Hello all! Took my NCLEX yesterday (2/11/14) and found out that I passed today! Officially an RN!
I decided to write my story/tips on here because I relied on allnurses.com tremendously for support and advice while I was studying. I hope that this will help someone out there!
First off, I graduated in December 2013 from an ADN program. Everyone in our class took the week long Kaplan program that covered the decision tree and the topics in NCLEX (management of care, health promotion, etc.) The instructor was great at giving us tips and explaining how to answer each question using the decision tree.
We were then given different choices for study plans depending on how many weeks long you had to study. The study plan then told you how many qbank questions to do per day, when to take each question trainer test, and when to take the sample tests. I strongly advise taking NCLEX soon after nursing school as recommended. Our instructor also advised us to read the NCLEX-RN Content Review Guide from cover to cover.
Now I'll explain exactly what I did:
I decided to go with a four week study plan.
1. I did read the content review guide, almost completely cover to cover but not quite due to running out of time. Unlike others, I felt this really helped me because everything I had learned in nursing school was pretty much out of my mind by this time. The book helped me to review and I bookmarked pages I felt were important to know and topics I came across in qbanks.
2. I did all ques trainers and sample tests and 1100 out of the 1300 qbank questions, which I also did not finish due to time. Doing the qbank questions is essential to practice and I recommend doing at least 500-600 qbank ques before starting on ques trainer 4 and on. This way you have had the practice and a foundation for your knowledge base before trying to determine how likely you are to pass NCLEX. After doing each qbank set, no more than 150/day, it's essential to remediate. I took notes on everything I got wrong and looked up more information on it. This is what I believe helped me to pass.
In the Kaplan class we were told to aim for 65% overall and in each section on NCLEX. However, I know of those who were in the 50% range who passed as well. I personally scored a 65% on ques trainer 6 and a 60% on 7.
I have to add that I ended up not using the decision tree. It basically made me take a lot longer to answer questions due to going through each step on every ques. The decision tree is a good fallback and way of thinking to answer ques but I did not use it unless I was completely clueless.
As far as sample tests go, I got about 50% on all except for test 3 which I got about 85%. Test 3 is important as it is a priority only ques test.
3. I read through the allnurses.com study guide 3-4 times before taking the test. The mnemonics were extremely helpful. From the study guide I would focus on the transmission based precautions and fluid and electrolyte imbalance symptoms. Many great tips came from this study guide.
4. As far as the math and medications go, I did not study much of either. Make sure you are comfortable with your dosage calculations skills and the conversion table. With medications, Kaplan gave us a need to know lab values for NCLEX sheet and there was a pharmacology cheat sheet. I also got a medication root prefixes and suffixes sheet from school. These sheets were helpful when I had no idea what the medication was.
5. I used the website NCLEX 3500 to practice select all that apply ques. By the time I got to this I only had a couple days left to study so I probably only got through 100-200 ques. If I could do it again I would recommend practicing more sata ques as this was my weak point. Practicing the alternative type questions off of this website was also helpful.
Random, but here are some definite need to know items: lab values, positioning the patient, ppe and precautions, hypo/hyper ____ electrolytes, blood transfusion rxns, normal v/s for infants, kids, and adults.
Tips for test day:
1. Do a dry run to your test site the day before to lower anxiety and reduce the chance of being late or getting lost.
2. Bring along a drink, snack, and light lunch in case you end up staying longer.
3. Don't forget your ID card! You will NOT be allowed to test without it!
4. Designate a back up ride in case anything were to happen. It'll decrease anxiety as well!
5. Do not wear shirts with a front pocket.
6. Take a sleep aid the night before if you have insomnia when nervous. Make sure your alarm is on though!
My experience: I was a nervous wreck on test day. The night before I went to bed around 11:30 pm and woke up at 1 am. I could not fall asleep the rest on the night. I tossed and turned but also was feeling sick from something I ate earlier. By 7 am I had not gotten a wink of sleep and got up. I ate breakfast (a banana and pb toast). I read through the study guide, my lab values, and medication cheat sheets. I called my sister for comfort and then I couldn't hold in my emotions any longer and let myself cry for 5 minutes. Then I pulled myself together and wrote down "I will pass NCLEX" ten times and repeated it out loud. I did deep breathing and then drove myself an hour early to the site. I was allowed to test right away as there weren't many people there. I got in, focused myself and took my time.
In the end I got 78 questions and it took me between 2-2 1/2 hours. I knew that after all that prep I would get between 75-100 ques. I got about 25% sata. One picture ques. About 3-4 ordering ques. 1 med ques. And no math.
When I walked out my legs were trembling and I felt like I'd collapse at any moment. I felt like I had gotten at least 50% of the ques right, but wasn't sure I had passed. I rushed home and checked Pearson Vue. I got the good pop up! I verified with everyone in my class who passed and they agreed they also received the good pop up. It works!
Today I confirmed it on the MN board of nursing, I PASSED!