The only reason I'm writing/admitting this is because I truly appreciate the encouragement/information this site provides. I have been down this road so many times it's ridiculous and I have always found some comment made as a source of inspiration to not give up. I want to do the same for someone else.
In summary, I have taken the NCLEX 8 times! Yes 8 and in my state the limit is based on time not attempts (thank you Texas!). I do feel bad for others that have an attempt restriction. I will readily admit several of my failures can be attributed to arrogance and ignorance given my level of education and assumed knowledge of nursing. Not the programs fault that I graduated from, it's my own. However, on several occasions my attempts and preparation were more than adequate and under any other circumstance and testing should have resulted in a pass. They did not. I can honestly say I have answered roughly 1500+ actual NCLEX questions and sat through 35+ hours of testing. I consider myself an expert on the experience despite most of it being unsuccessful.
I had to laugh as I sat in the waiting area at Pearson Vue this last time and overheard someone say, "don't worry, this test is just like any other test we've ever taken". Not true and it is unlike any other test I've ever taken in my life and I've taken hundreds of written and computerized tests. The CAT model for testing has it's merits but I do not believe it is necessary as other professions do not use this model and license diagnosing healthcare professionals without problems. The problem with this test is the feedback is woefully inadequate and not very useful. An example is test #7 I passed a section that on test 6 I failed (you know the "below passing standard"). So I went from "below passing standard" to "above passing standard" without having done anything different in between. There is some degree of luck & familiarity of the questions you are asked as to whether you will pass the test more easily in subsequent attempts. Despite the complex algorithms used for the test I did see the same question asked twice on a test and I did see familiar questions on other tests. It's not perfect although I don't think that in and of itself means anything, there is no way to remember specific test questions for the NCLEX. There are simply too many in the question pool. Although recognizing the style and type of questions did help.
Psychologically and emotionally failing this test did a number on me as it does everyone else. I doubted my intelligence, career decision and self worth far too much. I can tell you that getting depressed over failing is pointless. It reminds me of the movie "Shawshank Redemption" when "RED", a main character, was asked, "did he regret committing a crime?". His answer was sincere and remorseful but melancholy as to whether he needed to prove it to anyone else. That's how I felt about the NCLEX--I started out wanting to prove something to everyone else by passing and in the end not feeling like I ever needed to prove anything, even to myself. The results of my life, good and bad, should speak for itself not the effort.
For me, I'm not saying I didn't care whether I passed anymore, I did; however, I just got to the point I wasn't going to kid myself into thinking I discovered something new about myself or the material I studied that made the difference. I honestly can't say what made the difference this time other than the answers seemed more apparent to me and I felt like I was guessing less (although I was still guessing on some).
So can I chalk this up to me being dumber than a rock? Maybe, but the fact that I have 3 college degrees, I'm a practicing chiropractor and I've spent more a decade in college makes me think not. I'm very happy now to have some evidence that I'm actually smarter than a rock although I have no desire to appear on "Are you smarter than a 5th grader" anytime soon for fear of the competition.
At any rate, know this: YOU CAN PASS-I DID, WHO CARES HOW MANY TIMES YOU HAVE TO TAKE IT-I TOOK IT 8 TIMES, YOU ARE NOT STUPID-NOT YET UNLESS YOU GIVE UP, TRY EVERYTHING B/C NOBODY KNOWS WHAT WORKS-EVEN ME, THE PEARSON VUE TRICK IS ACCURATE SO DON'T BOTHER READING ALL 900 PAGES OF THE THREAD TO SEE IF IT'S TRUE--IT IS (I got 7 CC screens and 1 good pop up...it only takes 1).
That's it...it was frustrating, expensive and time consuming but I don't care. My resume now say's "RN" after my name and I'm damn proud of that. You guys know more than you're given credit for, do more than you get paid for and are worth more than anyone knows. I can't think of a better group of people to belong. Thanks.