Finished my first week, took my first exam, got an 80, how bad is that??


Hello! I just finished my first week of the LVN program today. I took my first exam in Basic Skills over 4 chapters. THere were only 50 questions, and I made an 80. I am glad that I passed. HOWEVER, I just wondered if that is not good being that its supposed to get harder from here on out. A lot of my classmates didnt pass at all, many were crying etc. I got to review my test, and I see what I did wrong. Had I went with my FIRST guess on all the ones I got wrong, I would have literally made a 100! Lesson learned. Now I hope I can make myself pick my first answer! I just wondered for all you veterans, do you remember your first test? Did you bomb it or ace it? I really put in a lot of time studying, but our study group studied more of "definitions ect." versus actual scenarios. We know now what to study!


228 Posts

Your post sounds very familiar. The great news is that if you had went with your first answer, you would have done better! Remember that.

Nursing school tests are different and people have to get used to taking them. As you noted, they are based on application of knowledge, not on definitions.

As for the tears, many of your classmates are used to making straight As and those days are OVER. A passing score on any nursing exam is a good score!

Remember that you can only do the best you can. Study hard, focus on application of knowledge and let the chips fall where they may.

Oh, and buy all the NCLEX guides you can and use them as practice for tests. These are invaluable for letting you know how to "think."

Good luck and have fun.

allnurses Guide

ghillbert, MSN, NP

3,796 Posts

Specializes in CTICU. Has 27 years experience.

It's great to realize what sort of test taker you are. Me, I usually change wrong -> right, so I make sure I double check everything. If you're someone that changes right -> wrong, you know to stop doing that.

I tend to get better as semesters go on, and I figure out how the teacher likes to write the tests. The first test is always my worst.

Has 4 years experience.

As for the tears, many of your classmates are used to making straight As and those days are OVER. A passing score on any nursing exam is a good score!

Oh, and buy all the NCLEX guides you can and use them as practice for tests. These are invaluable for letting you know how to "think."


I don't really agree with that first part. A lot of people make a LOT of A's in nursing school, some make straight A's even. A passing score isn't good to some NOT just aim for the bare minimum. What's the pass/fail cutoff in your school?

And don't get swamped in 10 books trying to what the teacher focuses on. A lot of times it might be strictly notes, or strictly from your text. If you have 10 study books, you'll have 10 slightly different versions. The normal for potassium might be 3.5 in your teacher's notes, but 3.2 in one book, 3.1 in another...and the teacher might put a Potassium level of 3.3 on the exam...and you might say it's normal because in one book you remember seeing it being normal...and the teacher will say no, see what I'm gettin at?

Has 4 years experience.

An 80 isn't bad if you know your mistakes. But it can be bad if you study 2 weeks and swear you know it all, but get an 80 when the failing cutoff is a 78. Sounds like you'll do better next time. So nope an 80 isn't bad in your case, congrats. And you had a test the first week?!? That was fast lol


192 Posts

Specializes in telemetry/med surg.

girl yes that was fast, but that was actually exam 2! Our first exam grade was a 2 page paper which was due 4 days after we started! Thankfully I got a 100 on that. But our teacher did grade revisions so I ended up an 82. I am thankful that I passed, our passing level is 75. But I have already started studying a different way! thanks you guys!


192 Posts

Specializes in telemetry/med surg.

LOL so sorry I apologize, my bad!


82 Posts

Specializes in Dialysis.

Pretty reliably, I score a little lower on the first exam of the semester than the subsequent exams. After that first exam, I have an idea of how that prof tests, what kinds of questions they like, etc. I wouldn't necessarily worry about an 80- you have time to improve your overall score, and it won't hurt you too badly.

As far as studying is concerned, it gets overwhelming to read material over several (long!) chapters. One trick I learned during my first degree program (psychology) came from one of my cognitive psych professors. She recommended stopping after each section and doing a check-in with yourself. Ask yourself "What did I just read? How can I explain it to someone else in terms they can understand?" Of course, this works better for general concepts than for things you have to memorize (math formulas, etc.). But I could see using this technique for reviewing assessments and things of that nature, where you really will be applying them. In clinical, I like to explain to my pts what I am doing as I go along- which helps them take charge of their healthcare and helps me to strengthen mt knowledge. Teaching material to someone else really helps solidify your knowledge. Also, see if there are questions in the back of the chapter that you can review. See if you can answer them without looking. See if you can get a good discussion going in your study group. Often, you will remember pieces of the discussions you have with your peers better than lectures from your prof.

Sorry this rambled a little bit, but cognitive psych is a passion of mine. Best of luck and enjoy yourself!


908 Posts

Specializes in CTICU/CVICU. Has 4 years experience.

I think if you pass a nursing exam, you did a good job!:yeah: Nursing school exams are totally of a different mind-frame.

I'm a 1st year, 2nd semester nursing student and so far, I've gotten all As on my major exams except one. I think it's a matter of finding what works for YOU and going with that. From trial and error, I'ved learned that I can't cram the weekend before an exam - I need to be studying atleast a week before, if not more. Don't change any answers unless I am 150% sure that I didn't choose the correct answer the first time. With that, I use a pencil with NO eraser! It will force me not to change my answer. Seems risky but it works! I have been bringing in a 2nd pencil with an eraser for math problems but I leave that pencil on the floor and it takes a lot for me to use it to change answer. It works for me! I also do NOT work the day of an exam. I work 2 flexible jobs that have me workin 40+ hours a week (I go to school 4 evenings a's rough!) but since I self-schedule for 1 job and I can choose not to work anytime at my other job, I make sure I'm not working on the day of the exam. And lastly, if there is ANY review sheets or notes that the instructor gives out..DO THEM! They are only there to help you!

Good luck!


57 Posts

Specializes in Psychiatric.

An 80 isn't bad at all. Usually the first test, especially nursing tests, you are learning the format of the questions and what the teacher expects you to pick up from lectures and texbook information. For me it has only gotten easier. Don't get bogged down in too many books. Review your notes from lecture and cross reference with the text and maybe one review book but that should be it. It helps to prepare you for those NCLex questions.

Good Luck!


192 Posts

Specializes in telemetry/med surg.

well since posting this, I have taken 2 more tests, one I made an 88, and one an 84, so I was a little happier. the only thing that makes me feel better is that a lot of people are in the 70's, so apparently a lot of people are struggling. I finally feel like I am getting settled in, but MAN I hate care plans!