When you decide to become a nurse, there are two important application tests in your future to study for. Many nursing programs require you to take a pre-admission exam as part of the application process. Nursing school pre-admission exams such as the Assessment Technologies Institute Test of Essential Academic Skills and the National League for Nursing Pre-Admission Exam assess your aptitude to succeed in nursing school. When you complete your nursing education, you have to apply to your state board of nursing to take the National Council Licensure Examination. The NCLEX tests your ability to think critically as a professional nurse.

Pre-Admission Tests

Step 1

Purchase a nursing school admission test study guide sold at your campus bookstore or from an online retailer. Review your pre-nursing notes on subjects such as anatomy and physiology or health care math. Take practice assessment tests to find out the material you know and to pinpoint your areas of weakness. Pre-nursing tests assess your aptitude in English language and usage, math and science. By taking practice assessments, you will know which areas to focus on.

Step 2

Focus on subject matter in areas of weakness. Choose an area in your home or in the library where you can work without interruption for one or two hours every day. Mark your study time on your computer calendar and stick with it. Work on at least 20 practice problems from your study guide in your area of weakness. Read the rationales for the questions that you get wrong. Select similar problems and answer them, applying the rationales in your guide. Repeat the process until you understand how to choose the right answers.

Step 3

Contact your campus learning center to inquire about tutoring to help you through problem areas. Meet with your tutor to ask questions and clear up areas of confusion from the material in your study guide. Attend pre-nursing admission test workshops, if your school offers them, and take assigned practice tests. Register for the real version of the exam when you are confident that you have mastered the study guide material.


Step 1

Buy a NCLEX study guide, and begin reading through the material as soon as you are accepted to nursing school. Spend a few hours per week answering practice test questions and reading rationales. Review your notes from pre-nursing school courses such as anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, and pharmacology several times per week.

Step 2

Study your assignment readings and notes daily as you progress through nursing school. Set aside an evening each week to answer NCLEX study guide practice questions to practice your critical thinking skills. Use word processing software to cross-reference notes from your nursing curriculum courses, and create study outlines. The benefit to incorporating NCLEX practice questions is that nursing schools write NCLEX-style exams so you can prepare for end of semester exams and the NCLEX at the same time.

Step 3

Work with a tutor who can answer your questions and clear up areas of confusion. Study NCLEX questions daily as the end of your nursing program approaches. Take NCLEX prep workshops and assessments offered by your school. Continue to study daily until you graduate from nursing school and register to take your licensing exam.


Several nursing pre-admission test study guides prepare you to take several different tests. Ask nursing students for recommendations about which study guide is most helpful. If you don't know any nursing students, register in an online community for nurses and nursing students.


Don't remain confused by nursing school subject matter. Ask your instructor for clarification on points you don't understand, and if that does not help, then make an appointment with a tutor. If you attempt to go on before you understand material, the area of weakness may affect your ability to pass the NCLEX.

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