I've been around this website since I started studying for my NCLEX and it was helped me get past the anxiety/stress/fear of studying and taking the NCLEX.
First off, let me give some background info on myself, I graduated in December '12 from a NYC school and as a class we sent in our application to the state board first week of January. It took NYS 6 weeks to get back to me and send me my ATT! I didn't get it until 2/16. My heart sank and was excited simultaneously, I couldn't believe that I had authorization to finally test but at the same time I immediately thought: "OMG I AM SO NOT READY!!"
Because I really felt like I wasn't, I had only started studying in mid January and felt completely unprepared to schedule my test but I knew I had to schedule it. Since I had gotten it so late, the earliest time I could schedule it for was March 6. I marked it in every calendar I own and told myself that it was serious crunch time. That being said, I had been preparing for this exam for a long time.
My school offered the Kaplan course for us for free and everyone who graduated took it. Ok so the class itself? Not really that helpful, she showed us a few tricks not to fall for (ex: answers with "always" or "never" are usually the wrong answer) but mostly we just answered questions,however the Kaplan Nursing website? Incredible!!! The Kaplan Q trainers and the Q bank really, really helped me! Some of the questions were hard and even some of their rationales I thought were the dumbest answer but I took it in and learned from my mistakes. Another important thing that I did was I read ALL THE RATIONALES, not just the ones I got wrong but every rationale of every question because I found there were some information that I didn't know and that had the question not been worded in a different way I might have gotten it wrong.
I also used Saunders both the Exam Review and the Q&A book, these were VERY IMPORTANT! The review has the most important stuff you need to know about the nursing content, a lot of it should be familiar but it mostly tells you what the most important stuff you need to know to not kill your patient (and that's what the NCLEX is testing, can you provide safe care and not kill your patient?), if it wasn't in Saunders then I probably didn't need to know it. The Q&A book is good because it provides just thousands of questions from the understanding level all the way to the analyzing level (most passing questions are applying and/or analyzing level) and that's what you need to work on the most, also use the provided online exams that Saunders offers, they are soooo helpful!
I only used those 3 sources, I know students who used 5 or 6 but I stuck with just those three. When you compare Saunders and Kaplan, they might seem like night and day with Kaplan being very hard and Saunders being easy and I think there's a reason for that. I think Saunders is preparing you in case you need to sit for 265 questions while I think Kaplan is trying to push for passing in 75 by making all their questions application/analysis. But you need both! Just in case you get past 75 and the screen didn't turn blue, Saunders and Kaplan prepare you for the long run.
So every morning, I woke up, grabbed some coffee and immediately got down to questions. I did approx 125-225 questions and reviewed notes/rationales for 6 hours/day and honestly I think that's the key to passing, you have to do hundreds of questions a day, you have to prepare yourself and get into the mindset of answering a lot of questions every day. Before my NCLEX, I did over 3000 questions and honestly, that prepared me the best.
Flash forward to right before my exam, I'm not eating and having panic attacks ever hour, I felt like I didn't know enough and that I just wasn't ready. I was pretty sure that I probably wasn't going to pass.
I barely got any sleep the night before, I shoved some Greek yogurt in my mouth minutes before the exam began, praying I wouldn't puke it up during the test. I had been crying and freaking out for days before and I knew that was not the way I wanted to take the exam. After all the official scanning and locking up of phones and bags, we were lead to the room of computers and that's when I took a really deep slow breath, prayed to God and told myself "if I fail then I just pick myself up from the floor and try again". I then began the exam, first question was OB and pretty easy, next question SATA, next one SATA. I got about 15-20 SATA, barely any priority, one math, and a ton of drugs!! Drugs that I had never heard of, I mean I didn't even know how to pronounce some of them!
I was only sure about maybe 5 questions, that's it, 5. Everything else was "This answer makes the most sense but I'm not sure". Another thing about me, I'm a fast test taker, I either know the answer or I don't, simple as that, if I try to read the question and all the answers too much then I cross into the "What if..." world and that's the danger zone!! Don't go there! Read the question as it is, do not read too much into it. Everything you need to know is in the question itself, you need to choose the answer that makes most sense for THAT SPECIFIC QUESTION!
When I got to question 75, SATA of course, I told myself that there's no way that its going to end now, I still had a lot to prove and 75 isn't nearly enough. But nope, I clicked 'Next' and got the blue screen. My first thought was "Omg, I failed, there's no way I passed with those questions, they only gave me 75!"
I walked out of there crying and feeling so defeated, years of work just to fail and have to take it again in 45 days. The exam was all just a blur, I immediately thought that I finished the exam way too soon and I definitely didn't read the questions well enough or think it through enough.
12 hrs later, my fiancÚ checks the PVT for me and got the good pop up (the old one, not the new one) I was in shock but still not wanting to believe that, it's only a trick and not official. Come this morning, I paid the $7.95 and finally saw the amazing news, "Status: Pass"
So the trick worked for me, but mostly, I went into the exam feeling totally unsure and not confident and yet I passed. So for anyone out there wondering if others felt prepared going into the exam, I didn't but you have to use your nursing knowledge! You know it, you just can't let the anxiety destroy you! Good luck to ALL March test takers!! And sorry for the long post...