So, you’re getting ready to graduate nursing school and are looking around for some free and paid NCLEX® questionnaires. Let’s be real, everyone would like to try to get as many practice test questions as possible, which typically consists of checking out not one, but multiple free and paid NCLEX® question banks to maximize your dollar and time.
What to look for in NCLEX® Questionnaires
Getting access to NCLEX® questions is helpful, but there’s more to it than that. You don’t just want to know the right answer, you want to know the rationale so you can learn why that’s the right answer. Even better, if they can tell you the level of difficulty and how it stacks up against the rest of their question bank, that’s amazing.
Remember, the NCLEX® isn’t a normal test… it’s a computerized adaptive test (CAT). What does that mean? Here’s a great explanation from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (the people who write the test!) about what a CAT really means. So, just getting a bank of multiple-choice questions isn’t going to cut it. You need to know not only the right answer but the rationale and how difficult the question is, as well as questions with alternate formats. You also don’t want to get the same questions over and over, so you need a large bank of questions (1,500+).
What’s best is if you can find a question bank that also has a content review, so if you got a question wrong and need more information than the rationale supplies, you’ve got resources to dive deeper into. More things to look for are programs actually written by nurses, ones that provide the ability for you to give feedback on a question, as well as the ability to purchase more. The absolute best if you can find one that has a money-back guarantee if you end up not passing the NCLEX®.
If you want a comprehensive, quality NCLEX® questions and review, you are looking at dropping at least a few hundred dollars. It’s expensive, but not passing the first time around can cost on average $10K – $20K in lost wages, fees, and study costs.
Look for the following aspects of quality NCLEX® questionnaires:
- A large bank of questions
- At least over 1,500 but you may want to look for one with substantially more because if you’re diligent in taking practice questions, you’ll go through 1,500 faster than you realize
- Questions with alternate formats
- All of the possible alternate format question that may appear on the exam include select all that apply, hot spots, fill in the blanks, ordered response, audio options, graphic options
- The difficulty level of the question
- Content review
- Nurses actually writing the content/questions
- Able to use features on mobile
- This would be a bonus, not a requirement – in my opinion
- The ability to provide feedback
- This would be a bonus, not a requirement
- The ability to take a simulation exam
- This wouldn’t provide the answers immediately but attempt to simulate the NCLEX® to assess your level of readiness
Free NCLEX® Questionnaires
Test.com is simply 23 free NCLEX® prep questions with a buy-up option for their course. You don’t have to register to get the correct answers, but it’s just a few. The buy-up is to their review with 800 questions, which is written by nurses, contains a money-back guarantee, mobile-enabled, create-your-own flashcards, as well as simulation exam capabilities. It’s probably one of the cheapest, if not the cheapest programs out there.
My thoughts – 800 questions simply isn’t enough
I am a big fan of the way Khan Academy teaches. They utilize short videos that are packed with high-value information. Also, they’re free! The NCLEX® prep section has over 600 YouTube videos that are around 10 minutes each. They are mostly taught by physicians, however, because they’re going into the pathophysiology behind things and not actual nursing care. Essentially, you’re missing a massive part of the test content. While they do have some NCLEX® prep questions, it’s only 86 total. You do not have to register to get access to them.
My thoughts – this would be a good resource for reviewing pathophysiological content that is hard to grasp and just to have access to 86 free questions… but it should by no means be your only review. Since their focus is on patho, there are no nursing topics that comprise major aspects of the exam. I’d do the 86 questions, then use a handful of videos if needed.
Nurse Labs is arguably the largest database of free NCLEX® prep questions at over 3,500. You don’t have to give them your email, they’re broken up into different categories, and they have different modes you can take them in (exam, practice, text). They have some free study guides which accompany the content. You are told which answers are correct and it seems like (sorry I didn’t take all 3,500+ questions to know for sure!) there’s a rationale most of the time, but not always. The way it is organized isn’t the best, but what can you expect when you’re getting a ton of free questions?
My thoughts – this is a ton of free NCLEX® prep questions. I feel like the way the site is organized, it’s hard to keep yourself organized. As far as I could tell, there were no alternative format questions or an option to purchase a full review. While there is some content review, you do have to look for it. Also, one of my nurse red-flags went up when looking into the site… their “about” page is pretty non-descript. I cannot tell who writes these questions or who owns this company, which is a little concerning to me. The way I would approach this is I would purchase an NCLEX® review and use that as my primary question bank, then I would only use the Nurse Labs one if I went through all of those questions.
If you do all three of these, you’ll have 3,609 free NCLEX® practice questions.
Please note, UWorld, Hurst, Kaplan, and Nursing.com all offer a free set of sample questions – but they are all discussed in the paid section!
Paid NCLEX® Questionnaires
Kaplan is quite well known. They have different options for reviews like just an adaptive practice test (cheapest), a self-paced online course, a live online course, and an in-person course.
They have a 3,400 question bank which includes alternate format items, content review, workbook, simulation NCLEX®, as well as a money-back guarantee. They teach a “decision tree” which helps you think through each question in a systematic format. Their price points range from $129 – $500. Some schools will include this review within your tuition. You can also simply purchase their question bank.
Another option would be to simply purchase the book from Amazon for around $30 with Amazon Prime.
Nursing.com Nursing Student Academy has an adaptive NCLEX® simulator (“SIMCLEX”), a question bank of 3,500 questions with the ability to provide feedback and see the difficulty rank, 500+ flashcards, image and audio database, a test-taking course, and 10 concise content courses, is entirely available on mobile, a private Facebook group for support and lifetime access to content after the subscription is complete. Their pricing structure is a bit different, in that you pay a fee for a few months. They also have a 200% money-back guarantee, so if you don’t pass the NCLEX® while using their resources, they’ll refund your money and pay you that same amount as well.
What is cool about this is you can get it when you start nursing school, and it will be valuable throughout school, during the NCLEX®, and after. Also, if you only need it for a few months, it’s significantly cheaper than the other NCLEX® review options. They also have the option of simply purchasing their question bank. Right now you can get a 3 day trial for only $1.
Hurst has 3 different options of an in-person review, a live online review, or an online course. They have a question bank of 1,000 questions, a workbook, test simulator, 4 125-question prep tests, an online coach, and a money-back guarantee. If you buy the in-person review, you are able to attend as many in-person events as you’d like.
Board Vitals has a question bank of 4,100 questions with rationales and alternative formats, an exam blueprint, computer-adaptive exams,
Interestingly enough, with each purchase, they donate a vaccination to a child in need. Two of their 4 plans have a money-back guarantee. I personally know people who have tried all of the other products mentioned but don’t know anyone who has used this product.
NCSBN (National Council of State Boards of Nursing)
This is an NCLEX® prep program from the same company who actually write the test. Their question bank has 3,100 questions, a content review, quizzes, capable of being used on mobile, and an Ask the Instructor feature. I somewhat stumbled upon this during researching these options, so I’m not very familiar with it or know anyone who has used it. But, given that it comes from the same company that writes the test, I’d say it’s safe to assume it’s quite reputable. They also have study plans, which are nice to have structured for you.
UWorld is another popular choice. While it’s test bank is 1,950 questions, they also have two 75-question self-assessment, are mobile-ready, and I’ve heard that their rationales are superior to some other NCLEX® reviews. I actually did a more comprehensive review of this system on the blog already! Click here to check it out. I think this is a good option or someone who just needs test question practice and not content review because you will not get that with UWorld. Their pricing structure is different than some of the others as well since they go by month rather than one large purchase.
Final thoughts and more NCLEX® resources
Whatever program you pick, it’s important to do what’s best for you, your learning style and needs, and your budget. Some people just want a content review, some just want practice questions, some want both. There’s no shame in your NCLEX® prep game, do what you need to do to pass!