How to prepare for NCLEX: FBNPC’s Guide for Internationally Educated Nurses

You have moved abroad with a dream to accomplish a better life and career. But now the reality has set in how difficult it is to deal with separation anxiety, home sickness, lack of culture & food options and most importantly friends! If you are in Canada, then lack of colors for an extended period due to exaggerated and exasperated snowy winter months, makes things even worse. It is not uncommon for new immigrants to battle with depression. Some might even need to be on antidepressants to feel better.

Most of the IEN’s either move abroad as a student or come on a dependent visa. Whatever your situation is, you might have to work simultaneously to pay the tuition fee or to support your family here and back home, leaving little to no time to focus on self-care or study. You are going into a never-ending downwards negative spiral of demands & expectations. Now imagine, adding the mountainous task of passing NCLEX to your already exhausted schedule. Preparing for the NCLEX as an Internationally Educated Nurse (IEN) can be challenging due to differences in education systems, clinical practices, and language barriers. You must be asking yourself how, what and when do I study? Where do I start? It will not be wrong to say that this can inject a fair amount of anxiety into your life.

Well, as dire the situation may look like but there is always a silver lining. Sometimes we just need to take a step back, reorganize and conquer. Here are some of the strategies & guidelines that you can adopt to stay focused and pass NCLEX:

    1. Understand the Exam:

Format & Structure: Familiarize yourself with the NCLEX’s Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT) format.

    •   Content: Review the NCLEX test plan, which outlines the content areas.
    1. Assess Your Starting Point:

Take a diagnostic exam or a practice test to identify your strengths and areas needing improvement.

    1. Build a Study Plan:

Duration: Decide on a time frame (e.g., 3-6 months) based on your diagnostic test results and personal commitments.

    •   Resources: Gather reputable study materials, including review books, question banks, and online courses.
    •   Schedule: Break down your study plan week-by-week. Factor in periodic review and practice tests.
    1. Focus on Language Proficiency:

If English isn’t your first language, invest time in enhancing your language skills, especially in medical terminology. Tools like Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, or simply reading nursing literature can help.

    1.  Leverage NCLEX Prep Courses:

Consider enrolling in a review course tailored for IENs such as FBNPC’s Comprehensive Exam Prep. Many of these courses provide insights into the U.S. and Canadian healthcare systems and nursing practices such as FBNPC INC.

    1.  Practice, Practice, Practice:

Regularly attempt NCLEX-style questions to become comfortable with the format. Use any dedicated online platforms or join reputable & trusted organizations like FBNPC INC.

    1. Join Study Groups:

 Connect with other IENs preparing for the NCLEX. Discussing topics and answering questions collectively can provide diverse perspectives. FBNPC’s student support groups exactly aim to provide much needed peer support.

    1.  Simulate Exam Conditions:

 Periodically, take practice tests simulating actual exam conditions. This helps reduce anxiety and increases confidence.

    1. Focus on Test-Taking Strategies:

 Learn strategies to approach different question types, especially “Select All That Apply” (SATA) and prioritization questions. Manage your time wisely. Don’t spend too long on any one question.

    1. Understand U.S./Canadian Healthcare & Ethics:

Since healthcare practices might differ from your home country, it’s crucial to understand the ethical guidelines, patient rights, and scope of practice in the U.S. and Canada. So don’t just focus on memorizing exam questions instead understand priority delegation and critical application skills.

    1.  Self-Care & Stress Management:

Incorporate regular breaks into your study schedule. Engage in physical activity, meditation, or any stress-relieving activities.

    1. Talk to your significant other or the family members:

 You can not walk on this path alone, if you have significant others in your life. Keep an open communication with them in regards to required support & resources. For example, asking your partners or family members to help you with household activities and meal preps so that you can find more time to study. Afterall, passing this exam will turn the fortunes around for everyone in your household/life.

    1.  Stay Updated:

Keep an eye on any changes to the NCLEX format, content, or guidelines, especially in relation to international candidates.

    1.  Complete Necessary Paperwork & Processes:

Ensure all documentation, including proof of nursing education and work experience, is submitted timely and accurately.

    1.  Review & Final Preparation:

In the weeks leading up to the exam, review challenging topics and continue practicing questions. A day before the test, relax and get a good night’s sleep.

Ensure all documentation, including proof of nursing education and work experience, is submitted timely and accurately.

    1. Test Day:

Arrive early, bring necessary identification, and stay calm. Believe in your preparation. Remember, each individual’s journey is unique. While it might take some IENs longer to prepare than others, dedication, persistence, and the right approach can lead to NCLEX success.


NCLEX is one of the most challenging parts for an IEN but with dedicated mentor & peer support, right resources, discipline, and revision, it can be conquered easily. Identifying your barriers and shortcomings early on is very crucial. For example, deciding to take help from an experienced mentor if self-study is not working for you, can be a step in the right direction. Finally, keeping an open communication with your supporting partners will instill necessary confidence and boost your efforts.


Harry Sagar

Founder & President


Disclaimer: The views expressed here are personal and do not claim to be scientifically proven. Read, interpret and use the content at your own discretion. Any similarity between the opinions and facts would be coincidental.