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17 Must Know Normal Lab Values for NCLEX®

Labs Covered in the Video

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  • pH 7.35 – 7.45
  • PaCO2 35 – 45
  • HCO3 22 – 26
  • BUN 5 – 20
  • Cholesterol <200
  • Glucose 70 – 100
  • HCT F:36 – 46 M:42 – 52
  • HgB F:12 – 15 M:14 – 17
  • HgBA1C 4 – 6% >7 is diabetic
  • Platelets 200,000 – 450,000 <20,000 be very concerned!
  • Potassium 3.5 – 5
  • Sodium 135 – 145
  • WBC 5,000 – 10,000
  • Creatinine 0.6 – 1.2
  • PT 11 – 13
  • PTT not on therapy 25 – 35 on therapy –> 2x normal
  • INR on coumadin 2-3 w/o coumadin 0.8 – 1.2
RELATED ARTICLE: Hypertonic, Hypotonic, Isotonic . . . What-the-Tonic? (the ultimate guide to fluid balance in the body)


Know what normal lab

values you need to know when taking the NCLEX can be scary.  In this video, I provide you with basic normal ranges you can use when taking the test.

63 Must Know Lab ValuesQuick! Is this aPTT Count Dangerous? Hesitant? Never Feel Anxious About Lab Values Again...
Grab Free Cheat Sheet

Podcast Transcription

Okay. One of the questions I get more often than anything else is what lab values do I need to know for NCLEX®. I’m going to tell exactly what lab values you need to know, and I’m going to give you basic normal ranges for that. These lab values that you need to know come directly from the NCSBN website for educators, for educators. The NCSBN is actually the company that writes the NCLEX® . If you know these lab values that I’m going to tell you, you’re going to be just fine for NCLEX® .

Now, before we get started I have to tell you something incredibly important. The is not going to give you a potassium of 5.1 and ask you is that normal. Basically, what I’m trying to say is they’re going to give you lab values that are far out of the normal range and just make sure you can identify what the basic normal range is. The reason for that is every hospital has different values and so it’s important that you understand what basic normal ranges are.

For ABG, you need to know pH, CO2, and bicarbonate. Normal pH is going to be 7.35, 7.45. CO2 35 to 45. Bicarbonate 22 to 26. Those are the lab values I want you to know.

For BUN, the number that you need to know is going to be 5 to 20. Okay. That can vary, of course, by institution, but that’s the number I want you to know.

For cholesterol, we want our total cholesterol to be less than 200. Greater than that is going to be a problem for .

Glucose, the number you basically need to know is going to be about 70 to 100 with greater than 120 being diabetic and less than 60 or so being hypoglycemic.

For hematocrit, for females, the number I want you to know is 36 to 46. For males, the number I want you to know is 42 to 52.

Now, for hemoglobin, for females, 12 to 15, and for males 14 to 17.

For hemoglobin A1c, for glycosylated hemoglobin, we’re looking at about 4 to 6%, and we really want it to be less than 7%. Greater than 7% is going to be diabetic, is a bit out of control. That’s really the number I want you to know there.

For platelets, we’re going to look about 200,000 to about 400,000 or 450,000, and anything less than 20,000 is really going to be a huge concern, so less than 20,000, you need to be setting off alarms in your head for your patient. That’s really the number I want you to know. Thrombocytopenia is going to be less than 200,000, with a huge concern less than 20,000.

All right. Now, for potassium, potassium you’re going to get a question about potassium. I can just guarantee you that. Potassium’s something that they really like to ask you. It’s going to be 3.5 to 5. The result of low potassium and high potassium is going to be ventricular arrhythmias. Okay. You’re going to get a question about this on your . It’s just definitely guaranteed.

For sodium, 135 to 145.

For our white blood cells, the number I’d like you to know is going to be about 5,000 to 10,000. The question you’re most likely going to get on this is going to be like a leukemic that they’re going to have low WBCs. I don’t think you’re going to get one about elevated white blood cell count, but of course, that indicates infection.

For creatinine, the number I would like you to know is going to be 0.6 to 1.2.

For our PT, PTT, APTT, INR, basically what you’re going to get here is going to be a question about if they’re on Coumadin therapy most likely. For a patient who is on Coumadin, you want their INR to be 2 to 3 for Coumadin. Now, if they’re not on Coumadin, so maybe you’ll get a question about that. You’re going to be 0.8 to 1.2, but most likely your question is going to be on Coumadin. Now, with our PTT, we’re looking at 25 to 35 seconds not on therapy, with it being two times normal on therapy. You might get a question of like you have a patient who’s on Coumadin therapy. They have a PT of 70. What are you going to do? Seventy is about two times greater than 35 seconds, so we’re okay with that. All right. That’s most likely the question you’re going to get on that.

Now, you guys, these are the values you need to know, so watch this video again, subscribe. We won’t get into each of these individually in this video. That’s something for a different time, but these are the values, these are the numbers you need, you have to know for the . Study these numbers, study these values. Again, I’m telling you, they’re not going to give you a hemoglobin of 16 for a female and ask you if that’s normal or not. What they’re going to do is they’re going to say, a hemoglobin of 47 or a hemoglobin of 2, and just make sure that you can recognize what the normal range is. All right, guys. Subscribe to the channel. Thank you so much for checking us out and have a great day.

Date Published - Mar 23, 2015
Date Modified - Jun 17, 2019

Jon Haws RN

Written by Jon Haws RN

Jon Haws RN began his nursing career at a Level I Trauma ICU in DFW working as a code team nurse, charge nurse, and preceptor. Frustrated with the nursing education process, Jon started NRSNG in 2014 with a desire to provide tools and confidence to nursing students around the globe. When he's not busting out content for NRSNG, Jon enjoys spending time with his two kids and wife.

One Comment

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    Hey Jon,
    Most nursing school are now giving standardilized testing, any suggestions on how to prepare for them?