Best NCLEX Review Books [ 2021 Guide ]

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As with most professional programs, especially those in the field of medicine, you will be required to certify nationally in order to being practicing as an entry-level nurse. For nurses, this is the NCLEX exam. It’s sole purpose is to ensure that it is safe for you to begin practicing, rather than to pick out the top students, and a passing mark is required in order to begin practicing.

While the NCLEX-RN exam typically works on a Pass/Fail system, this doesn’t mean you can simply wing it. Being prepared will increase your chances of passing, and becoming even more proficient with the material will help you on the job as well.

For more detailed information on the NCLEX exams (e.g. NCLEX-RN, NCLEX-PN, NNAAP, and MACE), please refer to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing website. If you’re looking for specific information about topics that could be on the NLCEX or other nursing exams, or for must have books in a nurse’s bag, please check out our reviews of the best resources for nursing lab values, as well as our info on nursing math formulas, as well as Spanish for nurses.

Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN (Saunders Comprehensive Review for Nclex-Rn)

This NCLEX-RN review book is a little more expansive than some others, but you get the whole package, so if you’re only going to buy one book, this is it. It comes with complete content review for the NCLEX exam as well as 5,200 NCLEX examination-style questions. One of the most underrated parts of this book are when you read the answers to the questions, you also get a detailed rationale about the different answers, as well as study tips on how to approach different types of questions.

It also includes alternate item format questions, so you get the whole scope of the NCLEX exam. These include multiple response, prioritizing/ordered response, figure/illustration, fill-in-the-blank, as well as audio questions that help boost critical thinking skills and provide more confidence in decision-making and prioritizing.

There are also some bonus items like the Priority Nursing Action boxes and the Pyramid Alert boxes, and more. However, if you’re looking for a good NCLEX-RN review book, then we would focus more on the meat of the material, simply making sure that you have all the content you need with lots of good practice questions, as well as rationale and supportive info.

Overall, this NCLEX review book is highly popular among nurses and has shown to be very helpful when studying for the NCLEX. However, there is one word of caution: While this Saunders NCLEX-RN review book has all the information you will need, you still have to plan for lots of study time to get through it all, hopefully more than once (it’s easy to forget things when there’s so much information!). At the end of day, this is an excellent NCLEX review book that is easy to read and well organized, with lots of really helpful information, just be prepared to spend a lot of time studying!

NCLEX-RN Drug Guide: 300 Medications You Need to Know for the Exam (Kaplan Test Prep)

This is a handy pocket-sized book for nursing students that includes over 300 frequently tested NCLEX exam terms. The terms are generally categorized by medication category and includes helpful information like brand name, generic name, drug family, side effects, nursing considerations, and abbreviations.It also includes nice pronunciation keys so you can make sure that you’re saying things correctly when working a shift. 

One thing to keep in mind about the NCLEX-RN Drug Guide is that it isn’t meant to be overly comprehensive. In fact, it’s fairly brief and simple, which can be a good thing when trying to retain information. However, this means that it can reflect the exam more than a real-life situation during a shift.

For example, this book provides quick information about more than 300 drugs and terms found on the NCLEX exam, but many nurses do notice that once they begin practicing full-time, this guide becomes less and less useful. Part of this is simply progressing in one’s learning, but it also due to the fact that this guide doesn’t cover the full spectrum of drugs and terms you will encounter on the job. In the case of the latter, it may be worth checking out our article on the best free nursing apps, as some of those have very comprehensive information about drugs you would encounter as a nurse.

Overall, this book provides a handy little guide to common drugs that are examined on the NCLEX-RN exam. It’s not overly comprehensive, and it doesn’t provide information about all drugs you will encounter, but if you just want a cheap and simple guide to help boost your learning, this could be a nice option for a medical student’s backpack.

Prioritization, Delegation, and Assignment: Practice Exercises for the NCLEX Examination

As far as we know, this is the only NCLEX review book that places a focus on prioritization, delegation, and patient assignment. It uses a simple-to-complex approach, which personally, I find works well for me (nice learning structure), but you may be slightly different in that regard. This approach is designed to provide you with a solid knowledge-base in management of care, then through exercises that gradually increase in difficulty, it builds on that knowledge by instilling more confidence in your prioritization, delegation, and patient assignment skills.

While this book is fairly comprehensive in its focus on prioritization, delegation, and patient assignment, this is basically all it covers. It’s still a huge part of the NCLEX exam, for instance, these topics covered about 17-23% of the 2013 NCLEX exam. However, beyond that, you will still need supplemental material for the other topics covered on the exam, so chances are that if you get this book, you may still be looking for a more all-around NCLEX review book as well.

This NCLEX review book is organized into three general parts. The first part is the introduction chapter, whereby Ruth Hansten provides guidelines on prioritization, delegation, and assignment, and she also provides the framework for which Parts 2 and 3 are built from. Part 2 focuses on common health scenarios, where there is ample opportunity to practice and test your knowledge in multiple choice, multiple select, ordering, and short answer formats. Part 3 provides information and practice for more complex health scenarios, where the ultimate goal is to get you thinking like a full-time nurse and developing clinical imagination.

Overall, thisis an excellent review book for the NCLEX exam. The book isn’t too big, yet it still provides very detailed information as well as rationale for all of the questions and answers, further facilitating your learning. There are lots of chapters, but they’re quite short, so we think it’s a nice structure that keeps things dynamic enough to be interesting. It’s also quite affordable, so while it only covers a portion of what you will encounter on the NCLEX exam (albeit a significant portion), it could make a noticeable difference in how confident you are entering the exam, as well as your overall score.

NCLEX-RN Premier 2016 with 2 Practice Tests: Online + Book + DVD + Mobile (Kaplan Test Prep)

This NCLEX review book is somewhat similar to the Saunders Comprehensive NCLEX Review Book that we discussed above, but they provide a slightly different perspective/approach to learning that many nursing students find helpful for their learning. For example, this NCLEX review book discusses 10 clinical thinking paths that can help you break down what the exam questions are actually looking for.

Beyond that, this book offers 8 practice question sets that are found at the end of the chapters, as well as two full-length practice tests (one online, one in the book) to help you keep track of your progress. Again, detailed rationales are included, which is fairly common in good NCLEX review books, but it’s still always worth checking that they are included. There are also 60 minutes of video tutorials, which were found to be surprisingly helpful as well.

In addition to covering all subject areas, this book also provides a review of questions in all formats, including the alternate format questions, and info about mastering the computer adaptive test. You can download a mobile copy of the book, which is great for studying on the go when you don’t have the book handy.

The main downside to this book is that it isn’t quite as comprehensive as the Saunders Comprehensive NCLEX Review Book, but it still addresses all the same topics and with a slightly different learning style. The NCLEX-RN Premier 2016 review book is cheaper, which reflects the less robust material, but it’s still quite substantial. At the end of the day, it simply comes down to personal preference. Do you want to spend a bit more to get all the information you can, or do you prefer to spend less and get the most important information from each topic, but not a whole lot more?

Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-PN® Examination (Saunders Comprehensive Review for Nclex-Pn)

This is essentially the same as the Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination, but this one pertains specifically to the NCLEX-PN examination. It has over 4,500 review questions with an optimal combination of core content review, comprehensive rationales, and detailed test-taking strategies from an NCLEX-PN Expert, Linda Silvestri.

The full color design and comprehensive rationales make this book easier to read (let’s face it, if you’re studying, nothing is going to be overly pleasant). It also includes 12 pharmacology chapters, which are designed to prepare you for the emphasis on these sort of questions when writing the NCLEX-PN.

SImilar to the NCLEX-RN review book, this NCLEX-PN review book also includes alternate-format questions to help you become familiarized with the testing procedures and level of difficulty. There is also a section with a comprehensive exam that contains 85 questions that cover all areas of the book, with a proportion that reflects the actual NCLEX-PN test plan.

Overall, this is the best review book that you can get for the NCLEX-PN exam. The only complaints we have seen from other nurses are that it is sometimes a bit too informative, so it can be hard to read and concentrate for a long time. However, we think it’s better to be safe than sorry, so the more information, the better! This just means you will have to be very careful when managing your time and planning out study sessions. Always reserve more time for studying than you think you will need, as some topics may require more attention than others, and procrastination can also have a bigger presence than expected!

There are lots of different options out there for NCLEX review books, but we hope you found our top picks to be useful in guiding your selection. Additionally, it’s never a bad idea to explore other textbook for nursing options as well that can help with your learning. For example, books that provide memorization tricks like nursing mnemonics can be quite helpful, even though they don’t relate directly to the NCLEX exam itself. These other types of books are best to get well before the exam, so that you can focus on the NCLEX-specific material leading up to the actual exam. Good luck!