Test Prep Insight is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more
Best NCLEX Review Books
Our detailed guide covers the best NCLEX review books available to help you pass this difficult exam
As you look to begin your career as a nurse, you will need to pass the NCLEX exam. And as you might expect, this test is not easy. Fortunately, there are a number of resources available to help you prepare for the exam, including some incredibly detailed and helpful test prep books. But with so many to choose from, how do you know which is best? Our team has purchased and reviewed more than a dozen NCLEX review books and ranked the best ones here to help you crush this all-important exam.
Summary: The Best NCLEX Books Of 2023
If there’s one problem with NCLEX prep books, it’s that there are so many on the market it can be difficult to choose the best one. While there are some fantastic books out there, the five best are:
In addition, is continually updated to cover the most currently tested content. It’s a thick book and can seem daunting, but it also contains a wealth of information, graphs, imagery, charts and tables to aid with your prep work.
We consider it to be one of the most comprehensive study options, and is designed to help you prep from the ground up, with over 1,000 pages of content review to reinforce your knowledge while giving you helpful strategies as well.
It provides the precise level of information you need without all the fluff, and is presented in a way that makes it excellent for visual learners.
Despite being large, I found it to be quite easy to use and navigate, and the constant updates make it one of the most current and, by extension, useful books on the market. It also offers access to more than 5,700 practice exam questions so that when test day comes you’ll easily be ready for it.
Their practice exam is specifically designed to bolster your information retention, and the questions are crafted to master the type you’ll find on the exam itself. I do think it will help you with your critical thinking and give you practical hints on mastering the unique style of the NCLEX.
Even better, the answers are presented in such a way that if you get one wrong, you will be able to understand why you got it wrong. If you are like me, it’s not enough for me to know that I answered incorrectly, I want to know why, so this was especially useful for me. This will help you focus and improve on your weak points. It really is the complete package for a prep book.
Kaplan is one of the most trusted brands in standardized testing, and the Kaplan NCLEX-RN Prep Plus lives up to its reputation. It is designed to provide a thorough summary of all the vital concepts that you’ll face on the test, as well as realistic and useful practice material.
It serves as a complete and thorough refresher, which makes it a very effective means of learning what you need to know. It is a comprehensive review guide in which concepts are presented in a straightforward, concise manner so that students can better prepare for the content tested on the NCLEX exam.
It is laid out in an intuitive and easily understood manner, and it makes use of Kaplan’s Decision Tree method, which helps to enhance your reasoning and analytical skills.
It further provides a wealth of practice content both in the book and online, as well as nursing professional reviews that will help you to better process the key concepts. Finally, there is also a ton of great extra online resources, including practice tests and video lessons.
Perhaps the biggest drawback to the Kaplan book is that the answer explanations that follow the practice problems are a bit simple and could include more explanation. Nevertheless, it’s a highly recommended book that provides practical examples that will definitely be a valued addition to your exam study materials.
Divided by content area, the Lippincott Q&A Review for NCLEX-RN allows you to concentrate your studies on medical-surgical nursing, mental health, pediatrics or obstetrics.
I like the fact that it is written by a well-regarded associate professor and nursing instructor who has the ability to show you exactly what awaits you on the exam.
Within each section, there are subdivisions for common issues you may need to address. The text also contains six full practice examinations so that you can prepare for the process of taking the test.
These practice exams comprise 6,000 questions that will encourage your active learning and thought process. The questions are randomly arranged with equally random difficulty, so you’ll get the real test experience. Each option type is explained in detail so you’ll be sure to stay on the proper track.
If this book has a downside, it’s that some of the rationales provided for topics, questions and answers may be a bit simplistic. Personally, I would prefer a bit more detailed reasoning. The additional online materials are very similar to what’s in the book, so their utility could be limited.
Still, overall the text is carefully organized, offers a self-analysis grid that allows you to track your progress and has comprehensive practice exams that make it a very useful tome.
The two-column presentation provides instant results, feedback and information for the answers provided. It offers over 6,500 questions with comprehensive practice exam formats.
There are 75-question exams and 265-question exams so you can address different approaches you may encounter when you sit down for the actual test.
The provided questions are extremely challenging, and the text is one of the best organized on the market, which makes it worthy of our list simply for its basic utility.
No book is perfect, however, and the downside to this one is that there’s no real review of the systems, so it could be better when it comes to helping you with critical thinking and analysis.
#5 | HESI Comprehensive Review For The NCLEX-RN Examination
Another favorite among those who have successfully completed the NCLEX exam is the HESI Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination. It is among the most concise and clear texts on the market in terms of explanation and presentation. The tables and charts are attractive, thoughtful and well-crafted.
The book is designed for multiple approaches. I find that it functions perfectly well as a general overview and refresher, while at the same time it can be used as a targeted review source that focuses on any given topic.
For each concept there are hints and tips, and I was especially impressed with the thorough summaries that focus entirely on the important aspects to remember, which are those that are vital to the test itself.
Each chapter is formatted based on the specific clinical area of review or system that it covers. This allows you to quickly and easily find not only the chapter and topic you need, but also the specific information within the chapter.
As a result, I found this very helpful, allowing me to focus on specific details and concepts. Even better, the chapters are easy to comprehend and aren’t overly wordy, so I didn’t feel drained after a session of study.
An additional feature that I liked is that there is a chapter that discusses strategies and tips for taking the exam itself, which sets it apart from some other books. For me, it reinforced what I knew about the test, and brought awareness to a few tips I hadn’t thought of.
If there’s a downside to this book, it’s that it doesn’t have nearly as many practice questions and exams as other sources do, with only 1,000 practice questions to use when tracking progress. It’s also a bit more expensive than some other books, but overall it’s one of the best options available.
Preparing For The NCLEX Exam
The NCLEX is the final hurdle in your path to becoming a licensed nurse, and should not be taken lightly. A lot nursing students don’t take it seriously enough, thinking they can rely on their knowledge from nursing school classes alone. This usually results in a first attempt fail, and maybe having to delay starting a new nursing job.
However, with the proper resources and approach, you can crush this exam and start your career with confidence. Of course, there are many different prep books, tests and resources out there, and what’s vital is that you do your research and choose the best resources for you.
For example, students often find prep courses are the most effective study tool since they offer other resources like video lessons, live classes, flashcards, etc. A few NCLEX review courses to consider include Kaplan and Hurst as well as Nursing.com and UWorld.
After reviewing over a dozen different NCLEX prep options, our team thinks the review books from Saunders, Kaplan, and Lippincott rate out the highest.
Where to buy NCLEX review book?
Perhaps the most convenient place to purchase NCLEX review books are through an online retailer like Amazon. You’ll want to make sure you purchase the most recent edition of the review book you are interested in though.