Iíve been dreaming of this moment, where I can join the others who have inspired us by announcing their NCLEX success and RN status. I passed 3 days ago with 75 questions in about an hour. Here are my suggestions, particularly for those of you who, like me, are working parents. I entered the testing center feeling like a soldier going into battle fully armed with the latest and greatest. Believe me, this is a feeling that anyone can attain but it will take time, dedication and support.
1. Start studying early so you donít have to cram. Cramming is not advisable for a test of this magnitude and design. I started studying about 4 months prior to NCLEX. In part, this was obligatory because my school had us taking several HESIís Ė 3 specialty and 2 exits. I studied about 3 hours/day minimum 5 days a week. I focused on content and did roughly 50-100 questions a day. Weekends were work and family time, no studying.
2. Hurst Review online. I liked aspects of Kaplan but ultimately preferred Hurst because it is so content driven. Within the first 3 minutes, I thought "This is too simple. I've wasted $300". But NO. The series builds on itself and teaches you in a way that is deceptively simple. Hurstís presentation is so much more enjoyable -even fun! I heard their charming Southern accents in my head during the exam! All the Kaplan Q trainers are available online (slideshare.com) and strategies are available online or in their book, which I did use to study from. I highly recommend you do at least half the Q trainers to get an idea of what youíre in for. Back to Hurst- I watched each video at least two times, filled out all the accompanying notes, and made flash cards from them. Hurst was essential for me. Memorization: You will have to know lab values, of course, and stages of development, drug categories and functions etc. etc. You know this already. I printed out the Hurst study pages, put them in plastic protectors and taped them all over my bathroom, swapping them out every week or so. They were in my shower stall, on mirrors, in front of the toilet at eye level, etc. As far as conditions, I was briefly tempted to use mnemonics but in retrospect believe this wouldíve indeed been a poor strategy, at least for me. If you know content forward and back and understand the patho-phys, it doesnít matter how obfuscated the NCLEX test questions are because you know the content from its basis, not from rote memorization. NCLEX questions are presented as curveballs that require a bit of word-smithing. Mnemonics may leave you empty-handed when presented with this style of question and give you a false sense of confidence in your knowledge base. Choose deeper understanding over mnemonics for disease processes and characteristics. This is where Hurst was indispensable.
3. APPS* are absolutely essential if you are a busy person. I DLíd the free ones by Lippincott and Kaplan Q bank and exhausted them. Then I purchased NCLEX Mastery, worth every penny of the $24.99. Every morning before getting out of bed, I did Qís on my phone, and every time I had to stand in line or had 5 minutes to dedicate. Absolutely brilliant app, NCLEX Mastery. So many cool features.
4. PDA by LaCharity. I had a great deal of priority questions and ordered tasks in my exam. In truth, I think the PDA questions are harder than NCLEX, so this is like batting with weights on, or practicing acoustic guitar and then switching to electric. Donít even think about skipping this book. Do every chapter and then take notes on why you missed each question. Review these notes a few days before your test date, if not earlier.
5. AUDIOBOOKS! This was a new concept to me and honestly, it was so hard for me to study this way at first that I nearly gave up. Now Iím hooked. I listened while hiking, biking, driving to class, taking public transpo. I got every audiobook from Prentice Hall Reviews and Rationales and cannot recommend this series highly enough. These books were key in leading me to success on all my HESI's and the NCLEX.
I actually enjoyed preparing for the NCLEX. I felt a lot of what I'd previously been scrambling to learn for exams was now synthesizing and making sense - very satisfying and confidence building. As a parent, I found it essential to spend the night in a hotel before the big day. This made a big difference in my ability to sleep, relax and adjust my focus. Sure, it's an added expense, but this is a (hopefully) one-time event and you need to do what it takes to set yourself up for success. I'd wish you good luck, but luck has little, if anything, to do with it. I wish you all the success you've earned by working hard, keeping your head on your shoulders, and your eyes on the prize.