Needing some serious advice


I have been reading a lot on this site and trying to take the tips and apply them to my own situation, however, I still am having some serious struggles.

I graduated from nursing school in May of this year and have taken my NCLEX 3 times, failed each time. I am "Near passing standard" on all categories. The first test I had 75 questions and then the following two I had the full 265. I am taking my test for the 4th time on December 4th. I did Kaplan the first time and it didn't seem to work for me. I have been busting my rear for the last 6 months trying to master the NCLEX test-taking style. Here is my current predicament.

I went all out this time around. I signed up for Kaplan and am doing the on-demand course. My online review class is the 17th of November to the 25th. I just was prescribed Adderall for my concentration problems--this had made a huge difference in my life. I was afraid of taking my anti-anxiety medications for the NCLEX because I didn't want to be zonked out of my mind during the test. I wanted to be clear headed but I think maybe this hurt me in the end. In addition to doing Kaplan again I also rented the LaCharity review book from Chegg for more practice questions. I have tried Saunders, Hurst, NCLEX 3500, and Evolve.

Here are my current results for my question trainers on the Kaplan site:

QT 1-59% (1st attempt), 85% (2nd attempt-I don't think this is valid since I had done this test previously and I do believe this was more of just a "recall the answers" result)

QT 2-61%

QT 3-54%

Sample Test 1- 44%

Sample Test 2- 62%

Sample Test 3- 87%

I have been doing the Qbank in amounts of 50-75 questions at a time and am getting anywhere from a 54% to a 65% on them. I am just entirely frustrated with this situation I am in. I am trying so hard but it just seems like I am all over the place and not consistent. If this continues I will be postponing my test date until I can get some consistency in my results. I also don't know what I am supposed to be trying to get on my question trainers. What are your guys' suggestions? I know I have the ability to pass this test. I know I am smart. Am I just thinking to far into these questions? How can I get better at answering NCLEX style tests? I worked in the ICU and on a Cardiac ICU before and throughout nursing school and I find that sometimes I am getting the questions wrong because I fall victim to the "real world" answer being incorrect. I know Kaplan has some chart explaining the likeliness of you passing but I can't find it. I know that my scores are about what others get but I am just not using to getting anything below an 80% so that kind of freaks me out too..

What can I do to pass the NCLEX this time? I am so over this chapter of my life. It is time for me to pass, turn the page, and begin my nursing career. I am open to any and all suggestions! If you can say a small prayer for me that would mean the world too!


262 Posts

Has 5 years experience.

I am sorry to hear that. I hope all goes well for you. I will say a prayer for you because I really don't have a answer. I hope that you will find it soon. Is there a class at your school? most schools has that available for people that graduated. or talk to someone that pass his or her nclex and find out what they did to pass theirs


21 Posts

Hello jadeyn59. Do you have a email address?


14 Posts

Hi Jadeyn59,

Can I email you


183 Posts

Google nurse project.....and email Joan she might be able to help


73 Posts

Specializes in ICU, ED.

First of all, Kaplan is fantastic.

Second of all, give yourself a break. You're goal in nursing school might have been to get good grades, but you've got to let that go. You aren't trying to get a 100% on the NCLEX, you're just trying to PASS it. Technically, everyone who takes NCLEX makes a 50% because of how the test works. So you probably won't ever walk out of NCLEX thinking you aced it, even if you passed - you're going to feel like how you'd feel if you got a 50% on a test in nursing school. So make your new goal to get >65% on your Qbanks and QTs (although the goal % is a little higher on some of the QTs I think, I can't remember exactly anymore. If you consistently make between 65-75%, you're probably on the right track.

You also need to figure out what categories you need improvement on. Are you struggling with questions related to Physiological Adaptation, or is Safety and Infection Control bringing you down? Whatever it is, you need to be looking at the score reports from your questions trainers/practice tests/etc. and focus on any category that is 65%.

Are you answering questions using the decision tree? All of the questions on the Qbank are application level and above (aka passing level), so I would have it out to use as a guide while answering questions. Its hard at first, but it will really help get your thinking on the right track.

Are you reading the rationales? If not, you're missing out on half of what kaplan has to offer, and IMO, reading the rationales is imperative to passing NCLEX. Read all of them, even if you got the questions correct, and read them immediately after you finish answering questions.

I took NCLEX a little over 3 weeks after I did the in-person Kaplan course. We were told to answer no more than 150 questions a day (because that's all your brain can pretty much handle, and because you need to read the rationales!).

And finally, you have GOT to stop answering questions based on your real-world experiences. STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP. Seriously stop. Remember that NCLEX land is perfect and all the meds/equipment/people are available and blah blah blah. Don't think about how your unit does things because I can guarantee that is not how it's done in NCLEX land. So stop.

Don't forget some of the most important and basic concepts, such as:


-SAFETY - which option is the MOST SAFE choice

-99.9% of the time calling the doctor is NOT what the nurse should do first - you gotta ASSESS the pt and then DO SOMETHING about it.

-Figure out the topic of the question, and then eliminate answer choices that are not addressing the same topic. You really need to practice determining what the question is really, truly asking you.

-Choose the correct answer by eliminating wrong ones - i.e., if you the question is asking you to assess the pt, eliminate answers that relate to doing something.

I'm pretty sure all of the stuff I just mentioned is straight from Kaplan's decision tree. Learn it. Live it.

Also I'm pretty sure there is a free Kaplan course book available for download on Amazon's website. The only things I used to study for NCLEX was that free book and the online content for Kaplan. Try again and try really hard to apply Kaplan's principles to the way you answer the questions.

Sorry this was so long! Good luck to you, I know you can do it!

Ashley Mac

1 Post

Hey Jaclyn, I am having a similar issue and have done almost everything you have done. Is there any advice that has been emailed to you that you could share with me.



15 Posts

Thank you so much for the wonderful response. So it sounds like I am on the right track because I started keeping the decision tree with me and using it and I have noticed my scores are improving. A lot of people told me that it was a waste of time but I am actually making some headway with it.


15 Posts

I am currently just basically practicing over and over and using the decision tree as a guide. I am using more of the resources at kaplan than I did when I used them the first time and I am reading through all the rationales, correct and wrong answers. Someone also did message me telling me to look into something called the "Nurse Project" I looked into it and have joined three of their seminars. They are $22 a session and it is usually about 2 hours where they go over NCLEX strategy. The other seminar is based on SATA questions. I will let you know what I think of this program after I finish it.

I am taking notes on things I note that I am weak at. I looked at my first three question trainers and identified the areas I did weak in and am practicing on those questions even more. I have raised my Qbank scores from mid 50's to possibly 70's to a consistent high 60%. I am trying to just answer the questions with more consistency since Kaplan has stated that you need to string a series of answers together consecutively in order to remain at the above passing standard. That way if you miss an answer you are still above the passing line. I also have watched any video content kaplan has available and taken notes. I found that they helped me because no one really has taught me about NCLEX test taking so I had been taking the test without knowing the rules! What I have learned has helped me understand NCLEX land much more. I know I will pass this next time because I have been so close every time and now I know the rules and I can identify how I am doing when I take the test but noting if the questions are getting harder or easier. I think when I take the test I am going to keep track of the pattern on the scratch sheet of paper they give so I can reduce some of my anxiety. This time I will take a break when I start feeling overwhelmed and will collect myself.

In addition to analyzing my strengths and weaknesses I have taken notes on areas of content that I constantly am struggling with such as OB questions and child milestones. I also have a labs sheet by my side so I have a quick reference. If I get a question that is strictly knowledge based on a topic I may not be familiar with I google the topic really quick and try to learn about it before answering the question. I had a teacher tell me to do this in nursing school because it is "active learning" and you will be better for it. I've found it to be equally helpful to keep a sheet of notes on the topics I am unfamiliar with and write a summary on them. For the ailments I can't always keep straight such as Addisons or Cushings and I just usually need to review what the specifics of the diseases are I have also written down. I basically have a bunch of notes on OB and how to calculate due dates, measure where the fundus would be, review OB content on placenta previas (etc, etc), child milestone markers, and such. Writing things down helps me solidify the knowledge.

I also found a helpful study sheet on this website that I will attach because it is a gold mine of resources.

Finally, here is what I am doing for the "mental" aspect of this grueling process. I had a teacher that used to play classical music during tests because there was a study that came out showing that classical music increases brain activity and improves test scores. Based off of that study I have always studied with classical music in the background. Every day that I wake up I tell myself I will be a nurse and that this is the last time I am taking the NCLEX. When I sit down to study I tell myself I can do this. In addition to being on Adderall I have noticed I am better focused and the anxiety has decreased slightly. That is why I am able to practice and study so much and not feel exhausted. I go up to my local coffee shop because studies have shown that you do better studying when you are not in a home environment because you become complacent in a comfortable location and don't focus as much. I am not working because I took off my last year of nursing school to focus on school and have not passed the NCLEX yet so basically studying is my full time job. I take breaks when I need to which (and here is another study tip I was taught) is usually every 20 minutes because that is the most your brain can handle in one sitting without a break. So...then I take a short break, stretch, get the body moving and reenergized and go back and do some more studying. I try to watch videos from Kaplan in addition to practicing question.

In summary I am just doing everything I can, using every resource I can, learning from every mistake I make and am working my butt off. If you want to email me you can, I am always here to help anyone. I wish you the best of luck, I know you can do it. The hardest part (I still believe) was getting through nursing school. The NCLEX, I think, is more of a mental and emotional game. You are only as strong as your mind and you can be either your biggest asset or biggest enemy. The choice is all in your hands!

Please see the following link for the lab value sheet and study sheet. It is a wonderful resource!

(It is in the initial post. They are attached documents at the bottom.)


15 Posts

I just finished attending part one of the seminar for the NursingProject and I think it has been the most clear and helpful of all my resources. -------------- is really a godsend. Check it out!


15 Posts

I just attended a session and it was so helpful! Thank you for the suggestion!