Know the Range
The RN exam is tough, mostly because it’s unlike most exams you’ve ever taken in your life. Instead of focusing on one subject or concept, it covers an incredibly wide variety of topics. Most of these are pretty predictable; they’ll be super common topics that you’ll have to deal with every day. But then there are the topics that are very rare and don’t show up very often. Still, you’ll need to be familiar with the possibilities of what could be on there, since missing just a couple of questions could make a big difference.
When you study, make a list of all the topics you know, the ones you need to work on, and the ones that you really don’t understand. As you take practice exams, pay attention to which topics are covered and what sort of questions are asked about them.
You’re a nurse – you’re smart! You have to be! Being a nurse requires a lot of studying and textbooks worth of knowledge in your brain. However, don’t get ahead of yourself when it comes to the test. It’s great to be confident with what you know, but it’s also important to recognize what you don’t really know. Once you can identify what you don’t know, you’ll know what to focus your study on.
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We don’t necessarily mean this in the “study a lot” sense. Of course you should study well before the exam so that you feel prepared and confident; what we mean when we say “be ready” is that you need to be ready in every way to take this exam. Make sure you are in a good place physically, emotionally, and spiritually, as well as intellectually. If you’ve been suffering from anxiety, maybe postponing the test until you’ve worked that out is a better idea. If you’ve been struggling with a physical ailment, wait until you are better. There’s no sense forcing yourself to take a test when you know you aren’t quite ready for it.
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Know Your Aim
You’re obviously taking the RN exam because you want to become a Registered Nurse. It’s a worthy goal, and the world certainly needs dedicated professionals like you. But instead of focusing on the goals themselves (passing the test, getting a job, etc.) focus instead on the values behind those goals. Do you want to take the test so you can have a higher salary? More respect? Self-fulfillment? Recognizing our drive and motivation for doing what we do will help make reaching our goals a whole lot easier!
At this point, you shouldn’t allow anything to distract you from your goal of passing the RN exam. If you’re struggling to feel ready for the test, make a point to eliminate distractions, at least for a while. These distractions could be your phone, video games, or even spending too much time with friends. We aren’t encouraging you to get rid of these things entirely, but for the weeks leading up to the exam, it’s best to get focused on your goal and make sure nothing is going to get in your way.
Take Care of Yourself
As you study and prepare for the test, make sure that you are taking good care of yourself, physically, emotionally, mentally, etc. Be gentle with yourself and don’t push yourself harder than you can reasonably sustain. Instead, make a study schedule that includes lots of short breaks. Give yourself time to breathe.
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Another great thing to do is make sure you’re getting your exercise in every day. When you get your blood pumping, you are energizing your body and mind. Also, don’t forget to get lots of sleep each night. Sleep is when our brain stores away information for later use, and if we don’t get that sleep, we’ll have a hard time recalling the information we need. And finally, make sure you are taking care of your mental health. If stress is getting to you, find a relaxing activity or speak to a family member, friend, or therapist.