This is advice for anyone who has tried to pass the NCLEX and failed or for anyone who just wants advice for passing the NCLEX in general. (I know its long but bear with me!)
I graduated nursing school in May and was excited to study for the NCLEX and get it over with. My school does an RN Predictor through ATI and it was required to pass with a 70% in order to give us confidence that we would have a good chance of passing the NCLEX on the first try. I failed the RN predictor 2 times with a 68% and my teachers recommended me buying Virtual ATI NCLEX review to help me. I went through the review course. My coach did not seem very helpful to me, but I took the RN Predictor for it and got the go ahead to take the NCLEX with an over 90% chance that I would pass.
So going into test day I was confident thinking there was NO WAY i could possibly fail. It took me to 265 and I knew I failed, I bought the $8.00 thing to be sure, but I did in fact fail. For 3 days I cried and thought my life was over. I had done so well in nursing school, I had never failed. I thought my dreams were shattered. I didn't know how I would ever be able to get back into studying, let alone how i would approach studying differently the next time.
Well after 3 days I had to pull myself together. Life was not over and I had to pick myself up and try again. I re-evaluated myself and how i approached studying. I realized I made some mistakes in how i studied. First off.. I was never in a quiet environment. My husband and I were in the process of moving so we were back and forth between my parents and his parents house, not to mention various vacation spots. My study space was constantly being interrupted and sometimes I didn't have internet connection, so that threw off my studying as well (that beings said: find a QUIET place to study, where you wont be interrupted). Also Virtual ATI was just not the right fit for me. I also simply did not practice enough questions at all and I thought the questions on ATI were too easy and did not prepare me for the difficulty of the actual NCLEX questions.
What I did for my second time around: I took about 2 weeks off from studying after I failed to give my brain a break and to move. That gave me a lot of time to think of what I could do differently the next time, as well as allow myself to be rejuvenated.
-Be in a calm, quiet environment. My faith in God is important to me so each morning before I studied I would pray before i would start studying and that honestly helped me be calm and not be anxious! My husband worked so I had the house to myself and was not interrupted. I made myself not look at my phone while i took quizzes. Do not allow distractions or you will not learn all you can. Be in an environment similar to what you will be in during the NCLEX.
-I looked at my learning habits. I'm a Visual learner. Taking notes in nursing school always helped me, it helped me pass tests, so i took notes on why i got certain questions wrong and on disease processes I wasn't too familiar with. If you are an Auditory learner try to find videos that you can listen to about certain disease processes that you are unfamiliar with. Ask yourself the question, how did i best successfully study in Nursing school?
-I used Pearson Reviews and Rationales: A Comprehensive Review of the NCLEX RN by Mary Ann Hogan. The book is on Amazon for a little over $40.00. My school used it the last semester of Nursing school and all my friends passed reviewing with it so I thought i'd give it a try. if you buy it new it will come with a scratch off code in the front and I believe you can enroll in a self study online that gives you access to 3,000-4,000 questions, plus the book has 1,300 questions.
-Through the self study of the Hogan book, I did AT LEAST 100 questions a day. There are 100 question quizzes or 20 question quizzes online on so many topics and the 20 question quizzes constantly rotate questions. (for example there are over 500 cardiac questions so you can take the 20 question quiz as much as you want and go over as many of those questions as you want)
-I read ALL of the rationales for each question, whether I got it right or wrong. I was given that advice for my second time around and it helped me tremendously! It allows you to understand why certain things on the NCLEX are right and why certain answers are wrong. Even if you just use the Hogan book they give you detailed rationales of why the answer was right or wrong with helpful tips (for example it pointed out that when 2 of the 4 options are opposites generally one is correct).
-Go over topics you struggle with. Spend a week on them. I started off my spending a week on Pharm and OB. Honestly for those of you out there who struggle with Pharm, the NCLEX test changed as of April 2013 and they lowered the amount of Pharm questions asked, so I would review some Pharm, but focus on other topics such as OB, Peds, Mental Health, etc. Also Leadership questions are HUGE. You MUST understand what patient to see first and who can be delegated and what can be delegated, in order to do well on the NCLEX. They upped the number of questions for that on the NCLEX this year.
-Stick to your study plan! and practice, practice, practice NCLEX style questions! Do questions and read rationales, that is the only way you will get better! Also like i said it helped me greatly to take notes on disease processes that I was not good at (ex. renal failure, DKA, cirrhosis, etc) the Hogan book I mentioned has wonderful material on every disease process.
-Choose to take quizzes that give you the answers at the END of the test, versus as you go! that is why I did not like Virtual ATI because it gave the answers after each question, that definitely affects how you continue to take the test. Plus the NCLEX isn't like that so take tests that are similar set up to how the actual NCLEX will be.
-**Another book that is awesome is Kaplan-RN 2013-2014 Review on Amazon for $24.00.
-DON'T GIVE UP! No matter if this is your first time or if its your 5th time taking it, you CAN PASS.
I did 4 weeks of review and I went into the test feeling a little bit nervous, but once I sat down to take it, i was totally at peace. It felt like all the 100 question quizzes I had done. I felt like I was doing well. I got A LOT of SATA, which I thought meant I was doing well. And it shut off at 75! I did the pop-up trick, got the pop-up and but i got the $8 thing for sure... and it said i PASSED! I was SO happy! If I can do it, then you all can too!
If you have any other questions, I'd love to answer them! Good luck to all of you, your hard work WILL pay off!