NCLEX-RN - Don't Give Up!

by NewYorkNurse88 25,749 Views | 57 Comments

You finished pre-requisites, completed nursing school, and have officially graduated from a nursing program. All that is left to do, is pass the dreaded, NCLEX-RN. I failed the first time with 263 questions, and the second time, I passed with 75 questions. I fought hard, and I came back strong. You can do it too.

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    NCLEX-RN - Don't Give Up!

    I have decided to write a post about tips for the NCLEX through my experience. I took the NCLEX twice. The first time I failed with 263 questions, and the second time, I passed with 75 questions.

    The First Time

    I was told that this was a very difficult exam from professors, nurses, doctors, and students. It was very disheartening because I believed them. This placed a lot of doubt in my own abilities.

    I took the Kaplan course, which was to a certain extent, helpful (questions-wise). Unfortunately, the professor had instilled how difficult the exam was in each and every one of our heads. I felt more inadequate. I also took HURST Review Services, but didn’t use it as much as I should have.

    For a month and a half, I completed about 4,000 questions, and spent about ten hours a day studying. I was doing too much, and when I became nervous, I could not recall any information. I used numerous books, class notes, and lectures. It was too much, and I was hard on myself. By the time I took the exam I had over studied, and, mentally, I was not prepared.

    My biggest fear was having the computer never shut down on me. That was exactly what happened. I ran out of time on the 263rd question. I was miserable, traumatized, and feeling unbelievably stupid. At one point during the exam, I was reading the questions once, and clicking ANY answer. I couldn’t think. I was numb, and I just wanted to run out of the exam room.

    After failing, I was depressed. I felt like a failure, I was a failure. I heard about other graduate nurses passing and finding jobs… It made me feel inferior.

    But, although defeated, I didn’t give up. I changed my study plan. I knew that while I felt horrible, I couldn’t give up on something that I am so passionate about. This was meant to be. I was meant to have a ‘, RN’ after my name.

    The Truth

    The exam is what you make it. If you put yourself down, it will affect how you answer questions. Believe in yourself. It is impossible to know everything. Walk into the exam, with confidence. Don’t act it, believe it. What you know is what you know; no one can take that away from you.

    The NCLEX is not a race. The NCLEX is about being a safe nurse, and not killing patients. Take some time to absorb information. Knowing and understanding is better than memorizing.

    Remember, the NCLEX is on your side. It will keep giving you chances to pass. Read each question carefully. Take your time.

    So, You Are A Perfectionist?

    You have just met your match… me. I am the Queen, nice to meet you.

    I spent my paychecks shopping at Staples, Office Depot, AC Moore, Michael’s, Wal-Mart, Target, etc. I bought and utilized different colored folders, binders, highlighters, pens, stickers, sticky tabs, sheet protectors, planners, calendars, storage items, and more. I’m sure you catch my drift. I believe in perfection, I don’t settle for less.

    Now, that you believe me, listen up! You are trying too hard. Stop it. You need to relax. If you are like me, you believe that you need to know every single word to truly know a topic. That is not true. You just need to understand it.

    I was able to let go and relax mainly because of Hurst Review Services. They focused on topics that they felt the NCLEX touches on. This was a lifesaver. I did the online version, which was $300. It was worth it.

    The Pearson Vue Trick (PVT)

    I believe it works. Both times were accurate for me.

    For those of you who don’t know about it, basically, after taking the exam, you register to take the exam again on the Pearson Vue website. You sign in, fill out the registration form, then hit ‘next.’ If it takes you to the credit card screen, you most likely failed, because they are allowing you to pay for the next exam. If you get a pop-up saying the exam is already scheduled, then you passed, because they won’t allow you to pay or schedule another exam if you already passed it.

    How to Dress

    The first time, I dressed like a bum. I wore sweats, and sneakers. I dressed how I felt. Normally, I’m a girly girl, so this did not help with my confidence. Even in “comfortable” clothing, I felt out of my element. My professors told me that you will not know how long you will be taking the examination, so dress comfortably. Because other people were planning on wearing sweats, I did the same.

    The second time around, I dressed like I was going out on a date. I felt comfortable, sexy, and confident. This was what I was used to. Do what works for you, not what other people tell you to. Everyone is different. Don’t be afraid to be you. So, shine. Shine bright. Shine bright like a diamond. Yes, I said it. And, I ain’t taking it back, lol!

    How to Study

    Questions. Surprised? Probably not. If people keep telling you this, then there has to be some truth to it. I combined questions and content. Altogether, I finished about 2,000 questions and spent 1-3 hours studying content per day. I completed 100 questions per day.

    I learned very quickly, not to over do it. Your brain needs time to absorb information. I realized I was beginning to retain information in my long-term memory more easily. Oh yes.

    Items I Used to Study

    1. Hurst Review Services – I must confess, I used this mainly as a refresher course. I enjoyed listening to the professors and filling in the blanks on the notes’ pages. This made me.

    2. PrepU (NCLEX-RN 10,000) Questions – I completed 1200 questions. They give you your weaknesses and strengths. My school gave this to us free. It turned out to be an amazing tool.

    3. Kaplan NCLEX-RN Strategies, Practice and Review – Good test-taking strategies, and easy to read and follow. I liked the questions behind each chapter. They also give you practice questions/exams in the back.

    4. Take time out to study infection control. Make a list/chart. It is okay to memorize this. I had to. Hurst Review Services gives materials on infection control. I read and utilized all of them.

    5. EAT – No, don’t EAT, lol, know ‘EAT.’ Evaluate, Assess and Teach. Never delegate tasks that involve evaluating, assessing, and teaching to nursing assistants. I had a few questions on delegation, and knowing ‘EAT,’ got me through all of them.

    The Day Before the Exam


    1. Get your nails done
    2. Watch TV
    3. Enjoy some dessert
    4. Listen to some music
    5. Spend time with your best friend, someone that you love
    6. Prepare and pack all necessary documentation and identification (I also packed snacks, just in case.)
    7. Go to bed early


    The Day of the Exam

    Please don’t do any questions. The exam will take care of that. Promise.

    Eat breakfast. A hungry belly, talks back, and is extremely disruptive to the thinking process, and other test-takers. Be kind to your tummy, and others.

    Taking the Exam

    You got this. You believe it because you did the work.

    On the top of my board, I wrote, a silly little cray quote. It’s okay to have swag during the exam. It empowered me. I smiled and laughed throughout taking the NCLEX.

    For difficult questions, I wrote down what each question was asking, and then wrote 1, 2, 3 and 4. Once I eliminated an answer, I crossed it out on my board. This also applied to ‘select all that apply’ questions. It was useful and kept me focused.

    I took my first break when I was on question #47. I had become overwhelmed, and felt myself getting nervous. I had a tricky dosage calculation question that I was about to give up on. Once I came back from my break, I was able to figure out the answer, no problem. I held onto my cool.

    When the computer shut down after question 75, the screen turned blue. At first, I thought it was a scheduled break, until it took me to the ‘Exit Survey.’ I shed a few happy tears, and was so happy that it was all done. I knew I passed. I didn’t even need the Pearson Vue trick. However, an hour later, I gave in and used it. Needless to say, I got the good pop-up.

    My Goal

    Is to inspire you and make you believe that you are worth it.

    I have always had to work harder than other people I know. Sometimes it went unnoticed, but it made me stronger. It made believe that no matter the task, I can do it. I am smart, and I will put in the work and the time, to succeed. I was destined for greatness.

    Remember, that one exam does not make or break you. Your willpower, dedication, passion, makes you.

    And, of course, feel free to ask me questions or post comments. I’m here to help anyone and every one.

    Happy Studying, and for those who will be taking the NCLEX soon, Happy Clicking.


    -RNSwag
    Last edit by Joe V on Oct 14, '13
    Abaynestone, cyke18, PEDSNURSEPASSION, and 25 others like this.
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    57 Comments so far...

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    wow! This is one of the awesome Post i read here in AN!, from the bottom of my heart, my sincere thanks to you for lifting me up and others!

    You deserved your success and i am happy for you, May you continue to inspire us!

    Congrats! ma'm RNSwag
    williamsa and BakingMom like this.
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    Thanks!! I needed to read this....I take mine again next Friday. Congrats to you!!
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    congrats! nice post you got there. im currently on my 3rd take. wish i get it this time.
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    I def needed to read this today because we are just alike!! I take my nclex for the 2nd time in a couple of weeks
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    RNSwag...thanks soo much for this encouraging post. We are soo much alike..perfectionist! I really needed to hear this. As of now I'm doing the Kaplan online course to boost up my confidence with answering questions. I hope it works bc I've failed soo many times! Thx again
    SE_BSN_RN likes this.
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    Thank you for this post! I 100% feel like this was me, I failed the first time too.. And had exhausted myself from studying that I literally just forgot the info. This time around I felt myself start to worry and get tired again and feeling like I'm not doing enough or knowing enough. I take it this week coming up and I just need the confidence because I can do this!!!!!!
    SE_BSN_RN likes this.
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    Miniangel2, thank you for commenting on my post! I read your comment out loud, and I was immediately in tears. I am in awe of your genuine kindness. I wish you all the best, and I will continue to inspire, as will you. Remember to believe in yourself, and know that you can do anything!
    Miniangel2 likes this.
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    Quote from lvn2bsoon
    Thanks!! I needed to read this....I take mine again next Friday. Congrats to you!!
    Thank you so much lvn2bsoon! And, good luck to you! Just take your time, and read each question carefully. You got this!
  12. 0
    Quote from bkshadow
    congrats! nice post you got there. im currently on my 3rd take. wish i get it this time.
    Bkshadow, thank you so much! Just remember to read each question carefully and understand what it is asking you. When you read the choices, refrain from adding in answers, and use the process of elimination. Practice makes perfect! I'm hoping that you get it this time too! Good luck!


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