I've spent a long time browsing this forum and reading NCLEX experiences. I promised myself I would post my experiences too and hopefully help others as I have been helped. I graduated 12/16/13. I took NCLEX PN on Tuesday 1/14/14. I was originally scheduled to take it on January 25 but this past Sunday, I had a moment where I felt like I was going to crack if I didn't just get it out of the way. I hated having NCLEX hanging over my head and I just wanted to be done with it. So I changed my test date.
My test time was 12:00PM. I made sure to get a good night's sleep. Then on the morning of the test, I treated myself to a nice breakfast near the test site. I got to the testing center 45 minutes before my test. I was able to start my test at 11:30AM. Speaking of the test center...my testing room was very toasty so I was glad I wore layers. If I had worn the sweater I originally planned on wearing, I would have been very uncomfortable.
My exam stopped at 85 questions. I had at a lot of SATA. I had about 5 or 6 in a row and then I started keeping track and I counted 32 SATA..so about 37-38 total out of 85. From this forum, I had read that getting a lot of SATA was usually a good thing (or more accurately not a bad thing) and might mean you were doing well in the exam. So the SATA didn't freak me out. In fact whenever I saw one it increased my confidence. I did have a moment where I was trying to remember the mnemonic for cranial nerves (the dirty version
) to help me answer a SATA question and for the life of me I could not remember it. I could feel this hysterical laughter about to come out but I managed to not make a sound.
I had 5 medication questions on drugs I was familiar with. The catch was that the question was not asked in the way I was used to and I had to really think about what they were asking and then look at the choices to see which one best answered the question. I had no calculation problems. I had some drag and drops and a lot of priority questions. It took me 2 hours to answer those 85 questions, yep 2 hours. This was the slowest I have ever taken a test. I read questions carefully and took my time eliminating answers. Once I was done, I was determined to wait till I got home to do the PVT but I lasted about 20 minutes before I pulled into a gas station to check on my phone. I got the good pop up.
Here's what I think helped me.
1. Practicing SATA and other alternative format questions. I bought the Lippincott PN 250 Alternative Format Questions book and I feel it went a long way in helping me get more comfortable answering these types of question. I came to know about this book from reading this forum so thank you to those who posted their experiences with it. In addition, the advice to think of each answer choice in the SATA as independent of the others and to use True or False to get to the correct choices helped me a lot! My NCLEX note board had T and F all over the place.
2. Kaplan Strategies Book 2013-2014. I used a lot of the strategies they give in this book to help me eliminate and narrow down the answers in a systematic way even when I didn't really know the subject matter all that well. My school required us to purchase Kaplan live review class and the Qbank. The Kaplan instructor went through a lot of the strategies but I preferred the way the book explained things. I did about 500 Qbank questions and my average was 65%.
3. ATI - I hated having to take ATI exams. Truly I did, but in the end I am glad I had ATI as a tool. During my last semester, we had to take weekly ATI tests, endurance builders that were like 300 questions, and extra practice questions on all subject areas. As much as I hated them, this was good training. Since I still had access to the ATI materials after graduation, I went back and went through some of these tests especially in my weaker areas. I alternated between ATI and Kaplan for questions.
4. I think most of us know this but I feel the need to stress it again since it is something that I feel helped me with NCLEX and with passing ATI exams....read rationales for every practice question you do, even when you get the question right. You learn a lot of valuable content this way, IMO.
There you have it. I didn't mean for this post to be so wordy but apparently I had a lot to say. Hope it helps.