Failed first nursing exam, feeling like I am not meant to be a nurse...

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    Let me give you some background on me; I am 20 and am in my sophomore year of college, just starting my nursing classes. I transferred to the college I am at now after my freshman year because of not getting into the nursing program at the university I was at. It was a bit devastating to me because I had a 3.9 GPA and never had a problem getting into schools before. This nursing school at the university was very small proportionally compared to the rest of the school and was told that a lack of professors caused it to be small. I guess I can attribute my denial to that, but it still hurt me a lot.

    I also lived in an all-freshman dorm and had trouble with, for lack of a better term, bullying at the beginning of the year. I am pretty sensitive and at the time I felt terrible. I already have a very low self-esteem and it was made even lower. As the time went on, though, I started to make friends and started to love my school. This made it really hard for me to leave because I had to pack up and leave a lot of my friends, and it made me feel very alone. But I felt that nursing was what I wanted to do because it combined my interest in the workings of the human body and my wanting to help people.

    I decided to transfer to a college that is known for nursing and got into the program. I had to take prereqs for a semester which I did well at. Now I am actually in two nursing classes along with other core courses. I felt like I was understanding all the information and would ask questions when I didn't. I took my first nursing exam yesterday (in Core Concepts and Skills) and I most definitely failed it. I knew the information, I really did.

    The way the questions were asked really through me off. I study about 3 hours every day for nursing and went into overdrive about two weeks ago for this exam. I also studied N-CLEX questions to prepare me and meet with by professors at office hours. I don't really know what else to do, I would like to see if any of you could give me advice. I feel like I might have test anxiety, which is weird because I never have problems with taking tests.

    I have a real complex with failure, especially after last year when I failed to get into nursing school. We have the policy that you have to get a 76% in the class to pass it and that we can only take one class over one time or we get the boot. I was told that this test was the easiest one, which really distresses me. I have a thought weighing heavily on my mind that I was never meant to be a nurse and that I made a mistake.

    I felt like as I have been learning the information that this might not be the field for me, and failing an exam kind of establishes that fact for me. I really am determined to be a nurse, but I feel like all these signs are trying to tell me that it isn't meant to be. I came into my freshman year as a psychology major before I switched to nursing and feel like I should go back to that, but that is something I could have just done at the university that I was at. I'm just a little messed up right now and feel that I made the wrong choice in what I am doing. I hope that some of you guys kind of know where I am coming from and can give me some advice.

    P.S. I'm real sorry how whinny this post is and its length. I am just panicking.
    Last edit by Joe V on Feb 27, '12 : Reason: spacing
    Joe V likes this.
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  3. 12 Comments so far...

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    No all those signs are testing you to see how strong you are and how much you can handle. You said yourself that you are sensitive.. well being a nurse you have to develop tough skin, because every nurse, doctor, or tech is not so nice. You also can be bullied in nursing. Also you stated that the way the material was worded was different.. that's where the critical thinking comes into play. The questions wont all be straight forward. Please don't throw yourself deeper into the dump. Do not panic, we all fail a test or 2, but this is going to make you determined to pass the next one ! Look for a book called test success and keep doing nclex review questions the more you do the better you become at answering those types of questions. Also did you take a critical thinking class? Search for material on the topic also, it will help you alot.. BIG HUG to you, don't give up keep going !!!
    ♑ Capricorn ♑ likes this.
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    I was a straight A student as well when taking my pre-reqs. Made it into the program and everything totally changed. Nursing exams are very different than any other exam you have ever taken before. I agree with the prior post.....it is alot of critical thinking and that will come with experience. Do alot of questions and definetly use the test success book as mentioned before and I also found the Fundamentals Success 2nd ed. by nugent and vitale helpful. I am in my 2nd semester of nursing. Last semester my avg at the end was a B-. This semester I got a 78 on the first test and the class avg. was a 73. Nursing is not easy, it is hard work....so stick with it. We have peer tutoring at my school....seek out any helpful resources and if you can get involved in a study group.....you will find your groove in what works for you. Don't give up...but I agree with the prior post...you have to develop some tough skin and definetly confidence. Think positive, work hard and achieve your goals
    ♑ Capricorn ♑ and prettymica like this.
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    First thing - relax and take a breath - it's not the end of the world, no?

    People fail tests, I failed a few of them. The first tests in Nursing tend to be rough because you're introduced to NCLEX type questions. As you've said, you've done some questions in preparation for this particular test but I must warn you that some books are better than others - i.e., some books give you easier questions while other books are more difficult. Maybe you should look into a more difficult book - I like this book Amazon.com: Lippincott's Q&A Review for NCLEX-RNŽ (Lippincott's Review for Nclex-Rn) (9781608311255): Diane M. Billings: Books

    If you are doing fundamental-type material (how to take blood pressure, general assessment, positions, etc.) books like fundamental success tends to have more difficult material. I tend to stay away from questions in NCLEX study guides because they tend to be way easier questions than what I get on tests. Also if your school is subscribed to a test bank like ATI - I suggest doing those as well.

    I hope everything works out for you; and don't give up, you can do this, you just need to understand how the questions work. =D
    ♑ Capricorn ♑ likes this.
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    the cognitive skills needed to do straight academic coursework, like the science and math prereqs, are not the same ones you need to think like a nurse. you will retain all those science and math skills -- you'd better-- but nursing requires a whole different way of thinking, of integrating your academic learning and your newly-learned assessment skills into your newly-learned nursing diagnosis framework.

    it really is a specialization, nursing, and not like anything you have studied before, either formally or informally. some people get it easily, some people get it when they work on it and if they have faculty with a gift for explaining things from multiple viewpoints in hopes that one will catch on with each student, and some never get it.

    don't despair. you're just starting out; you don't know how to think like a nurse yet. keep asking questions beginning with "why...?" and read a lot of nursing magazines and rationales for test prep questions, and you'll start to get it.
    Despareux, HouTx, and ♑ Capricorn ♑ like this.
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    dont freak out. im 80 days from graduation and failed my 1st managment test of 3, granted, i should have studied harder..but its not the end of the world

    keep your head up buttercup
  9. 1
    I remember failing my first exam in fundamentals. I studied daily for hours and hours and only got a 76%. I cried and cried. I can't believe I even considered quitting the nursing program over that one score. I figured if I didn't have the basic knowledge at this point, then I was going to be a crappy nurse--if I even made it that far. I was a straight A student during prerequisites and just assumed nursing would be just as easy. Well, I was obviously wrong. I'm getting ready to graduate in three weeks and up until this point, I've rarely made A's on exams. But I do get A's on my papers. Overall, I'm a B to a B+ student. It took me a long time to be okay with my grades. Exam scores are only part of the bigger picture. Your papers and clinical practice will also represent how you're integrating nursing knowledge. I'm glad I stuck it out because not only have I learned a lot about nursing--considering where I started from, but I have learned a lot from my imperfections, for which I am truly grateful.

    So, my point is, you made it into a nursing program, stick it out because you just never know what may in store for you.
    QuarterLife88 likes this.
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    I agree with previous posters please hold on. Nursing tests are worlds apart from pre nursing tests. I failed my first Med Surg granted I should of studied harder. In my last semster I was in the process of failing Med Surg 3. I was totally freaking out because I failed my first test. With the school I went to it's you fail more than one your done. I regrouped and studied my butt off and didn't give up hope. It paid off because I graduated with my degree last December. I am now about to take the NCLEX next Tuesday. Just keep trying don't give up.
    prettymica and Pneumothorax like this.
  11. 0
    Don't give up!! You are just getting started. Identify your weaknesses, ask for help, try harder, and keep on trucking! I think you would rather get through it, and change your mind on your career (if it is a possibility that nursing isn't for you), than give up now and always wonder what could have been. The above posters offered some good advice, take it! Don't beat yourself up! Best wishes to you
  12. 0
    I highly recommend you get Fundamentals Success: A Q&A Review Applying Critical Thinking to Test Taking (Davis's Q&a Success) by Dr Patricia Nugent and Barbara Vitale (Paperback - Sep 22, 2011)

    I also like Test Success by the same author.

    The NCLEX style questions tripped me up in my first nursing course, I had 5 tests and failed the first 3, made B's on the last two. The professor was urging me to drop after the second failed test, I stuck with it and passed the class with a B average by the end of the term only because I got my test average just above the cutoff and had an A on the written class assignment after test scores were above passing. I only found the Fundamentals Success and Test Success books after that class. My second nursing course, I am getting better test grades, 2 A's and a B so far, and I haven't had to stay up all night studying the text books anymore, because I can pop in the disk from my Fundamentals Success book and select the areas I want to study. If I can pass around 75% of the questions on the practice test I feel confident going into my exams since the ones my professors prepare are generally easier. I read the rationales on the questions I miss on the practice exams and review any areas I have a weakness.


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