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If I didn't pass the Final, I would fail the program


Specializes in Progressive, Intermediate Care, and Stepdown.

"Andrew you failed the last test and if you don't pass the final, you will fail the nursing program." These are the words that I mulled over and over and over throughout a week prior to the final exam. The stress was overwhelming. Literally, I'm on 75 mg of metoprolol and see a cardiologist regularly due to the premature ventricular contractions that I have related to the stress and anxiety.

So, what do I do? Sit in this self-pity, this feeling of failure, or this overwhelmingly large load of stress. Do I lay in bed under the covers and just hope for the best? I have never been in this situation before. The pressure was unbelievable. However, ultimately, I passed. How?

I was staring at the ceiling while lying in bed next to my girlfriend. She was tense as I was. She was obviously stressed to the max but knew that staying calm for me was more beneficial. I had so many thoughts running in my head. Why am I here? How did this happen? Am I meant to be nurse? What can I do when I fail? Will the program make an exception for me and take me back? I really want to use tobacco again (I've quit chewing). A drink really sounds nice. I'm plain worthless.

All negative feelings and thoughts. Nothing that was going to benefit me and solve this problem that I've gotten myself into. Interestingly, I've done extremely well in school prior to the nursing program. Mostly A's. However, throughout the program, I've been getting mostly B's and C's. So, am I a bad student and not going to be a good nurse? Again, this is a constant thought that I had. How did I manage to pull myself from my self-pity and look at the situation as an opportunity as opposed to not?

I did an extremely deep reflection into myself. I considered all the negative thoughts and managed to come up with the idea, "You can do this!" Simple as that. Nothing to complex about it. It's so easy to get lost in one's self and in the negativity. Believe me. I have spent a good portion of my life there. Comparing myself to impractical and unattainable standards. But, I knew that I can do this.

If you are like me in that you are either of the following:

1. You did fantastic outside of the nursing program but once you were in, your grades have been "average to not good."

2. You have a tendency to look at the negative side of things during stressful times.

3. You don't see opportunity in stressful or very difficult times.

These words may be helpful to you.

1. You did fantastic outside of the nursing program but once you were in, your grades have been "average to not good."

It literally took me the entire nursing program and the week prior to the final exam, that would determine my fate, to figure this out. I've heard it again and again. "I'm great in the hospital but not tests," she says. The nursing program relies primarily on test grades. Why? I've been told because, ultimately, we will take a test that will allow us to move forward-the NCLEX. The first day of the week before the test I delved into a book that has, "Strategies for the Registered Nursing Licensing Exam."

Read and listen closely. The problem with many nursing students is NOT your body of knowledge. You know the material. You've read again and again. And, believe me, you don't need to know all the material to be successful. If that were the case, I don't believe anyone would pass exams. Realistically, who could know every facet of nursing care of every disease?

I thought it was a knowledge issue. I need to memorize more positions, more symptoms, or more pathophysiologies. Nope. The problem is your testing strategy. You have probably heard something like this before, "Nursing tests are application based." Well, what does that really mean? First, it means that a majority of your testing strategies you've used up until this point won't necessarily work on nursing tests. Unfortunately, a majority ,if not all, of your tests have been based upon memorization and recall. Nursing has little to do with that. I don't need to go into detail here but if you're curious google, "Bloom's taxonomy and nursing."

So, here I am, just finding out that my testing strategies are severely lacking. I can't tell you how much time and effort you'll be saving yourself if you invest time into your testing strategies. I'm not talking about buying an NCLEX review book with thousands of questions. I'm talking about a book that teaches you how to take tests in nursing school and on the NCLEX.

After I studied the book, I took my new-found skills to an NCLEX review book and used them on material that I'm most weak in (PEDS and maternity). Surprisingly, I got many questions correct. Not because I knew the disease per se, but because, I knew exactly what the question was asking, used my strategies, and used good logic and thinking. This takes practice. Overall, this transferred to the final and I passed.

Again, INVEST your time into your testing strategies. Don't wait until the last week like I did to figure this out. It's emotionally not worth it. I used the KAPLAN NCLEX-RN book. But, that's the one I had on hand (my girlfriend has a BSN so I use her books sometimes). I'm not necessarily endorsing this book but rather, it was the only thing I had on hand. I don't know what level you are in but again, I can't stress this enough. Save yourself time and heartache and INVEST in your test taking strategies.

2. You have a tendency to look at the negative side of things.

3. You don't see opportunity in stressful or very difficult times.

I don't have that much advice here. I'm not really sure how I was able to come to the conclusion that, "You can do it." I think it was the thought of failing or repeating the last semester (hardest semester of my life). I felt like I was on a cliff edge and failing was like jumping off to my death. Literally, I felt like the world would end. Ultimately, I could not accept this fate. There is something about an extremely stressful situation that pushes one's self to madness, insanity, sadness, self-pity, or to see the light and an opportunity. I chose the light and to make an opportunity.

This is a new trend for me because I have battled with anxiety, depression, addiction, defensiveness, self-pity and other mental health concerns my entire life. Interestingly, the nursing program has allowed me to become more introspective. I've decided to delve into my issues and work through them to become a better person. I think that openness and honesty with one's self is required in order to come to the conclusion of, "You can do it!" I'm no psychologist believe me. But, I do have experience with many mental health problems because I have had them. Mainly, I've had troubles with alcohol and tobacco for these are bad coping mechanisms covering the true emotional problems I have. Anyway.

I would say that when you come to adversity, you have two options. Weigh those options. Determine which would be the best for you. Likely, you'll come to the conclusion that finishing and success are more appealing. Then, determine what you need to do in order to get there. You too can come to the conclusion of, "You can do it!" Good luck in all your endeavors. I can proudly say that I have finished and I'm off to take the NCLEX and to my future. :D


congratulations sir!

Thank you, Andrew. As a future nursing student, I find this post very insightful. I just finished reading Bloom's Taxonomy and now I feel like I have a much better understanding of what you mean by studying testing strategies.

This is very helpful information. I totally understand!!!!


Specializes in hopeful ER/Surg.

Thank you for the Bloom's suggestion. I am going to check that out! I was interested in your post because I just recently had a near-miss do-or-die final. I will NEVER let myself be in that position again. I have never felt worse!

Test strategy is an ENORMOUS need for the nursing student. Some just have a gift for it. The rest of us need to work on it- and it makes such an amazing difference.

Saunder's Strategies for Test Success is a helpful book, I thought. It helped me reason my way past my biggest problems- reading too much into the question.

Wow...im so glad you posted this when I just finished 1 exam and have 1 more until the end of second semester...this post was a blessing to read. Thank you for saying everything I have been thinking the last few weeks but couldn't seem to put into words. God bless you

I'm so happy for you! Congratulations! Keep moving forward!