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My NCLEX experience using Kaplan



I have promised myself before taking my NCLEX-RN that if I passed on my first time, I would write a post on allnurses.com about my experience. Before I graduated, I signed up for the Kaplan course because I knew that I needed extra help with answering NCLEX style questions. In my school, we used the ATI and I didn't really think they helped me much. Believe it or not, on my first predictor exam on passing NCLEX for the first time, I had a 33% chance of passing. Yikes! After I saw that score, I was very disappointed in myself and started to write down things that I didn't know when answering questions on ATI. Thankfully, on my second predictor exam which was on the week of finals, my score jumped to a 63%. Although it was a big improvement, I was still a little unsatisfied with my score because it wasn't good enough to pass NCLEX. I graduated from a State University on Saturday, May 10th. That upcoming Monday was my first day of Kaplan class. Kaplan was more about using techniques (such as the decision tree) to answer NCLEX style questions. I thought that by learning to use techniques would be more helpful than memorizing huge amounts of content information. However, I was wrong because the decision tree technique that Kaplan taught me wasn't as useful as I thought. The 3 days and a half of Kaplan class was very boring because my instructor was horrible at giving rationales and it took the class so long to answer one question. My instructor said that each day we would be answering 60 questions but we never even got to 30. I was very disappointed with the class but I didn't give up. After the last day of class, I went home to take my readiness test which is very similar to NCLEX because it is computer adapted. I didn't do so well and decided to set a schedule for myself based on when I'll be taking the NCLEX. I had 7 weeks to study and I only used my Kaplan materials online and my ATI content book because I didn't want to pay extra for the Kaplan book. For Kaplan, I would do 100-150 questions per day because I didn't want to burn my brains out. I knew some of my friends would do 200+ questions per day and I honestly did not know how they could take it. As I heard from instructors and previous students, doing lots of questions did help me because I would read the rationales when they were wrong and right. I think that this is the best way to learn content materials as well as learning to answer the questions. For Kaplan, I did all 7 question trainers, 100% of the Qbank, and 3 sample tests. I know some of you who are currently using the Kaplan course are constantly worried about the grades you get from question trainers or Qbanks. I was the same as well and would often go to allnurses.com to read what others wrote about being concerned with the low grades. It made me worried that the low grade I was getting wasn't good enough to pass NCLEX. Listed are all my Kaplan grades:

NCLEX Diagnostic Exam: 53%

Question Trainer Test 1: 59%

Question Trainer Test 2: 59%

Question Trainer Test 3: 63%

Question Trainer Test 4: 49%

Question Trainer Test 5: 54%

Question Trainer Test 6: 58%

Question Trainer Test 7: 59%

NCLEX Readiness Test: 52%

Qbank: Did every single question with 60% total correct.

Sample Test #1: 48%

Sample Test #2: 50%

Sample Test #3: 87%

As you can see, my grades were fluctuating slightly. Truthfully, don't be concerned about grades but only remember to read ALL your rationales even when you've gotten the question right or wrong. I can't tell you enough on how important that is and it really helped me a lot when it came to preparing for the NCLEX. I also noticed that I was weak in a lot of content stuff especially disease process and medications because I am the type of person who would memorize the information before an exam and after taking it, everything gets wiped out. So, I ended up watching the content videos on the Kaplan course and it was a long and boring process. Although, I was grateful that they broke down the content based on what would most likely appear on NCLEX. For women's health and pediatrics, I decided to read them in my ATI review book. As I was studying each day, I started to get more anxious because my NCLEX day was getting closer. I was schedule to take it on Saturday, June 28th. I knew that a lot of my friends who took theirs in early to mid June had passed and it made me feel even more anxious. On the day of my exam, I was getting very jittery. Thank goodness my brother was willing to drive me to the center because I don't even know how I would've made it that day driving by myself. I would suggest for those who are taking theirs soon to arrange someone to drive you because your anxiety level will be extremely high that day and focusing on driving would be difficult. As I got to the center, they made me read the confidentiality form, took my picture, and did my palm scanning. After all that, I was put on a computer and I literally could feel my heart pounding so hard. I kept telling myself that I can do this and also I've studied 7 weeks for this one exam. After the practice questions, my first question came up. When I read it, I thought it wasn't as bad. Then, the questions started to get harder and it was nothing compared to Kaplan. Many times during the test, I got the SATA wrong and it decided to give me more until I got it right (probably like the third time). There were a lot of delegation, priority, and conference questions. The delegation questions were very hard because I could not even narrow down to 2 answers. I'm usually good at delegation when it comes to Kaplan but it was completely different in NCLEX. The priority and conference questions were intense too. I had like a few common med questions and some had only generic names while others had trade and generic names. As I was answering these questions, I literally felt like I was failing because it was so hard!! My computer shut off at question 105 and my brain was a mess. I had no idea what just happened and noticed that I had to fill out a survey before I could leave. As I was walking out of the room, I literally kept thinking that I failed and that the Kaplan questions did not help at all. When I got home, I decided to do the Pearson Vue trick and felt very anxious because I was 100% certain that I failed. All of a sudden, I got the "good pop-up" sign and I couldn't believe my eyes. I still wasn't sure if the trick really worked because it was a Saturday and I could be that 1 out of 10000 people to fail with the good pop-up sign. However, there was a slight relief off my chest because I had a higher possibility that I passed based on the trick. The following day, I went to my State Board of Nursing site and I noticed that my status went from "Inactive" to "Pending". I felt concerned and googled it to see if others had the same problem. Although it didn't really answer my question, I decided to do the Pearson Vue trick again and I still had the good pop-up sign. Finally, the morning of Monday, June 30th, I checked my State Board of Nursing site and found that the status has changed from "Pending" to "Active"!!! I have OFFICIALLY PASSED NCLEX AND IS A RN!!!!! I had never felt happier that day to see my license number listed there. All the hard work that I poured into the 7 weeks of studying every single day was worth it!! Before I finish writing this post, I want to leave some tips for those who will be taking their NCLEX soon or is still currently a nursing student who will be taking their NCLEX in a year or two. First of all, don't focus too much on meds because it is impossible to cram all the generic names in your heads with all the side effects. Try to remember the most important ones that will cause a life threatening side effect to the patients such as the toxicity. Don't get nervous if you go over 75 questions. It doesn't mean that you failed but only that the computer feels you need a bit more questions to see if you're really competent at the minimal level to practice as a nurse. Finally, remember to do lots and lots of practice questions each day! The more you practice, the better you get at reading and answering NCLEX style questions. Try to plan a schedule ahead of time so that you don't end up cramming everything on the day before your exam. Again, remember to ALWAYS read the RIGHT AND WRONG rationales!!! I wish the best of luck to those who will be taking it soon and just remember to tell yourself you can do it! I hope this post helped a bit and I do apologize that it was long. If you have any questions, feel free to comment and I will try my best to answer them!

Thank You! :)

PS: I did have about 15-20 SATA, 1 drag and drop, 5 med questions, and lots of priority, delegation, conference, and OB questions!

yedwards42, BSN, MSN

Specializes in Maternal Newborn. Has 7 years experience.

Congratulations and thank you so much for sharing your experience and tips!! :)

cnurseisshe, BSN

Has 7 years experience.

my scores are similar to yours and I am in the same boat in terms of your ATI (my HESI). I hope I do as well as you in a couple weeks!

Thank you for sharing your experience! I take my exam in 2 weeks with a job lined up and the pressure to pass is really creeping under my skin. I'm doing Kaplan as well, ranging between 58%-64% on qbank and I just got 54% on Sample Test #2. Feeling a little less discouraged after reading this, and pretty much need all the mental preparation and encouragement I can get at this point.

Glad I could help a bit! I wish you the best of luck! You will do an awesome job and pass that test!! :)