So like many of you I have been reading the forums here on Allnurses since before starting nursing school, through graduation, and for NCLEX. I have found many of the posts related to those who passed the NCLEX (especially a second time, third time, etc.) to be extremely encouraging so I figured I would post my helpful hints and what I did for passing my NCLEX to other future test takers.
A little background about me:
I entered a 2nd degree 16 month Accelerated BSN program and graduated this past December 2013. I had a very difficult 1st semester but eventually got better each semester to the point where I graduated with a 3.19 GPA. I was not the best test taker by any means, and my school had HESI exams for almost EVERY final (worth 25% of the class grade). I was terrible at HESI exams, and even though I did well during my regular exams and papers, my HESI finals would always bring my GPA as well as my ego down a few notches, but I did make it through nursing school.
After graduation, I took a couple weeks off for vacation and Christmas, and then started Kaplan live review course early January and started doing their Qbank questions. I scheduled my first NCLEX exam a couple weeks after the live review but just wanted to get the exam over with so I moved my NCLEX up to a week aftter my live review.
First Try at NCLEX:
I only studied for 1-2 hours a day 5 days a week doing between 50-100 questions in the Kaplan QBank. I got through maybe 60% of the Qbank. I did not do any of the Qtrainers because I liked only taking between 5-20 questions at a time so I can review the rationales right after. I also did not think I needed to do long practice exams. I only reached about 53% correct in the Qbank before I took my first NCLEX and also took their Readiness exam and scored a 58.33% on that one. My first try at NCLEX I got all 265 questions and knew I had failed because at the end of the exam I had easy questions. I tried the PV trick and it led me to the CC page. I was extremely disappointed and was depressed for the rest of that week.
Second Try at NCLEX:
After I gave myself time to 'mourn my loss', I ordered HURST review and set up a schedule to study their program for six weeks leading up to my next exam date (45 days after my first one). This time I studied 3-5 hours every day, for 5 days a week. I watched almost every HURST lecture twice and then reviewed and wrote notes from their PDF lectures up to the last week. I also completed the Kaplan Qbank which made the score jump from 53% to 58% (still refused to do their Qtrainers). The last two weeks I took 4 out of the 6 Q-review tests that HURST offered and scored a 93/125, 92/125, 75/125, and 89/125. They recommended at least an 85/125 so I figured I was ready. Lastly, I did the LaCharity Priority, Delegation, and Application chapters and used Saunders CD to practice Alternative questions everyday for the last 3 weeks (about 10-20 questions per day). The day before The exam I tried relaxing, which mostly consisted of video games and TV shows, haha. I went to the gym that night before bed to relieve stress and went to bed at a decent time. The morning of the test I made a good breakfast and headed to the testing site. After 3.5 hours I finished my exam after 161 questions. I felt good leaving the test because the last few questions were priority/conference questions so I was pretty sure I passed. I tried the PV trick again and got the good pop up. Paid for the quick results today and found out I passed.
Types of questions I got during the NCLEX second time:
Although this can, and does, vary with each test taker, I found it helpful to see what types of questions people got during their tests so I decided to make a list of what types I had on mine. Out of 161 questions I had
- 15 to 20 Select all that apply (surprisingly not a lot compared to most others)
- 1 drag and drop
- 4 EKG (shown a picture of an EKG either in answer choices or stem of the question)
- 0 Math (was disappointed because I am great at math, go figure)
- about 6-8 medication questions
- close to 10 Infection Control type questions
- Tons of Priority/First/Best/Most
and Conference questions (last question was a Conference question)
In my opinion Kaplan is good, but not that helpful unless you already know the CONTENT and the questions Kaplan gives does not always give you enough information in their questions/answers to help you guess the correct one sometimes, making it more difficult than NCLEX questions. HURST review was extremely good at giving the basics without knowledge overload, I even noticed several questions giving a name of a particular disease that I would have known nothing about if it weren't for HURST. The Q-review was slightly easier than NCLEX though many questions were similar and I even had a couple questions on NCLEX that were almost asking the same thing that a Q-review question had asked . The PDA book is also a must have to help with those higher level questions on NCLEX. I was scoring between 55-86% per chapter, with most chapters averaging high 60s-low 70s%.
Study rationales for practice questions, even when you get the question right. This is extremely important to help you understand concepts.
Know Infection Control inside and out. The NCLEX will try to give you answers that sound good, but are not correct for the particular disease.
Do not worry about studying drugs. Know basics of drug classes (such as many calcium channel blockers end in -pine and help treat angina, HTN, and dysrhythmias)
Make sure you take breaks when you start feeling frustrated during the NCLEX. I had to go give myself a pep talk in the bathroom mirror after the first two hours, which actually helped me refocus.
Use the Dry-erase board they give you, even if it seems pointless. The second time I took NCLEX, I would write down numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 for priority questions I got and cross out answers I knew were wrong which seemed to help me stay focused on choosing the correct answer.
Be confident in yourself and what you know. Don't second guess answers.
Also, I am not one who believes you have to do 1000's of questions every week. The second time around I did between 25-100 (usually about 50) per day for 5 days out of the week and took a break during most weekends. You also do not have to study for EVERY waking moment. I only studied during the morning and left the afternoon and most evenings to hang out with friends, work out, and play video games. You made it through nursing school, so you can AND will pass the NCLEX, even if you have to do it more than once. Good luck everyone!