I graduated nursing school in 2012 with my BSN. I have been reading allnurses.com for a year now and I said that when I passed my NCLEX I promised that I would post my story. I seriously have so many people to thank for emotional support including the community in allnurses.com.
So here it goes...
Last year, I graduated nursing school from a top 50 nursing school. I thought that since I choose a major nursing school that I would not have a problem with NCLEX. My gpa was a 3.0 but I excelled in clinicals. I choose Saunders for my main study tool. I read the text book front to back and did the questions in it. I was not keeping track of my scores or anything like that. As soon as I got my ATT, I scheduled my date for early fall. I told myself that I was going to dedicate myself to a month. In reality, I only did an actual studying for 2 weeks , the third week I moved to a different city,and the fourth week (the week before my exam) I was totally nervous and avoided all studying by watching movies or playing video games. I was in denial about how I really felt for the exam and that was unprepared but I ignored my feelings. Plus, I kept seeing people in my class passing and getting jobs and I wanted to make my family proud of me for being a self sufficient adult. So basically, I focused on other things rather than myself and the test.
So on the first test, I got around 120 questions. At question 100, I let myself get so overwhelmed and started crying at the testing center. I did the worst thing that you can do and that is give up. I started clicking on any answer because I just wanted to go home and lay in bed, snuggle with my dog, and eat ice cream. After I finished the exam, I went home and did exactly that.
However to make things worse for myself, I did the pearson vue trick to see if I could get my results faster than the 2 days. I got the credit card page (sign that I failed) and prayed that it was a fluke. Needless to say, I was sad. By the way, I was also late for my exam; don't do that either!
After a week of tears, I was determined to pass NCLEX. I signed up for my test for December and I dedicated three months to Kaplan. I signed up for Kaplan the week before my test. I went to the class and it made me feel totally overwhelmed. I hated the Kaplan strategies and just my own. I just couldn't get it down. I could see that Kaplan was good if you already know your content. Instead of reschelduling, I ignored my feelings (agian) and stayed dedicated to my date.
I went to the exam feeling nervous but confident. I actually did all the kaplan q-banks (60%) and did Q-trainer 1(54%),2 (54%),3 (58.5%). I don't remember my scores. At the exam, I couldn't figure out the questions so I used the Kaplan strategies that I didn't practice at all before the test. My exam stopped at 75 and I failed. I did do the pearson vue trick and there was a part of me that was still skeptical but it took me to the credit card page. This time I didn't cry. I went into shock and basically didn't say anything for two days.
I was so depressed after failing the second time. It was terrible because it was around Christmas time and I traveled to see my family and friends. It was terrible having to tell ppl that I wasn't working as a nurse and hadn't passed my NCLEX. But I learned that my family and friends supported me and didn't judge me. If I had any feelings of judgement of me , it was all coming from me inside my head.
So what does someone do after they fail NCLEX twice?
The first thing I did was take a nice long month long break. I had to rebuild my confidence.
After, I felt ready again,I sought out help from others.
I was able to find a nurse who personally tutored me for 2-3 months. My tutor was able to help me realize my weakness and strengths. My tutor helped me focus. I will list my study aids then explain how I used them:
Saunders Book and CD rom
Kaplan NCLEX RN Book
Kaplan Qbank and Q trainers
And now I will explain how I used these to pass the NCLEX on the third time...
1) Content review. I really needed a content review. My tutor instructed me to do Saunders CD-rom (4000 questions) first. If I missed something then I need to review it in the book or the a textbook. Otherwise, you will get to overwhelmed with all the info. What I needed is to jump in and start practicing questions. We have a ton of knowledge but we need to practice questions. Also, practicing content based questions helps you review so it is a win-win.
2) Next I had special dedicated time to my weaknesses which were: Pharm, Safety, Labs,Growth and Development. I used quizlet to help me memorize things that i needed to know like therapeutic drug levels,lab, and human development. I also used Kaplan content review on Pharm (highly recommend)!
3)Once, I finished content, I did Mosby Flashcards. They are broken up into sections and in my opinion are a good transition from Saunders questions to practicing Kaplan questions.
4) Then I signed up for the Kaplan class after I had already did my major content study. I went into Kaplan and it was a whole different experience. I did feel confident in my content and this point and Kaplan was able to teach my tactics to help select the answer. Kaplan is great once you are content ready.
Here were my Kaplan scores:
QBANK RANGE- 80%-100%
5) After the class , I had 5 weeks to do all the qbank and qtrainers.
So this is how I did my QT:
week 1- QT 1,2,3
week 2 QT 4
week 3 QT 5
week 4 Qt 6
week 5 QT 7
exam on mon.
I used my qbank in between the QTs and I also used the Qtrainers to help see what I was weak in. Anything under 65%, I reveiwed and did questions on. I used only Kaplan qbank and book. I also reused Mosby flashcards on areas that were weak.
I went home after the exam and I did the pearson vue trick and I got the special message and two days later it was official I was an RN!
So how long did it take me to prepare for my third NCLEX and pass? 6 Months of dedication!
A total content review for me was about 4.5 months; practicing test based questions with NCLEX was about 1.5 months.
Overall it took me 11 months out of school to pass my NCLEX and become a RN!
All in all, it was totally worth it! If you are a first time NCLEX test taker and reading this, you may not have to work this hard. I would say pay attention to yourself and rescheldule if you are not ready but make a study scheldule.
If you are reading this and you need to retake the NCLEX or you were like me and unsure if you can get through this, I want you to know that I am living proof that it can be done! Don't give up on yourself! You can do this! I believe in you! Believe in yourself that you will get through this!
I think anyone who is reading this and is planning on retaking or taking NCLEX for the first time needs to know:
1. Make a plan. Start with your weaknesses and work towards your strengths. You need to study!
2. Take breaks and have a stress outlet! Sometimes we think we don't have time and that may be true but you need to take time for yourself. But you will need to set limits on your breaks. The first and second time I took the exam, I didn't take many breaks and the few times I did were not appropriate times for breaks. You pay for it later if you do not take breaks. There is a lot of stuff you need to know. The third time I took the test, I would watch a 20 min show on netflix in between my studying. And I would tell myself only one 20 min episode then I will study. You just have to make yourself do it!
3. Yes, you need to know lab values, pharm, and priority questions!
4. 30 min before the exam, I took the time to write my name plus BSN,RN about a hundred times and it boosted my confidence before the exam.
5. Stay calm so you can be focused.
6. One question at a time. This is a test where every question matters. Also take extra time on your first 75 questions.
7. Read carefully and think about it! Use your strategies for picking answers.
8. Believe in yourself. Be ready! It will happen and when it does....it is amazing!
Good luck! You can do it !