it's been a year now since i've graduated, and it has been a long painful journey. i graduated in may 2008. it is now june 2009 and after the 4th time testing, i have finally passed!!!!
before i graduated, and started studying for the nclex-rn, i felt this impending feeling, that i was going to fail. i always remembered how it felt when someone told me that maybe this wasn't for me and maybe i should drop out. (coming from the mouth of an instructor). my nursing experience was tough, and i had a setback for mistakes i didn't make. i didn't even want to apply for jobs until i absolutely knew that i had my license. but all of my classmates were talking about interviews and instructors were asking each classmate and which unit they're working in. so i decided to apply too, and got a job at m.d. anderson leukemia unit, the widely known national hospital for cancer.
the first two
times i took the exam, i used hurst
. i felt that it helped me to critically think, but i never felt that i could just look through that book and think that it was enough for me to get through this. every single day, i had panic attacks, and performance anxiety. i studied every single day for at least 9-12 hours, and did not really eat well, or work out. in june 2008, and again in august 2008, i paid for quick results and saw that big fat word failed!!!! i remember getting the white envelope in the mail, and reading "near passing" on all the categories of client need, and didn't know how to improve on that. i mean, what the heck does that mean anyways???? i didn't know what i was doing wrong. the second time i used hurst, i had an advisor and she wasn't very helpful, because she told me not to look at any test questions until i've mastered the content. i didn't find that entirely true, bc hurst does not use practice tests except the ones in class. my family wasn't very supportive. i come from a family of high expectations. my sister graduated the same time as me and passed her naplex (boards for pharmacist), and my parents wondered why my sister can pass the naplex, and why i can't pass the nclex-rn. i seriously wanted to shoot myself. i was alone, and no one understood what i was going through, and how hard i was pushing myself. i lost my job at m.d anderson, after they extended my offer twice, i was in financial debt, and i had no one to listen to me.
in october 2008, after i took a vacation. i tried to clean myself up. i took kaplan
for my third time. i started to eat right, did yoga, went to church and got a job at a sushi restaurant cause i felt that no one would ever find me if i worked at a restaurant and not working in a hospital setting. i felt that now i used a content review, i should focus on test taking strategies. i scored 48% on the diagnostic test and readiness test. my qbanks averaged around 58%. i was frustrated because i never got above 60% and i was always guessing between two answers. i still felt that something was missing after i took hurst, a content review, and kaplan, a test strategy review, but i took the exam anyways. i continued to have panic attacks so i decided to see my physician and she prescribed me a low dose inderol, and i had a psychiatrist i went to every week.
my study plan for time 4.
after spending tons of money on reviews and paying pearsonvue to retake this exam, i finally decided that i should study the best way i felt that i should study. i started googleing and found this website: all nurses. after reading other peoples experiences, i realized that i wasn't the only one. all i saw were all of my classmates changing their statuses to rn, bsn, and i wished that one day i could do that too. i started off using suzanne's plan by completing her first tip, until she discontinued her program. it took me 6 weeks. (for those who don't know her first tip, i basically divided my saunders comprehensive book, and looked at three sections each day for a max of 3 hours, took a break and reviewed those same sections that day). after i completed that, i bought the saunders q&a book and just did a bunch of questions. i read alot about the strategies and rationales they used to approach the questions bc it helped me to get answers correct even though i didn't know the question. it was highly recommended on amazon
.com. during the final stretch, i started using the cd and took 100 question exams. i would look at my score to see if i passed all the categories of client needs, and see if there was a trend on particular topics i felt that i was weak in, and focus on that section for the day. i would study that section in the saunders book and take an exam just on that topic, until i was within a desired scored. i took exams after exams until i started to reach an average of 75-80% on them.
i know alot of you are concerned about pharmacology. saunders is the best way to go. the cd has a section just on pharmacology and it arrows down the side effects of each drug. i first started off my looking through the end of the kaplan book that was provided by the class because it has tables of the most common drugs that would be seen on nclex. i rewrote them by class of drugs, action and side effects. i still felt like i was memorizing when i was studying, but it was beneficial bc it helped me remember the class of drug and with saunders it helped me to prioritize the side effects i should look for. i did not look through the med sections in the saunders book bc it was too overwhelming, and the chances of getting those drugs were minimal, and after all were not studying to be pharmacists!
prioritization, delegation and managment
lastly, i bought the lacharity book to improve my prioritizing, and a alternative format book for those sata and drag n drop questions. i was definitely frustrated with these book bc it was very hard, but it did help me to critically think. (keep in mind that these book were harder than the actual test.) saunders is good at prioritizing and delegating as well. there is a section in the cd that is dedicated to this. the lacharity book helped me because i can look at a scenario and pick out what assessments were important. for ex: even though it is a problem for chemo patients to have increase wbc and at risk for infection, it is normal for that patient bc of chemotherapy, its not a complication or an emergency related situation. in other words, it may be abnormal but normal for that patient.
after 3.5 months of slaving myself, and waiting for my att. i finally schedule to take the exam on may 28, 2009 at 12:15. i remembered driving to the testing center and packing all the food in a bag. the first three times, i drank coffee and energy drinks bc it was at 8am, but now i realized that my nerves alone would keep me awake, and it would probably worsen my panic attacks. i brought a lot of sweets instead to keep my sugar up and a sandwich for brain food. the day before i did not study i just went out and shopped, walked around to tire myself out so i could get a good night sleep. when i arrived at the testing center i sat outside and listened to soothing music on my ipod to decrease my anxiety, and i told myself i can do this!!! i walked in and i began the test, and remembering to treat every test question equally. i used to question whether i was in the high level or low leveled questions but then i decided that it would worsen my anxiety, and took my time. i still felt like some of them were easy, but perhaps it was because i studied so hard. i took my break at 1 hour and i ate something. i was at question 30. i felt that i was getting into the high leveled questions because i got a lot of prioritization question and every once in a while i would get a sata. i treated it as if i didn't know it, and i would try to work it out step by step and not get myself down if i didn't get it right cuz i would work harder on the other questions. when i hit question 72, i started to panic a little and i literally spend like 15 minutes on the last three questions, but after i hit 75, the last question was a sata and i knew thereafter, i passed bc it was a high leveled questions and sure enough the computer cuts off on me followed by the survey. i've never had the computer cut off on me ever. the last three times, i either went all the way or i ran out of time. it took me 2.5 hours. i got 7 satas, 0 ob, 1-2 peds, 1-2 psych, and the rest were med-surg, med-surg, med-surg. 0 drag n drops, 0 dosage calculations. 4 pharmacology questions and i remembered that a couple of them were from the saunders cd and i automatically knew what side effect it was looking for. on may 30, 2009 at 11:30 pm, i had all my friends in town and i had them check it for me, cuz i could not look at the screen and see that big fat word fail again. five seconds later, i heard loud screaming. i opened my eyes see them mouth the two words i've been waiting to here: you passed!!!!!!!!!!!!!
i want to thank god bc i would not have had the strength, courage, or hope if it wasn't for him. secondly i want to thank all nurses for supporting me, hearing me complain, and keeping me going. thank you all nurses!!!!!
annie rn, bsn