Disclosure: We are a reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.
These days, it’s not hard to find NCLEX prep books because there are literally dozens of them out there. The hard part is finding the good ones, the best NCLEX prep books in the market that will really help cover your weak areas and boost your score. While it’s easy to study for an exam, the problem with studying for the NCLEX is that it’s an adaptive computerized exam which makes preparing for it trickier than usual. It’s also what makes finding the best NCLEX prep books that can genuinely help you pretty tough. But that’s why I’ve compiled a list of the top choices out there so that you can just choose from the prep books that are highly recommended to find the ones that can meet your particular test-taking needs.
1 Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination
As comprehensive reviewers go, Saunders Review RN covers all the basics which makes it a good starter kit for those who only beginning to study for the NCLEX for the RN program. It offers guidance from the get-go with study material that is organized into units and chapters that cover all of the topics for the NCLEX-RN. As an all-in-one prep book, it also includes tips, strategies, and practice tests along with answers and detailed explanations for each of the answers.
The Saunders Review won’t be as valuable if it didn’t come with a CD-ROM with a more realistic simulation of the test. The computer test that comes with the book mimics how the actual test reacts to your answers, giving you a more realistic experience of what it would be like during the actual exam.
While the computer test version is greatly appreciated from the Saunders Comprehensive Review, CD-ROMs are a bit outdated and an online version of the test would have been more accessible for the reader. However, there is a redeemable set of online practice tests that you can get access to if you register with the code that comes with the prep book. Readers found the registration process tedious but if it gives you more practice tests, then it can’t hurt.
2 Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-PN
Just like the Saunders Comprehensive Review for nursing, the edition of the book for the NCLEX PN or for becoming a practical nurse is designed to be an all-in-one prep book that includes study material for all the subjects included in the test, tips and techniques for test-taking, strategies, and practice tests for reviewing. Like the RN version, it also comes with practice tests for each subject to make sure that you’re fully covered, plus answers and explanations for all the questions. I find that the explanations for the answers are usually the best way of retaining information and for gaining context for the questions.
More than just helping you review though, the Saunders Review for NCLEX-PN goes out of its way to reinforce important points that are sure to come up in the exam, and helps introduce you to the adaptive test design via alternate item formats. For just the tons of practice questions with online tests to boot, this NCLEX prep book is a great buy.
There isn’t much that readers find wrong with the Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-PN. It does a good job of laying down the foundation for those who are planning to take the exam. However, keep in mind that it is still a comprehensive prep book which means that you may want to supplement it with other prep books if you want to cover some weak areas or if you want a more specialized take on studying.
3 NCLEX-RN Content Review Guide
Despite the fact that it doesn’t have the Kaplan name in the title, it is still a legitimate product of the test review powerhouse. The content review guide above is updated every year by Kaplan’s expert nursing facility which also means that the information that it contains is always up to date. As an NCLEX-RN prep book, it focuses more on reviewing readers of information that they have already encountered in school and it manages this very effectively with tables, charts, and other visual aids.
The downside to this NCLEX prep book is in its digital version or kindle version. Because it relies heavily on the visual aids to reinforce information and review important concepts, using a digital version of the book can get in the way of easy learning. The tables and charts tend to be separated from each other or from the text that pertains to the visual aid which forces the readers to have to scroll or swipe back and forth. Spare yourself the trouble and just buy the textbook instead of the ebook.
4 NCLEX-RN Prep Plus 2020 by Kaplan
This NCLEX-RN by Kaplan is all about helping readers understand what the exam is asking of them, helping them to develop critical thinking skills and higher-order thinking skills. As opposed to rote memorization which would not work well in an adaptive test like the NCLEX, this textbook is all about understanding the answers behind the questions and the rationales behind the answers.
It is a more in-depth take on studying for the NCLEX-RN and with 60-minute video tutorials and reviews of all the question types found in the exam, this prep book is for the more determined test takers; or at least those who want to add a lot more points to their score.
If you have older versions of this prep book, then you may want to think twice about getting the newer version. While this is one of the best NCLEX prep books in the market today, there are some practice questions that may appear in the old versions as well. Still, it is a good buy for updated strategies, critical thinking guides, and highlights.
5 NCLEX-RN Drug Guide: 300 Medications You Need to Know for the Exam
This is a must-have for all aspiring nurses who will be taking the NCLEX-RN as a reference to the drugs that are relevant to the exam and to become a nurse. Because of its pocket-sized design, it is handy and can easily be carried around for when you’re studying in different locations.
The latest edition of the book does have additional perks. More than just being a reference book for drugs, drug families, and brand names, it will also be offering guides for how to study the drugs effectively and how to retain the information. It also has phonetic pronunciation keys as a bonus.
This is purely a reference book for drugs, brands, and drug families. It fills a very specific niche for studying for the NCLEX-RN. For studying the subjects of the exam and for test-taking tips, you will need to refer to a comprehensive study guide which this book is not.
6 Prioritization, Delegation, and Assignment: Practice Exercises for the NCLEX Examination
Just like the title says, this NCLEX prep book is designed similarly to how the NCLEX is also designed, by placing emphasis on prioritization, delegation, and patient assignment. Consider that the NCLEX is an exam for skills and knowledge with very practical applications. This prep book helps facilitate learning and studying in a way that the reader can relate the information to the actual practical applications which helps with retention. More than just feeding readers information without context, the book goes so far as to build on knowledge and skills that can be used in actual scenarios.
If you are going to purchase this prep book, make sure that you purchase the latest edition or the 3rd edition of the book which includes a lot of new updates that can be very useful for taking the exam. These new updates and content include helpful chart-format questions and additional questions for the subjects covered by the NCLEX.
Mastering the NCLEX is all about understanding your learning process and what works for you. In the case of this prep book for the NCLEX, creating situations and context for the reader is one method of learning that is effective for some but not for others. Choose wisely.
Also, because this book does not emphasize practice tests as much as other NCLEX prep books do, I would also advise you to supplement it with more practice tests, both written and online.
7 Lippincott Q&A Review for NCLEX-RN Examination
The Lipincott Q&A Review is the prep book that you want to buy if you want access to exam questions that are the closest to the real thing as possible, which, of course, you do. With test questions that are realistic, you can gauge your performance better and you can get a much better idea of how you’re going to do in the actual test. You can also spot your weak points early on.
The Lipincott Q&A has both written questions and online exams that mimic the actual NCLEX which is also important. This means that you’ll get an idea of how the real test will feel like and you won’t be exposed to how it works for the first time on the day of the exam itself.
Even if you are buying other prep books as study guides, I would still recommend that you supplement them with the test questions offered by the Lipincott Q&A, even if it’s just for the practice tests.
The strength of this prep book is the practice tests but it is not a comprehensive study guide and it won’t be as in-depth in covering the different subjects of the test. I would strongly suggest that you use another prep book as your main study guide while using the Lipincott Q&A for more access to realistic practice tests.