The NCLEX was hands down the scariest part of my entire nursing experience (so far). But it's finally over and I can breathe again. Hopefully my story might help even 1 person get through it, too.
How I prepared
I used Uworld for about 90% of my studying. My college paid for us to use the Kaplan Review
but it didn't cover content, only how to break apart and answer NCLEX questions. My top 3 pointers from that review:
1. If you see the word "restless", think hypoxia
2. If you see the word "why" in an answer, throw it out. It is not a therapeutic response.
3. If it's asking for the first
thing to do, look at your answers. Remember to assess before you implement!
I studied for about 2 months. ~75 questions a day. I would not recommend ATI because it costs so much more and the rationales are incredibly vague. Rationales are SO important. Also Uworld looks a lot like the NCLEX so that kind of helped to at least be familiar with the set up. I took the readiness predictor test through Uworld a week before the NCLEX and got the results "highly likely".
The day before the NCLEX
I drove up the day before and stayed at a hotel about 10 minutes from the test center. I didn't study at all except to briefly look at a cheat sheet of all my lab values and common drugs to know. I tried to relax but I had such terrible anxiety. I took something to help me sleep but I still woke up EVERY HOUR that night and even had a dream that I failed. Needless to say I did not get a restful sleep... one of the most important things.
Getting ready that morning I listened to a motivational playlist I had made. My top 2 songs I kept replaying were "Whatever it Takes" by Imagine Dragons and "Champion" from Carrie Underwood. I tried to get pumped up. This is going to sound dumb, but take pride in your appearance. When I feel pretty I feel more confident! I still dressed comfy, but I did my hair and makeup. Eat something, even if it's small and stay as caffenienated as you would on any other day. No time to be experimenting with bodily reactions now...
I showed up 30 minutes early to get checked in. There were 8 of us.
The room was waaay too quiet for my liking. My head was spinning and I wanted to throw up. But I started the exam and I felt like everything I had learned went right out the window. The NCLEX has this really great way of making you feel inferior. I'm not typically an anxious person, and I never got test anxiety in school, but holy cow. I felt it then. I prayed for peace and I chugged along. I also prayed to get SATA questions because I thought that meant I was above the pass line. Then I got to 75 and my computer screen switched. I freaked out thinking it was over. It was only time for a break. I was shocked that it had been 2 hours already. I took a quick break, sat back down, answered 2 more questions and I was done...
You are going to think you failed
My exam cut off at 77... I had 0 math questions, 2 medication questions, and only a handful of SATA. I was familiar with 95% of the content of the questions, I just wasn't familiar with the answers! Most people talk about narrowing it down 50/50 but there were so many questions that I didn't like ANY of the answers and I had to talk myself into choosing one. You are PROBABLY going to over-analyze every question you can remember. After the exam I googled as many as I could and with each incorrect answer I tallied in my brain it just fueled my anxiety.
I read somewhere that the NCLEX is designed to make you miss almost 40% of the questions!!! That's why you will feel so miserable... Because you DID miss so many questions.
I told myself that if I had done so well, why didn't it cut off at 75?? I chalked it up to my anxiety and convinced myself that I had failed. Part of me felt that it was better to do that so I wouldn't be as devastated when I got my results... If you're like me, you're not going to listen to anyone who tells you that you did just fine, that you're gonna pass, to stop worrying... unless they have taken the NCLEX then their words will have very little weight. That being said, I was sure to thank them all for their support and encouragement. My advice: STAY BUSY. Go to work, do something fun, just do something or you will drive yourself insane. You have to wait 48 hours to get the "Quick Results" (major eye roll) from Pearson Vue. I didn't do the credit card trick because I read that one girl got false results...
I was way too scared to check the results myself, so I made my friend do it. It wasn't a "jump up and down and pop champagne" moment. More like a "Thank you God, deep breath, finally smile again" moment. The night of getting my results I STILL had a bad dream that I had failed. How ridiculous. If you had asked me during those 48 hours after the exam if I had though Uworld prepared me well, I would have said no way. I thought the NCLEX was way harder. And I definitely didn't recognize any of the NCLEX questions from any of my practice questions. But I guess since I passed, Uworld clearly did help!
Remember why want to be a nurse. Let that be your motivation. Also remember the pass rate. It's PRETTY good... like in the 80s I believe. Some colleges have a particularly high pass rate. That being said, failing the NCLEX doesn't make YOU a failure. Don't give up!