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Best NCLEX Review Courses & Study Materials
Our comprehensive guide to the best NCLEX prep courses and study materials on the market
As you wrap up nursing school, there is one major academic obstacle left between you and starting your career as a nurse – the NCLEX. Like most other aspiring nurses, you likely just want to get this difficult exam done and over with (preferably in 75 questions), so you can move on and start working. As such, you’re probably wondering what is the best NCLEX prep material to get you through this as quickly and easily as possible. In this detailed guide, our team of education experts, including a licensed RN and NCLEX tutor, break down the top NCLEX review courses available.
Nursing.com (formerly NRSNG) takes our #1 spot and editor’s choice selection for a number of reasons, but most notably for their combination of awesome practice material and affordable price. With an all-in cost of under $250 for their 1 Year + NCLEX Prep plan, they are about the best value in NCLEX prep for what you get. This includes 300+ on-demand video lessons, cheat sheets, an eBook, 6,000+ practice questions, and simulated exams.
But it’s not just the quantity and breadth of review material that blew us away with Nursing.com. We also loved the quality of these materials. Their video lessons are short and digestible at just 10 minutes each, and feature all sorts of sharp graphics and diagrams for visual learners. They are taught by practicing nurses and are stuffed with helpful tips and tricks for passing the NCLEX (and real practice).
Around these video lessons, you also get some of the most helpful study tools we’ve come across, including visual diagrams, outlines, cheat sheets with mnemonics, and most importantly, practice problems. Their Qbank of 6,000+ problems is insanely helpful and allows you to build custom quizzes whenever you want.
But the clear highlight of the Nursing.com course is their SIMCLEX. This is their proprietary adaptive NCLEX simulator, which is about as close to the real thing as we’ve seen. The questions get progressively harder or easier as you take the test, adapting to your performance just like the real thing. Plus, each question is followed by a well-written answer explanation.
These text explanations offer some nice insights into the rationale behind the problems, and clearly articulate why each answer choice is correct or incorrect. These answer solutions not only accompany the SIMCLEX problems, but every practice question in their Qbank as well.
Bottom line for our team, Nursing.com simply provides the best bundle of NCLEX study material at an approachable price point.
In terms of quality of NCLEX study material, we found Kaplan to be a VERY close second to Nursing.com. Like Nursing.com’s material, Kaplan offers some of the most realistic practice material we’ve seen. Their practice questions closely resemble real NCLEX problems, and the accompanying explanations, while not our favorite in this space, do a solid job.
In addition, their simulated exams do a nice job matching up with the adaptive nature of the real NCLEX. The NCLEX can be a tough exam for prep companies to mock given the AI at work behind the scenes, but Kaplan does it very well. Their program truly looks and feels like the real thing.
Kaplan’s video lessons are also noteworthy, but the real highlight of the Kaplan course, and why they make our best list is their set of live classes. No other NCLEX prep company offers class sessions this good.
In total, you get 18 hours of live class time with Kaplan. At roughly $100 more for their live online course over their self-paced option, this makes each class hour roughly $5.50. That is insane value and you won’t find NCLEX live review sessions that cheap anywhere else.
But these are not just budget classes – they are crazy good. The Kaplan instructors are all longtime NCLEX tutors and teachers, and know this exam inside and out. They are also great communicators and do an excellent job breaking down some of the tougher concepts with mnemonics and testing tricks.
So in a straight comparison with Nursing.com, we prefer Nursing.com’s self-paced material; however, if you’re the type of student that needs the accountability and commitment of live class time, you HAVE to go Kaplan. Their live classes offer structured studying that you just won’t get with Nursing.com.
UWorld makes our best NCLEX review courses list for one pretty simple reason: their practice material and accompanying explanations. And that’s largely because they don’t provide the same level of content review as Nursing.com or Kaplan. In fact, they don’t even really have a core curriculum or bundle of standalone NCLEX study material at all.
All of your content review with UWorld comes from their problem explanations. And that is precisely why these explanations are so good. They’re detailed, filled with illustrations and graphics, and go to great lengths to break down problems and teach you the concepts being tested. Honestly, each problem explanation is like a mini-review session or learning module.
My favorite feature of these explanations is definitely the visuals that permeate the solutions. Just about every problem has some sort of diagram or drawing showing the process or technique being tested. For visual learners like many members of our team, this is a huge PLUS.
And as for the problems themselves, I would say they are pretty darn good, but not the best. They do a serviceable job matching the style and difficulty of the NLCEX, but I do think the questions from Nursing.com and Kaplan are a better match.
Bottom line, for students that want quality practice material with killer text and graphic explanations, UWorld is a solid, affordable choice.
Hurst NCLEX Review, or just Hurst for short, offers a ton of value at their sub-$500 price tag. Their package includes a killer workbook, live classes (in-person or live online), video lessons, 1,500 or so practice problems, and a handful of simulated exams, among other things.
Hurst is one of those companies that does everything well, but perhaps doesn’t win in any one major category. The best analogy is that they get a solid “B” in every category, with the exception of maybe their written materials. Their course workbook is fantastic and offers a ton of value.
It is jam-packed with all your need to know content and robust breakdowns; however, this is with the caveat that you need to fill it out. It is filled with fill-in-the-blanks, making you watch the relevant video lessons or attend class to follow along and compete the workbook. That may sound annoying, but assuming you do the work, it walks you through the material in a really straightforward way that helps with retention. In short, we really liked their written prep materials.
Also of note for the Hurst course is that they offer their live class sessions in-person. Kaplan, the other major prep provider ranking on our list that provides live classwork, only offers class sessions online. So if you’re the type of student that thrives in an in-person environment, give Hurst a good look. Now make sure to check their in-person schedule as live in-person classes are only offered in certain cities and the fallout from COVID may have impacted their offerings, but this is a valuable resource.
While we weren’t crazy in love with any of one particular facet of the Hurst NCLEX course (apart from maybe their workbook and in-person classes), we love their consistency and comprehensive coverage, and that is why they make our best list.
Do I need an NCLEX prep course?
While some nursing students have the ability to simply study from a single book off Amazon and pass the NCLEX, most aspiring nurses will need a review course. Even the most basic review courses offer practice problems, video lessons and simulated exams to help you pass on the first attempt.
How much does an NCLEX prep course cost?
Most NCLEX review courses are pretty affordably priced. Ranging from around $150 up to $500, most NCLEX prep courses won’t break the bank.
Will an NCLEX course increase my chances of passing?
As compared to not studying or just reviewing your notes from class, if you use an NCLEX review course to help you study, it will almost certainly improve your odds of passing this high stakes exam on the first attempt.