Last Minute Tips for NPs Taking Their Boards

It’s that time of year again. Yes, graduation season is here. While for many graduates, finishing up school means breathing a sigh of relief, for nurse practitioners the feeling is much different. Graduation brings a host of challenges to work through like securing employment, applying for a license to practice and most of all taking boards (also known as the certification exam). 

Although you’ve learned a lot in your nurse practitioner program, some test-specific study is in order for NPs preparing to take the boards. Whether you’ve procrastinated or have been studying for certification since day 1 of your nurse practitioner program, here are some tried and true last minute study tips to help you pass the test. 

1. Study the right materials 

The amount of content the nurse practitioner certification exam can cover is overwhelming. But, rest assured, there are a number of well-written resources out there to help you navigate through the sea of information to focus on what’s important. So, skip looking through your old lecture notes and quizzes. Rather, purchase apps and study books specific to the NP certification exam you’ll be taking. These materials will make your study sessions far more efficient by presenting information in the format you can expect to see on the test.  

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2. Test yourself 

Practice tests and test questions are hands down the best way to evaluate your readiness for the nurse practitioner boards. Questions you miss point out areas of weakness where you need to brush up your knowledge. Sections where you perform outstandingly indicate you don’t need to devote much, if any, study time to these topics. Testing yourself helps make your study sessions more efficient for last minute prep. Not to mention, completing practice tests familiarizes you with the format of the certification exam. 

3. Focus on areas of weakness

Glossing over topics you don’t know well or neglecting to get to the bottom of ‘why?’ when you miss a question on a practice exam is taking the easy way out. It’s worth teaching yourself new material, even at the last minute, if an area of weakness is apparent. It could mean one or two right answers on the actual exam, right?! Avoid ‘cramming’, but instead focus on a few select areas of weakness the week of the test to give your score a boost. 

4. Know what to expect 

Nothing throws you off at test time quite like test-day logistics. Getting lost, arriving late and failing to understand how your certification exam will be administered can certainly affect your performance. Think through the logistics of test day well in advance of its arrival. How long will it take you to get to the test site with traffic? Where will you park? How many questions can you expect? Will you get a break mid-test? Develop a day-of plan to keep you organized and your mind clear before clicking ‘start’ on your exam. 

5. Sleep!

An overnight study session the week of your certification exam is bound to be counterproductive. If you’re just a few days away from your exam, keeping your mind sharp and your body healthy are equally, if not more, important than going through those final few pages of your study guide or memorizing lists of information. By all means, fit in a bit of review the week of your test, but make sure you balance study time with plenty of rest, sleep, and time to de-stress so you’re mentally sharp come test time. 


You Might Also Like: 5 Things You Shouldn’t Sweat as a Nurse Practitioner New Grad 


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