# Is There Math on the NCLEX Exam?

If you’re like many students, numbers and calculations are probably not your strongest skills.

So it makes sense that you would be wondering if the nursing entrance exam will have you doing math problems.

## Are Math Questions on the NCLEX?

**Yes, you can expect to see math questions on the NCLEX licensing exam, specifically related to medication dosage calculations, IV infusion rates, and metric unit conversions. Critical skills like dimensional analysis, ratio proportions, and basic algebra will be required. **

The math tested on the NCLEX board exam directly relates to the real nursing responsibilities you’ll perform on the job.

While not designed to trick you, preparing by mastering the fundamentals and practicing sample questions is key to passing and demonstrating you can safely deliver patient care.

## Dosage and IV Rate Calculations Are a Must-Know

The most common and important math skills tested on the NCLEX relate to administering medications and IV fluids.

You will need to know how to calculate the correct dosages and IV infusion rates. Let’s take a closer look at what these types of questions entail:

### Dosage Calculations

The NCLEX-RN will likely include dosage calculation questions where you must determine the correct amount of medication to give a patient based on the healthcare provider’s order. This requires:

- Converting units correctly – You’ll be provided orders in different units than what the medication is supplied in. For example, you may need to give 125 mg of a medication, but the stock supply is 50 mg/mL. You’ll have to convert between milligrams and milliliters properly.
- Using dimensional analysis – The preferred method is to set up step-by-step unit conversions systematically using dimensional analysis (aka the factor-label method). This reduces math errors and helps you arrive at the right dosage confidently.
- Applying ratio proportions – You need to understand how to set up and cross-multiply a ratio proportion equation if needed for dosage problems. This allows you to determine the missing quantity.

### IV Flow Rate Calculations

Another common math skill assessed is calculating IV flow rates and drip factors. You’ll need to know how to:

- Convert prescribed infusion units – If a healthcare provider orders 500 mL of IV fluid to infuse over 4 hours, you must be able to determine the rate per hour (500 mL/4 hours = 125 mL/hour).
- Use provided drip factors – Given drip factor conversions (e.g. 15 gtt/mL) and the needed rate of administration, you must calculate the flow rate in drops per minute to correctly set the IV pump.

Mastering IV and medication dosage calculations are critical nursing responsibilities on the job. Thus, the NCLEX tests your proficiency in these areas through word problems and charts.

### Don’t Forget Your Metric Conversions

The healthcare field relies heavily on the metric system for weights, fluid volumes, medication amounts, and more. As a nurse, you’ll need to be fluent in metric unit conversions. On the NCLEX, you should expect questions involving:

- Grams to milligrams or micrograms
- Milliliters to liters
- Centimeters to meters
- Kilometers to centimeters
- Pounds to kilograms
- Ounces to milliliters

Having a solid understanding of the relationships between metric units and prefixes will help you ace any conversion problems.

You may also get questions on converting between metric and U.S. customary units.

The key is to set up an organized conversion using dimensional analysis while avoiding common mistakes like mixing up units.

**Step-By-Step Strategies for Tackling NCLEX Math**

Follow these proven tips when you encounter a math question on the big exam:

**Read carefully –**Make sure you understand exactly what the question is asking before solving.**Take it slow –**Math questions require critical thinking. Avoid rushing. Take time to digest the information given.**Use scratch paper –**Write out your work and calculations on scratch paper to avoid costly mistakes.**Use provided values –**Formulas, conversions, dosages, and more will be provided on screen. Take advantage of given information.**Label all units –**Write out the units for every step to keep conversions organized and confirm you have the right units.**Only round at the end –**Maintain full precision until the final step to minimize rounding errors impacting calculations.**Check your work –**Double check units, calculations, and logic before selecting the answer. Watch out for common pitfalls.

## Example Practice Questions to Assess Your NCLEX Math Readiness

Let’s apply the strategies to some sample NCLEX math questions:

### Question 1

The doctor orders amoxicillin 500 mg PO for a child once daily. The amoxicillin suspension comes as 400 mg/5mL. How many mL should the nurse give for the daily dose?

#### Answer

**Step 1: **The order is for 500 mg. The stock concentration is 400 mg/5mL.

**Step 2:** Set up conversion: 500 mg (ordered) = ? mL (stock suspension) Cross-multiply to solve: 500 x 5 = 400 x mL mL = 500 x 5 / 400 = 6.25 mL

**Step 3:** Round to nearest tenth = 6.3 mL

Therefore, the nurse should administer 6.3 mL of the 400 mg/5mL amoxicillin suspension.

### Question 2

A patient is prescribed an IV infusion of 750 mL lactated Ringer’s solution infused over 8 hours. The IV tubing has a drip factor of 10 drops/mL. What is the flow rate in drops per minute?

#### Answer

**Step 1: **750 mL over 8 hours = 750/8 = 93.75 mL/hr

**Step 2: **Drip factor is 10 gtt/mL Step 3: Set up conversion: 93.75 mL/hr x 10 gtt/mL = 937.5 drops/hr

**Step 4: **Convert hourly rate to per minute: 937.5 drops/hr / 60 min/hr = 15.625 drops/min

**Step 5: **Round to nearest whole number = 16 drops/min

The IV flow rate should be set to 16 drops/min.

Keep practicing sample NCLEX questions like these to build math skills and confidence.

Work on your dimensional analysis skills and calculator speed. Reflect on where you may make errors to improve.

With dedication to nursing math fundamentals, you will be ready to tackle the exam with ease.

**What if I’m Still Struggling with Drug Dosage Math?**

If drug dosage calculations have always been a challenge for you, don’t panic. You can still pass the NCLEX with preparation. Here are some tips:

- Seek help early from professors, tutors, or nurse mentors to strengthen your skills.
- Learn the step-by-step dimensional analysis approach to setting up problems.
- When solving practice questions, be sure you understand why you got it wrong. Don’t just memorize the right answer.
- Flash cards can help you quickly recall conversions between units or metric prefixes.
- Use mnemonics or songs to memorize key formulas.
- Get extra practice with NCLEX study guides focused on dosage calculations.
- On exam day, take your time, write it out step-by-step, and double-check your work.

## Key Takeaways

Don’t let math anxiety hold you back from your nursing career goals. With dedication to learning the fundamentals and repeated practice, you can master the math skills needed to pass the NCLEX exam.