NCLEX Prep Review and Giveaway!

You may remember my review of Kaplan‘s latest NCLEX prep materials back in May. I guess it helps these review editors and writers to get perspectives from the front lines. 🙂

A month or so ago, I was approached by the folks over at Pearson to take a look at their new edition of NCLEX-RN Exam Prep, and give you all my honest opinion.

*N.B.: I am in no way compensated by these companies for doing reviews. They give me extra copies to give away to readers, but that is the only “incentive.” The views and opinions expressed are solely my own.

Now that we’ve dispensed with the legal disclaimers :-), I will tell you that overall this wasn’t my favorite review book. On the other hand, it did have some things going for it and each of us has a unique method of studying, so I won’t dismiss it completely. I’ll just say that given the options, this would not be a book I would have purchased.

The Pros

  • Content review: The book chapters are divided by body system and include reviews of pathophysiology. If your nursing school is like mine and you took pathophysiology before you really knew anything, it helps to go over the basics again.
  • There is a chapter devoted entirely to Pharmacology, which is everyone’s worst nightmare. Pharm is also woven into each subsequent chapter, so you will get plenty of opportunities to review meds.
  • All answers to practice questions have rationales (it is my pet peeve when they don’t include rationales).
  • Each chapter includes suggested resources at the end, which helps point you toward more help in areas where you feel weak (if you have the time…and money).
  • Appendices: Lots of helpful additional tips and resources that you may have forgotten along the way (measurements, normal lab values and vital signs, etc.). And an index of state boards of nursing, including websites…just in case your nursing school isn’t helping you through the process for some odd reason, or you’re trying to figure out how to get licensed in a different state.
  • Four practice exams of 100+ questions each. One exam includes 30 questions using “Alternate Item” formats, which you will see on the NCLEX (see “Alternate Item Formats FAQ” at NCSBN). Good practice.

The Cons

  • Content Review. If you are cramming for the boards, content review isn’t going to help you. And even if you’re not cramming and you have an impeccably organized study plan, there comes a point where you know what you’re going to know. You need to decide how you study best and where you need to focus: relearning details you didn’t retain in the first place or learning how to answer NCLEX-style questions. The content was also organized oddly – it did include nursing management/interventions, but I had to look for this information because there was so much text that my eyes started to cross. I would have appreciated more headings, more lists, less long paragraphs (again, that’s how I study). Reviewers on Amazon.com also noticed a few errors in previous editions – I didn’t notice anything glaring, but you should definitely check practice exam rationales against other resources if you have any doubts. This goes for any NCLEX prep book you may be using!
  • Length. You will have to plan ahead to get good use from this book (see comment above about cramming).
  • The chapter on study tips was short and sweet (5 pages). If you’re looking for tips and tricks, and help figuring out NCLEX-style questions, this is probably not the resource for you.
  • Practice exams were divided into sections by chapter, and therefore by body system. It makes it easier to go back and look up content on questions you missed, but it doesn’t simulate the real exam by any means. I would suggest that future editions try to make their practice exams more realistic, and have the rationales reference the chapters/page numbers where students can review content. I would also suggest rationales include the exam category/subcategory from which the question comes, so that students can keep track of performance in individual categories. This helps us figure out where we need to focus our studies.
  • The book includes a CD-ROM featuring an ExamGear test engine, which they claim to be “one of the best on the market.” That’s all fine and dandy, but it wouldn’t work on my Mac! MAJOR FAIL. In all fairness, I can neither confirm nor dispute how great the test engine is, because I didn’t get to try it out.
  • One note about aesthetics: The book is very monochromatic and text-heavy, with very few graphics. Not pleasing to the eye. It seems nitpicky, but it is something that people notice. Bright colors and diagrams are stimulating. Studying for the NCLEX is generally not stimulating. So throw us a bone, Pearson. 🙂

So there you have it. Not the best review material I’ve ever perused, but not the worst either. A generally solid place to start. But I think if you used this book alone, you would probably find yourself wanting more.

However, nothing wrong with getting a copy for free and starting your collection! I have FIVE of these prep guides to give away, so odds are good if you enter the giveaway. Just leave a comment on this post answering the following:

What other NCLEX resource/study strategy/class would you like to learn more about or have reviewed?

Hopefully we can get some dialogue going about what’s out there and how it has helped (or not).

Leave your comment by Sunday, October 24 at midnight PST.

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