Failed NCLEX - Kaplan live course versus Kaplan Qbank?

  1. Hey everyone! I graduated with my ASN back in May, and our school had the ATI in our program and as well paid for the HESI review and both said I was above average in passing the NCLEX. Two days ago I finally took my NCLEX ... and I failed surprisingly at 82 questions. I studied EVERY day for the past month and a half or so, doing 100+ questions a day and reviewing rationales/content. I did the Kaplan review book as well as Saunders book & cd questions. I was asked MANY who do you see first q's, as well as immediate interventions. I also received some "select all that apply", 3 pharm, and 4 math questions. I have heard that those type of questions are considered 'higher level' questions and mean your doing good.. apparently not true. Was I doing so poorly that it shut off so fast? I don't understand.

    ANYWAYS, my question is for those who may have taken the NCLEX the second time around--what did you do differently?

    I also was wondering about the Kaplan live course versus only the Qbank. I'm not sure which would be right for me and if possibly only buying the Qbank would be just as good. I already went over the entire Kaplan book alone, so I don't feel like the live course would benefit much because I've read that the course goes over a lot of content basically straight from the book... I have looked up info of this on the site but cannot find any new information pertaining to this exactly.

    Thanks for any replies!!
    Last edit by Joe V on Feb 18, '17
  2. 7 Comments

  3. by   MissHaleyDawn
    Sorry to hear that you didn't pass. I'm not a second time test taker, but I did use Kaplan as my main study tool. I tested today, and got the good pop-up. So, for what it's worth, here's my opinion on Kaplan:

    I took the Kaplan live course as well as utilized the online Kaplan content for my NCLEX preparation. Honestly, I don't know how much stock I would put in for the live courses. In my experience, it was a week-long session/classes. But you don't learn content - that is, the person isn't up there lecturing to you. What we did was sit and answer NCLEX-style questions for about seven hours a day.

    The QBanks and QTrainers, on the other hand, are pretty much gold. The tests are broken down into a comprehensive analysis for you to review once you are done. They are broken down into the major test categories that NCLEX creates the test around (you can look it up on the NCSBN website to see the test plan and it's % breakdown of categories). But the questions go a step farther and sub-categorize the questions just like the NCLEX does. It really helps you key in on your weak areas. By the end of the course, I could see my weak areas improving through my scores on QBank.

    If you go with Kaplan, I would suggest that you look into purchasing Kaplan's "RN Course Book: Preparation for the NCLEX-RN Examination" as well. My book is the 15th edition; it's cover is brown. It's around $20.00 on Amazon; and I've seen one on eBay for $40.00. I don't see many people talking about this book, but it came with my course purchase; my school arranged for the Kaplan purchase, so maybe it was some weird package deal. In any case, I think the book is worth a look. Here's some basic info on it:

    The coursebook is broken down into note-taking, outlined format. There's also space reserved to the side to take your own notes if you're watching the Lessons on the Demand through Kaplan for content, or if you just feel like jotting something down. This book alone is gold to me in terms of Medication and F+E breakdowns! But separate from that, the book is broken down into the testing categories as defined by NCLEX. For example, Physiological Adaptation sections and related sub categories, Health Promotion and Wellness section and related subcategories, Pharmacology...every single category that is defined by the NCLEX test plan is there and nicely organized.

    Good luck to you! Don't give up!! You can, and will, pass the NCLEX!!
    Last edit by MissHaleyDawn on Jun 29, '12 : Reason: Grammar issues
  4. by   kobebryant
    That's a bummer... well... my experience might be different from everyone's but I felt like they just gave you questions that was so random and that I could have never prepared for it. Honestly. I think it comes down to luck sometimes and you can get questions you know, might know or not have a clue at all. Some people get lucky (I think I was one...considering I only studied for 5 days and did scored poorly on kaplan 55-57 and still manage to pass with 75 questions... yeah... IDK how it shut off at 75 too!) But good luck and I attached my cheat sheet on one of my post if that helps you out.
  5. by   yudenisrodriguez
    Thank you for replying! MissHaleydawn: thank you for being so informative about Kaplan and congrats on passing the NCLEX. so would you recommend just buying the qbank and qtrainers along with the Brown Kaplan book instead of the whole course? I have never heard of that brown book you named, but I will definitely look into it.KobeBryant : congrats to you as well for passing! You are very lucky to have only studied for 5 days!! So you would not recommend the whole course? I will look for cheat sheet, thank you!
  6. by   MissHaleyDawn
    You're welcome! I'm not entirely sure how purchasing Kaplan works on an individual basis. My school arranged for the whole schebang - we (my whole graduating class) did the week long live in-person course, and got access to Qbanks, Qtrainers, and Lessons on Demand and Class questions on demand, plus a few other surprises like "sample" NCLEX tests and alternate format tests. If there's some way for you to conoodle the Lessons on Demand into the deal, I'd say go for it if you think you need a refresher on content. Is there a number you could call and ask about what's included? But I'd say yes on the brown book - I mainly used it for Pharm and fluid and electrolytes, but the other content is generally helpful.

    The lessons on demand are very long though but on the same token may not be as detailed as some other review video lessons. I've heard from around the forum that the Hurst review is a great video series for content, but if you bought that and Kaplan...that'd be a pretty penny you'd be spending!

    It really depends on what you think you need overall. Did you have trouble narrowing down answers on the NCLEX? Have trouble figuring out what the question was asking? Kaplan is good at helping you learn to answer questions the way the NCLEX wants. There were a few on my test I had absolutely no idea what it was talking about, but with the test taking strategies beaten into my brain I was able to get down to two answers and then pick the one I thought would be best for keeping the patient alive for that day. Really reviewing the rationals of questions (whether I got it right or not) also greatly helped me in undertanding and jogging my memory of nursing lectures from school. Coupled with taking to heart my consistant weak areas and reading through those sections of the brown book, I'd say it really helped me.

    But I also used other sources to prep too. I know I was weak on sata questions, and Kaplan doesn't really have a lot of those. My access page had an alternate format test and I did pitiful (28%!!). So I went out and bought an Alternate Format question-only book that really got me comfortable with the little demons. I know it's not the most helpful advice, but don't bank your success on one area. Although Kaplan was my main study tool, a week before the exam was when I really went hard going through my Q&A book from Lippincott on subject matter I knew I was weak on, even in school. Although none of what I was worried about came up on my test, I didn't want to leave it up to chance. But what was on my test, I think Kaplan made me comfortable enough in my test taking to answer the questions without freaking out half way through and loose my focus.
  7. by   jlan79
    Quote from kobebryant
    That's a bummer... well... my experience might be different from everyone's but I felt like they just gave you questions that was so random and that I could have never prepared for it. Honestly. I think it comes down to luck sometimes and you can get questions you know, might know or not have a clue at all. Some people get lucky (I think I was one...considering I only studied for 5 days and did scored poorly on kaplan 55-57 and still manage to pass with 75 questions... yeah... IDK how it shut off at 75 too!) But good luck and I attached my cheat sheet on one of my post if that helps you out.
    I kind of agree. I felt like the questions I was getting were so completely random, some obscure or uncommon conditions that I never even studied. I felt like I was making educated guesses on every single question. The only one I was sure of was the one dosage calc I had. When my screen shut off at 75 questions I was sure I failed because I kept alternating between SATA type questions and more basic questions about signs and symptoms of something I've never even heard of (but that I assumed would not be passing level questions). I ended up passing the test and I have no idea how. I feel like I just went with my gut most of the time.

    I used Kaplan exclusively (my school paid for the live course and I did all the qbanks). I honestly barely used anything I learned. I was able to use the decision tree on exactly one question.
  8. by   yudenisrodriguez
    MissHaleydawn: while I was taking the nclex, I actually felt pretty confident and knew almost every topic they asked about. That's why I was shocked when I saw I didn't pass. I guess I'm suppose to walk out feeling like I absolutely failed, to then find out I passed! Lol. I know my weaknesses are SATA questions, so maybe I was getting those wrong and that's where it went downhill.. I'm trying to understand what people say when they say Kaplan breaks the question down so you can understand exactly what it is they are asking--I felt the questions on the NCLEX weren't so different than what I've seen before. Am I wrong? I guess I will look into that alternate format questions book as well. I know Kaplan has a website where you can see their packages but I haven't looked into it yet because I wanted advice first. My school only paid for the HESI live 3 day review and then we had to do a CAT test (that is suppose to mimic tip NCLEX) and it shut off at 60 and said I was 'above average' to pass the NCLEX. So now I'm confused on what to do.. live course or qbank/qtrainers + brown book by Kaplan.. Grr.
  9. by   MissHaleyDawn
    I recognized a lot of what was on my exam, but the answer choices weren't what I wanted to see. Some answer choices had me making a "what the...?" face and I'm sure the test proctor was very amused by my facial expressions. I remember at one point I laughed out loud at how absurd one question was - I was literally at a loss!

    I liked the brown book because personally, I knew I was very weak in pharmacology and shaky on fluid and electrolytes (and according to my Kaplan percentages Basic Care and Comfort). Those were my main chapters that I used, and over time with taking Qbank quizzes, I saw those percentages rise and I started to feel a little more confident. I've always been a horrible test taker.

    Kaplan's whole thing is getting a person in the habit of slowing down and really processing the question and the answer choices. A few questions on my test at first glance I thought it was asking one thing, but after I read it a few times (I got in the habit of reading questions at least three times, then rewording it in two or three words), could see what it really wanted from me. Kaplan pitches their decision tree, which most of the time won't work like how you'd like it to (Kaplan reps pitching the course make it sound like it's an end all and will lead you strait to an answer. In a perfect world, maybe. lol). I didn't really take the Tree to heart; I just used their quiz breakdown results to gauge what I needed to review and went from there.

    If you do go with Kaplan, don't stop with trainer three. I know of people who graduated from my school last year who did so well on the first three that they didn't bother with the rest of the trainers or even the qbank; they failed their exam. What gets people into trouble with that is that trainers 1 and 2 are technically failing level questions - that is, they're the memory recall, evaluation, and interpretation questions (mainly quizzing yourself with your knowledge base). The farther you get into the trainers, the more application and analysis questions are mixed in (these are the passing grade questions you want.). My trainers started off decent, but the further I got in, I could see a downward slope starting to try to form.

    If you're weak on sata, practice sata until you can't stand it anymore. I wish all review courses would start writing more sata practice questions, as it seems like we're moving into a trend of getting more of those tossed out...though I do know of people who have passed with only getting four or five.
    Last edit by MissHaleyDawn on Jul 1, '12