I feel like a failure. Has anyone else struggled with NCLEX questions?


I've just started nursing school, and although I feel I know the material backwards and forwards, I'm really struggling.

My program is very tough- our grades are compiled as follows;

Exam 1 12% of grade

Exam 2 12% of grade

Exam 3 12% of grade

Exam 4 12% of grade

Exam 5 12% of grade

Fina Exam 30% of grade

Other Assignments 10% of grade

In this program, a 75% is considered passing, and each exam consists of 45 multiple choice NCLEX questions and 5 NCLEX select all that apply.

I'm studying very hard- I KNOW the material, and I can answer questions logically in class without a problem.

However, the NCLEX questions are KILLING me. I feel the questions are poorly worded and confusing, and have a very hard time with them.

On the first exam, I got a 72%, 3 points shy of passing. Over half the class failed that exam, with a 75.51 or some decimal being the class average. On the second Exam, I got a 66% and the class average was a 77%.

I'm at a loss. I've studied material, read learning objectives, done practice NCLEX questions, everything- I'm just struggling very badly with the NCLEX format. I find myself getting very frustrated when two answers are right but one is 'more' right.

Can anyone give me some advice on how to deal with this/ prepare for these NCLEX questions?

I'm afraid I won't be able to pass nursing school, not for lack of trying, but just because I am unable to adapt to the NCLEX format. Any suggestions?

Specializes in Vascular Access, Infusion Therapy.

This is going to sound weird but if you know the material then stop overthinking the questions, go with your instincts. If you know the material then your worst enemy is your own self-doubt and second guessing.

I knew the material when I took NCLEX so I took it half sober and was in and out of the testing center in less than 45 minutes. I have taken and passed the VA-BC and CRNI twice in the same manner. Only works though if you absolutely know the material.

Relax and stay confident.

Editorial Team / Admin

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

6 Articles; 11,345 Posts

Specializes in OR, Nursing Professional Development. Has 18 years experience.

Have you looked up information on strategies to answering NCLEX questions? There's some good resources out there by various schools that are publicly available, even to students at another program. There's also some YouTube videos, websites, and many other resources out there.

You can also try working with resources available at your school- tutors/learning resources aren't always just for the information- they can help with your situation as well.


94 Posts

Do you have a nursing advisor? We had one that would help people who struggled. Also if you habe tutors, that can help. When I would get to those last 2, I would rationalize why they were right and if they were both right, which one would I do first. ABCs. You have time to pull up your grade. I have seen people fail the 1st 2 exams and pull it out.


5 Posts

How about making an appointment with your instructor and going over the questions and answers? That way you know what went wrong. Also when you read a topic, formulate an nclex question. Google nclex questions and practice them. It will help you be familiar with these type of question. To make you feel better, I went to a school with 80% (grade letter C) is a passing grade: 100-94% is A, 93.99-87% B, 86.99-80% C. I had a friend who failed and got kicked out of the program with 79.99% overall grade. Exams were all nclex style with numerous SATAs. The more you practice, the better you get. Good luck to you!


4 Posts

I liked using parts of Kaplan's Decision Tree to help me critically think through NCLEX questions. Are the answer choices assessment or implementation? Do you have enough assessment information on the client in order to do an action? If not, chose an assessment answer. If so, go with implementation. Physical needs take priority over psychosocial needs. Pain is psychosocial. Airway, breathing, and circulation usually take priority.

When deciding who to see first, see the patient whose condition is unexpected, acute rather that chronic, unstable vs stable, has an actual problem rather than just a potential problem, and whose condition is unsafe.

If you could only do one thing, and then walk away, what would you do? Patient safety is always the number one priority.

The decision tree won't work for all questions, but it's a way to start getting you to critically think through NCLEX questions. NCLEX questions are like a game you have to learn how to play. Practice, read rationales, think through them, and they'll become easier to do.