You’re finishing nursing school and gearing up to take your NCLEX to officially become a registered nurse. You’re scared to fail and just want to do whatever you need to do. You’ve heard of different NCLEX review options, but don’t have a ton of money or time try them all. Every year there seems to be another option and it’s quite confusing. So, what are the Best NCLEX Reviews for 2023?
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I’m a registered nurse. Back in 2010, I took the NCLEX and passed in 75 questions in one attempt in about 110 minutes. I’m not the best test-taker in the world. I went to a good nursing school, but it wasn’t Ivy League by any means. I also took an NCLEX prep course, but didn’t spend thousands or wait months.
Over the years, I’ve heard a lot through the grapevine about various NCLEX-prep options, explored many myself, and know a lot of different companies and what they offer. Needless to say, I know what I’m talking about. So, let’s get into some of the Best NCLEX Reviews for 2023 from my professional opinion.
NCLEX Next Generation
Please note, beginning April 1, 2023 there will be a massive update to the NCLEX. It is called “NCLEX Next Generation”. To learn more about that, click here.
First: Identify Your Priorities
Not all NCLEX prep courses are created equal. Some are much more comprehensive and involved than others. Just because the smartest person in your class is using a specific one doesn’t mean it will be the best one for you.
I know people that passed the NCLEX who:
- Purchased a book and just did review questions every night for 2 weeks
- Purchased a subscription to an online NCLEX question bank, created a study schedule, and stuck to it
- Took a full in-person review course that came with a book set of review questions
- Used the NCLEX prep from the nursing school support program they used during their entire college experience
- Purchased one-on-one in-person NCLEX prep time
A lot depends on how you learn best. It is no longer a one-size fits all approach. Sadly, that can make your options pretty confusing.
At the end of the day, the NCLEX is attempting to gauge your critical thinking skills and baseline clinical knowledge. Therefore, the best NCLEX study program is the one that will help you succeed.
Important Features to Consider in an NCLEX Review
As you look through options, these are important features to balance in your decision-making.
- Is there a pass-guarantee? Will you get a refund if you don’t pass? What are the stipulations?
- Does it come with review questions. If so, how many?
- Do the review questions provide rationales? (This is VERY important)
- Is there at least 1 full practice test? (Bonus points if you can actually get a practice test that is computer adaptive, like the NCLEX)
- Does the review also go through how the NCLEX is structured?
- Do they provide a methodology for working through questions? (For example, Kaplan’s Decision Tree)
- How long do you have access? Can you pick?
- What’s the price point? Can you pay monthly, or is it one large lump sum payment?
- Can you watch lectures more than once?
- Are you provided with a content review? (Some are just questions)
- If there is a content review, is it on-demand or live?
- Have they updated the review to include NCLEX Next Generation material?
As I mention each popular option, I will answer the above question. Prices mentioned are as of Dec 2, 2022 and may have changed since publication of this article.
Nursing.com Subscription and SIMCLEX
I’ve been a fan of this company for years. One reason is because it is helpful throughout nursing school, not just during the NCLEX prep period. Here are the stats:
- 200% refund policy. Yes, you read that correctly. If you use their SIMCLEX and it tells you that you’re ready and you don’t pass, not only do you get a refund, but twice the amount (stipulations apply).
- They have the SIMCLEX, which is computer adaptive simulation of the NCLEX. They attempt to make these practice exams as realistic to what it’s actually like sitting for the NCLEX as possible. You can just buy this, or also get a content review too. Just SIMCLEX access ranges from $99 for 1 SIMCLEX attempt, to $199 for three.
- 6,500+ practice questions with rationales
- Comprehensive NCLEX Prep eBook
- You can also purchase a 2-year subscription to Nursing.com that comes with 5 SIMCLEX attempts for $492. You are billed $82 monthly for 6 months. This option comes with access to their entire database of lessons, questions, study tools, and the NCLEX prep course.
- Free 3-day trial available
- Boasts a 99.86% pass rate
To learn more about Nursing.com, click here.
TrueLearn NCLEX Prep
This is one of the newer kids on the block, and works well with Picmonic, a popular nursing school support program. Despite it being newer, they’ve had over 43,000 learners in 2021 alone. TrueLearn itself is a question bank, but you have the option to add-on a Picmonic subscription, which would be the content review.
- First time pass guarantee: If you do not pass the NCLEX, you’ll be given complimentary access to the question bank that is equal in length to the time you purchased before testing. Stipulations apply.
- 5-day free trial
- 900+ practice questions with rationales
- Performance analytics and national benchmarking provided
- Access the SmartBank whenever you’re ready; you can purchase now but not access for while if you want
- You can create custom quizzes
- SmartSearch, SmartTexts, and SmartTips available
- SmartSearch allows you to create custom quizzes based on keywords.
- My fave: SmartTexts. You can set it up to send you text message of key learning concepts throughout the day. This is like passive learning with spaced repetition and I am definitely a fan.
- SmartTips gives you test-taking tips and strategies based on your habits and performance
- Subscriptions are available in 30, 60, 90, 180, and 365-day intervals for the SmartBank. The more you purchase, the less it will cost per-day. It starts at $40/month and goes up to $74.99 for one year.
- If you want to add Picmonic to the subscription, the same intervals are available and it starts at $50/month and goes up to $119 for one year.
To learn more about TrueLearn, click here. Make sure you use promo code FRESHRN for 20%, which enables you to get a full year of TrueLearn for only $60, or a full year of Picmonic and TrueLearn for only $95.20!
NCLEX Mastery from Higher Learning Technologies
This NCLEX review is done entirely from an app called NCLEX Mastery.
- Generous refund policy. If you don’t pass, get back 3x what you paid.
- 3,000 practice questions with rationales; you can even rate your confidence level with each question
- Progress tracking
- 99.7% pass rate
- Informs you of your possibility of passing
- NCLEX simulation available
- $35/month, cancel any time. You can purchase month-to-month, 3-month, and 12-month subscriptions. The 12-month is by far the best deal.
- 3-day free trial after you create an account (this comes with 10 free practice questions)
- Mini-quizzes, mnemonics, and test-taking strategies
- Additional content available in the app to support your transition to practice
This is definitely one of the most affordable options out there. Click here to snag a special FreshRN 10% discount!
UWorld NCLEX Prep
This is a popular option that is 100% online. In 2021, it won the Nurse.org “Best Nursing Test Program” award. This program also allows you to purchase with or without NCLEX Next Gen, which is a plus for those last few taking the regular NCLEX before April 1, 2023.
- No pass guarantee or refunds provided
- This is a question bank, not content review
- 2,350 questions with rationales, including alternative format
- Flashcards, online notebook available
- Performance tracking to identify areas to focus on
- Two 100-question timed test available
- Pricing ranges from $139 (for regular NCLEX) and $159 (Next Gen) which includes the most basic of the practice questions for 30 days, all the way up to $449 which includes 2 self-assessments and a reset option for 730 days (2 years)
- No payment plans
- They offer demos, but no free trials
- No test taking strategies or instruction on the NCLEX itself
To learn more about UWorld, click here.
BoardVitals NCLEX Prep
This is another one that is completely online and a test question bank.
- The 6-month and 3-month plans come with a 100% pass guarantee. This means they will give you the same amount of free time as you purchased previously, or 50% off a longer package.
- Question bank of 3,500 questions with rationales and alternative formats
- Can buy now and start later
- Free trial available; plans range from $119 for one month to $179 for 6 months
- Progress tracking with national benchmarking
- Customized practice tests, including timed options to simulate real testing conditions
- Option to create an unlimited number of computer adaptive practice tests
To learn more about BoardVitals, click here.
One-On-One NCLEX Prep from The Nurse Speak
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention two people I’ve heard amazing things about for one-on-one NCLEX prep. Some people have high test-anxiety or very specific needs that won’t be adequately addressed with strictly online resources, or even in an in-person group experience. Some may need some individualized support after failed attempts at the NCLEX.
Damion Jenkins, MSN RN over at The Nurse Speak offers in-person or online individualized mentoring, coaching and instruction for the NCLEX. He has an online course that includes three 2-hour one-on-one tutoring and mentoring services. Right now, it’s $579 for that package and payment plans are available.
Kaplan NCLEX Review
This is an old school option, and actually the one I took back in 2010! I completed an in-person review. Here are the stats:
- They guarantee you’ll pass and will refund you, or extend your access to re-take the exam. There are stipulations: You must take it within 6 months of graduation, complete all the modules, and a few other reasonable requirements. More here.
- Various format options: Live online review, self-paced, in-person (they mention this on the website but I cannot find where to actually take an in-person review!), as well as just purchasing access to their question bank.
- The Qbank has 2,100 questions that provide rationales
- They have 3 computer adaptive practice tests
- Prices range from $129-$525 with options for interest-free payment plans. Depending on the plan you pick, you can just get questions or get a full content review
- If you get one of the 2 most expensive plan, it includes a 500-page ebook
- Has a tried-and-true decision tree model to systematically work through NCLEX-style questions
- Updated for NCLEX Next Generation
- Has a free trial option
To learn more about Kaplan, click here.
Hurst NCLEX Review
This is another old-school option, around when I was a young nursing school pup! Their website is a little more tricky to navigate than others.
- They have a pass guarantee; refund or extension of resources to re-attempt (stipulations apply)
- Various formats and time length options
- Qbank has 1,500 questions with rationales, including alternative format
- You can customize the practice questions by content area or client need
- Flash card and quiz modes
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- Options for content reviews range from just core content, to specialty lectures, and in-person reviews are offered
- There are 4 125-question readiness exams
- Boasts a 98% first-attempt pass rate
- Prices range from $109-$399 with payment plans available
- Free trial available
To learn more about Hurst, click here.
Your nursing school may use ATI in the classroom for assessments, but they also offer NCLEX review options.
- Pass guarantee: If their readiness exam tells you that you are ready, but you do not pass then you are provided with an additional 12-weeks after a written request is submitted. They do not offer refunds.
- Boast a 96% pass rate for Virtual ATI students who received a green light pass rate and a 94% pass rate for live reviews. It does not state what percentage of learners obtain green light status.
- Two options: Live review and Virtual ATI with BoardVitals
- The live review provides a book, test taking strategies, alternative format questions, and test plan review. They require you to create an account to simply look at locations and prices for in-person reviews, which is not cool IMHO.
- The Virtual ATI is a 12-week self-paced course and the BoardVitals aspect is the question bank
- The price for Virtual ATI and BoardVitals is $525
- BoardVitals has 3,000 review questions with rationales, 30% of which are alternative format
- You can make customized quizzes
- You can take review questions in three modes: Timed, review mode (which disables rationales so it’s more like when you’ll actually test) and computer adaptive
- The aim is for Virtual ATI to be the content review, and BoardVitals for the question bank
- No free trial
To learn more about ATI, click here.
My Personal Favorites
The ones that I believe offer the best bang for your buck in terms of content review and practice questions are Nursing.com and TrueLearn with Picmonic. I also love these because you can benefit from them during nursing school. (And don’t forget to use promo code FRESHRN with TrueLearn for 20% off!)
If you really just want review questions without full content review, NCLEX Mastery from HLT and UWorld are really great options and very affordable prices. I’m glad these other options are out there, because back in 2010, there were only 3 options and they all were over $400.
While Hurst and Kaplan are the only ones that provide in-person reviews, the cost is extremely high compared to the others. When we’re looking at that high of a cost, I’d be tempted to opt for the one-on-one mentoring and online course from Damien at the Nurse Speak. And if you’re a repeat test-taker, I would bite the bullet and work with Damien. Simply not passing prevents you from working, which gets exponentially expensive to delay beginning your new role as a registered nurse.
ATI is quite expensive but I don’t think that it’s offering anything exponentially better than the much more cost effective options I’ve already mentioned.
Whatever you choose, Godspeed to you!