I wanted to share my story in hopes of helping some of you in your journey of passing the NCLEX. A little background, I graduated from one of the top 25 nursing schools and had a job lined up in an ICU at one of the top hospitals in the nation. I was motivated throughout nursing school because I had always wanted to be an RN. I have always been a poor test-taker, primarily because of anxiety. I have a bad track recorder of panicking mid-exam and rushing through, not really comprehending any of the questions. This has been a struggle for me throughout school, especially in standardized exams such as the SAT, TEAS, NCLEX..
I graduated in May 2013 and took the Kaplan prep course. I scored average on all of the question trainers and completed a large amount of qbank questions. I didn't review much content, as I had heard the best thing to do is practice, practice, practice. While studying, I worked 30 hours a week at a job. I did around 150 questions per day and read each rationale. I took the exam mid-June. As soon as I entered the exam, I began to panic. I wanted to get out as soon as possible. It took me 38 minutes to get to 75 and it shut off. I immediately knew that I had failed and there was no one to blame but myself. The entire experience was a complete blur and I couldn't remember a single question. Sure enough, two days later I found out that I had failed at 75 questions. In other words, I didn't even get close to passing...I BOMBED it.
After a couple of days of moping and feeling sorry for myself, I got up and made a study plan. This time I went through my weak areas and reviewed content on that. For content review, I listened to lessons on demand from Kaplan and read through areas in the review book. I borrowed three books from a professor from my school:
-Lippincott's Q&A review for NCLEX-RN
-Prioritization, Delegation, and Assignment: Practice Exercises for the NCLEX.
-Lippincott's NCLEX-RN Alternate-format Questions
The Q&A book was great for practicing how to answer questions and they had comprehensive tests in the back in which you could answer. I fully completed the Prioritization book before taking the NCLEX for the second time and it was amazing. I did a majority of the alternate-format questions and found that super helpful. In addition, I completed more Kaplan qbank questions. By the time the second NCLEX came around, I had answered around 2,500 questions and reviewed content.
I stopped studying two days before taking the NCLEX for the second time. The day before, I just reviewed lab values. I took my exam in the afternoon, so I got up early, went for a long walk and ate breakfast at my favorite spot. When I got to the facility, I was completely different from the first time. I was relaxed and calm. I knew what the expect and I was ready. After 5 hours and 40 minutes, the exam shut off at 265 questions (the maximum amount). I was so calm throughout the exam and took breaks when I needed them. Around question 230, I felt my brain getting tired. I took a break, washed my face in the bathroom, jumped up and down and sang the Rocky theme song like a crazy person. It was a way for me to loosen up and refresh. I went back into the exam and finished it all. I would say that around half of my questions were alternate-format. When it finally shut off, I felt really great. I knew that I had stayed calm, really read each question, and did my very best. The next morning, my RN number was posted on the state website.
My unit director was aware of my entire situation and I called her after passing. My offer was contingent on receiving my RN certification. I will begin my residency program on Monday.
I wrote all of this in hopes of people believing that they can conquer the NCLEX! My advice is:
1. Believe in yourself! You have the training and you can do this! A professor in school told us to write on our mirror: I WILL PASS THE NCLEX.
2. Study weak areas, review content, and practice questions.
3. Take time off from studying occasionally. The second time around, I allowed myself to do something fun once a week (baseball game, get nails done, etc)
4. If it is possible, don't work when studying for the NCLEX. It increased my stress level because I felt like I was juggling too much.
5. Do something relaxing before the exam. Whatever relaxes you. Get a good night of rest and eat a healthy breakfast.
6. Go in confident and knowing you have prepared the best that you can.
7. Take breaks during the exam if you start to panic or get tired. Eat some nuts or jump up and down in the bathroom singing Rocky. Whatever works for you
8. Never EVER say you can't do it!
Good luck to you all. If I can help in any way, feel free to comment or message me and I will do my best to help.
Just keep the end goal in mind (Name, RN). You can do it!