Hello, I passed the NCLEX and decided to write a post that may help others while studying. What I am about to say may or may not help you. As a background on myself, I had a 3.0 in nursing school and I am a self motivated planner. (Type A) If you aren't one to stick to a schedule you make yourself, a paid for program may be better.
First, I graduated 12/13/13. I received my ATT on 12/21/13 and scheduled it as soon as possible. My coworker and ironically preceptor for Capstone was working with me that day. She said to me to schedule it as soon as possible. I said "BUT I ONLY HAVE 2 WEEKS TO STUDY," like a toddler. She said to me, "You will never feel like you had enough study time. You will probably feel like you failed it when you passed it. You need to do it soon because you will remember more from school." Well I did what she said and I got my passing score today. I took it on 01/02/14 @ 1300 and got my early results at noon today 01/04/14.
I didn't have the cash to do a study program. My school provided us with a HESI review which was 3 days long. (Other schools do ATI, they sound similar.) It consisted of an instructor reading the book to us, so I only went 1 of the 3 days. During block 4, I also purchased the Davis Q&A for NCLEX 2010 and Kaplan NCLEX 2013-2014. Both were about $25 on Amazon.
For 2 weeks, I did practice questions from Davis, Kaplan Strategy, HESI and Saunders. I would do 70-100 on work days where I was able to have down time. I did about 300 questions on my days off work. On those days off, I would do about 100 questions, take a break, change books/ CDs, do another. Other days where I worked as a CNA on the floor, I didn't study. My scores were actually better the next day when I did that, so I took about 2 days off a week in those 2 weeks from studying. (Multiple days in a row= 68-72%, after a day off, 86%) I did 70 questions on New Year's Eve and nothing on New Year's Day except go hiking and paint my nails.
When I was getting a lot of questions wrong because I never heard of these things, I would stop and write, "I will pass NCLEX on Jan 2nd." until my hand hurt and went back to it. I read all the rationales because I learned a LOT from them. I spoke to friends (especially nurse friends) when I started to stress for support and kept chugging along. I told myself as I was going to sleep at night that I would pass the NCLEX on Jan 2nd. I asked people to pray for me. I did everything I could to keep sane.
You aren't going to know all the answers on the NCLEX. If the strategy wasn't really working for me on a particular question, I said "Well, what is going to kill them?" Obviously I can't guarantee that was the right answer, but I still passed that way. I also used my provided pad to write things like, "What is wrong with this?" or "What is correct?" "This is a (teaching/assessment/analysis) question." That helped me focus how to answer the question. I was a little paranoid about the privacy, so I made sure not to write real specifics about the question on the paper provided, just what it was really asking. In the end, I think I used a combination of HESI and Kaplan strategy based on the question.
All in all, please give yourself some grace when practicing, give yourself some credit, you passed nursing school and give yourself time to practice questions because I credit those books for helping me pass.
Go for walks, hike, clean, bake, paint, do whatever helps you work off the anxiety!