Goodmorning all! I decided to join allnurses.com because I told myself I would after I finally pass my NCLEX. I've spent hours upon hours on this website and it was very helpful to me, so I thought I'd give back and help others out who need it too! BEWAREEE
- this is a super long post! It's okay if you scan and get to the parts you need
SO, first things first. I failed the 1st time I took it on July 16, 2013. My preparations from graduation in May until that day, seemed efficient enough for me? And knowing me.. my study habits ever since I started college were on point. I was the type to always be at the library, can't hang out because I was at the library, can't do anything because I need to study 2 weeks prior to a nursing exam. I was THAT person. Studying for the NCLEX this first time around was difficult for me. It's not the same as studying for a regular nursing exam. I don't have all the information laid out to me and it is not based on knowledge, or what the professor says is on the test. I had a very hard time adjusting (perhaps I took my NCLEX too soon). I took a Kaplan course right after graduation because it was provided for us. To me, it was a little overwhelming.. we went over a lot of questions for 4 days (9a-4p) - we also went over different strategies. I mean, the information was laid out to me but I guess I never absorbed it. I "studied" everyday until 2 days before my exam. By studied, I studied on my bed, too lazy to get up and study downstairs or go to the library. I had books laid out, papers ready for notetaking. I did a lot of work, now that I think of it. I made a binder specifically for the NCLEX, all with papers separated by topics, colored tabs, etc. I even printed out grids for me to plot on when I get my scores from QTs, QBanks and practice tests. You can clearly see that my scores were all over the place and lower than it should be. Now that I look back on it, my mindset for this first exam just wasn't there. I studied, yes. I spent hours looking at notes, going over content, yes. I went out more than I should, yes. Did I retain what I studied? Probably not - I would "go over" my rationales but I never understood why it was wrong, or where I went wrong.. which I think was a HUGE
factor. I can truly say that I took advantage of it and didn't apply it to myself.
How was it taking the exam the first time?
Nerve wrecking. I couldn't seem to get myself together. I got to the testing center fairly early and tried to breathe. I couldn't sleep the night before and my bowels were super hyperactive that morning. I tried to have lunch but couldn't eat. I'm usually not one to have super anxiety like this which was very odd to me. As soon as I got into the testing center, I was helped with 2 very nice ladies who helped ease my tension a bit. As soon as I hit the chair, my heart was ready to pop out of my mouth. Even though the first part is the tutorial, I couldn't even relax myself enough. Every single emotion I had, every thought, every feeling.. was spewing and I couldn't even hear myself think. My heart was bounding every single second of that test. Naturally, I failed at 75 questions. I was so pre-occupied with trying to calm myself down and trying to tell myself "get these questions right so you can get higher level questions." I was talking to myself more than I was trying to analyze the questions. Don't do that!!! It psychs you out and you're just setting yourself up to fail!!! Every question I came across, I kept thinking, "omg okay. this is a really easy question. you're doing really bad. it's a knowledge type question. crap! I don't even know the answer to this. I'm doing horrible.", and when I came across a harder question, "omg. no. I really don't know this. is it that? ah, I don't know. select all that apply?! I'm doing good. maybe I'm doing better than I thought." -- when I tell you that was going through my head for every question, I am notttt exaggerating at all. It was horrible. As soon as my computer shut off at 75 questions (about 2 hours, I didn't even get the 2 hour break yet) I just sat there in pure disbelief. I started grieving as soon as I hit the chair to take my exam, which is a big no no.
The grieving process.
As soon as I got home, I knew. I decided to do the PVT trick. It went straight to the credit card page. My life was like a dramatic movie at that point, I fell to my bedroom's floor and started crying. I cried a lot and I cried hard. My parents weren't very fond about the news I had to tell them either (they expected me to pass the 1st time, naturally). It was horrible, having my parents nag me every time and tell me I'm a failure. After a few days of rolling around in my bed, being depressed, and crying all day, I actually went on vacation with my cousins. I went down to Myrtle Beach for a week which was really helpful. It helped me get away from my troubles and relax. As soon as I got back, I was full of energy and more than ready and motivated to start again. I registered again for a date in September (damn the 45 day rule). Thankfully, I have a really great group of friends and my loving boyfriend to get me through it. I think I would've still been in a ditch crying myself to sleep if it wasn't for them. To those who are in a grieving process right now, it's okay to cry, cry as hard as you want but tell yourself you will never cry like this again.. that you will never feel this way again after you finish.
Leading up to the 2nd test.
I approached studying a lot more differently. I went to the library every single day. I would spend 5-6 hours straight working specifically on content, and the rest of the day I would practice content questions and see how much I retained. Instead of scanning the information, I googled everything I didn't know and understood why it was that way. My QTs have dramatically increased. Now, you might think, "she did the QTs already, of course they'd be higher.".. wrong! I hardly remembered any of those questions, not like I retained them the first time anyway. My approach with the questions were definitely more higher level thinking and involved a lot more critical thinking. I would always ask myself:
- is this safe?
- if I do this, will the patient be stable? if I don't do this, will it make my patient unstable?
- was an assessment done before this?
- if I do this, I would be able to leave the room safely (of course not in real life! but it helps with critical thinking)
- what is this question really asking me?
After reviewing content for 2-3 weeks, I banged out questions. I banged out so many questions my head was going to explode with how much reading I've actually done. I've noticed a real big difference on how I approached it this time as opposed to the first time. I tried to sit down and actually read the questions carefully, even 3 to 4 times. I shortened the questions down to see what the question is really asking. I'm telling you, it really helped. I made many flash cards for things that I SHOULD probably know such as: developmental milestones, popular medications (method of action, side effects), terminology, certain procedures I didn't know, medications based on their class. My boyfriend also bought me Mosby's RN Entertainment game.. which I played with 2 friends for 2 days. It has a lot of questions based on different categories and it's very helpful. ANywho, I would study for hours at a time, go home to eat lunch and dinner, also run for 30 minutes (it's nice to do other things too!) I went to church every single morning before going to the library, and I just asked for guidance and strength during this testimonial time in my life!!!
Taking the test 2nd time around.
September 17th, 2013... I took it at 8am as opposed to the 2pm schedule I had last time. I'm more of a morning person, so you should book a time for whenever you're at your most energetic! My nerves took awhile to be managed this time but definitely felt less anxious. I told myself, I did to treat each question like my life was on the line. I finished the test in 180 questions (I think.... it was the last # I saw before my screen just turned black!) within almost 5 hours. So you can see, it took me a long time.. I would've been screwed if I went all the way to 265 with only an hour left! I had a lot of SATAs, put in order, diagrams and a lotttttttttt alot alot of priority questions.. I felt like I was just taking a Kaplan test all over again! I felt like I knew my information better and my approach for answering the questions was exactly how I practiced it. My confidence level was boosted from the 1st time I took it. CONFIDENCE IS KEY! So for those who got up to this part of my post, STAY CONFIDENT AND TRY TO STAY CALM! There were times where I had to get up because my nerves were acting up... and that's totally okay! Rather that than trying to answer questions when you're not concentrating. I took a total of 3 breaks in 180 questions. As soon as the computer turned off, my heart sunk. I said, "oh no..... please.. not again.." I left the testing center and went straight to my boyfriend's house to cry!!!!! I also didn't tell ANYONE that I was taking my test that day. We went to church to pray.. of course I started balling my eyes out.. little did I know that my boyfriend was checking Pearson Vue for me while I was in church!!!!!!!!!!!!! A few minutes later, he showed me his phone and I got the "good popup"... I was in denial. I asked him if it said "delivery success", if he even logged into my username, if he typed in all the right info. Right then and there I started crying even harder and he started crying too!!!!!
I haven't told my parents yet, I was thinking of a cool way to tell them... possibly waiting for the letter to come in and just showing them. I also don't want to pay those blasted $8 for the quick results. Spent too much money in nursing school and taking it twice, spending a total of $600). They are not getting $8 out of me! Tomorrow I will know from the quick results but!!! seems like PVT trick works for everyone who gets the "good popup"!!!!!!
I know this was a super long post so I thank anyone who actually read the entire thing!!!!! I know a missed a bunch of important points, if I remember I'll just continue the thread!!
Resources I used to study:
- Kaplan's purple book (given
- Kaplan's green book
- Kaplan Online (where I used it for Qbanks, QTs, Focused Reviews, sample tests, etc)
- NCSBN's 5 Week Learning Ext (more of a guide to study, better for content - the questions they give are really different and weird.. actually)
- NCLEX 3500 (easily accessible online)
- RNentertainment (cute boardgame! although it has a lot of questions, not really great to study by yourself if you're trying to test your knowledge.. it has the questions right on the card!)
- Kaplan's NCLEX RN Strategies, Practice, and Review
QTs before 1st Exam:
QT #1 53%
QT #2 60%
QT #3 48%
QT #4 51%
QT #5 53%
QT #6 57%
QT #7 50%
QTs before 2nd Exam:
QT #1 64%
QT #2 70%
QT #3 64%
QT #4 64%
QT #5 66%
QT #6 65%
QT #7 63%
YAY ME!! Goodluck to anyone who's about to take the NCLEX for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th time!!!!!!! Goodluck to anyone who's not doing the PVT trick and waiting on that wonderful letter!!!!!!! Keep believing in yourself! YOU PASSED NURSING SCHOOL. You can do it!!!!!!!!