My NCLEX-RN Experience- PASSED in 75 questions 1st Try!!!

I wanted to share my story on my experience with NCLEX-RN in hopes it would encourage and relieve some anxiety for those of you who will be taking it soon. If you have any questions for me, let me know, I'd be happy to answer them. Nursing Students General Students Article


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My NCLEX-RN Experience- PASSED in 75 questions 1st Try!!!

Preparing for NCLEX

I signed up for Kaplan Live Review in December after graduation. Of course, I procrastinated on buying the review that I missed out on my school's discount for Kaplan. So being the cheap and savvy person I am, I googled around for a coupon code and found one for $120 off the $499 (Regular Price) and I was able to score the Kaplan Live Review for a much cheaper price. After graduation, I decided to enjoy the holidays and end the rest of the year relaxing with completely no studying until the New Year.

Kaplan Live Review

My Live Review classes started the first week of January. These classes were pretty much like a reunion with your nursing school friends. The very first day we found ourselves confused and angry that we were constantly disagreeing with the answers to the questions presented. A lot of what we thought we learned in nursing school was contradicted and we came to realize to survive and conquer NCLEX we would need to learn the rules, likes, and dislikes of this beast of a test. (*Be prepared to adapt to change and learn that sometimes the correct answer from our textbooks are not always the best answers) People say that Kaplan questions are harder then those on NCLEX, but in my opinion they were pretty similar-probably because I had a lot of hard questions on my test.

Basically for the live review we would practice questions and go over strategies on how to approach every question and eliminate choices to eventually find the right answers. I'll be honest; I never understood the strategy until after the live review when I started practicing tons of questions on my own. I'll attach my scores for all the quiz trainers, diagnostic, readiness, and Qbanks so you can compare. You'll see that I was never reaching the benchmark that Kaplan encouraged, but only until a week before my exam date, I finally met the 60% benchmark.

After our week long live review, I took a break from Kaplan and wasn't really motivated to study since I was still waiting for an ATT to schedule an exam date. Finally, we got an emailed ATT on January 21st. My friends and I were texting each other freaking out, as reality sunk in, and we were bouncing off ideas when we should schedule and we agreed on February 18th - we wanted just enough time to prepare, but also not a date too far out, that we would continue to put off studying. So I started studying January 28th for my February 18th test date.

What I found that helped with my studies was a planned daily schedule (attached is a copy of my calendar). I planned out what I would accomplish every day of the week leading up to my exam date. I'd say I would do about 3 sets of 75 questions/ day up to the point I finished the entire Qbank, completed all Quiz Trainers, Sample Test 1-4, and anything and everything available on Kaplan's site.

I did watch some content videos, mainly on the topics I was scoring below benchmark on. Make sure to watch the orientation/introduction, strategy, and Rules of NCLEX video. They were pretty informative and helpful.

As the weeks went by, I started to see some of my classmates post up their good news on FB of passing NCLEX and I started to get really anxious and jealous, wanting to get this exam behind me too. I decided to secretly change my exam date a little early from February 18th to the 16th instead. This date worked out better for me because I had events planned to keep me preoccupied. Another reason I changed my exam date earlier was that I just didn't want to take the exam with my friends. I knew the added pressure of watching them leave their exams earlier than me and finding out if we all passed was something I wanted to avoid.

Around the last two weeks up to my exam, I started to have major anxiety. I would read posts on about other people's experience with NCLEX and I would get really motivated and confident one minute then the next minute I'd get worried and discouraged after reading another post that I thought I could relate to. This was a rollercoaster of emotions. I would Google something every day to find some form of comfort; I would research things like "is using Kaplan enough to pass the NCLEX."

I gave up on using other study materials and solely stuck with Kaplan. I did purchase the NCSBN Qbank 3 weeks before my exam, but that was a waste of money. I did about a few questions on there and they just didn't seem challenging enough. So I pretty much donated my $50. At one point I was pondering on buying HURST because I knew I needed more work on my content, but I just didn't want to spend any more money. I was going to use the Saunders NCLEX-RN review book (required text to buy for our last semester) on top of Kaplan, but I gave up on that. Pretty much putting all my bets in the Kaplan bucket.

My Nursing School Experience

My school utilized ATI. So every semester we'd have to take ATI exams and then a predictor exam the last semester. I scored a 99% probability of passing NCLEX on the first try, but I still doubted this. I was never the straight-A nursing student. I would get A's in classes, but that wasn't as frequent as the B's I was getting. I was your average nursing student. To be honest, I didn't spend every day reading my texts. I balanced my studying, or more so- I procrastinated. I didn't graduate with honors, or get into a nursing society, but I passed nursing school all while continuing to serve at church, doing CrossFit, playing softball on Sundays, and working part-time.

The Day/Night Before

The day before the test Kaplan stresses you don't study at all. This was hard to do, because it was tempting to practice questions or pop open a book. So thankfully, I had somewhere to be the night before. I signed up to serve for my church's conference the day after my exam, so that meant I had to be at rehearsals the day before my exam which worked out perfect because it kept me busy to even study and ponder on the test. Being at church was perfect, because not only did my hula sisters pray over me, I was calm and relaxed doing what I enjoy- dancing for the Lord.

I went home around 9 pm and went to bed around 11 pm. I'd say I had a good nights rest, all thanks to prayers for rest and peace, but probably also from accidentally spilling the essential oil "Balance" all over me that night.

Test Day

Because I live so far from the test center, I woke up at 4 am to make sure I would get there safely and on time to avoid any unexpected delays. I arrived at the test center by 5 am, picked up breakfast, ate and took a nap in my car. I set an alarm to wake up at 7 am for my 8 am exam, left my phone behind in my car, and walked into the testing center.

I walked in and checked in. They take your picture (make sure you smile because they'll send you a copy in the mail days after) and scan your palms a ton of times at the front desk. Then you go through like a TSA check in again right before you're escorted to your seat. I sat at a desk with sidewalls. I put on earphones that they provided to muffle out background noise and was given a dry erase board and pen, then preceded with the exam.

The Exam

I felt I went through that exam guessing many questions. I had 17 SATA questions (How do I know this? Because I tallied them on my white board every time I'd see one), and a few other alternative formats. I can't even recall one question I felt confident in my answer. I feel Kaplan helped me to eliminate choices down to two so it was pretty much 50/50. At one point I was starting to think I was going to fail, so I told myself I'm just gonna go with my first choice answer and click next. Every time I'd see a SATA question I would kind of get intimidated, but then I would get really excited because I was thinking I must be doing good since they're giving me harder questions. There were a couple of times I would get 3 SATA questions in a row.

I was hoping my exam would shut off at 75 questions, so I kept watching the numbers go by. I think around the 60's I started to notice similar questions to Kaplan before my exam shut off at 75. My final questions were a lot on priority, which they say are above competency questions so I thought that was a good sign when my exam stopped.

Kaplan was a great study tool not only because their screens mimic the look of the NCLEX, but also the wording of the questions. The level of difficulty and choice of format and wording are very similar so after taking thousands of Kaplan practice questions, I felt when I sat for the NCLEX I was just practicing questions at home again so I didn't feel any pressure or anxiety. (Usually, I would have heart palpitations before every important exam, but oddly enough I was calm.)

After the Exam

When my computer shut off at 75 questions. I raised my hand and the proctor escorted me out of the room. Surprisingly, I was the first to walk out of that exam that people working at the testing center were looking at me quite funny. I'm still curious on what their thoughts were, whether they were shocked I did so well or thought I must've failed for being done so quickly.

I grabbed my belongings and walked out unsure of what to feel. I got into my car and tried the Pearson Vue Trick (PVT) on my phone and got a pop-up saying I had an "open exam..unable to register at this time".

I drove home because I was mentally exhausted and mainly because I wanted to try the PVT on my computer. Honestly by the time I got home, I couldn't even recall the drive. I hopped on my computer and tried the PVT again and got the good pop up instead (see attached image). I checked it again almost every hour to make sure it was the same thing over and over (I know that's pretty neurotic).

I woke up the next morning at 0800 to check it again because they say if after 24 hours the good pop up is still there, it's pretty accurate that you passed. The day after my exam was my church's conference, so I had something to keep me busy, but also to lift my spirit and let the time go by as I waited out the 48 hours for my test results.

After 46 hours- 0630 on Thursday, February 18th. I woke up went online to Pearson Vue and paid for my quick results (about $8) and got the good news that I passed. I wasn't as excited as I thought I would be, probably because the PVT was pretty comforting that I trusted it to be true. I was so excited to share the news with family and friends. Not only for their support but for also praying for me.

Through this, I've learned that many other nursing students across the world share the same faith. I am so proud to be part of a profession that shares God's grace and love towards others. Remember, if you have the heart for it, nothing will stop you from attaining it.


My best advice I can give to you is to not overwhelm yourself with too much study materials. I had the Saunders NCLEX purple review book, but I never opened it once. Honestly, I just exhausted Kaplan because everyone I spoke to swears on passing with it. You'll see on my study schedule included Saunders and NCSBN, but I didn't even bother with it. I just stuck to my Kaplan study plan. Really study and understand the rationales to why your answer choices are right or wrong and if you're not familiar with a disease or med from a question on Kaplan, definitely look into it more.

Everything I studied was not on that exam. When I walked out of that exam, I knew I should have studied content alongside practicing questions. All I did throughout the weeks was practice questions and read the rationales. If you really want to be somewhat prepared, I would study content you're weak on that includes even just knowing the basics will help.

This is also a time you'll find your faith growing and your trust in the Lord strengthened. I prayed a lot and gave it all to God. I exhausted myself studying, but truly knew it would be no effort if it were not God's will. This really helped me to put less pressure on myself because I knew if God did not want me to pass, there was a good reason for it.

I always told myself I would not tell anyone when I was to take my exam because I didn't want the added pressure, just in case I was to fail, I didn't want to be embarrassed to tell people. But somehow I ended up telling everyone closed to me when I was sitting for my exam because I wanted them to join me in prayer.

Believe in yourself. Trust in the knowledge you learned in nursing school. Go with your gut and always remember that you can always retake the exam if you don't pass the first time. Don't be so hard on yourself.

Stay away from social media. It's not only a distraction, but there's something called FOMO (fear of missing out). Which was the case for me, whenever I'd see some of my classmates had already passed their NCLEX, I would be in a slump and I'd have to get myself out of a funk to get back to studying.

Make sure you have some balance when you're studying. Enjoy and have fun, do something you like after you've met your goals for the day.

God Bless!!!

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Hi - thanks for the great post! You mentioned during the post that you were going to attach your calendar and a few other things but I didnt see them anywhere and was wondering if I was not looking in the right place for them?

Thanks again for the post!

Specializes in SCRN.

Congrats! but you would have passed the NCLEX without Kaplan. Nursing school IS the preparation we need. Self-doubt makes people spend money on review courses. Kaplan takes advantage of people.

mousy2014 said:
Hi - thanks for the great post! You mentioned during the post that you were going to attach your calendar and a few other things but I didnt see them anywhere and was wondering if I was not looking in the right place for them?

Thanks again for the post!

Hi, sorry about that.

Here is my study schedule (which I did not end up following because I decided to utilize only Kaplan). Once I made that decision, I tweaked my daily schedule to spread out all the resources of Kaplan by breaking up each day with a certain task to complete. I'm sorry I can't provide the final version of my actual study schedule because I ended up using the "stickies" on my macbook instead of a calendar like this.


Here are my scores from Kaplan


Here is the pop-up I got once I got back to my car after exiting the testing center.


Here is the good pop up I got once I got home after my exam and all throughout the 48 hours of waiting.


helen09 said:
Congrats! but you would have passed the NCLEX without Kaplan. Nursing school IS the preparation we need. Self-doubt makes people spend money on review courses. Kaplan takes advantage of people.

Hi helen09, thank you!

I still don't believe I would have passed without Kaplan. For me, I didn't want to take that risk and end up failing and kicking myself for not utilizing some sort of resource to help me pass the NCLEX. Also, I graduated from a school that didn't have great pass rates so yes there was a lot of self-doubt.