Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Free Online Info Session

PRIMED education is pleased to offer a free one hour online information session to help get you ready for the NCLEX!

The session will take place from the comfort of your own home on Tuesday April 19, 2016 from 1-2 pm PST/4-5pm EST.

This session will be facilitated by two experienced NCLEX instructors who will guide you through the testing format and give you tips and tricks to be successful on the exam. They will also provide information about what is included in a PRIMED 2 day NCLEX prep course.

Sign up today at by clicking on the link below :

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

New Dates Added

PRIMED is excited to announce new Fall 2015 and Winter 2015/2015 dates have been added in Vancouver, Thunder Bay, Calgary and Toronto.
If you're look for an NCLEX prep course to help you be successful on the exam then don't miss PRIMED's 2 day boot camp where you will review nursing content and do practice questions.

Register online now at now to guarantee your seat!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Dissecting the NCLEX-RN

You’ve put in years of study, passed all your university exams, and graduated nursing school. Or maybe you’ve practiced as a nurse in another country and are moving to Canada. This all means one thing: the Canadian entry-to-practice exam, the NCLEX-RN, is next up on your plate.

There’s weeks of study ahead of you: stacks of books and papers, maybe a weekly study group, an instructor-led NCLEX Prep course, and definitely hours of asking your roommate to test you on flashcards. There’s a whole lot of content to cover.

But what’s there to know about the exam itself? Below we’ve rounded up the basic facts about the NCLEX for easy reference.


The content of the NCLEX is divided into four major “Client Needs” concepts, two of which are divided into subconcepts (six in total). The percentages show how much of the exam is dedicated to each:

  • Safe and Effective Care Environment 
    • Management of Care (17–23%)
    • Safety and Infection Control (9–15%)
  • Health Promotion and Maintenance (6–12%)
  • Psychosocial Integrity (6–12%)
  • Physiological Integrity
    • Basic Care and Comfort (6–12%)
    • Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies (12–18%)
    • Reduction of Risk Potential (9–15%)
    • Physiological Adaptation (11–17%)

In order to keep up with advances in nursing practice, the NCLEX-RN test plan is updated every three years. The “passing standard” is also evaluated every three years, to ensure the required amount of “nursing ability to practice competently at the entry level” is correctly measured and met. Now that the NCLEX is the entry-to-practice exam for not just America but also Canada, Canadian nurses are also part of the evaluation and development process.


The NCLEX exam is written at one of several Pearson Vue locations across Canada, including permanent and mobile test centres (see which is nearest you here).

Test takers are given up to 6 hours to complete the NCLEX-RN, which can include as little as 75 questions or as many as 265. The number of questions depends on the student taking it, due to the use of computerized adaptive testing, or CAT. As you go through the exam, CAT automatically evaluates how you’re doing, based on how many questions you get right and their level of difficulty, until a “pass” or “fail” is determined.

Most of the questions on the NCLEX are multiple choice, with each question comprising a “stem” (the question) and options (the possible answers). There are also “alternate” question types, which incorporate things like audio-visual elements, graphs, calculations, or fill in the blanks.

You can learn more about CAT in our “The NCLEX-RN, CAT, and U” post.


Although CAT makes a pass/fail evaluation right then and there, while you’re sitting the NCLEX hot seat, the exam results are not available immediately. However, it doesn’t take too long to get them. Most Canadian nurses will have their NCLEX results within a few days, depending on your provincial licensing agency.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Memory Techniques for NCLEX Review

Preparing to take on the NCLEX-RN means a whole lot of studying—which means a whole lot of information being downloaded into the ol’ grey matter. Most nurses reviewing for the entry-to-practice exam give themselves at least two months of study time before the big day. So, how do you get all of that information to stick?

The days of being advised to highlight, rewrite, and summarize your class notes are long gone. As it turns out, that approach isn’t really effective. Better is to engage the natural processes we use to synthesize and retain information.

Doodle by Dan Paluska (CC BY 2.0)
Draw or doodle
Although the doodler in class has long been pegged as the “daydreamer” or as someone who can’t pay attention, recent science shows that drawing actually improves focus and memory in a classroom situation. Doodling, far from being a distraction, can be what makes your thoughts come together.

So, while you’re participating in an NCLEX Prep course, don’t be afraid to have an extra sheet of blank paper with you to let your inner Da Vinci out while the instructor goes through the review.

Sleep on it
Although we think of sleep as time for our bodies to recuperate—especially those of us who do shift work—it’s also when our minds get to work making sense of the day. That is, our brains synthesize information while we sleep, creating connections between new inputs and our previous knowledge.

Merely “sleeping on it” can bring solutions or new outlooks to problems and concepts you’ve previously been struggling with. In short: don’t forget to get plenty of sleep in the lead up to the NCLEX-RN—a study technique we can all appreciate!

Do practice questions
Taking a break from inputting the information and instead putting it to work is a way to test that those neural pathways are dug, paved, and line-painted. Doing practice questions is a form of “retrieval practice,” which is proven to be more effective than input-only studying. That’s why during PRIMED’s two-day NCLEX course time is taken to do exam-type questions for each key topic and a 200-page workbook is provided to continue the practice at home.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Wear For Art Thou, Scrubs?

We touched on what to wear to sit the NCLEX-RN a few blog posts ago, and it’s no secret that NCLEX Prep course often call for a healthy dose of sweatpants and loose T-shirts. And let’s not even discuss nursing school—hello, wearing the same hoodie five days in a row.

When it comes to RNs already out in the workforce, practical and comfortable clothing continues to be the order of the day. However, this definitely wasn’t always the case.

The first nurses in Canada were nuns—Augustinian nuns in early 17th-century Quebec, to be exact—so the first Canuck nurse’s uniform probably looked a little something like this:

Saint Monica Piero della Francesca. Frick Collection.
While stylish, walking around a hospital in a flowing habit is not an entirely practical choice.

As nursing slowly moved into the secular world in the mid 19th century, thanks to the likes of Florence Nightingale, more practical elements were added to the uniform. Inspiration still came from the nun’s habit, so long dresses were still the garb of choice, but a super-starched, large, white apron was added and veils were traded in for smaller caps.

F. Nightingale and Sir H. Verney with group of nurses at Claydon House (CC BY 4.0)
Things changed again the following century, due in part to the World Wars, with long sleeves and hemlines shortened. Up until the 1970s, each hospital designed its own uniform, often differentiating nurses and apprentice nurses by colour of uniform.(1) This is the era many picture when they think of the “classic” nurse's uniform—like Nurse Ratchet's in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

World War II nurses, c. 1943 (CC BY 2.0)
Today, with the strict gendering of the nurse’s dress long gone (buh bye!), the nurse’s uniform has found its latest home in the wide world of scrubs—which is of course what you’ll find most medical professionals lounging around in (read: rushing about in). Whether you go for cartoon cats like Nurse Jackie’s Zoey or cool blue like Jackie herself, just remember to thank your lucky stars you’re not wearing a wimple while trying to insert a catheter.

Zoey from Nurse Jackie

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Taking the NCLEX-RN a Second Time

State Library of Queensland (CC-BY-SA-2.5)

What happens when you’ve made the appointment, done your studying, sat the NCLEX—and you don’t pass?

It’s not a terribly uncommon situation. The most recent pass rates for the NCLEX-RN in the US, for January to March 2015, show that about 15% of candidates do not pass the first time they write.

But there’s no way around it: taking a hit can be hard. The best thing to do when you haven’t succeeded is to analyze what went wrong. Was there an external factor affecting your test? Did you go out the night before the night before, thinking you’d be OK? Did your NCLEX appointment take place during a time of personal stress?

There need to be a least 45 days between your first and second or third NCLEX appointment, which allows time to put this post-exam analysis into study action.

Avoid the temptation to over-study. Instead, modify your study plan—do not simply repeat the old one. An instructor-led NCLEX-RN Prep course not only provides a review foundation, it’s also an objective way to figure out what areas caused you trouble on your first attempt.

If you didn’t before, make a schedule that sets out time for reviewing each concept and area, giving extra time to your problem topics. Never been a fan of flashcards? Maybe now it’s time to give them another chance. Study in 15-minute bursts, instead of hour-long sessions—or vice versa.

If you get butterflies at the thought of re-entering the NCLEX-RN exam room, and have the option, you could give yourself a change of scenery by trying out a different exam centre (for example, Toronto has two Pearson VUE locations, plus there are temporary centres, which you can find here). Or maybe a lucky pair of underwear will do the trick.

Most important of all: Make sure your confidence is where it needs to be before retaking the NCLEX-RN. A positive attitude is just as important as hours of study.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Fitting NCLEX-RN Prep into Your (Already Busy) Schedule

When it comes to preparing for the NCLEX-RN, flexibility is often a key concern. Life can get incredibly busy when you’re balancing work, school, friends, family—and who knows how many other things—on top of studying for the NCLEX.

At PRIMED we’re well aware of our participants’ full and sometimes odd schedules, so we offer multiple ways to fit comprehensive NCLEX prep into your life.

In-class NCLEX-RN Prep courses. Our two-day intensive NCLEX-RN Prep course is offered classroom-style in major centres across Canada, from Vancouver to Toronto to Halifax. Our website lists the schedule of when PRIMED hits each city.

Online NCLEX-RN Prep courses. For those who aren’t in major centres or are unable to travel, we offer our two-day NCLEX course through an online streaming platform (the next session is August 8–9, 2015). It’s taught live, so you still get the benefit of interacting with the NCLEX instructor.

Mobile NCLEX-RN Prep courses. Say you’ve got a large group of nursing students in Hamilton studying for the entry-to-practice exam, and you’d rather not travel to Toronto for your NCLEX-RN Prep course. Or, maybe our regularly scheduled dates just don’t work for you. No problem! PRIMED will come to you, no matter where you are in Canada. Plus, the organizing student gets to attend for free.

Privately tutored NCLEX-RN Prep courses. Occasionally, students prefer to go through our two-day prep course on their own, or in a small group of two or three. Like the mobile large-group courses, this can be arranged by emailing, as can hourly private tutoring sessions.

Online NCLEX-RN Prep tools. PRIMED offers a comprehensive online Study Centre, as well as a number of free NCLEX-RN study resources. These tools are the perfect way to fit NCLEX-RN study here and there, for the times when your crazy schedule will only allow you to study in spurts.

In short: No matter what your situation, there’s a way to get you PRIMED for the NCLEX-RN.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The NCLEX-RN Challenge: How to Sit for up to Six Hours

A lot of ground is covered in PRIMED’s intensive two-day NCLEX Prep course, which you can learn more about here and here. However, we can’t cover everything. So while the NCLEX-RN Prep instructors focus on platelets, paediatrics, and Penrose drains in class, here let’s take a look at how to—dun dun duh—survive up to six hours in the exam room.

If you’ve got an 8 am NCLEX-RN appointment, it’s tempting to roll out of bed and head immediately to the test centre. Avoid this at all costs: you don’t want to still be groggy when you take your seat. Even more importantly, you need time to:

Drink your coffee early. Way early. If there’s one thing you don’t need to take with you to the NCLEX-RN, it’s a dose of diuretic. Add that on top of a nervous bladder and minimal time for bathroom breaks, and it can make for one uncomfortable exam situation.

Photo: Petr Kratochvil (CC)
On this note, you’ll want to be hydrated, but not too hydrated (see above). Make sure you bring a bottle of water and a snack, which you can access during breaks—the first of which comes 2 hours in, and the second another 3.5 hours after that.

Being comfortable for marathon exams like the NCLEX-RN is important, but there are two schools of thoughts on how to dress. One says, even though you may have finally outgrown your yoga pants, it’s time to bust those comfy suckers out once again. The other says, “dress well, test well.” That is, according to theories of embodied cognition, if you show up to the NCLEX smartly dressed, you’ll be more confident. The choice here comes down to your own psychology. Either way, wear layers, so you can modulate your temperature.

Last but not least: Although we all know how to properly sit at a computer, most of us still slump like we’re giant gummy bears. While sparring with CAT, be aware of your posture to avoid eventual back pain, and also periodically stretch out your toes and fingers to keep the blood pumping and to allow your mind to take a little itty bitty break.

One last time, for good measure: Remember, no venti lattes before the NCLEX.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Road to the NCLEX-RN

When you’ve been focusing on getting to end of your nursing degree, you may not have spent much time thinking about the steps between your BSCN and the NCLEX-RN. Luckily, we’ve laid them out for you here in one nice, tidy list.

First things first: Finish nursing school.

Easy peasy, right? Great, on to the next step, then.

Step two: Apply for eligibility

It’s now time to apply to the Association of Nursing in the province you wish to practice in, who will determine if you’re eligible to sit the NCLEX-RN. If you’re an Internationally Educated Nurse (IEN), then make sure you get assessed by the National Nursing Assessment Service first.

Step three: Register for the NCLEX-RN

Next, register for the NCLEX-RN either online or by phone with Pearson VUE, who administer the entry-to-practice exam in Canada.

You’ll receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) email, which will tell you within which dates you must sit your exam. It’ll also tell you your authorization number and candidate identification number. Important!

Step four: Make an exam appointment

Ideally, if you’re a student nurse, choose an exam date that’s not too long after your degree graduation. Remember, testing appointments can fill up quickly, so don’t leave it until the last minute.

Step five: Study, study, study

Begin studying between two and three months before your NCLEX-RN appointment. Sign up for a prep course, like PRIMED’s intensive two-day NCLEX-RN Prep course, to help structure your study plan and make sure you’ve got all your concepts covered.

A solid study plan is key to passing the NCLEX-RN, which can be as short as 75 questions or as long as 265, depending on how many correct answers you get.

Step six: Chill out the day before

Although it may be tempting to get in one last cram session the day before, your brain, and body, need a chance to relax.

Spend the day drinking plenty of water, and fill yourself with high-energy and vitamin-rich foods, like these ones recommended by BBC Good Food. Mediate, if that’s your thing.

Step seven: Own the NCLEX-RN

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s not a step to forget!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

NCLEX-RN Prep in the Light of Day

Blanket fort with candles
Photo: Max Charping (CC BY 2.0)
After years of study and, not to mention, tens of thousands of dollars, the nursing entry-to-practice exam can be a daunting thing. The NCLEX is what finally puts those two little initials behind your name: RN.


No one needs to tell new nurses that the NCLEX-RN is a big deal. It’s one of the first milestones in a nursing career, and PRIMED knows that every person preparing to write the big exam wants to go in a-swinging.

That’s exactly what PRIMED’s intensive two-day NCLEX-RN Prep course is designed for: to set you up to knock it out of the park.

Everybody has a certain approach to studying. Some of us might turn our cell phones off, turn down the blinds, and hunker down in a blanket fort with a stack of textbooks for 48 hours straight. While that has a certain appeal, the rest of us tend to study better in daylight.

There are even a few more benefits to studying for the big day by taking an NCLEX-RN Prep course, beyond the fact they don't take place in the dark. Here's a few:

1.     The structure of review has already been built for you, by professionals

At PRIMED, all of our instructors have at least a Master’s degree in nursing and are experienced educators. They lay the study groundwork so that PRIMED students can focus on the material at hand.

2.     There’s a real, live person to ask questions of, when the online forums run out

While the Internet is an incredible resource, the opportunity to bounce concepts and questions off someone face-to-face wins every time. Plus, there’s a classroom full of other NCLEX-RN preppers to collaborate with.

3.     You receive custom-made study materials that take the classroom home

At PRIMED, we provide a 200-page workbook and study guide as part of the study plan. This extends the benefit of a structured NCLEX-RN Prep course into each student’s home.

Whether you choose to read the PRIMED study guide in a darkened blanket fort, however, is completely up to you.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Keeping Up with Nursing Practice

Nursing is not anything if not a dynamic field. Nurses have always worked at the constantly changing intersection of medical knowledge and advanced technology—whether that’s (finally) requiring handwashing in the 19th century, or implementing alternative therapies in the 21st.

As anyone who finds themselves constantly upgrading smartphones every other year knows, in today’s world, knowledge and technology develop faster than ever before. And so does nursing.

Unlike many other professionals out there—say, bankers or politicians—nurses are constantly incorporating advancements into their practice as quickly (and as safely) as possible. Not only in regards to technology, of course, but patient care, environment management, and all the other best practices that go into delivering top-tier health care. Always have got to stay one step ahead of the next virus, as it were.

In order to keep up with the ever-evolving landscape of nursing practice, the entry-to-practice exam for nurses training to enter the scene has also got to stay on its toes.

The test plans for the NCLEX-RN itself are updated every three years (with the next update coming in April 2016), but new exam items are constantly added and tested in preparation for each of these updates. For just as nursing practice evolves, of course so does the NCLEX-RN.

That’s why PRIMED’s NCLEX-RN Prep courses are regularly updated to incorporate the latest in nursing practice. Because keeping on top of the constant change in “real-world” nursing practice means keeping on top of what NCLEX-RN test-takers will be seeing on their exams.

To make sure you’re provided with the latest clinical information as you prepare to write the NCLEX-RN, PRIMED’s course materials are updated at least three to four times per year. Not only does this set you up for success on the NCLEX-RN, but it also means you’ll be entering that “real world” of nursing with the most up-to-date knowledge of practice.

It’s just something nurses do: stay on their toes. PRIMED will help keep you there.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Is the NCLEX-RN Harder than the CRNE Was?

It’s a question many nurses writing their entry-to-practice exam in 2015 are probably asking: Is the NCLEX-RN harder than the CRNE was? Why did the switch have to happen this year? Why me?!

There’s no doubt the NCLEX-RN is a different beast than the CRNE was. For one, the CRNE was a straightforward multiple-choice exam, and the NCLEX-RN uses computer adaptive testing (CAT). That means if you take a guess on the NCLEX-RN, it can negatively affect your exam.

It also was created in the United States—which means Canadians can feel like they’re coming at it from the outside.

It’s true that American and Canadian nurses will be writing the same nursing exam from now on. And it’s also true that historically Canadian nurses have had a lower NCLEX-RN pass rate than their US counterparts. The stats vary from year to year, but somewhere in the ballpark of 85% for US-educated first-time writers, and only in the neighbourhood of 70% for Canadian-educated first-time writers.1

However, that was when Canadian nurses writing the NCLEX-RN truly were coming at it from the outside—it wasn’t our exam.

It’s a whole new can of beans in 2015.

According to the Canadian Council of Registered Nurse Regulators, the first-time pass rate of the NCLEX-RN is indeed around 85% for US-educated nurses—which is similar to that of the old CRNE: about 87%.2 This is the better number to predict Canadian nurses’ success rate on the NCLEX-RN.

Of course, with such a big change, there may be a bit of stumbling before we Canadians find our firm footing. The key to finding that footing—as you of course already know—is being as prepared as possible for the exam beast you are going to face. Whether that beast be the NCLEX-RN or the CRNE.

A well-executed study plan, including PRIMED’s two-day NCLEX-RN Prep course, will help you choose the correct set of weapons for exam day. For the NCLEX-RN isn’t harder for Canadian nurses to take down—we just have to adapt our moves. And PRIMED has got your back.

1 “NCLEX Pass Rates,” National Council of State Boards of Nursing,

2 “Preparing Your Nursing Students for a Successful NCLEX Examination Experience,” Canadian Council of Registered Nurse Regulators, 1,

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Clearing the NCLEX-RN Exam Hurdle—Calmly

Tachycardia—a common NCLEX-RN exam room diagnosis. Nurses are trained to fly in the face of stress, but most of us are nevertheless unable to escape nerves when it comes to test taking.

Like the CFE for accountants and the bar for lawyers, the NCLEX-RN represents the final hurdle for student nurses. It’s what tells you whether you’re in or out of the professional club—following semester after semester of classes and practicums and stacks and stacks of flash cards.

At PRIMED, we know nursing is much more than textbook learning and test taking, but first things first: you’ve got to clear this final exam hurdle—and keep your heart rate down at a healthy bpm while doing so.

One of the best ways to do this is to take stock of all the skills you’ve already got under your belt and figure out how to apply them to the NCLEX-RN.

High on the list of nurses’ special skills is being able to distract people with something bright and shiny while doing something unpleasant to them with the other hand. With the NCLEX-RN, it’s time to use that skill on yourself. For example, every time you start studying a new exam topic, kick off with an Americano or a red velvet brownie cookie. Soon you’ll develop a Pavlovian response to pharmacological test questions that’ll last a lifetime (or at least through the end of the NCLEX-RN).

Nurses are also exceedingly good at combining the theoretical with the practical. When it comes to taking the NCLEX-RN, this means effectively and efficiently synthesizing data before coming up with an end action. Although in the case of the NCLEX-RN exam it means selecting the right answer on the screen rather than, say, administering 10 units of Humulin R, the brain pathways you use to get there are exactly the same.

But exams are scary, you say! It’s not the same thing as real-life practice! My palms get sweaty!

It’s true—exam situations can sometimes get the best of us.

That’s why during PRIMED’s two-day intensive NCLEX-RN Prep course, we give you tools to help with memory retention and recall, along with other tried and true test-taking techniques that you may have forgotten about since your last big exam.

And don’t forget, in addition to the PRIMED instructor, there’s also opportunity to utilize the fellow exam takers you meet during your PRIMED NCLEX-RN Prep course. Along with quizzing each other on nursing concepts, you can share your NCLEX anxieties with one another—just like group therapy.

Whether you plan on being loveable and by-the-book like Zoey from Nurse Jackie or sassy and take-charge like Carla from Scrubs, every nursing career begins with tackling the NCLEX-RN. You may have to bring your own red velvet brownie cookies, but PRIMED will help you conquer exam day nerves, so that you walk into the NCLEX-RN with the heartbeat of an elephant.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Canada + America = NCLEX-RN BFFs

The differences between Americans and Canadians is a favourite topic of debate north of the 49th parallel. Although our two countries certainly have their own quirks, in the end there are more similarities between the US and Canada than differences. This is something that’s reflected in the NCLEX-RN, which replaced Canada’s former CRNE nursing entry-to-practice examination in January 2015.

Though the health-care systems in Canada and the US are of course different, the NCLEX-RN, which both countries’ new nurses must write, is the same. With the NCLEX’s roots in America—having been the standard there since 1994—what does this mean for Canadian nurses?

With any change comes apprehension, and PRIMED’s two-day intensive NCLEX-RN prep course addresses this head on. PRIMED knows that in addition to the nursing knowledge base needed to pass the test, there are a few things to know about the NCLEX-RN itself before sitting down to write it.

First off, you can rest easy: Canadian nurses have had a hand in shaping the NCLEX-RN to make sure Canadians taking the test don’t come up short, and Canadian-based nurses will continue to shape the exam by sitting on future item development panels.

All of our classically Canadian spellings and phrases—imperial vs. metric measurements, color vs. colour, car vs. canoe—have been accounted for, and won’t mean the difference between a right and a wrong answer. For the country’s French-speaking nurses, the translation of NCLEX-RN questions is looked after not just by professional translators, but is checked for context by (clearly very clever) bilingual Canadian nurses.

However, since there is no content difference between the NCLEX-RN administered in the two countries, Canadian test takers need to be aware of the different approaches to care between the Canadian and the US systems. That’s why PRIMED’s exam prep instructors are here to help you build up a strong knowledge of these differences—which simultaneously reinforces all you need to know about practice as a nurse in Canada.

Most can agree that an update to the CRNE was long overdue, and the NCLEX-RN, with its fancy computer adaptive testing, brings Canada’s nursing entry examination happily into the twenty-first century. Taking the same NCLEX-RN north of the border as south in many cases even means one less hurdle in getting licensed to work in America, which is great for any nurses hoping to do a bit of work-led travel.

The NCLEX-RN exam and its format is overall a win for Canadian nurses—it just requires a pinch more knowledge of how our neighbours to the south approach practice.

PRIMED will make sure you’re up to speed on all the new factors the NCLEX-RN brings, including learning more about how our nursing pals down in America do what they do.