How I passed the NCLEX-RN (AKA the BEAST)

  1. Hello Nursing World

    Before I begin to tell you how I passed the exam, let me give you a brief description of the kind of student I am... During nursing school I always did good in AnP, math, chemistry, sociology, intro to psych, etc... My weak subjects were English and Nursing. I absolutely HATE wordy details with a passion! Too many words confuse me, lol. I like facts, numbers and just getting to the point so you can imagine how excruciating it was for me getting through those nursing classes, in fact, I must confess I failed my very first nursing class (med-surg). Which in turn nearly "paralyzed" my mental state on every nursing exam following that. This was the first time failing anything in my entire life. I even questioned myself on whether or not I should be pursuing this field at all but luckily through hard work, determination and perseverance I graduated from the program with a 3.5 GPA.

    So now that you have an idea of the type of "learner" I am, let's get down with the nitty gritty!

    1. Content: Start big and work your way down to smaller details. Example: Familiarize yourself with the all systems (you already have this knowledge from school), what is the purpose of each system? Then categorize disorders in their appropriate systems; Then sub-categorize those disorders of a particular system into deficiency vs excess and so forth. The point of this is to get yourself FAMILIARIZED with the disorders and ORGANIZE THE CONTENT in your head to help you better understand. This process took me about 2 week easy, no stress just categorizing and looking at it from a boarder perspective. I only did the disorders from med-surg class syllabus by the way.

    2. Practiced 50-150 questions everyday and review the rationale, no matter how I felt.

    3. Learned the Kaplan & Saunders strategies by heart. (Prioritization, assessment vs implementation, nursing process, ABC's, maslow...etc) In my opinion, knowing this is 100 times more important then the content for the nclex exam.

    4. Only used 3 sources; one for content, the other two for questions. (Saunders comprehensive review, Kaplan Qbank & LaCharity)

    5. Came to this site periodically for encouragement, motivation and support.

    6. Don't worry about time or percentages on practice exams (ideally you want to improve but don't focus on it) WORRY ABOUT UNDERSTANDING!

    7. Exercised 3-5 times a week, no matter how I felt. (consist of 30-45mins cardio with light weight lifting... if you over exert yourself you will feel sleepy afterward... the point of exercise is to get moving, circulate oxygen to the brain and work out your anxiety not for a bodybuilder's competition nor for the next Jenny Craig commercial- keep it simple)

    8. Eat whatever you want but just cut out the overly sugary and salty stuff and drink a lot of water!!! (This will help you stay focus-you dont just want to stare at a book or question, you want to be able to UNDERSTAND!!!)

    9. BREATHE! I know this is a stressful process but try to relax. Take deep breathe every once in a while. If you don't pass on your first try it is not the end of the world. Priority is for you to stay healthy, not pass an exam!

    10. Pray, meditate, keep faith, etc... Whatever you do to keep yourself optimistic, do it!!!

    11. Day before exam I did absolutely NOTHING. NO studying, NO looking for last minute memorization. I watched 2 movies, did my hair and nails, hung out with my family. I pretended as though I didn't have a test the next day. This allowed me to be calm. Only thing I did for the exam was take out all the necessary documentation and put it in my purse and prepared what I was going to wear for the day.

    12. Day of the exam, I woke up 45min earlier than I normally would have because I didnt want to rush or anything. Bought trail mix snacks, fruits and water.

    13. During the exam, I remained calm... took deep breathes, did a few isometric exercises with the palms of my hands to promote circulation to the brain, took one break where I ate some trail mix to re-boost myself, read each question carefully before answering, reworded the question to see if I understood the question, jotted down things i remembered in the note pad as they came to mind, if I absolutely had no clue about the correct answer I would always choose the one that caused the least harm to the patient for implementation and ABC for priority.

    And the rest is HISTORY!!!! My comp shut off at 82. I got a lot of priority, SATA, infection, and psych. NO peds or maternity and 2 math questions!

    *After passing the exam, help others pass by sharing what you did.

    Good luck to everyone who is getting ready to take the boards, my best wishes and happy thoughts are with you! You can do it! And you will do it!

    Last edit by Awww_ItsMyNurse on Apr 28, '11
  2. Visit Awww_ItsMyNurse profile page

    About Awww_ItsMyNurse, BSN, RN

    Joined: Feb '11; Posts: 75; Likes: 31
    G.I./Endoscopy Nursing; from US
    Specialty: 4 year(s) of experience in Ambulatory Care


  3. by   lilmith
    CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!! Thanks for sharing and all the best in your career.
  4. by   boisern84
    Congrats! You make it sound so simple
  5. by   tildor
    Could you please elaborate more on your #3 strategie? I want to make sure I know this.....
  6. by   Awww_ItsMyNurse
    boisern84- Thank you! -I actually think people make it sound hard, if you ask me.

    Tildor - Which review book are you using?
  7. by   tildor
    Ms. new nurse (thatsmynurse)
    Could you please email me...
  8. by   healthcarestudent
    Congrats.... I am glad u made it... thanks for sharing your tips
  9. by   Aspiringnurse_1111
  10. by   vpoonia
    My pet peeve - take a 50-100 question test approximately 1.5 hours before you are to leave for the testing center. It will get your brain to get in the testing mode and start oozing all that material, and by the time you get to taking the test, the information is flowing freely - and then look at the question on the screen and tell that NCLEX lady - "is that all you got?". All kidding aside, it works to keep the confidence up and not get flustered.

    Also --- very important---take a 5 minute break when you feel information overload. And also, dont dwell over the questions you got previously because you can't do anything about it now.
  11. by   tildor
    Itsmynurse and everyone else here,

    I have another question ... Would your see a pt with emphysema c/o breathing problems or a pt with c/o that suggest ecyopic pregnancy first????????
  12. by   Awww_ItsMyNurse
    I would see the patient with emphysema first. Rationale: Breathing is priority.
  13. by   tildor
    Thats what I thought............. Do you have any suggestions on how to approach priority questions.. Like who would you see FIRST???? I am terrible at these...
  14. by   Awww_ItsMyNurse
    On every priority question that you get ask yourself if the patient fits into any of the following:

    I. ABC's
    1. Airway
    2. Breathing
    3. Circulation

    II. Maslow's hierarchy of needs (physiological needs before psychological)
    1. Physiological or survival needs
    2. Security needs (safety-protection from harm)
    3. Belonging needs
    4. Esteem needs
    5. Self-actualization

    III. OREM theory of Nursing (AWFERSH)
    1. Air (O2, H2o, temperature)
    2. Water (dehydration, fluid volume excess
    3. Food (malnutrition, feeding concerns)
    4. Elimination (bowel & bladder problems, know expect I&O's of patient)
    5. Rest (sleep, comfort, pain)
    6. Socialization (right balance of solitude and social interactions)
    7. Hazards (safety must be provided)

    IV. Assessment vs Implementation
    1. Assessment - Do I have all the information I need? If not, assess FIRST!
    2. Implementation - Is the patient in a critical state or needs immediate care? If so, implement right away!

    V. Determine whether the question is asking for you to pick the EXPECTED or UNEXPECTED outcome.
    1. Expected - is this suppose to happen to the patient? (i.e., side effect of med, disease process, lab values)
    2. Unexpected - this is not suppose to happen. (adverse reaction, deterioration, etc)

    VI. Triage
    1. chest wounds, airway obstruction, facial or chest burns, shock, pneumothorax, hemorrhage, etc
    a. pt may exhibit anxiety, apprehension, restlessness, confusion, change in LOC... some early signs of hypoxia & ICP
    2. abdominal wounds w/o hemorrhage, GI and CNS injuries, etc
    3. fractures, burns, lacerations, etc
    4. usually people that cant be saved, absent pulses, absent bp, fixed and dilated pupils.

    Hence, "1,2,3" is for who you would see first in that category.
    Hope this helps!
    Last edit by Awww_ItsMyNurse on Apr 29, '11