My Story: Passed NCLEX on my 2nd attempt!

Students NCLEX


I am so grateful for all the support and advice I received from this website that I told myself that the day I pass NCLEX I would pay it forward for the many others looking for advice and encouragement to pass this exam as well. I was able to pass my NCLEX-RN on my 2nd attempt with 75 questions and the feeling of having RN behind my name feels amazing!

Here's my story: I graduated on May 10th and scheduled my exam on June 19th at 2pm. On my 1st time taking NCLEX, I failed using up all 6 hours and 210 questions. I used mainly Hurst video lectures and study guides and answered 20-100 q's/day. Failing this exam made me feel like I literally hit rock bottom. My BIGGEST mistakes for my first go-around were: not taking the NCLEX seriously and studying for 2.5 weeks in advance, limited studying resources (mainly focused on content and not testing strategies), test anxiety, not pacing myself while taking the test (spending more than 1.5 minute on each question), and focusing more on getting a job than studying. After I found out I failed, I took 2 weeks off to relax, reflect, regroup, and find the motivation and determination to study and pass my NCLEX the 2nd time around.

My 2nd time around I scheduled it for August 12th at 8am which gave me a good 6 weeks to study and physically, mentally, and emotionally prepare myself for this exam. On the day of the test, I came to the testing site 20 minutes early, dressed comfortably, prepared myself to take on 265 questions and 6 hours worth of testing, brought water and snacks for breaks, and came into the test site cool, calm and collected and ready to take on this test! I took a deep breath and prayed before I started my test and I finished with 75 questions in 1.5 hours with 25-30 SATA, 1 math question, and the rest were multiple response questions. This time around I knew what my weaknesses were and spent more time improving my test taking strategies than content.

This is what I did the 2nd time around and I highly recommend it:

1) Be POSITIVE: Time like these it's hard to not be critical on yourself and even harder to think you'll pass the 2nd time when you have more pressure and things riding on this test. Honestly, you overcame nursing school and this is just another obstacle to overcome! Positivity and encouragement will go a long way and help improve your confidence to take on this exam!

2) Lacharity PDA Book, 3rd Edition: HOLY GRAIL & BIBLE OF NCLEX - MUST HAVE! 80% of the exam will see if you can prioritize your patients or test your ability to see if you can provide safe and effective care in a life-threatening situation. This book will help with test taking strategies on how to spot important key words and situations which are similar to NCLEX questions.

3) NCSBN Learning Extension course: I bought the 3 weeks for $50 which is pretty inexpensive compared to the other nclex resources. I would have to say this help me the MOST on my test and are the closest questions to NCLEX Bc these are the same people who wrote the NCLEX exam! I highly recommend this Bc their course is structured the same way as the NCLEX test plan so you can focus on your weaknesses & strengths, but I mainly used this to practice questions 100-200q/day (making sure to read each rationale whether you get it right or wrong)

4) Read NCLEX Candidate test plan: Make sure to read this so you can get a feel for what the NCLEX people want you to know, what they expect from you as a safe nurse, and how to approach questions. Once you read and begin to truly understand this, it will feel as if the NCLEX people helping you pass the NCLEX

5) NCLEX Mastery app: it was only $30 and great for practicing questions whether you're at home or on the go! Great and easy way to improve your test taking and critical thinking skills

6) HESI NCLEX-RN book for content: My best advice is to use a book that you're familiar and comfortable with when studying for content. I used this book throughout nursing school so I knew the content backwards and forwards so I just needed to review over my weak content areas

7) Hurst study guides: Although the content is very limited, the content was spot on with which topics needed to prepare for the NCLEX and a great way to TRULY understand difficult concepts like endocrine, fluid & electrolytes, and ABGs

8) NCLEX support groups: Having a good support system that knows exactly what you're going through and can relate to helps a lot to relieve stress

9) Reduce Test Anxiety: The day before the exam, do something that relieves stress or anxiety. For me, I only review lab values & test taking strategies for an hour and then got my haircut, went shopping and then watched a movie. Also, one of my biggest mistakes the 1st time was telling everyone my test date which put alot of pressure on me and raised my anxiety, so the 2nd time around I didn't tell ANYONE, which helped me lower my anxiety a great amount! You're going to know what you're going to know by now, so just relax, pray, and do something that you enjoy and take your mind off of the exam. Know that you may get 75 questions or the maybe even the entire 265 questions, just always prepare yourself mentally and physically for 265 questions and 6 hrs so you know what to expect.

10) Other Helpful tips to know: Always trust your gut! The best advice I ever gotten was that "the answer is always within the question". Once I kept that in my mind, I knew that no matter how difficult the question was, I could figure out the correct answer. SATA: always apply true or false to each option and pick the answers that directly relate to what the question is asking you. With priority questions- always apply your ABCS, Maslows hierarchy, and nursing process (ADPIE). Always choose the answer that keeps the patient safe and alive!

I hope this helps and if you are a multiple test taker just know it is possible to pass! Just come into this exam with confidence and if I can do it, you can too! I am the truest testament to that. With that I'll end with this,

"Our greatest glory is not in our ability to fall,but in our ability to rise each time we fall."

Good luck everyone! :up:

ArrowRN, BSN, RN

4 Articles; 1,146 Posts

Specializes in Med Surg, PCU, Travel.

Congrats you must be overjoyed and thanks for the great tips. I am currently taking the NCSBN 8 week review and Delmar online review, I don't have a date yet and I am starting early.

I want to point out very important #4 most students don't even read the candidate test plan. The detailed test plan in particular actually has specific topics one may expect to see during the exam and I often refer to it while doing my review.

I also use a app to time myself during review questions. I keep it at 70 seconds per question. I think Kaplan recommends 72 seconds in one of their books.

How did you deal with distractions from your studies? Being non-traditional I got spouse, kids, dog, bills all distracting me. I find I'm having a hard time focusing on some days while at times I go for 5 days in a row but then take long 3 or 4 days off from studying. Did you space out your study time or do a little every day?


308 Posts

Well for me I always try to get 2 to 4 hrs a day..before my family gets up or a after they go to bed . I am trying everything I can to get the hours in to study...good luck


380 Posts

Congrats on passing [COLOR=#003366]nmpBSN !!

I failed first time because I was rushing I barely spend enough time my weakness was test strategy more than contents.

I took a week off now I am ready to get back to studying. I am listening to Hurst videos only once filling the sheets thanks to my friend she is able to print me the notes to fill them out... I have strategy kaplan book.. then I will be doing Kaplan since I can have it second time for free. Do you recommend me to do ncbsn 3 weeks too? I have 2 months till I take the exam??

I failed first time with 75 questions becaue I was rushing I had two over passing which were Risk of Reduction and Infection disease.. Health promotion was my weakness so It was below passing the rest were near passing... I won't tell no one this time when is my exam... except my manager a week before since I am working part time job!

Thank you and congrats again :)


173 Posts

Thank you for sharing your story. It gives me hope that I will soon be able to share my own story.

Congrats on becoming a RN. Good luck with finding the perfect job.

God bless you.


Specializes in Maternal Newborn.

Congrats!! I'm so happy you nailed NCLEX. What test strategies did you use - Kaplan decision tree or ? Did you find the NCSBN q's similar to NCLEX? Also, you mention the "answer lies within the question" what do you mean? I appreciate your tips/advice.

Thanks and congrats again!


11 Posts

So happy for you! I take my boards the second time soon and I used only Kaplan the first time. For this time, I'm using NCSBN, PDA and Hurst! How were your NCSBN scores? They want a 75% on their post test and quizzes but I've been averaging between 50-65% I would rarely hit the 75% mark! I would go over every question/rationale though.


215 Posts

Thank you for your words. I failed my test time and I was devastated. I will be taking it again next month and studying for 5-6 wks. I'm doing Kaplan, and will check to see about this PDA book everyone is talking about!


22 Posts

Thank you all for your kind words I appreciate it! :) Just keep at it and don't ever give up, whether its your 1st, 2nd, 5th time, you can and will get through this! During my 2nd time studying, I changed my studying tailored to what fit my needs and towards understanding how to answer the questions better. My 1st time I mainly studied content, but NCLEX you have to learn that this test just wants to see if you can answer questions correctly and if you're a safe and prudent nurse. When practicing questions from Lacharity PDA, NCSBN learning ext, and NCLEX mastery app, I think I constantly practiced everyday that I could spot out key words (e.g., FIRST vs. PRIORITY vs. NEXT), distinguish if it was a positive question (most appropriate, important, etc) vs. negative question ("what would you do to intervene" or "which statement by the nurse/pt indicates they need more teaching"), and read the whole question, spot out the root of question that it's asking you and find the answer that best fits and answers the question directly. Practicing enough questions helped me to realize what the patient's condition and situation was and what interventions need to be done to improve the patient's condition based on the CLIENTS NEEDS, so it started to become easier for me to determine what the correct answer was and how the NCLEX people want you to answer the questions (Remember to read the NCLEX detailed test plan, bc it literally tells you what to study for and how questions and material to expect on the test). I cant emphasize enough how much Lacharity PDA and NCSBN helped me and that I wish i knew about them the first time around when I was studying, but things happen and you just have to learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others and find what studying material/resources/habits fit your studying needs. I heard good and bad things from Kaplan, and honestly I feel like it didn't tailor to my studying needs and just wasn't for me, the questions are harder than NCLEX, tailor more to test taking strategies only, and makes you have a set structure of how to study which I don't like a hard structure to study by, but rather I study on my own set time schedule based on my pace and comfort. But it has worked for a lot of people, so if it works for you then go for it. The 1st time I studied 2-4 hours/day for the last 2 weeks before the test which made me cram and didn't help me much. So the 2nd time I was more determined to pass this test, I studied atleast 7-10 hours/day (sometimes even 12 hrs/day) but I made sure to take breaks or do something relaxing (watch one of my favorite tv shows) when I was feeling burnt out. For the 1st 3 weeks I mainly studied content and test taking strategies, and the last 3 weeks I practiced questions to the point where once I started to get the hang of answering the question, I would actually enjoy it because I would get more question right each time. A week before the test, I would try to answer 200-265 question in one sitting and time myself to mentally and physically prepare myself for NCLEX, which helped me a lot. I always read about friends passing and others posting their NCLEX success stories and becoming a nurse is an amazing, indescribable feeling because of all the effort and sacrifices on experiences and finally pays off. You will soon experience it so just continue moving forward! REMEMBER: It's not about working harder, but working SMARTER! Good luck my friends!


22 Posts

man-nurse2b: It seems like you're headed toward the right direction! NCSBN learning ext and reading/understanding the NCLEX test plan will help you tremendously for preparing for the NCLEX especially since the test plan explains to how the test is structured and what content will on it, and then NCSBN has all the content based on the test plan and to me, NCSBN's questions are the closest to NCLEX, i'm sure you'll do great! Set a date that you know you will be able to have enough time to prepare yourself for the test and be confident when the test date comes. I say my biggest mistake was taking the test ASAP because other classmates/friends were taking as soon as they could; if you need 1 month or maybe even 2 to be ready to take the test then its okay! Just go at your own pace. My first time taking NCLEX my biggest mistake was that I took too long on questions because I had a mindset that I would only have 75 q's -WRONG! That why you have to mentally and physically prepare yourself for all 265 q's, whether you get them all or not. I would say I would give myself at least 1 minute and 30 seconds for each question and remember you get 2 breaks during NCLEX so take and use them wisely not spending TOO much time on them. Honestly we all have a life outside of NCLEX, and i would say the ideal studying schedule would 5-7 hours/day (take breaks in-between) and space it out in a week doing a little a day and it's okay to take a day or 2 out of the week to relax or take a break but 3-5 days in a row is not good because you lose your pace and it messing up your schedule. Don't try to bite more than you can chew bc you'll exhaust yourself quite quickly. Go at your own pace, you can make goals for each day (e.g., studying one chapter per day and 20q's, etc) that helped for me. Good luck!


22 Posts

hmahdoui: Thank you! :)

Hurst videos/study guide helped me alot with content. I never did Kaplan, so I can't tell you whether it worked for me or not. I would highly recommended doing NCSBN! Since you have 3 nclex resources you're using my advice would be to use one at a time because juggling all three at a time would make you pull your hair out and make you stressed out because they all have different studying and test strategies. When I failed my 1st time, I used their guide they gave me to focus studying over my weak areas (e.g. Management) and NCSBN is great at helping you with each category because you can work on the areas your weak in and just review over the areas you're "at passing standard". The 1st 3 weeks I used other material to study for content, and the last 3 weeks i purchased NCSBN to really focus on my weak areas, answer questions!

Specializes in Breast Cancer, Oncology, Pulmonology.

Thanks for all your great advice! I'm studying for Nclex-pn and sounds like I need to get l​a charity for sure. I've been out of school since 2007 and am worried about reviewing content material, can you recommend any books?

Would you say the test is more about testing strategies and knowing how to answer questions? I am not sure where to begin my studies since I've been out of school so long.

Thanks for your help and feedback.

Warm regards.

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