I graduated in a nursing school outside of US. I took a break for about 5 months before scheduling my exam on August.
Books I read:
1) Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RNŽ Examination
At first I was overwhelmed by just looking at it, but somehow I managed to stick to a schedule and finish off several chapters per day. I read each chapter starting off with the systems, and took the test at the end of each chapter. It took me less than a month to finish this.
2) Kaplan NCLEX-RN Strategies, Practice, and Review 2013-2014
I read all the chapters, and did the same: read all chapters, and answered the test questions after every chapter. It took me a week to finish this book.
I also took a review course that went through possible topics that would appear on the NCLEX-RN test. It was somehow helpful, but it was more of a comprehensive review, all of which I can actually read on my own.
So August came by, and the NCLEX-RN exam took me all the way to the LAST question (265 questions), which I didnt really expect. During the test I was being eaten by my time, in a way that I had to skip my second break just to compensate for the time I took with the earlier questions. And yes, it was a whopping 6-hr sit in. After the test, I KNEW I failed. And it was confirmed when I did the Pearson Vue Trick, and when I received the letter via mail.
I took a 2 week break after, and essentially just watched a movie series on Netflix. However on the third week, I got off my ass and contemplated on what I lacked on.
This is how I tackled my 2nd take on the NCLEX-RN:
1) LaCharity Prioritization and Delegation. This book is amazing! I can definitely say that this really helped me, because during my first take I had numerous prioritization questions that I wasnt even familiar with. Especially receiving questions that would give you medication options and would then ask you which if these medications should be administered first. I answered every chapter in this book, and read through all the rationales be it right or wrong. I also typed in notes so that I can look back to a week before my test.
(Note: I answered each chapter making sure I would score an 80% or above, if not I would repeat the test)
2) I took the Saunder's CD, and did a comprehensive review, that would essentially give you a study schedule to follow, I didnt really used that as my schedule, I used it as a way to identify my strengths and weaknesses. Afterwhich I went through each chapter (and yes, AGAIN), but this time, instead of reading the chapter first, I answered the test at the end of each chapter, and if I get a 85% and above I would go on with the next chapter. Anything below 85%, I would read the whole chapter. This is when "Honesty with yourself" kicks in.
Why 85% and above? because I noticed that the Saunder's Q&A were easy, and were nothing like the NCLEX questions. It really just makes up for brushing up on content.
3) Downloaded the free review material that can be found in allnurses.com
The review had good highlights, and mnemonics that actually stuck in mind. I would recommend it. I read this twice.
4) Two weeks before my exam schedule, I purely did questions less reading. I made it very sure to do practice questions, so I can brush up on with my test taking skills. Some people recommend doing 265 questions a day, but what I did was just 50 questions upon waking up, and 50 questions before going to bed. That included reading all the rationales (be it right or wrong). Here, any book would do. I used the Exam Cram Q&A online, but I've noticed that there were errors in it; but what the hell. It's better than nothing! I was on a really tight budget.
On the day of the exam, I made sure I packed with me snacks, an energy drink, several acetaminophen, and Claritin (have bad allergies). Oh, and I made sure I took my morning dump!
I made certain that I would be finished with about more than 100 questions in the first 2 hours (remember I had trouble with time during my first take), but 15 minutes before 2 hours, my test stopped at 75 questions. Did the PVT trick and, been receiving good pop up ever since.
My point is:
1) Doing practice questions is much more effective.
2) A course review cannot guarantee that you'll pass.
3) Be honest with yourself when you review.
4) Know your strengths and weaknesses, and start off reviewing base on what you're weak on.
5) Create a schedule that's right for YOU.
6) The QUALITY of how you study is a PRIORITY, compared to the amount of time you put in it, because even though you studied for about 8 hours straight, and all you did in between studying was surf the net, text-msg friends, watch TV, or perhaps did other **** you shouldnt actually be doing when studying... it's more like a waste of time. It would be more productive if you just sacrificed 3-4 hours straight and FOCUSED on studying.
7) And "quality of quantity" AGAIN for doing practice questions.
Study at a pace youre comfortable with, and you'll be fine. Think in the moment of what you have to get done, and well... GET IT DONE!
And another thing, when you are taking your test, DONT and I mean NEVER expect your exam to end at 75 questions, because if you do, you'll just feel like you've failed and wont try as hard as you did with the following questions.