I have a previous bachelors degree. I got my associate degree in nursing last month (December 2012). I took my NCLEX Jan 28. We did ATI in school but I never really utilized it. I took the assessments each quarter and did adequate. Last quarter we did a NCLEX prep test that showed I had a 98% chance of passing the first time. I didn't start studying for the NCLEX til 3 days before. I did ATI and read the rationales. I got the Kaplan book and did the entire 265 test and read the rationales. I also thought Kaplan did a good job of explaining each type of question I would see and strategies for approaching it. I thought Saunders had a great CD and did hundreds of questions on it. I also did questions from the Princeton Review book. There is a class in my state taught by a professor who used to write questions for the NCLEX. I didn't take it but I did get his book. It's wonderful and I wish I would have had him when I was in school. Finally, I downloaded the ATI app to my phone and did questions on the go.
I walked in to take the NCLEX feeling moderately confident and very terrified. I woke up early, got lots of sleep, ate a good breakfast, and got there on time.
That test was absolutely nothing like a single prep I did. Not even close. The content itself was very very basic. The types of questions were like I did in the prep. But not a single strategy I learned worked. There was no one (or even two) answers that stood out because the patient was acute (not chronic) or fresh post op (vs POD 2) or had ABC problems or had safety concerns. I struggled to even narrow it down to the top 2 best answers. There was not a single question I was certain of my answer. The test shut off at 75 questions. I walked out feeling very stupid, like a failure, and knew my future as a RN was over. At least it wasn't just me. I had 7 friends from school that had taken it as well and all felt the same way.
When I got to my car, I pulled out my phone and did the Pearson Vue trick. Good pop up. Anxiety went down. Maybe I didn't fail after all. Or maybe I was the exception to the trick. Or maybe it was just too soon. So I went home and did the trick every 30 minutes until I went to bed.
The next morning I was useless at work. I had one friend take it the previous Thursday and her results were up by 1130am Friday. I had friends take it Friday and their results were up by 2pm Monday. But 2pm came and went and I was still "pending." I thought maybe they put up the people that passed first and then the failures and that's why mine was taking so long. Then 3:30pm rolled around and BAM! I passed. My license number was up on my nursing board website and active. I e-mailed everyone I had job interviews with and the next day I had a job. I'm not sure how it happened but 48 hours after passing the NCLEX, I had a job.
I have no idea how to tell anyone how to study. I obviously knew more than I thought I did but I felt like everything I did was a big waste. It was nothing like I expected.