My preparation for the NCLEX was not stressful or lengthy. I graduated on May 3 and took the test on Sunday, June 3. The first two weeks after graduation I studied about 2-3 hours a day maybe 3 days a week. The third week I studied around 2-3 hours a day 4-5 days. The last week studied 2-4 hours 4 days. I had a couple of iPad apps that I used, Davis mobile NCLEX-RN Q&A, Davis mobile NCLEX-RN Prioritization and Delmar's NCLEX-RN Review Online with CAT Logic
. I didn't spend any set number of hours or questions per day with these and I took frequent breaks while studying. I did use the practice questions to look up diseases and conditions I was totally unfamiliar with, but if they were very obscure I didn't give them much attention at all, because the NCLEX isn't a test that will be heavily concentrated on obscure diseases. Instead I focused my attention on memorizing and reinforcing my normal values and normal ranges more than anything else, as I figured this would allow me to reason out most questions. I'm glad I did.
The Pearson center I went to was small and comfortable. The staff was very friendly and let us know that if we needed a break before our scheduled break that was OK, just raise our hand and they would help us. They will supply you with earmuffs or earplugs if you feel like noise might distract you. You can't wear any necklaces or any watches or bracelets. There was a small locker to put your belongings in while you take the test. You start with some practice questions before the real test starts. I read ALL of my questions twice, taking time to identify key words and information. About 40% of my questions were SATA (select all that apply) and it was pretty heavy on patient teaching, delegation and safety. Know your normal lab values and normal ranges.
Other than that it was just a little of everything. I think I had so many SATA questions because I was doing well, even though sometimes it certainly didn't feel like it.
I finished in 76 questions. SATA questions make my stomach hurt but I was pretty sure I'd done fairly well when I walked out. As soon as I got out to the lobby of the building I took my test in, I pulled up the Pearson VUE website on my iPhone and did the PVT. I got the pop-up message, broke out into a little dance and ran around the furniture and the potted plants.
It wasn't easy, but it wasn't nearly
as hard as I'd made it out in my mind to be all this time either. An important key for me was to keep stress to a minimum and to remember I didn't need to know every single question to pass, and not freak out when I wasn't sure of an answer. Keeping it simple helped me keep my sanity.
In the end everyone needs to do what they are comfortable with. No single approach is best for everyone. I'm just saying that you shouldn't feel like it's not possible for you to pass unless you spend hundreds upon hundreds of hours in extra study and plow through thousands of pages of prep books. The handout they gave me at my test said that about 86% of United States-educated students pass the test on the first try. The odds are on your side. Do what is comfortable for you - and good luck.