Naxlex Blog TEAS Practice Test Can I Take the NCLEX 5 Years After Nursing School?

Can I Take the NCLEX 5 Years After Nursing School?

It’s now five years out of nursing school and you still dream of becoming a licensed nurse? Maybe you took a different path or needed a break to focus on other things. Whatever the reason, you’re now ready to pursue your nursing career but wait, NCLEX still awaits you before you acquire your licensure.

You begin questioning yourself, “Can I take the NCLEX after 5 years?” Naxlex is here to reignite your dreams with a strong YES! Our mission is to empower you with knowledge, strategies, and the much-needed preparation to pass the NCLEX even after a long time after nursing school.

In this post, we share some important details and considerations to navigate for a smooth journey towards licensure.

NCLEX Eligibility 

There’s no national cut-off date for NCLEX eligibility based on graduation. What this means is that you can take the NCLEX even decades after finishing nursing school. The good news is that this applies to you too! Spending five years out of nursing school since graduation is unlikely to disqualify you from taking the NCLEX.

But here’s the catch, individual states have nursing boards that regulate NCLEX eligibility and licensure. While most states mirror the national guidelines by the NCSBN, some may have additional requirements for those who graduated a long time ago. 

Here’s what you might encounter:

License Renewal Courses

Some states require you to complete continuing education (CE) credits or specific refresher courses to update your nursing knowledge before taking the NCLEX.

Verification of Competency

The board may require additional documentation or testing to demonstrate that your nursing knowledge and skills remain current. This could involve submitting letters from previous employers or taking a skills competency exam.

Don’t panic! These requirements are not meant to be obstacles. They simply ensure that nurses entering the workforce possess the most up-to-date knowledge and skills to provide safe and effective patient care.

How to Find Out What Your State Requires?

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) website is your go-to resource. The NCSBN provides a wealth of information on the NCLEX exam, including a directory of all state nursing boards. These boards are the final authority on NCLEX eligibility requirements in your state.

Locate your state board and get in touch! Explain your situation (graduated 5 years ago) and inquire about specific requirements for retaking the NCLEX.

Preparing for the NCLEX After a 5 Year Break

In the healthcare landscape, five years can come with significant changes. For example, there might be updates to nursing practice or potential revisions to the NCLEX contents. 

Use the strategies below to ensure you’re well-prepared for the exam:

Take an NCLEX Prep Course

While you can surf the internet and come up with different study resources, we recommend settling for a review course. Why so? A review course is easy for you since it has all the resources you need to review compiled before you sit for the NCLEX.

Importantly, most prep courses like the one Naxlex offers have in-person classes or live online classes which can help you sharpen your knowledge. You’ll interact one-on-one with our experts and receive instant feedback. Apart from the tutor interactions, you’ll get access to the materials tested in the NCLEX exam. This step is important because it allows you to review all exam content areas before you go into practice questions.

Taking Practice Questions

Most students who pass their exams have a testament that practice questions are the backbone of exams. NCLEX is no exception since you’re taking it 5 years after nursing school.

You can set yourself targets, for example, 60 – 100 questions every day. These questions will help you evaluate the areas you’re weakest and then you can go back to review them deeply. Naxlex offers a big question bank with the rationales of whether you get the correct or incorrect answer.

If there are any questions you’ll find difficult even after using our rationale, we are available for in-person consultations with our team of experts. 

Refine Your Test-Taking Strategies

Our NCLEX prep course offers tips to help you correctly answer exam questions. These strategies will help you understand the questions asked and how to answer them. They include, 

  • Read Carefully: Don’t rush! Read each question thoroughly and identify the key elements before selecting an answer.
  • Focus on the Stem: The stem of a question (the main prompt) sets the context for the answer choices. Pay close attention to keywords in the stem to understand the desired nursing action.
  • Eliminate Distractors – Many NCLEX answer choices are plausible at first glance. Utilize your knowledge to eliminate options that are incorrect or irrelevant to the patient situation presented in the question.
  • Prioritize Patient Safety – When in doubt, prioritize the safety and well-being of the patient. Choose the answer that best promotes a positive patient outcome.
  • Trust Your Gut (but Verify) – After you analyze a question and eliminate distractors, trust your initial instinct on the most likely answer. However, do not blindly guess, review your top choices to ensure they align with established nursing principles and best practices.

Additional Tips for Success

Gather Documentation

Regardless of your state’s specific requirements, maintain copies of your official nursing school transcripts and any relevant certifications you may have earned. Having these documents readily available will streamline the application process.

Plan Ahead

The NCLEX application process can take time. Factor in researching state requirements, registering for the exam, and scheduling your review course or study plan in advance.  

Final Thoughts

Taking the NCLEX after 5 years is achievable! To approach the exam confidently, make efforts to understand your state’s specific requirements, and refresh your nursing knowledge. 

Remember, Naxlex is here to support you on your nursing journey. We offer a variety of resources, including articles and guides tailored to help aspiring nurses like you succeed. So, join us and empower yourself with the tools and knowledge you need to pass your NCLEX exam and become a registered nurse.

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