Applying for nursing school can be stressful. We understand how difficult it can be and want to help you as you begin the amazing journey of becoming a nurse. One of the most important steps in getting into nursing school is doing well on the National League for Nursing Pre-Admission Examination (NLN-PAX). Here, we give you our top tips for succeeding as you take the exam.

The National League for Nursing Pre-Admission Examination

The National League for Nursing Pre-Admission Examination (NLN-PAX) is a standardized entrance exam that many nursing schools use. It is one of the most important factors nursing schools use to determine if they are going to offer you a place in their program or not. It is vital that you score well on this test if you want to get into nursing school.

The NLN-PAX consists of three sections:

  • Verbal – The verbal section tests your ability to comprehend words and speech, often at a more advanced level.
  • Science – The science section tests your knowledge of scientific concepts like biology, chemistry, and physics.
  • Math – The math section tests your ability to work on math problems, such as geometry, algebra, and word problems.

A firm knowledge and understanding of each of these subjects are important to succeed in nursing school, and the NLN-PAX is a great opportunity for you to demonstrate your mastery of each.

What’s a good score for the NLN Pax?

It is important to keep in mind that the NLN-PAX is not pass or fail. It is scored on a scale of 1-99 and the higher your score, the more likely you are to get into a program. The NLN-PAX is not the only consideration that a nursing school uses to determine if they will offer you placement into their program; however, a high score could make the difference if other areas of your application are weaker.

Tips for Success

Doing well on the NLN-PAX is important for getting into most nursing schools. We know that the process of applying for nursing school is stressful. To help you succeed, we’ve compiled a list of our top tips for success while taking the NLN-PAX.

1. Understand the content areas

When it comes to passing any exam, there is no substitute for knowing the material. The better you know and understand the material, the better you will be able to perform the test. This involves two important parts. First, you must understand exactly what type of content is likely to be on the exam. Second, you must become familiar with all this content as much as you can.

We recommend that you spend 20-40 minutes each day reviewing different aspects of the material for several weeks. Regularly reviewing and studying the materials you are likely to encounter will help you be more confident and comfortable with the exam content.

Tip: If math is a weak area for you, make sure you brush up on helpful acronyms like PEMDAS and FOIL.

2. Practice with sample questions

Being familiar with the content is important; however, so is knowing how to apply it. Practicing sample questions will help you become familiar with how the content you know is likely to be tested.

For example, we all learned basic geometry in high school, but unless you’ve been using that information regularly, you’re probably rusty.

Practicing sample questions also increases your confidence with taking questions like those you will be faced with on the NLN-PAX. This ultimately increases your familiarity with both the content and the exam format.

3. Time yourself (eventually)

You shouldn’t time yourself initially, however, once you have finished a few weeks of study, you should begin timing yourself as you practice questions to ensure you can complete the entire exam in the allotted time. You will have about 45 seconds to answer each question and must be able to read, understand, and answer each question within that time frame on average.

NLN-PAX is not pass or fail - it's scored on a scale of 1-99.

Timing yourself not only helps you to ensure that you are answering questions fast enough but it also decreases stress on test day when you are faced with a timed test. By practicing answering on a timer, you will be better able to handle the pressures of a timed test when you actually do it.

4. Focus on your weakest areas

Whenever you are studying, it can be easy to be drawn to content that you like or that you find easier to understand. To study effectively, you must overcome this natural inclination and study the content that you like the least and are weakest in. Focusing on your weakest areas will ultimately strengthen the results of your study more than studying content you are stronger and more comfortable in.

Tip: Flashcards may be your best bet for vocabulary but it’s also important to know how to understand these words within the context of a phrase.

5. Take care of yourself

Preparing for a test isn’t all about studying. It also requires preparing yourself mentally and physically. If you are healthy, you will be better able to learn more, retain what you learn, and apply what you have studied when taking the test.

Taking care of yourself involves getting enough rest, exercising regularly, and nourishing your body. It also involves avoiding unhealthy behaviors like smoking or drinking alcohol. By taking care of yourself, especially in the week preceding your test, you will be able to perform better.

6. Don’t cram

Cramming rarely works. If you are cramming, it generally means that you probably aren’t ready to take the test. Because you are limited in how frequently you can take the test, you are better off rescheduling it and taking more time to prepare for it.

While cramming indicates that you aren’t prepared, it is also less effective as a method of learning and can ultimately increase the stress and anxiety that you encounter as you take the test. Cramming should always be avoided if possible. While the NLN PAX is considered a basic exam, you should plan to study daily for at least three weeks before your test date.

7. Use study guides and prep courses

A prep course or study guide will help you target your efforts where they will be most effective. These resources are designed by professionals who are familiar with the intricacies of the exam and understand what is important to focus on.

These resources can help you understand things about the exam that you did not previously know, give you tips for studying that save time, and help provide strategies that increase your chances of success. By using a study guide or prep course, you will go into the test with more confidence and be better positioned for success.

You Can Do It

Doing well on the NLN-PAX is an important, yet very achievable step towards getting into the nursing school of your dreams. By following our tips, you will be well-positioned to get a high score on the NLN-PAX and increase your chances of getting into the nursing program of your choice.