All right folks, I took my NCLEX-RN this morning, got the good pop-up (yay me), and just wanted to offer a couple of thoughts.
First of all, the BEST advice I can give is to NOT do what I did last week, which is: come to this site, start stressing over Kaplan vs. Saunders vs. this, that, the other. Start reading about people's difficulties and taking them on as your own. Assume you have to have all 25+ study guides out there (heck, even 5 is probably too many), and start psyching yourself out of going in there and getting it done. I ALMOST re-scheduled my test after reading some of these threads. I was stressing HARDCORE, especially after reading about some of the people who have taken it more than once: the people who got straight A's, 1050 on the exit HESI, etc., etc.
Let's face it: SOME of this is luck of the draw. If you're presented with numerous items that you're unfamiliar with, you *might* be in trouble. I was expecting tons of really difficult med questions, lots of difficult disease process questions, etc. The truth is, some of the most simple advice was the most helpful: know your ABC's, know Maslow's, do a lot of practice on who you would see first and why. Prepare to critical think, but when you're in there taking the test do not go into a full-blown panic attack if it seems like at least the first 15 questions are stuff you have no knowledge of (which is how I felt today). That sympathetic nervous system response (fight or flight mode) is NOT going to help you. Let it go, and focus on answering the new question in front of you. Most of the SATA's I had (and I had maybe 8), the answers seemed to me to be very obvious, very standard stuff we learned in school. To be quite honest, the SATA's on my NCLEX-PN last year seemed MUCH harder than the ones I took today.
If you're curious, I'm willing to share what I did to study/practice (and I do think studying and practicing and getting yourself in the right mindset is important, it also refreshes some of those less-frequently-thought-of disease processes that might pop up). I picked up Saunders 5th edition at Barnes and Noble. I tried reading the book, but I had one week to study and after a while I felt like that was not where my time was best spent. I mostly used the CD, at first I did the instant feedback review, but then started doing the 100-question exam where you can review at the end to see where you went wrong in your thinking. This REALLY helped me be in the right frame of mind for NCLEX. I also liked that I could narrow the Saunders CD down to meds only (since I feel that is my weak spot), and those little bits other people have posted on here about classes of meds were very helpful too. The only other thing I did was the NCLEX-3500 (there is a link floating around on here, but I'll post it again at the bottom). I think some people feel it is outdated, but there is quite a bit on there that will never change, and it is the major thing I have used during nursing school to keep my memory active, and it was also the ONLY thing I used to study for NCLEX-PN I took in May 2012.
I guess what I'm saying (and this is the same good advice I got from friends and family who are RN's already) is: have a little faith in yourself!!! You are intelligent, otherwise you never would have made it to nursing school in the first place. If your school has >85% pass rate, you have a pretty darn good shot at passing, you should be fairly well-prepared. Do NOT look at these forums and psych yourself out, I think when you get to the test you might be pleasantly surprised. Very best of luck to each of you, and I have appreciated the info here that has been helpful to me.