So as most students that just graduated in May, I have finally completed my journey, and I just wanted to share a little bit about what I went through and what I used to study to survive. I found myself searching everywhere for all kinds of questions that I had, so I just wanted to share my story and hopefully relieve some of the anxiety fellow test takers might be going through.
I'll start my story by first telling you that I graduated from Nursing school this past May in Florida. A week after graduation I moved to Texas. I knew in advance that I was going to move, so that did help, but I remember it took an extra three weeks for me to get my ATT from the TXBON compared to my classmates who all took the NClex in FL. The TXBON website was actually very helpful, you could log on and check your "Application Status" and it would show exactly what you needed and when it was complete, a date would go next to it. After seeing that I had "completed" all the necessary requirements (fingerprints, affidavit of graduation, application, and fee to Pearson Vue, and jurisprudence exam) I started to get nervous. So of course I called the TXBON directly and make sure everything was okay. The woman on the phone was very helpful and you could tell the poor woman had answered this same question a million times, but she was still nice enough to explain to me that once the BON has all of your requirements as "completed" they get up to 15 BUSINESS days to get your ATT to you. It ended up taking 11 agonizing business days, which turned out to be 18 days because of the weekends and one holiday.
On a side note I do want to mention that you do NOT have to complete the jurisprudence exam to get your ATT issued to you. I just did it early because I am a true nerd.
I was so excited when I finally got my ATT, all my peers from FL said they got the email at 9 am, so I was wondered if that was the only time emails went out. That is not the case, I received my ATT via email in the middle of the afternoon, so definitely feel free to check your email all day because it could come at any time.
So once I finally got my ATT, I immediately went to schedule my date. I had been planning to take it three weeks after I received my letter to allow myself time to study properly. Remember I had just moved to Texas after graduation and getting into the house took longer than expected so I didn't even really get to move in until late May. Of course when you're moving, you're not really studying. Sure I tried, and I was able to study a little bit here and a little bit there, but not like I normally would. So I was really nervous when I went to pick my date and the only dates available were for the same week, the next week, or not until August! Well I knew I couldn't wait until August, and testing the same week would have been ridiculous, so I went for the latest date I could... Thursday June 20. That meant I would be testing in 9 days and I only had 8 days to study. Of course I freaked out just a bit.
The day I scheduled my ATT was a wasted day, I had way to much nervous energy to study, so I got on the treadmill for an hour, walked the dog, called both my parents and just tried to plan out how I would study. My plan that I created and stuck to consisted of about 200 Kaplan questions a day on top of the ones I had done here and there before I got my ATT. I also read content out of two different review books on the material I felt rusty on. I didn't read "new" material, but I brushed up on a lot of things. I think my biggest helper was Kaplan. I didn't take the review course, I only did the questions.
The next few days I became a wreck. I was having a hard time controlling my anxiety, my stomach was in knots, I was eating terribly and not getting the sleep that all the "experts" say you need to get before a major exam. I had so much nervous energy I think I worked out almost every single one of those 8 days.
This is probably the most important thing that I have to tell you, DO NOT WORRY ABOUT WHAT THE "EXPERTS" TELL YOU about how to sleep, eat and study before a major exam. You know your body best, you know what works for you and you know what you need to do to get you through this. Obviously you got through nursing school, so you know what works for you! I think the reason I had such a hard time was because I know that I like to study the whole day before and the morning of the exam. That is just how my brain functions best, I need to study a little bit in the morning just to kick start my brain and get it into gear. I don't study anything hard, I just review notes over basic simple things.
24 Hours Before the Exam:
I know "experts" say don't study the day before, do something relaxing. I don't work that way, I like to study the day before. So I tried to find a balance, I only did 100 Kaplan questions, worked out and at one point even watched a movie, after all that I made sure to drive by the testing center so I could know for sure how to get there and what traffic might be like. I also made a trip to the gas station to make sure I had a full tank! I checked and rechecked probably 10 times that I had my ID and ATT ready. I also packed a snack in case I was there for 6 hours. By this point the day was coming to an end and I could feel my anxiety coming on, so I tried to do things to distract me, but I could feel my heart beat already.
The Night Before NCLEX:
The night before the exam I knew that I was supposed to get a decent amount of sleep, so like a fool I tried to go to bed earlier than normal. (My exam was at 8 am and I planned to be up at 5:30) I know better than to try to change my routine but I listened to what everyone else said about how important it is to sleep the night before the exam and went to bed too early. I thought that if I just continued to lay there in the dark with my eyes closed that eventually I would fall asleep. I was so wrong. I spent the whole night fighting my pounding heart trying to think of anything else that might relax me. Finally I gave up fighting, turned on my light and checked my phone. It was 2:48 in the morning, and I was still wide awake with a pounding heart. I knew I wasn't sleeping and that just compounded the anxiety. So I did the only thing I could think of, I pulled out my iPad and at 3 am started to watch the most mindless television I could think of... Family Guy. Yup I watched family guy until 4:30 in the morning, then for the last hour before my alarm was supposed to go off I browsed the internet searching for anyone else out there who might have had a similar experience to mine. I found nothing that sounded as bad as me not sleeping at all. So I listened to music till 5:30. Needless to say, I NEVER SLEPT.
Morning of the Exam:
Well I didn't sleep in lol that was one worry I didn't have. I thought about the "expert" advice for about 2 seconds and threw it out the window. I know how I function best, I did some flash cards to jump start my brain, had my typical "test day breakfast" which consists of two slices of honey wheat toast with Peanut Butter, then I reviewed some notes that I had compiled over the last few days. Then I got ready, put on my favorite comfy test day clothes, kissed my boyfriend good-bye and left. Honestly I think it might have been good that I didn't sleep the night before, I think the lack of sleep was the only thing keeping my brain from running at bullet train speeds.
When I got to the testing site, I said "thank you" to my peers that wished me good luck via text and left my phone in my car. I took my purse with my ID, and ATT and went inside. There were 11 other people there to test. I won't say much about the testing center because I don't want to accidentally disclose anything I'm not supposed to, but I will tell you that security is serious, however the ladies at the desk were very nice, and very calm. I think the fact that they were so calm helped me calm down too.
When I took the test all I will say is that I sat down at the computer like any other time, and just fell right into test mode. I answered the questions the same as I had practiced. This is where I think the online Kaplan questions were so beneficial, they really get you ready for the test format and getting comfortable with how it plays out. I remember looking and seeing that I was on question 71 and telling myself to pay attention so I know how many questions I have, but I kept clicking next and all of a sudden my screen went blue and I thought "oh crap, my computer froze", but it didn't. I was already done. Test time was at 8 am with everyone getting there at 7:30, and I was back in my car by 9:03.
After The Exam:
I walked out with mixed feelings. On one hand I thought the test was WAAAY EASIER than everyone had made it out to be. I was actually worried because some of my questions towards the end seemed "too" easy so then I also worried that I failed. Granted I graduated from a difficult school, so I think that prepped me a lot, but I really felt like it was not that bad and I freaked out just a little too much. I know that I spent too much time agonizing over what the "experts" recommend you do to prep vice what I actually did.
I of course went home and did the PVT first thing, I remember it kept letting me enter my information and with each step I could feel the tears forming... but then finally, I got to the CC information and I got the "good pop-up". I knew it was definitely not official, but it was a good sign. For the rest of the day I was still coming down from the anxiety. I think I did the PVT at least 10 times that day just to be sure it didn't change. I checked the BON's website the next day (Friday) and of course nothing was up yet, but all my peers from FL that took boards literally had their license number up in 48 hours, before the Pearson Vue quick results were even available!!! I was hoping for the same, but I kept reading that TX only does updates on Tues and Thurs. So then Saturday morning rolled around, and nothing. Anxiety was driving me nuts, so I invested $7.95 to get the quick results and ease my anxiety. Results: PASS!!!!!! I was so excited, but being the true worry wort that I can be, I knew that technically it wasn't official. So, Sunday morning I checked the TXBON, nothing, and the same on Monday. Then on Tuesday around 8:40 am I checked... and STILL NOTHING. So I started to worry, most people had their results by Tuesday, so I figured I'd wait until 9 and then call the TXBON just to inquire. I distracted myself with breakfast and then when back to double check at 9:23 am. I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning getting up, and hoping to find what I have been wishing, waiting and working so hard for. I felt like I was 10 and Christmas came early. There, on the TXBON website, was my name, and under it... a license number!!! I was officially an RN!!!!!!
So that is my story... I know it is long, but I remember one of the worst parts was agonizing over what all the textbooks and "experts" say about how to prep for this exam. I can't emphasize enough that you already know how to get there. At some point along the way, you had to have figured it out because you did graduate from nursing school, which is a well-known feat in itself! Trust in yourself, do what you know works for you, and do NOT let other people get in your ear and get your anxiety levels any higher than they need to be. This test is totally doable. One of my peers even told me, the passing rate for NClex is somewhere in the high 80s! So most people are passing. If you are reading this and taking the NClex soon, I wish you the best of luck and hope you can keep the anxiety at bay! Hope this story helps!!!