NCLEX Lab Values You Need to Know

Learn These NCLEX Lab Values

The National Council Licensure Examination, or the NCLEX, is a critical point in the career of any soon-to-be nurse. In order to become a fully licensed nurse, you must first pass the NCLEX. This standardized test is used by every state Board of Nursing in the United States and determines whether or not you’re prepared for a career in nursing.

All of that being said, it’s understandable why those studying to take the NCLEX can quickly feel stressed, panicked, overwhelmed, and about a million other emotions.

While there is a ton of information you need to store in your brain to successfully pass the NCLEX, one of the most tedious tasks is memorizing the NCLEX lab values you need to know.

So, we’ll start by identifying the values you should know, and we’ll move onto some study tips to help you memorize them.

Must-Know NCLEX Lab Values

By knowing the most common lab values, you will have a better chance at acing lab value questions on the NCLEX. We’ve listed the most important ones below.

Hematology Values

  • Hemoglobin: 12-16g/dL (women)
  • Hemoglobin: 14-18g/dL (men)
  • Hematocrit: 37-48% (women)
  • Hematocrit: 45-52% (men)
  • RBC: 4.5-5.0 million
  • WBC 5,000-10,000
  • Platelets: 200,000-400,000

Serum Electrolytes

  • Sodium: 135-145 mEq/L
  • Calcium: 8.5-10.9 mg/L
  • Magnesium: 1.6-2.6 mg/dL
  • Chloride: 98-107
  • Potassium: 3.5-5.1
  • Phosphorus: 2.5-4.5 mg/dL

Chemistry Values

  • Glucose: 70-110 mg/dL
  • BUN: 7-22 mg/dL
  • LDH: 100-190 U/L
  • Uric Acid: 3.5-7.5 mg/dL
  • Total Cholesterol: 130-200 mg/dL
  • Protein: 6.2-8.1 g/dL
  • Albumin: 3.4-5.0 g/dL
  • Bilirubin: <1.0 mg/dL
  • Triglyceride: 40-50 mg/dL
  • CPK: 21-232 U/L
  • Serum Creatinine: 0.6-1.35 mg/dL (<2 for older adults)

Arterial Blood Gases

  • pH: 7.35-7.45
  • pO2: 80-100%
  • pCO2: 35-45 mEq/L
  • HCO3: 24-26 mEq/L

Lipoproteins and Triglycerides

  • ALP: 42-128 U/L
  • ALT: <40 U/L
  • AST: <40 U/L
  • LDL: <70 mg/dL
  • HDL: >60 mg/dL
  • Triglycerides: <150 mg/dL
  • Total: <200 mg/dL

Hematology

  • HCT Female: 37-47%
  • HCT Male: 42-52%
  • WBC: 5000-10,000 uL
  • Platelets: 150,000-400,000 mm3
  • PT: 11-12.5 seconds
  • aPTT: 30-40 seconds
  • INR: 0.8-1.1
  • HGB Female: 12-16 g/dL
  • HGB Male: 14-18 g/dL

Chemistry

  • Lipase: 0-110 units/L
  • Albumin: 3.5-5 g/dL
  • Ammonia: 15-110 mg/dL
  • Serum Creatinine: 0.6-1.2 mg/dL
  • Amylase: 56-90 IU/L
  • Total Bilirubin: 0-1 mg/dL
  • Alpha-fetoprotein: <10 mg/mL
  • BUN: 10-20 mg/dL
  • Creatinine Clearance Females: 80-125 mL/min
  • Creatinine Clearance Males: 90-139 mL/min
  • Fasting Blood Glucose: <100 mg/dL
  • GFR: 125 mL/min
  • HbA1C: Normal: <5.7
  • HbA1C: Prediabetic: 5.7-6.4
  • HbA1C: Diabetic >6.5

Thyroid Function:

  • Total T3: 70-205 mg/dL
  • T4: 4-12 mcg/dL
  • TSH: 0.4-0.6 microunits/mL

Cardiac

  • Troponin: <0.01 mg/mL
  • CD40 Ligand: 1.51-5.35 mg/L
  • Creatinine Kinase: 0-3 mcg/L
  • C-reactive Protein: </=0.8 mg/dL

Urinalysis

  • Urine Specific Gravity: 1.003-1.030
  • pH: 4.5-8
  • Volume: 1-2 L/day
  • Glucose: <130 mg/dL
  • Nitrites: negative
  • Ketones: none
  • Bacteria: none
  • RBC: </=3RBCs
  • WBC: </=2-5WBCs/hpf
  • Protein: </=150 mg/dL

NCLEX Lab Values Study Tips

Before we dive into some study tips based on NCLEX lab values, it’s important to note that questions surrounding these values will not just focus on the normal ranges. Analytical and application questions will be asked that could include both normal and abnormal lab results.

Memorizing any long list of very specific information like this is incredibly difficult, so we’re going to run through just a few small tips to help you get through it.

Write Them Down

Did you know that writing things down actually helps you remember them better? Anytime you write something down, you stimulate this group of cells that sit at the base of your brain called the reticular activating system.

This system filters through information and allows you to focus more closely on the activity at hand. Ultimately, writing things down brings information to the front of your brain and alerts it to pay closer attention to them.

So, long story short, try rewriting your list of values a few times during your study sessions. It may sound tedious, but you might be surprised how much more you remember during your next practice exam.

Have Someone Quiz You

Studying alone is never any fun. It’s easy to get distracted, and when you read the same items over and over again, the page starts to seem a little fuzzy.

Give yourself a break from re-reading and have someone in your household quiz you on the numbers you’ve reviewed. Not only is this a refreshing break from silence and solitude, but it gives you a chance to practice and gauge what you’ve learned.

Have the person who quizzes you make marks on the values you got wrong so you can go back and give those numbers some extra attention.

Study in Batches

Our brains remember information best in batches. Consider the way a phone number is broken down. You have a set of three numbers, another set of three numbers, and a set of four numbers.

Altogether, it would be difficult to memorize ten numbers in a row at once. However, when we break it down in this way, it becomes much easier.

Try this method when studying your NCLEX lab values. Instead of going through that long, daunting list at once, start by studying just the hematology values. Spend 10 to 15 minutes on this section and then quiz yourself.

If you’re feeling good about these values, move onto the next grouping. If you didn’t do very well on your quiz, spend a few more minutes here before moving on.

Give Yourself Time

Many students will study for several months before taking the NCLEX. It’s a super important test and it’s full of a ton of information.

The best thing you can do for yourself is to plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time. Set aside one to three hours for at least three days a week leading up to the exam, and don’t wait until the last minute to start cramming.

With enough time and effort, the information you’re learning will become second nature, so be patient and stay consistent.

Additional NCLEX Study Tips

The lab values are just one component to the NCLEX, so we thought we’d toss out a few more tips on studying for this exam as a whole.

Memorize the Structure

It’s useful for individuals taking the NCLEX to understand the structure of this particular exam because the National Council of State Boards tests a certain percentage for each category.

Knowing this structure can help you pinpoint areas where you need to do a little more studying over areas in which you feel confident.

For instance, the test questions are formatted in for types:

  • Drag-and-drop
  • Multiple choice
  • Hot spots
  • Chart/exhibit

Stopping here for a moment, you can determine which type of question you might have the most difficulty with.

Take Your Time

The NCLEX is a marathon, not a race. While the test contains 265 questions, a registered nurse candidate must answer only 75 correctly. Much like the SAT that you likely took in high school, it’s better to focus on quality over quantity.

As long as you hit that magic number of 75 correct answers, you’re good to go! So, remember that as you study, and when you take the test, take your time and really think through the questions.

Remember, the NCLEX isn’t designed to discourage you; it’s a test meant to assess your ability to be a safe and ethical nurse. Treat your study sessions as such and it will seem a lot more meaningful.

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Brett Gordon
 

Founder of ExamCave.com