I've now failed NCLEX-RN twice....

Nursing Students NCLEX


I just graduated this past May of 2010. I'm a 34yo guy and this is my second bachelors degree. My nursing school GPA was a 3.67. I made the Dean's List twice, the President's Honor List once, inducted into STTI, and I would have graduated with honors if my GPA from my first undergrad wasn't calculated, which brought my overall GPA down a bit.

About two weeks after graduation, I took Hurst Review and then used a friend's Kaplan account to use Kaplan's Q Bank, scoring each test in the mid-60's. I walked into the NCLEX cautiously confident....

....and then I failed the damn thing with all 265 questions, using 5 of the 6 available hours. I was crushed, to say the least. I moped around for a couple of weeks, beating myself up and generally feeling quite sorry for myself. Then I got back in the saddle and started studying again. I took NCLEX-RN for the second time the day before yesterday and I didn't fare any better: 203 questions and I ran out of time. I just got the results minutes ago: failed again.

Two themes were common on both of my exams: Many drugs I hadn't heard of and lots of questions with answers I couldn't make any sense of, which I of course find baffling for an exam that is supposed to test for minimum competency.

I keep asking myself how I can do so well and apparently not retain what I need to retain. I've always been a good-to-great student, yet I've always struggled with standardized tests, going back to the PSAT in Jr High. Does this make sense to anyone? Can anyone relate to this?

Anyway, moving on....

Things I've done and the resources I have available to me:

ATI - I took this in nursing school, but didn't take it too seriously because our ATI's didn't count for or against us, and we had to focus on the 'real' exams. The ATI NCLEX Predictor Test said I had a 91% chance of passing NCLEX on my first attempt. Har har.

Hurst Review - I took the live Hurst Review after graduation. I liked it. I also have their lecture videos saved on my computer. Before I took NCLEX the first time, I attended the live Hurst lectures and then I did the Kaplan Q Bank the following week. I didn't really study the Hurst content beyond what I did in the Hurst classes. As I mentioned earlier, I was doing well on the Kaplan Q Bank, scoring in the mid-60's on each of the tests. This is not to say that I didn't look things up in areas where I felt I was weak (looking at you, Labor and Delivery....I'm a guy, what can I say). For this second time around, I focused mainly on studying the content and re-doing the Hurst Review via my computer. This obviously didn't work out either.

I have a Kaplan book, my ATI books, a Saunders book, another Hurst Review book, and a handful of others that were given to me.

I want to take this in the next 45-50 days, and any suggestions would be very much appreciated --

- Should I take the Kaplan Review? I've heard Kaplan is question-focused, but I haven't gotten a satisfactory explanation at to what this means, really. Thoughts? I do feel that I need (and want) content....

- Should I start over with ATI? I'd need longer than 45 days to do this as this is a series of books, rather than one (albeit huge) book like Saunders, Kaplan, etc.

- Should I ignore Hurst completely, since that obviously didn't work, and only use another source?

- If so, what sources? I feel that I need the content, so I don't want to only do questions.

- In another thread, someone recommended The Illustrated Study Guide for the NCLEX-RN Exam, by JoAnn Zerwekh and Jo Carol Claborn. I'm more of a visual/tactile learner....I learn things better by seeing and doing rather than just reading, so this sounds intriguing.

I'm embarrassed beyond belief. I've been ignoring my nursing school friends (I went to school out-of-state) and wow is it rough facing my family and friends here at home. I'm pretty freakin' low right now....

Ugh. I feel like such a dumbass.

I guess I just needed to vent, so thanks for listening to me/reading my sorry tale. As is stands now, giving up isn't an option and I beat myself up enough after the first failure, so I don't think I'll be doing much more of that, either. I want to get this over with and get on with life!

Any and all thoughts and comments are appreciated, but please be gentle! My self-esteem isn't doing so hot at the moment....

And sorry to add another NCLEX-RN failure freak-out....

Thanks to all in advance.

Specializes in Cardiology, NCLEX instructor.

Focus on knowing major nursing content inside and out (safety, isolation precautions, diets etc.) also don't get caught up in doing alot of questions nothing you study will be like what is on the exam. Students get caught up on minor details and miss out on general concepts of care. So what if you know where the cranial nerves orginate, can you put on protective gloves, gown, and a mask in the correct order? These are things all new nurse must know. Try to make sure you are able to critically think yourself out of any situation. NCLEX doesn't expect you to know everything but you have to demonstrate that you will be a safe nurse.

Thankyou uaefan. I read ur previous post, congratulations for passing it finally! I hope I can be in that very same position again soon and beat nclex. If really has been a long time coming, I graduated march of 2010. It's been a year now, and I

Just so depress about it. After reading ur post, your def. Right ur story is like what I've gone thru.. We pretty much used the same resources, q&a lippincott alternative question type, la charity, mnemonics and some notes I found here..woke up today checked the caBon and my name is not on there.. It's very painful.. But ur right to pick myself up.. I'm not quitting I know I'll get there. This time, it's really harder to accept tho bc I felt really good that I made it, but I was completely and most embarrassingly wrong. I don't know what my result is going to tell me now.. Uaefan, I also prayed to st.Joseph of Cupertino..I prayed the rosary and went to Sunday mass. I'm not very religious but I do call on God whether I have worries or when I just want to thank Him. right now tho, I feel like I don't know where to go from here but I will take the next 45 days to roll my sleeve and get back to studying, it's not like I have another choice, but I do want this badly and I know becoming an RN is my dream, my older sister is also RN and she inspires me bc she too have taken this battle numerous times and she made it. My brother and her have been supporting me on this financially but it's just embarrassing bc I wish I could just go out there already and join the nursing world.. I know I can become a great practicing nurse I can't see myself doing anything else..I feel so lonely right now, I thought ibunderstood more than I ever did but I guess Im wrong.. Now I havebto to go back and study some more.. I just want my life back and I wish hope pray I can beat this the next time around.. If u have any advices.. Please anyone, anything how u can go back to track.. Help me.. Thankyou in advance and congrats to those who have made it!

Specializes in MS, Tele, CM, Informatics.

Don't use alot of different books. Try 2 at max, you always have your text book to hit something you just can't wrap your mind around....that gives you more doubt the more books the more confused many become when they don't know core content(MY OPINION). You will spend your time comparing what the different books say, verses retaining info to pass the board. Read over the format of the state board ncelx....KNOW YOUR CORE MATERIAL MED/SURG IS THE BACK BONE OF THE NCLEX...tie in your diseases...and simple medications...know the why to what you are doing. REMEMBER THE RN IS THE ONLY ONE THAT CAN DO ADMISSIONS AND DISCHARGES, why because it involes teaching...i know in the real world its different. But on the nclex its by the book. When a nursing from another unit is floating remember just because he or she has 20 yrs of exp...you still give them the most stable patients(delegation). Remember attend to the patients that are going to crash and burn first. YOUR GOAL AS A NEW RN IS TO GET THE PATIENT STABLE. Do make sure you are direct with your answers need to fix the problem or help the patient become stable. So attack the question by pairing it with the best answer. Look at your labs if they are on the normal but on the low side of the normal...RED FLAG...(new new nurse needs to worry with things start to turn south not when they patient has bottomed out all the way. That shows the board that you will not going to wait around until the worst happens.They are no good questions on the nclex problem going on in all the questions. Use the saunders book read the book and do the questions in the book and do 100 questions a day from different system for a week...then move to the application, comprehensive, delegation and so on for a week do 100 a day for a week. Then two days of seclect all that apply. Make sure you read the rational...you need to know the why. Know who can and can't share rooms during isolation, touch on ob/peds. know resp/renal/endo....link them with meds.. Know hypotonic, hypertonic, isotonic sol. Do atleast 1200 questions before you take your test again. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.....THINK POSITIVE....A LIVE HURST REVIEW IS GREAT TOO... Your tears will turn to joy soon.....also good to talk out what you are learning ....as reinforcement....you should be able to spit the infomation that you do know out. The goal is to get more right then wrong on that exam. You want to keep your questions in the high or the medium...because once you start getting to low level questions and getting those wrong the computer has no where to go....Get a high level quesiton wrong it can drop to a medium level question. Get a medum level question wrong it drops to a lower level...keep getting lower level questions wrong it has no where to go.

thankyou for taking the time to reply here. ive read it and its making me feel better, ive accepted it already that although i felt positive when i took that test, i still had to expect the unexpected. anyway, im not quitting..will start studying again 2 or 3 days from now..im just taking a little time off to just completely get myself together. and when i take it again for the third time, maybe then everything that has happened...all the pieces will fit together. i know God has an amazing plan for me..i just have to have more patience. thanks again

Specializes in Medical/Surgical, Ambulatory Care.


First of all, (if you're religious), pray and claim now that you have ALREADY passed NCLEX.

The ONLY review and book that I used was the Kaplan Review Course. I had no other books or resources, besides this and what I learned in nursing school...

It's about a week long, and it costs a bit, but it's so worth it and you'll make the money back in no time. It gave us tips and tricks on how to approach each question and what to think about (things like physical trumps psychosocial, any drainage over 200ml in 2hrs is considered bad, meds ending in -ol are beta blockers, etc.). It also talks about the "NCLEX" hospital, and the "NCLEX" world, which obviously is completely different from real world practice. For example, we may auscultate for placement of an NG tube in clinicals, but in the "NCLEX" world, and with any question NCLEX gives you with that answer choice, you NEVER DO THAT (so u eliminate that choice)!!! (You instead confirm placement by pH testing or x-ray). They also had good videos from a lady who helps you to narrow it down using these techniques and others, and thus, pick the 'best answer'.

From what I've been reading, apparently NCLEX makes it so that you can automatically and easily eliminate 2 choices (for satas and multi-choice ?s only). If you can get that strategy on identifying those two answers that are completely out of the ballpark, then your changes of getting the ? right, of course, increases. And, Kaplan offers an option where if you don't pass using their stuff, you get your money back.

It worked for me, and so far, EVERYONE in our nursing school has passed on their first try. Our SON made it mandatory that we did this course. I graduated last month, and took it two days ago.

Good luck, and I have already prayed for you!

So whatever happened?? Did you finally pass??

I just graduated this past June (2011) and have failed the test twice. I used Kaplan and scored in the 80's on their Q Bank questions yet still failed the test!! If anyone has any new suggestions I would love some advice...cuz honestly the thought of paying Pearson another $200 to fail a 3rd time is NOT appealing to me at all.

I like many others on here have said...am totally depressed and angry. How can I get all A's and B's in school yet not pass the NCLEX? I am embarrassed to talk to any of my nursing school friends and feel like a total failure. :icon_roll:icon_roll

that happened to me too. i feel the same way as you, the same exact feelings you have.

I took my NCLEX-RN test yesterday, my test stopped at 75q and of course I did the pearson vue trick soon as it was available and I got the good pop up. I've been trying it at least 5x a day and I'm still getting the good pop up. Although, I am relieved, I can't say that I believe it 100% until I see my official results from my the board of nursing.

As far as tips, here are the tools I used:


Kaplan Strategies book 2011-2012


Kaplan On Demand

My school also made us take an NLN Diagnostic test before we graduated. The test said that I had minimum chance of passing, and to be honest I felt good after seeing those results. As far as nursing school, I was an average student, didn't graduate with honors or anything like that.

This is how I studied:

Before buying the Kaplan On demand classes, I took the diagnostic test on Saunders and followed the calendar that they suggested on how you should read the saunders book, based on your weakness, etc. For a week or so, I stuck to the Saunders schedule and I was just overwhelmed by it so I decided to go ahead and purchase Kaplan, it was $50 off a the time so I felt good about buying them.

I honestly believe that Kaplan helped me alot. The course book that comes with the class is not as extensive as Saunders, plus the content is divided into what NCLEX is testing you for "Management of Care" etc. I followed what Kaplan course book said, take the diagnostic test, qtrainers 1-3 then I started reading a specific content then I would watch the videos. One of the best things on the Kaplan course book is that the drugs are in tables and they are by category. I think it made learning drugs easier and faster that way. Also when you watch the videos, they give u tips like, -mycin for aminoglycoside and so forth.

Another great thing about Kaplan course and their strategies book is the decision tree. The decision tree helps you think, how to look at answers, dissect the question etc. It is impossible to know everything and I think this (decision tree) is what puts Kaplan on the edge. (Though I am not familiar with others like Hurst etc)

Also, I realized like the last 2 weeks of studying that I needed to focus on my weak areas and read up on content. So I made mental note of certain questions I usually miss, in my case (multiple sclerosis, etc) then for a few days I stopped doing questions and focused on my weak areas. Also when I reviewed my questions, I wrote down the reason why I got the question wrong was it because:

- I did not know the material

- I hesitated/switched answers

- Poor critical thinking

I think one of the key things is to know why you are answering questions wrong and learn from them. Another helpful thing I do is Yoga or some form of exercise.

Whew, I think I said alot...but this is what helped me and I'm hoping it could help you guys too :D

Thanks matchalover for the advice! I'm actually new on this forum. But I just took the NCLEX-RN for the 2nd time and didn't get a good pop up. I'm really bummed and I honestly don't know what to do anymore. =( Help..

what happens now that you have failed it three times?

what happens now that you have failed it three times?

Just keep studying and keep trying to pass the exam, I've failed 3 times too i just got back from vacation to study hard again and pass the next time!

Specializes in Psych.

Don't give up. I passed my nclex-rn after 2 attempts, which seem 3 was the charm. It doesn't work all the time tho with 3 being the charm. But anyways, I graduated in '08 as and LPN and passed nclex-PN with 85 qts on first attempt. I went back to school in '10 and graduated from the LPN-RN transition program in '11 at a community college in NC where I live. By the way it's a 3 semesters program which starts in Aug. and ends in Dec. without the summer semester. Due to the high # of drop-outs in summer, the sch decided to take summer out of the curriculum for only those doing nsg, all others went to sch doing the summer semester. To cut long story short, I took nclex-rn 2 wks after graduation because I thought as an LPN, I wouldn't find it difficult. With 75 qts, I failed. I took it again after 45 plus days failing again at 251 qts, this time running out of time. Because I thought I went too fast the first time, and friends and family saying the same thing, I went slowly the 2nd time reading into the qts. The 1st time, no study materials, only my brain. the 2nd time, I used the 3500 qts CD, Kaplan q&A CD, Davis Q&A CD and other sources, yet, another failed. A friend of mine send some resources from this site so I created an account and found this 35 page study guide with SPIDERMAN for infection control and other mnemonics here that was really helpful. I was on this site pretty much every day finding as much help as I could. Somebody on here posted this book below and how it helped him/her. I went right away and ordered mine. Pls get it if you can. This is a must have book. After going thru this book, I took nclex-rn the 3rd time and passed at 75 qts. I also bought the LA Charity book along with this book and did 500 Qts per day. I took off 2 wks from work to do this and I am so gald I did. I passed boards in March '12 and currently working as an RN in a psych hospital.

P.S A friend of mine has been taking nclex-rn for 3yrs and couldn't pass. Shame and embarrass, he gave up. I lent him this book with the LA Charity book and told him to read every page in these books and to continue to do qts as well. Today, He owes his success to me and can't stop thanking me and telling friends and families how I blessed him. He passed nclex-rn this past June.

I only wrote this story to tell you that there's light at the end of the tunnel. Don't give up. You've done so much to give up now. Trust me, when it's all said and done, your life will be transformed. You can do it. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise.51UeRW7jmdL._AA160_.jpg

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