My prep time and methods differ from the norm because I graduated 18 years ago.
Initially took the NCLEX RN in June 2010 and did not pass. I attended Hurst & Kaplan live, used NCLEX 10,000 PrepU, Exam Cram, Saunders and many others. I held a job in the financial industry at that time and didn't have much time to really study.
Fast forward to 2012. Started studying in July, went on 3-week vacation in September and did not study again until 1st week in October. Took exam in Dec and passed with 88 questions. Total focused study time 4 1/2 months.
I was DETERMINED to pass this exam no matter what. The mountain of resource books I currently had did not seem to fit my learning style. So I went out and searched for the "right" book that best fit my learning needs. I browsed through a number of books at B&N. I looked at the formatting (2 columns to a page was not for me, recycled paper ehhh not for me either), and finally settled on Mary Ann Hogan Pearson Reviews & Rationales: Comprehensive Review for NCLEX-RN, (013262107X), MaryAnn Hogan, Textbooks - Barnes & Noble
With this book, my old brain was constantly challenged. This book also gave me a 1-year online access to an online version of the same book and tons of online questions. I took the online pre-diagnostic test, which then generated a study schedule. I followed the study schedule rigidly. And yes, there were times I was ready to give up especially when it came to the endocrine system. It took me 2 weeks to fully understand and comprehend...hypo, hyper, inverse relationships, blah, blah, blah. I wrote down concepts on easel paper and had these hanging all over my dining and living room walls.
Before moving on to the next system listed on my study schedule, I made sure I was consistently attaining 75% or better on each system test, if not, I'd go back and read, take another test, and another, and another. NCLEX 4000 was my best friend in study mode. If a system had 400 questions total, I made sure to answer 50% of the questions. If the max was less than 200 questions, I'd answer all 200.
I also utilized PrepU NCLEX 10000. To me this was quite challenging because I had to work in getting consistently correct answers to attain level 8 (harder level questions). This platform is very similar to NCLEX 4000. However, with NCLEX 10000, each test is saved and I can go back to review.
With NCLEX 4000 and NCLEX 10000, I tested by system and categories. No matter how exhausted I was...I kept on answering questions, understanding rationales, made sure I understood WHY I was choosing the incorrect answers.
PDA by LaCharity is a great resource. Definitely NCLEX style questions. After reading each chapter in Hogan's book, I would also use PDA to answer questions. Two weeks before my scheduled exam, BARNES & NOBLE | Kaplan NCLEX-RN 2012-2013 Strategies, Practice, and Review WITH CD-ROM by Kaplan | Paperback
, this book made it all come together for me. Read this cover to cover...no skipping pages or concepts (even though I knew some stuff, I still read through it). Answered every single question and researched what I didn't understand.
5 days before my exam, I was super anxious. Felt like I knew nothing. As I answered practice questions, it seemed as if I was getting more wrong. I had to calm myself down, told myself that being nervous only increases the negativity within me. I prayed for guidance, strenght, wisdom and endurance.
The day before my exam, I went to the mall, ate ice cream, window shopped, and bought a pair of boots. That evening, I read through my notebook full of handwritten notes, study guide NOT endorsed by AN, etc.
My exam was at 2pm. I had breakfast at Denny's with my handy dandy notebook and study guide NOT endorsed by AN. Ordered my fave breakfast and diet soda plus coffee.
THings to remember before taking exam:
1.) DO NOT second guess yourself. If you studied diligently, prepared well while in school, this exam is a walk in the park for you.
2.) STAY POSITIVE!!! I cannot stress how important this is. Don't let test anxiety get to you. If you feel it coming, take a deep breath, count to 10, pray, think happy thoughts, do whatever it takes to alleviate your anxiety. If you allow anxiety to take over, you will end up answering questions hurriedly and incorrectly.
3.) STAY FOCUSED - read question thoroughly before reading answer choices. Understand what the question is asking. The NCLEX will throw in hypoglycemia when the core of the question refers to cardiac problems (example only). Do not read too much into the question and DO NOT READ ahead of the question.
4.) Eliminate 2 incorrect answer choices as much as possible. Take the time to prioritize using Maslow, ABC's, Acute vs. Chronic, etc.
5.) Take your time. There is no extra point for completing the exam in an hour or two or three.
6.) DO NOT listen to negative talk. Keep distractions to a minimum (Facebook, surfing the web, instagram, etc). You'll have plenty of time for distrations after passing the NCLEX.
7.) Take the exam with the mentality that you're there for the 265 question duration so you won't be disappointed if the questions keep coming after 75.
Sorry for the novel of a post. Good luck to everyone! Remember, each one of us is our own worst enemy. Be good to yourself, stay positive and reach for the stars!!!