Good evening to all my fellow nurses out there and a special hello to the ones prepping for the NCLEX RN exam. I will do my best to be as detailed and helpfull as possible.
FIRST, accept the fact that, this is a difficult exam to prepare for.
SECOND, accept the fact that, it is achievable neverthless.
THIRD, I can't stress this enough, ONLY start preparation when you are ACTUALLY READY to study.
FOURTH, get away from all sort of negative people....important!! (This includes your family)
This is an investment of time and money, hence do yourself a favor and begin only when you are ready.
So, I did my nursing program in India. Everything is more or less learned by-heart rather than undestanding the concept and linking things together. The style of teaching is totaly different in comparison to the Western side.
After I moved back to States, Chicago to be precise I knew I had to get ready in order to write the NCLEX R.N exam.
For my FIRST ATTEMPT, I spend a good 2 months, using numerous number of materials (BIG mistake). I went to some class that was recommended by someone and I did many questions which were provided by them. Anyway, on the day of the exam I went in and my computer got shut of at around 185 questions. Checked my unofficial results in 48 hours and I FAILED. Clearly I felt like crap! Who wouldn't!
With pressure from certain people ( Refer the FOURTH point mentioned in the start) I started studying again right away and dont ask me why but I went to the same tutor and wrote the exam again in about 3 months, Result= FAILED ( Close to 200 qs).
So that is 3 + 2... 5 months (half an year is gone) that was invested just for an exam. Keep these things in mind!
Like a mad man, again with certain pressures I started studying, except this time I did not go to any class, I bought the Kaplan 3 month course online. I was very exhausted, I was very tired. I didn't care about anything the lady was saying in the Kaplan course. I procrastanated a lot and barely finished even 6 videos and 3 months was up. So I called Kaplan and they extended it for another 3 months for a small price. Again, the same nonsense! Thank fully this time, at the end of the next set of 3 months, I landed a full time job as an LPN/RPN. ( Keep in mind, by now I had invested almost an year into this, WITHOUT the right mind set )
That full time job was actually a life saver, because I needed to take break from all that studying and all that negativity. I was wasting time and more money. (Hence I emphasized in the begining, ONLY start when you are actually READY). Anyway, I kept working for about an year. My mind was in a better place and I had let gone of the TWO FAILED results and I wasn't around those negative people much.
Finally, I decided I WANTED to study..WANTED to pass.. and was READY to make the necessary sacrifices as needed for a positive result for the time and money I was going to INVEST.
First I got rid of the MANY MANY books I had. Decided to stick to just ONE or TWO books. I used Saunders and a Medical Surgical Nursing text book. Let me elaborate.
SAUNDERS- Most institutions or private centers WILL NOT recommend this book. I can only assume, perhaps since most of the data in this is not up to date. However, you can still learn A LOT from this book. It helped me.
MEDICAL SURGICAL Critical Thinking for Collaborative Care (4th ed.) by IGNATAVICIUS. WORKMAN- Is this a NCLEX BOOK?? Hell no!! Let me be very clear on why I used this book. This was like the dictionary. Everytime I did not understand a certain concept or pathophysiology, I used this to understand the basics. For example, I used this to understand the basic concept of osmosis, hyper, hypo, iso, conditions in cardiac and many more.
The reason why I would recommend to have a book like this beside you when you prep for NCLEX is, you can use it when you have a condition or a patho or anything as a matter, that does not make sense. It will give you clarity. DO NOT STUDY AND SPEND TIME ON IT... use it more as a REFERENCE.
So, I spend a good 2 months studying. Let me elaborate. I did not sit in the SAME PLACE everyday when I studied. One day I am in my room, another day I am down stairs in the living room and most days I was in the library (This is the BEST choice).
I bought note books, high lighters, pens, pencil... you are getting ready for a battle..so bring all the itenraries with you!!
I literally made my own notes refering to Saunders book. At the end of 2 months I had about 4 notebooks (250 page each). Now when you study it is very important to study smart. I made sure that 2 times a week ONLY I was reading through all the possible lab values. OR every other day I would do a quick one hour review of the first note or condition. (literally just read it through... when you keep doing this consistently, all these informations are going to start sticking in your head..key word- CONSISTENCY). Its not practical to review every conditions you learned everyday. You will not be able to move forward. Hence, each day, review one and then started studying a new one.
As I was approaching the end of the second month, I signed up with UWORLD and started doing questions and reading ALL THE RATIONALS!! VERY VERY IMPORTANT.
I copied and pasted rationals that I thought was important on "word". Two weeks prior to my exam I had about 25 pages filled with nothing but just rationals.
I found UWORLD very challenging. I started with like 42% and pushed my way to 65%. It was heart breaking at times and that is okay.. that is normal. Remember the key- CONSISTENCY. I kept doing the questions neverthless.
In addition to my 2 text book and UWORLD, I got a recommendation from a close family member about this review centre in Chicago called, EXCELL NURSING NCLEX. I was very hesitant because of reasons which I had mentioned above. However, I decided to go for it, since I was in a different state of mind. The class was for 2 weeks. Pay attention to the following. Since I studied for close to 2 months, I was able to keep up with the pace of the class. Now you know why, when you go for classes you tend to lag behind. The teachers were phenomenal, they only focus on things that are needed and important. The only one I was not happy with, was the maternity teaching, which was finished in 6 hours. Since I had done my studying it was fine.
Now let me connect few things- Saunders and the medical surgical books helped me study a lot of content. Items in these books are not wrong, they are probably not updated. The benefit of going to the class was, I was able to get the most updated items which I may have missed from the book. But it is never a bad thing to read over books like Saunders... I can only speak for this book.
This chronological order helped me. I was also lucky to meet 3 other students from the class with whom we all skyped and studied together after the course was over.
If you are able to find even just one person who is on the same page with you, it helps as a support system.
I took plenty of breaks when I studied. Everybody have their own style of studying. Whatever the case maybe, my suggestion is, start the prep once you can check mark on the 4 items I mentioned at the start of this blog.
The rationals word file I mentioned above, I read that few times during the last 2 weeks prior to my 3rd attempt. The day before the exam by around 5pm I closed all my books and went to a near by bar, had a beer and chilled. Next day, printed out my Test appointment email... got my id's... had a good breakfast and went into the centre with full confidence.
I had to do all 265 questions. It was scary after I went passed the 4 hour mark. The key was to look away from the computer, as in look down..close your eyes for few minutes... deep breath few times and continue. It is very important that you prepare your mind to do all 265 questions. DO NOT listen to the un necessary myths about the 75 questions and create your own imaginations.
I was finally done after 5 hours and 45 minutes. I knew I did my best and this time I was ready to accept any outcome! After 48 hours I checked online and I got a pass result. I was happy, but I did not go crazy. I learned a lot from having had to prepare for this exam.
I hope this blog helps whoever is prepping to write their NCLEX. If you have any questions, drop a line and I will get back to you.
GOOD LUCK.... BREATH.... SMILE... BELIEVE YOU CAN DO IT!!
Congrats on a job well done.