize your physical and mental well-being. 

Lastly, while you’re studying and organizing your time, remember to take care of your physical and mental health. Get enough sleep, maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and try to keep stress levels low as much as possible. 

If you’re tired or not eating right, it’s hard to focus and manage your time effectively. Consider doing relaxation and mindfulness exercises to reduce stress and facilitate better time management. 


Why not explore exciting opportunities in the United States, especially tailored for international nurses like yourself? If this interests you, consider tapping PRS Global on your path to success. Our proven strategies and expert guidance will empower you for the NCLEX journey.  

We’re here to help you every step of the way, from the licensing process to securing your visa with ease. That’s why we guarantee premium processing for all the nurses we bring on board. A world of new opportunities is ready for you, and PRS Global is eager to embrace you. Reach out to us today to access our support and expertise tailored for aspiring nurses like yourself.