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Kaplan NCLEX Review
Our expert team’s in-depth evaluation of the Kaplan NCLEX prep course and Qbank
When it comes to NCLEX prep, there are a ton of study options on the market. However, no company is as popular or widely used as Kaplan. And for good reason. They’ve been prepping nursing students for the NCLEX for decades, and hundreds of thousands of nurses have used their materials to pass the NCLEX over the years. But does a track record of success mean they’ll be a good fit for you? We take a close look at the Kaplan NCLEX prep materials in this detailed review.
No matter what company you opt to study with, at the heart of every NCLEX prep package is practice questions. This is because the NCLEX is a unique exam that adapts to your knowledge and skills, getting harder or easier as the test goes on based on your performance. In addition, the questions have varying formats, with a wide range of difficulties, content and lengths. So hammering hundreds of practice questions under exam-like conditions is often the best means of studying.
As such, this is always the first thing I look at when reviewing an NCLEX prep course, and fortunately, Kaplan’s questions are very, very good. One of the main complaints I usually have with NCLEX prep companies is that their NCLEX practice problems are either too hard (frustrating students unnecessarily) or too easy (not adequately preparing you for the real thing).
However, the Kaplan questions are about the closest thing I have seen to the real deal (except for maybe those from NURSING.com). The problems in the Kaplan Qbank closely mimic the difficulty, word count and style of the real NCLEX. In addition, I loved that the Kaplan Qbank allows you to customize practice sets based on a number of features, including question topic, difficulty and timing. This allows you to really zero in on your weaknesses and make some serious gains.
However, if there is one area of the Kaplan question bank that falls a little flat, it is their problem explanations. I just found them to be alright. I think they do a good job breaking down the answer choices and explaining why each selection was correct or incorrect in a few sentences, but it would be nice to get some diagrams and sharp graphics to explain problems like you get with UWorld. (Side note: I actually think the Kaplan course overall is far superior to the UWorld course, but do like UWorld’s problem explanations better).
In any event, I was very impressed with the Kaplan Qbank. With over 2,100 highly realistic practice questions, customizable delivery format, and some all-around solid explanations, they get very high marks in my book.
Kaplan NCLEX Practice Tests: Our Thoughts
Like the problems in Kaplan’s Qbank, their practice tests get high marks as well. In total, you get 3 full-length computer adaptive tests (CATs) that match the real NCLEX. These are made up of Kaplan’s same high-quality practice problems and I have absolutely no gripes when it comes to quality.
I was also pretty impressed with Kaplan’s tech in mirroring the CAT format. Some prep companies struggle to match that AI-driven adaptive testing delivery, but Kaplan does an excellent job. This shouldn’t be a total surprise given that they’ve been prepping students for decades and have a ton of resources to invest into this program, but still nice to see.
But again, if I have no complaint in the practice test category, it’s those same problem explanations. When you’re reviewing the answers to the problems you missed on your practice exam, they’re just average. They do a serviceable job explaining the concepts at hand, so I’d call them fine all-around, but again, just not the best I’ve seen.
Kaplan NCLEX Video Lessons & Content Review
Most NCLEX prep companies focus their efforts on either practice question banks, books, or both – but not video lessons. Kaplan on the other hand makes video lessons a major part of their prep program. They offer over 300 video-based lessons, each covering a different topic or test taking strategy. So for visual learners, this is a HUGE value add. For many (including myself), I struggle to drive my own studies with a book alone.
Some prep books are fine standalone resources, and offer nice graphics and diagrams, but video lessons can really make a difference for those that learn visually. And while I don’t love the production value of Kaplan’s video lessons – finding them a little clunky and dated – the content is dead on. They break down all of the topics you need to know in video format (usually through slideshows with voiceover) and walk you through each concept step-by-step.
Overall, I was a big fan of these content review sessions. For most nursing students, you can’t just rely on your classes from nursing school to get your through. You have definitely forgotten a lot of that material already, PLUS the NCLEX is just a different beast. So these video lessons do a nice job spoon feeding you that material all over again.
A number of these videos also cover test taking strategies, showing you how to tackle problems on the test. This includes things like rephrasing questions and Kaplan’s amazing Decision Tree Method, which helps you efficiently and effectively come to the right answer choice.
The bottom line with Kapan’s video lessons is that the production quality and delivery format is not the coolest thing I’ve sever seen (far from), but the content in these videos is invaluable.
Kaplan NCLEX Classes
So in addition to the video lessons mentioned above, for those students that want to take some live classes, Kaplan offers a package with 18 hours of live class time. Generally these classes meet 6 different times for 3 hour sessions, usually spread out over the course of 1 or 2 weeks.
I’ll just say that for students who are not self-motivated and need the structure and accountability that comes with a regular, live class schedule, these classes are well worth it. The Kaplan instructors are simply awesome. They know their stuff inside and out, and do an excellent job breaking it down into easily understandable, bite-sized chunks.
This is especially true given that this package is only $100 more than the self-paced prep course from Kaplan. 18 hours of live class time with some awesome instructors comes out to like $5.50 per class. That’s money well spent in my book.
That said, if you’re pretty self-motivated and do well driving your own studies, you should be just fine with the self-paced package.
Beyond the practice materials, video lessons, and classes, Kaplan also provides students with a rock solid digital textbook and access to their NCLEX Channel, among other things. I won’t really go into the detail of the other bonus extras (like flashcards) because the book and Channel access are the two most important.
The NCLEX Channel offers you open access to frequent live lessons from one of Kaplan’s teachers via webcast. Most nights one of their instructors takes a deep dive into a particular topic tested on the NCLEX. These sessions go way into the weeds and provide some rock solid advice. I personally loved these classes; HOWEVER, if you’re already strong on the subject being covered that night, I’d say save your study time ammo for other things like practice sets.
In addition, Kaplan’s eBook is awesome. I wouldn’t recommend sitting down and reading it all the way through cover to cover – it’s super detailed – but it is a great complement to the course. If you ever get hung up on a particular topic or need a refresher on something from nursing school, it provides all the detail you’ll ever need. It is a superb reference in my opinion.
For those wondering, Kaplan provides a superb digital interface. Their platform is clean, easy to use and modern. Like the quality of the tech behind their CATs, their overall platform is awesome. One of the nice things about paying up for Kaplan over another course is that whereas cheaper NCLEX prep providers have sort of crummy platforms, Kaplan’s is fantastic.
Content Access Period
In short, Kaplan offers users 6 months of access. For nursing students getting ready to take the NCLEX, this should be more than enough time. I have never heard of anybody needing more than just a couple months, unless they couldn’t pass and really struggled with multiple re-takes. Assuming this isn’t you (fingers crossed), 6 months should be plenty of time.
For students that don’t pass the NCLEX on their first try and are not happy with the Kaplan prep materials, you CAN get your money back. This is a really nice insurance policy in case you can’t get past the exam on your first try. There is some fine print, so check that out if you really want to dig in, but overall, I liked that Kaplan backs their product like this.
Verdict: Kaplan NCLEX Prep Course Review
Overall, I was very impressed with the Kaplan NCLEX prep course. The practice questions in their Qbank are highly realistic of real NCLEX problems, and when coupled with the tech behind their simulated exams, you get a real exam-like experience. In addition, their video lessons and optional live classes provide some killer content review that you just don’t get with other prep providers.
Now, I wasn’t crazy about their problem explanations (finding them to be a little thin) and the production value of their video lessons is far from Hollywood-level delivery, but I think that all in all, this is a superb prep course. The bottom line is that if you have the extra few hundred bucks to pay up for Kaplan, I’d go for it. There is a reason they generally cost more than other prep providers – their prep course is about the most comprehensive and effective package I’ve seen, and I have no doubt Kaplan will help you pass the NCLEX on the first try.
In our team’s opinion, Kaplan NCLEX review is definitely worth it. Between the video lessons, realistic practice questions and optional live classes, Kaplan offers about the most robust prep package on the market.
How Many NCLEX Practice Tests Does Kaplan Provide?
Each Kaplan course option comes with 3 full-length computer adaptive tests (CATs), which we found to be highly realistic of the real NCLEX.
How Many Practice Questions In The Kaplan NCLEX Qbank?
Kaplan provides a total of 2,100 practice questions through their question bank. We found these practice problems to be very similar to real exam questions.