Best NCLEX Prep Books 2020-2021

Nursing is undoubtedly one of the most noble professions. Sure, it pays well, but there is no greater reward than the fulfillment of contributing to the healing and recovery of patients.

With the rapidly increasing demand for nurses, now is the best time to establish a nursing career.

After completing your nursing degree or obtaining your practical nursing diploma, the next hurdle that you have to overcome is the NCLEX.

So much has been said about this standardized exam, but one thing is certain - an all-out preparation is needed to succeed.

To help you get that license, here are some of the best books that you can use in preparation for the NCLEX.

NCLEX Exam Prep Comparison

The Ultimate Prep List

Going through hundreds of prep books can be exhausting. But that pales in comparison to the grueling preparation that the NCLEX requires.

So ahead of all this, we are helping you cut the process short. Forget about the rest because here are some of the best nursing licensure review materials.

Each has its own strengths but they have one thing in common - all of them can help you finally use those two letters at the end of your name: RN.

Our top-rated book is a favorite not only as an NCLEX review material but as companion throughout nursing school as well.

Now on it's 8th edition, Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination is known for its extensive content.

The vast information is broken down into categories and the tone used is generally easy to understand. As a result, the book is less intimidating and the concepts are easier to absorb.

It may be more than a thousand pages long but the book's layout keeps you engaged. The charts and graphs, as well as the colored pictures and descriptions work well in shattering monotony and boredom.

It also offers more than 5,000 practice questions which can be found both in the book and online.

Unlike in previous editions where the practice questions are located at the back of the book, this time they are at the end of each chapter.

This saves you time and patience - two things that you need to preserve as you brace for the NCLEX.

The sample questions use the same alternate item format that you will find in the NCLEX so you are also exercised in that regard.

However, the practice questions are a bit on the easier side. If you want more challenge, it is best to use this book in combination with another resource that has tougher practice questions.

Saunders made sure to include test-taking strategies and the rationale behind the questions. Both correct and incorrect answers are explained thoroughly so you are less likely to commit the same mistake if you encounter a similar item in the actual exam.

Overall, the Saunders book is sufficient to equip you with knowledge and confidence to succeed in the NCLEX.


  • Comprehensive content
  • Easy to understand language
  • Useful test-taking strategies and rationale for each question
  • Extensive practice questions
  • Engaging visual presentation


  • Practice questions are not very challenging
  • Kindle version is difficult to navigate
NCLEX-RN Content Review Guide

Our next book comes from the test prep authority, Kaplan.

The NCLEX-RN Content Review Guide starts with an overview of the exam. As it gets you acquainted with the NCLEX, you become less intimidated and you are better able to focus on the task at hand.

Preparing for the NCLEX means immersing yourself in a lot of information, and that can be overwhelming.

The way this book is outlined makes things easier to digest. Instead of presenting huge chunks of information, all the contents are compartmentalized into chapters and units.

It also helps you maintain your focus until you are ready to move on to the next topic.

Navigating the book is not a problem either because it has an A-Z index at the back. This is particularly helpful when, out of the blue, you find it difficult to recall a specific concept. You can just look it up the index and you will instantly be directed to your desired page.

If you think the book is all form and zero substance, you're certainly mistaken. 

There are over 600 pages of rich nursing content. In addition, it also provides strategies to help you perform strongly in the NCLEX.

You won't find full-length practice tests but there are sample questions. However, it would have been better if the answers to these sample questions were explained more thoroughly. 

These shortcomings are somehow offset by the online question bank. Purchasing the book gives you access to this archive of practice questions.

When you're ready, feel free to test yourself. From there, you will be able to plan your next course of action as you move closer to the exam date.


  • Efficient book outline
  • Helpful tips and strategies
  • Includes online question bank


  • Question and answer explanations are not thorough
  • No full-length practice test

Being a nurse requires a great deal of critical thinking. If that is an aspect that you need to work on, this book will serve you well.

It prepares you not only for the NCLEX but for the actual demands of the nursing profession.

As a nurse, every single day presents different challenges. You encounter countless patients and each one requires a unique course of action.

It is easy to memorize concepts and recall them when you are faced with simple Q&A, but application and analysis are a whole new ballgame.

This book appeals to your critical thinking skills. It is entirely dedicated to Prioritization, Delegation, and Assignment which constitutes approximately 20% of the NCLEX.

After an introduction to the NCLEX, you will find practice questions that test your knowledge of appropriate actions to the given scenarios.

The value of these questions lies not in the quantity but rather in the quality.

The questions are based on realistic case studies, situations that you will most likely encounter in the hospital setting.

They are also arranged in increasing difficulty. You tackle the problems with more common health issues first before moving on to more complex ones.

In addition, the answers are explained thoroughly. This paints an even clearer picture of the scenario and helps you appreciate why a certain action is the best thing to do.

As you sharpen this way of thinking, you eventually get better at making the correct decision.

Although the book's focus content is important, you have to consider that it is not the sole coverage of the NCLEX. 

You cannot expect to pass using this book alone. Additional review materials are definitely necessary.

Nevertheless, this book on Prioritization, Delegation, and Assignment is a handy NCLEX preparation tool.


  • Realistic case studies
  • Detailed explanations of answers


  • Not sufficient as an overall NCLEX review book
HESI Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN

This book is one of the most preferred review materials for both the HESI exit exam and the NCLEX.

HESI or Health Education Systems, Inc. provides practice exams and other resources for aspiring professional nurses.

The HESI prepares you for the type of questions that you will encounter in the NCLEX.

Because it is said to be a good predictor of NCLEX success, some nursing schools require it as a part of their admission process.

The book is broken down into chapters, each one focusing on a specific clinical area. If you want to go back to a certain topic, you can easily do so without spending a lot of time and effort.

Despite the broad coverage, the book is easy to understand. This is because the content is delivered in a clear and concise manner. No ornate language that tries to impress - just nursing concepts laid down as simple as possible.

The book contains important updates including pediatric immunization, neonatal PR guidelines and medications, and psychiatric nursing.

You will also notice that the book's layout is strategically executed. The pharmacology tables, the hint boxes with useful tips, and the charts and graphics all help in retaining information.

In addition, this layout keeps things interesting, especially if your focus is already waning after studying for hours.

You are going to flip the pages back and forth for months as you prepare for the exam so it's also good that the book's pages are thick, glossy and durable.

If there is one flaw that is commonly noticed about this book, it would have to be the numerous typographical errors.

Purchasing the book also gives you online access to hundreds of practice questions, each having a detailed answer explanation.

Whether for the HESI exit exam or the NCLEX, the HESI Comprehensive Review Book will prove to be a valuable review material.


  • Clear and concise
  • Includes online practice questions with detailed answer explanations
  • Engaging layout
  • Good paper quality


  • Quite a number of typographical errors

If you want practice material that closely resembles the questions in the actual NCLEX exam, there's a lot of them in this book.

And by a lot, I mean 6,000 practice problems.

It is a mix of the different types of NCLEX questions: multiple choice, fill in the blanks, and order response, to name a few.

Aside from all types of questions, Lippincott also covers all major content areas such as pediatrics, obstetrics, medical health and medical-surgical nursing.

By the time you finish the book, you will gain that confidence boost knowing that you've had enough practice

Just like in the NCLEX, the items are also randomly arranged. Therefore, be prepared for varying subject areas and levels of difficulty at any point.

There is an explanation for every correct or incorrect answer. However, it would be better if Lippincott will work on providing more details so that you will completely appreciate why a certain answer is correct.

While it focuses on questions and answers, Lippincott also includes test-taking strategies to help you ace the NCLEX.

There are some typographical errors but not enough to greatly diminish the overall value of the book.

Purchasing the book also gives you access to an online tool with a test question bank.

Although the questions here are similar to the ones found in the book, this online tool allows you to practice taking computer-generated exams like the NCLEX. You also get to practice your listening skills through the audio problems.

This book is best used at the latter part of your NCLEX preparation. When you are done poring over the principles, follow it up with a self-assessment using Lippincott's practice questions.


  • Extensive practice material
  • Organized content
  • 6,000 NCLEX-style practice questions


  • Questions online are similar to the ones in the book
  • Has typographical errors

Here is another book with loads of practice material.

It has a total of 12,750 items - 2,750 in the book and 10,000 online. This is said to be the most number of practice questions in any NCLEX prep book.

More than the quantity, the practice questions' quality is also worth mentioning.

They are considerably more challenging than other practice materials. Some even say they are more difficult than the NCLEX itself!

Knowing basic nursing principles will not suffice because the questions require a higher level of analysis and evaluation.

This gives you an advantage because you get to push those brain cells to the limit. You feel like you're ready for anything!

On the other hand, it can also be counterproductive because you might be too confident. It is a must to keep that in check.

All the NCLEX question types are represented but it is notable that there are a lot of SATA or select-all-that-apply questions. It is probably the least favorite of many test-takers so if you are one of them, you have to get this book.

The way the questions are organized makes it easy to navigate. They are classified into chapters to help you focus on one specific subject matter at a time.

This also allows you to easily identify your strong and weak points. From there, you can plan your next steps, particularly spending more time on your areas for improvement.

Davis's has one of the most comprehensive rationales among the NCLEX prep books. There is a great effort to really help you understand the question. It does not tell you to memorize the answers, which we all know doesn't work.

You will also appreciate that each answer is followed by guidelines on how to deal with a particular type of question. It may sound simple but those are really useful tips!

Purchasing the book also gives you 1-year access to lots of helpful online tools. Aside from the 10,000 practice items, you can also build up a comprehensive exam from their question bank.

There may be a few typographical errors but in general, the Davis's Q&A review book can certainly help you pass the NCLEX.


  • Abundant practice questions
  • Questions are more challenging than the actual NCLEX exam
  • Comprehensive rationale for each question
  • Organized by chapters
  • Includes access to valuable online content


  • Has some typographical errors
Mosby's Comprehensive Review of Nursing for the NCLEX-RN Examination

While this book is a great resource for NCLEX preparation, it is also a valuable companion throughout nursing school. It can even be of help to those who are already practicing nurses!

This 800-pager covers a wide range of nursing topics. It includes all the four core topics of the NCLEX so there is very minimal chance that you are missing out on something.

A new section on nursing management has also been added. This section tests your ability to take the lead and delegate other tasks when the situation calls for it.

Given the volume of the topics that you need to study, it is a relief that the book is well organized. This certainly helps you compartmentalize your thoughts so you can retain important information better.

Now on its 20th edition, Mosby's Comprehensive Review reflects the recent updates in the NCLEX-RN test plan, however minimal.

Mosby's does not scrimp on practice material. It has a total of 4,200 questions, to be exact.

Furthermore, 600 of them are in the alternate item format. This means that you also get to exercise your skills in answering non-multiple choice questions. You even get a taste of the audio and graphic option formats.

There is a rationale given for each answer. However, Mosby's should improve the thoroughness in future editions.

As a finishing kick, take the two comprehensive exams to gauge your preparedness for the NCLEX. Use this chance to strategize and improve even further.

It is also worth mentioning that page style helps keep the user engaged. Instead of blocks of text, you will find colorful layouts and graphs that certainly break the monotony.

The book has a companion CD where you can customize quizzes for more practice.

You can choose between study mode and quiz mode. Study mode gives you instant feedback after you answer a question. On the other hand, in quiz mode, you get the feedback after you are done answering all the questions that you chose in the beginning.

Test taking tips and other helpful information are also included in the CD content.

Overall, using Mosby's book will certainly increase your chances of acing the NCLEX exam.


  • Comprehensive content
  • Well organized
  • Updated to reflect new NCLEX-RN test plan
  • Includes CD with practice tests and other useful information
  • Visually appealing


  • Less thorough answer rationales

NCLEX Books to Avoid

You already know which prep books can help you achieve that full fledged RN or PN status.

However, you have to be aware that there are a lot of other books out there and all of them claim to be the key to NCLEX success.

To save time, money, and effort, familiarizing yourself with substandard books is as important as knowing which ones are reliable.

So go ahead and disregard these books without any guilt or worry.

NCLEX-RN Premier

There is no reason to buy this book if you already have Kaplan's NCLEX-RN 2017 Strategies, Practice, and Review Book. They're exactly the same!

Only the cover sets the two books apart, and the reason why Kaplan had to release the second book is beyond us.

The book also claims to include a digital version. However, you will not find a scratch off code or any similar access scheme. To make matters worse, it's impossible to reach a Kaplan representative for any resolution.

Lastly, the practice questions are too basic that they don't pose enough challenge.

NCLEX-RN Exam Cram

While its PN counterpart is quite good, the NCLEX-PM Exam Cram is clearly second-rate.

Exams like the NCLEX are ever-changing. They are regularly updated to keep up with the requirements of the evolving medical field.

Recent NCLEX administrations no longer include brand/trade names in test items with medications. This ensures a consistent language for every single examinee.

Unfortunately, this book failed to keep up because it still contains generic and brand names. You would find terminologies that you should just be ignoring.

How inconsistent for a book that is supposed to be effective for those who are cramming!


As you prepare to be a licensed nursing practitioner, there may be several questions running through your mind.

We have compiled some common questions about the NCLEX. Read on and be fully informed before you finally jump right in.

How much is the NCLEX fee?

You need to pay $200 at the time of your registration with Pearson Vue.

There are additional costs but these vary per state. You may refer to this list for other fees and requirements of your local state nursing board.

Am I allowed to makes changes to my NCLEX appointment?

You are, but you should do so not less than 24 hours or one business day before the date and time of your original schedule.

You can reschedule our appointment through the Pearson Vue website or by calling its Candidate Services. You will receive a confirmation via email.

What types of question does the NCLEX have?

The NCLEX uses several question types.

Multiple choice questions, the type most of us are familiar with, requires the test taker to select the correct answer from a number of options.

You may also be required to fill in the blank, which is usually used for calculations. For example, you may be asked to calculate the correct medication dosage and write your answer on the blank provided.

You can also expect order response questions. You will be asked to arrange steps in correct order based on a given situation.

Hot spots questions require identifying certain areas in a picture or a graphic. On the other hand, in chart or exhibit questions, you will use the information presented through pie charts or bar graphs to give the correct answer.

How long does it take before NCLEX results are released?

As early as 2 business days after taking the exam, you can already check the Quick Results Service of Pearson Vue.

However, only the results from the nursing board you applied to are considered official. You will receive this approximately 6 weeks after the exam. Only then are you authorized to practice as a licensed/registered nurse.

How many times can I take the NCLEX?

Although it is ideal that you pass the NCLEX on your first try, you are still given the opportunity to redeem yourself in case you are unsuccessful.

You may retake the NCELX 45 days after the last exam date. However, you may not take the NCLEX more than 8 times within a year.

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