My NCLEX story...
The NCLEX exam is one of the major milestones in a nurse's career. NCLEX is a long, stressful, and sometimes frightening journey that we, nurses, unfortunately have to take. I'm sharing my story to hopefully inspire those who are still to take this exam, that they may continue to hold on, never lose focus, and see the light at the end of the tunnel.I've always loved reading success stories from this site, and it really helped me get motivated. Now it's time to share mine, and hopefully my story will inspire someone somehow.
A Little About Myself:
I graduated nursing school in 2009 from a foreign university. I didn't take NCLEX right away due to some life events. 3 years passed and finally I was able to apply for the exam. When I got my ATT, I realized I needed to study. The first thing I did was answer some Kaplan questions just to see where I was at in terms of content. Boy, I couldn't remember the normal value for temperature and what incentive spirometer was! I had to look it up in a dictionary. I couldn't remember which one is insulin dependent, DM1 or DM2. It's a shame. I mean these are real basic concepts! You can just imagine how out of touch I was to the nursing world. I figured I needed a real review!
Before we begin...
I believe that everyone is different. My study habits and materials may not work for you. I'm not prescribing any specific review material/class/practice/habit to anyone. I'm not affiliated to any review material/class. What I'm sharing here is mainly based on my own experiences, with the purpose of inspiring others.
Okay, enough on that. Let's get on to why you're reading this post...what I did to pass.
Review Materials I Used:
Kaplan- NCLEX-RN Strategies, Practice and Review 2012-2013. I feel like the book wasn't much of help to me. My weakness is not with strategies but with content. The nursing content isn't discussed in-depth in this book. But I would say that I really loved the Q-trainers and the Q-banks. The rationales are well explained. You would really understand why the answer you picked is right or wrong. This helped me practice in answering NCLEX type questions.
Feuer Audio Review - These are MP3 files I got from my sister. I think she got the CDs from Feuer when she herself was studying for NCLEX a decade ago. This was a 2002 review, so I was scared it might be outdated. However, I find the review still very useful. This review has tremendously helped me with content. It helped me get back on track. I personally LOVE the Psych portion. It is very well explained, and the lecturer helps you boast your confidence. Not a dull moment with this review.
Saunders - Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination 5th ed. This book didn't work very well for me. After reading around 10 Chapters in a month, I got too overwhelmed. My brain was fried with too much information. DONT GET ME WRONG. This book is EXCELLENT for content. It's very complete. I believe that if you can get to master this book alone, you are safe. Almost all the NCLEX topics (from what I saw in the exam) are covered by this book. The problem is with me. I don't have enough time to read and review everything, and actually remember what I've read. So I took the quicker route. Also, the practice questions are too easy compared to NCLEX. I didn't bother answer them.
Hurst - I took the online review for $300, and I find it very informative. What I like about them is they focus on the WHYs so you understand the topic, and you don't have to memorize a lot. I also benefited from a lot of the 5th day materials, like normal values, Peds, etc. One negative thing I've noticed is there were a lot of topics that weren't covered by Hurst. Good thing Feuer discussed them, so I'm glad I have both. Overall I believe that if I took only Hurst, I won't be able to pass that exam. Hurst is really good, and I don't regret taking it, but it felt that it was not enough. I needed other review materials to complement it.
LaCharity - Prioritization, Delegation and Assignment by LaCharity. This is the book that everyone should have! I mean it! Please buy yourself one if you still don't have it. I find the questions in NCLEX to be just like this book. Majority of my questions are Prioritization, and this is what really helped me understand how to prioritize. This book is more than worth buying.
Pharmacology Memory Note Cards 3rd ed. Pharm is my worst nightmare! This is my weakest and this book helped me. What I like about it is it has pictures that helped me remember those darn drugs. The pictures are funny, and I always find myself laughing whenever I study this book. I got a lot of meds in my exam, and some of them, I haven't heard of before, but there were meds that I recognized from reading this book.
NCSBN learning extension program for $50 (3 weeks). I think this was a huge waste of money. I signed up for this mainly for the questions, and not the review. I know a lot of people like it, and I don't mean to offend anyone. Everyone is different, and it just didn't work for me. The questions were like NCLEX but the rationales were not well explained at all. I felt like even if I answered a ton of questions from their site, I won't be able to remember them because I don't understand why the answer I picked was right or wrong, especially for the prioritization questions.
35 Page Study Guide that's been floating around here- After I was done with Hurst, Feuer, and LaCharity, I read this guide. It's packed with helpful random facts. I didn't get a lot of Infection Control, so Spiderman and Mrs. Wee weren't much of help to me. But I was able to review other information from this material. Overall, this guide is great to have. Whoever made it, thank you.
Youtube, google, wikipedia - I think everyone uses these. So I don't think I need to elaborate.
In the end, I think that the materials that helped me the most are Feuer, Hurst, and LaCharity.
Other things I did:
- I wrote down important facts I came across from answering Kaplan and LaCharity in my notebook. And I review them every chance I get until I'm able to store them in my long term memory.
- Because I didn't have Feuer's review book, I wrote down everything that was discussed in the audio. And that helped a lot too.
- I studied for 2 months, 4-6 hours a day, 5 days a week. I only answered 25-75 questions a day, and reviewed each rationale. I wasn't able to finish all the Q-trainers but I wish I did. My Kaplan scores were in the high 50s to low 60s, and some are in the 70s. I got 50s to 70s in LaCharity, with 80% as my highest score. My pretest for NCSBN was only 50%. I didn't take the Hurst Mock Exam.
- Prayers- This is the most important thing...having GOD with me all way from the review to the exam. I was so scared the week before the test, but when the exam day came, He kept me calm and at peace. I fervently prayed to our Heavenly Father to help me get through this. I fasted for 3 Sundays to ask for guidance in this exam, that I will be able to remember the things I've studied, that I will have the wisdom in discerning the right answer and be able to pass, and that I will stay calm, focused, and have peace of mind. I lifted everything up to Him. And He never failed me.
The day before the exam:
Unlike what most people do, I studied the day before my exam. I read the 35 page study guide and memorized normal values. I also went to the testing center just to make sure I know where it is and I don't get lost the morning of my exam. I made a list of the things I needed to bring so I don't forget anything. I prepared my clothes ahead of time, and bought some snacks and drinks to take with me. I called my Mom and Dad, and they both said a prayer over the phone.That night I was able to get a good 6 hours sleep. I just listened to religious music to calm myself. I prayed and prayed, and I fell asleep.
The Big Day:
I woke up well rested and full of energy. I ate chicken tenders for breakfast and electrolyte drink. I wore comfortable jeans, regular Tee shirt, sweat shirt, and running shoes. I found out that you can't wear a jacket or sweat shirt that opens in the front (like zipper)--just wanted you to know. My exam was scheduled 8:00 am. I got there 7:30. Registration process took around 30 minutes. I was then escorted to the computer. Oh and I took the ear plugs and the erasable sheet they provided.
Before I started anything, I prayed. The first 10-20 questions were real easy. But after that I was guessing all the way to the end. I had no clue which answer to pick. I was pounded with a lot of meds. And there were meds I've never even heard of before. Majority of my questions were priority questions, just like what you see in LaCharity... "Which patient to see first", "Which s/s would concern you the most", "Which patient statement would require immediate intervention". I didn't get delegation and assignment question at all, and I didn't get a lot of infection control either, probably only around 5 or less. Most of my questions were Med-Surg, then a little bit of Ped and OB. I got 21 SATA, 5 pictures, 5 drag and drop, and 1 exhibit, and the rest were multiple choice. I had around 100-115 questions in total. It shut off when I least expected it. I didn't even know what number I was.
The moment I got out of the testing center, I told my husband I need to start studying again. I was certain I failed. There's no way I passed that exam. My husband brought me to a nice restaurant for lunch. He's very supportive of me. He said I need to calm down, and whatever the result is, he'll always be there for me. That made me feel a little better. When we got home, I rushed to the computer and checked PVT, and I got the good pop-up. I couldn't believe it. At that time, I was too overwhelmed with feelings I couldn't even describe. I was in denial. I didn't wanna believe I passed until I actually see my name in BON website. And today, my name is finally in the BON website. I'm now an RN!!! Hoooray! God is so good...
In conclusion, even if you graduated years ago, don't despair, you can still pass NCLEX. Being out for years was my greatest challenge, but studying brought back memories of the nursing world. You can do it too! Second, you'll never know what questions you'll gonna get. They say there are a lot of delegation and infection control but that wasn't the case for me. Some get a lot of meds, some get only 1 or 2. Just study as much as you can, and hope that the knowledge you have will lead you to the right answer. There's no way one can learn everything there is to learn about nursing. The important thing is you did your best. Leave the rest to God. He is always there and He will guide you and help you. Like they say "Work like everything depends on you, Pray like everything depends on God". I'm not trying to push my beliefs here. All I'm saying is pray according to your beliefs, wether you're a Buddhist, Hindu, Islam, etc. Lastly, you are the best judge on what study material or study habit and pacing works for you. Find what is most effective and comfortable. Identify which areas you're weak in and focus on those areas. Don't lose focus. Believe in yourself. Like I said, everyone is different. Don't compare yourself to others, and feel sad because you're still in Chapter 6 and they're now on Chapter 10, or they answered 500 questions and you only answered 300. The important thing is you progress as you study, and you actually understand what you're studying. Remember Quality is more important than Quantity. You can do it! God bless, and good luck with NCLEX!Last edit by Joe V on Dec 17, '12
From 'Colleyville, TX, US'; Joined Feb '12; Posts: 64; Likes: 23.0Oct 4, '12 by vnickorQuote from CrazyJessOh yeah, I saw my name on the BON. It feels good right??? Now next challenge: finding a job uggghhhh. Hopefully someone hires us.Thank you Vnickor. I didn't have to do quick results. They posted it on the BON website. I love Kaplan too.
VNICKOR0Quote from vnickorCongratulations to you too! Yeah, it felt really good..I'm so happy! I totally agree. Finding a job is an even greater challenge.Oh yeah, I saw my name on the BON. It feels good right??? Now next challenge: finding a job uggghhhh. Hopefully someone hires us.
VNICKOR1Oct 4, '12 by rizmeiOf all the stories i've read in here this one is very much the same with my situation.. out of school since 2010, 2 months review (i'll be taking my exam this december), and same study materials... thanks a lot for sharing it does help to boost self confidence!0Quote from rizmeiI'm glad it helped you even a little. Good luck and God bless! You can do it!Of all the stories i've read in here this one is very much the same with my situation.. out of school since 2010, 2 months review (i'll be taking my exam this december), and same study materials... thanks a lot for sharing it does help to boost self confidence!0Oct 4, '12 by bayouCongratulations!
Your story is so inspiring. It makes me feel more confident to prepare my exam.
I add your post to my favorites link. I will read it again since it really helps me for study and relieve my anxiety.
Thanks for your time to post such organized writting and valuable experience. I really appreciate your sharing this story.
Good luck on your job hunting!
Best wish to you and your family!