Passed NCLEX 75 Questions - Study Tips / Schedule

I took the NCLEX earlier this month and passed with 75 questions. I was so stressed out while I was studying, but in the end I didn't think the test was very difficult. Nursing Students NCLEX Article

Passed NCLEX 75 Questions - Study Tips / Schedule

I think I let a lot of the posts found on this site get to me (and stress me out). The majority of the posts are about people who have failed so initially I was freaking out, but if you really think about it, most students that pass the test aren't going to come on here to post that they passed.

The NCSBN website posted that in 2011, the passing rate of total first time, US educated candidates was 87.89%. If someone told me that I had an 87.89% chance of winning the lottery, I'd be looking up what mansions I wanted to buy. That's a pretty huge percentage, so chances are, you're going to pass.

Below is a very detailed description of what I did to prepare. This is going to be really long and I know everyone's study style is different, but I hope it'll help somebody. Also, this might not really help people that aren't using Kaplan because that's what I used so my study schedule is very specific to the Kaplan material.

Kaplan is about $450, which is expensive. However, everyone that has passed in our class so far took Kaplan and passed on their first try (majority with 75 questions). I think it's a good investment because they refund your money if you fail (as long as you do all the questions they require... which if you do, you'll probably pass). It took me four weeks total to get through all the Kaplan material.

Study material:

1) Kaplan - Online (Classroom Anywhere)

- More relaxing because you do it from home on your computer

- Lectures are not interrupted by people who ask too many questions or off-topic questions (there is a chat box where you type your questions privately to a TA who will answer quickly)

- Lectures are scheduled so it keeps you from slacking off (I knew that if I did the on-demand lectures, I would never finish it)

- Lectures are not content-based. They teach the decision tree and for the rest of the classes, you spend it going over a ton of questions/answers. At first I thought this was strange, but it turned out to be so helpful. They walk through each question and tell you how they eliminate certain answers and the process they go through to select the correct one.

- The Kaplan Qbank questions and Question Trainers look EXACTLY like the real NCLEX (same exact color, format, etc), which really decreased my anxiety during the real thing because I felt like I was just doing a Kaplan practice test.

2) Allnurses study guide (don't know how to upload it, but the link is in this post:

- I read the study guide four times (once after I finished the Kaplan lectures, twice in the middle of doing questions, and one more time two days before my exam). The mnemonics/tips in this guide are so helpful. Read it!

3) I made notecards for the following lab/normal values I thought were important:

ABGs (ph, PaCo2, HCO3, SaO2, PaO2), sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, cholesterol, urine specific gravity, urine pH, WBC, RBC, HgbA1c, triglycerides, ESR, LDL, HDL, AST, ALT, BUN, creatinine, hemoglobin, hematocrit, PT, PTT, INR, platelet count, fasting glucose level, serum albumin, infant HR, infant RR, infant BP

4) I kept a notebook where I took down notes of things I thought were important after reading rationales (ex: Need to maintain sodium levels if patient is taking lithium, otherwise, could cause toxicity). However, I only took notes on things I thought were REALLY important and on subjects that kept coming up in questions. I wanted to keep my notes as short as possible so that I wouldn't feel overwhelmed with 100's of pages of notes.

What worked for me/Tips:

- I didn't do any content review before starting questions. I just jumped right into doing questions. I think some people waste too much time reviewing content when the important thing is doing as many questions as you can and learning how to answer questions. You review content as you're reading the rationales. My scores on the questions trainers and qbanks kept increasing and eventually, I was consistently scoring above the minimum score that Kaplan suggests, so I felt comfortable not reviewing content. If your scores are not increasing and are consistently below the minimum they suggest, then maybe it would be a good idea to do content review. However, make sure you give yourself time to get through ALL qbank and question trainer questions before the exam.

- I made sure I read through the rationales on the same days that I did the questions so that the material was fresh in my mind.

- When I completed 50% of the Qbank questions, I looked at which sections I wasn't doing so well in. There's a section that shows your cumulative performance in the Qbanks and Kaplan breaks down the sections that you are scoring lowest in. I had one subject where I was just below the 50% mark so I went back and read that section in the Kaplan course book. I skipped the content lecture because it was too long and boring and I saved time by just reading that section of the book myself.

- Kaplan suggests not focusing on one content area at a time when doing questions. I'm so glad I listened to this because if you know you're doing questions in one content area, you'll be more likely to choose the correct answer because you know what they're looking for, even if the question is tricky. However, on the NCLEX, you won't know what sections each questions is coming from, so I think it's beneficial to learn to do the practice questions the same way.

- The select all that apply questions are way hyped up on this site. I thought the material on the SATA questions on the NCLEX were straightforward and basic. Most of the time they were much easier to understand/answer than the single multiple choice answer questions.

- I made sure to stick to just one study material. I've been reading on here that some people have between three to four course books/materials. I thought that Kaplan on its own was more than enough and didn't want to overwhelm myself by looking at other material.

- READ ABOUT HOW THE TEST IS SCORED! Understand what type of questions are considered "passing level" so that when you're getting dozens and dozens of SATA, you don't freak out and you'll know that it means you're doing well and are above the passing level. Also, remember that 15 of the questions aren't even scored. So chances are, in the first 75 questions, it's likely that only 60 questions are scored.

- I did the PearsonVue trick one hour after the exam and got the good pop-up so it was accurate for me (and so far has been accurate for everyone in our class).

Study schedule:

Week 1:

- Attend Kaplan lectures (the live lectures, not the content lectures)

Weeks 2-4:

- During breakfast: Read through all my notes (as I went along, I was able to skim through my notes pretty quickly since I was reading them every morning)

- Break: 30 minutes

- After breakfast: 150 Qbank questions or one Question Trainer (*a more thorough breakdown of this below)

- Break for lunch: 1.5 hours

- After lunch: Read all rationales from the questions I did in the morning and take notes in my notebook of important facts I want to make sure I remember. I made sure to read the rationales for the questions I answered correctly so that I know my reasoning for selecting the answer was correct. Also, if I came across a subject I wasn't familiar with, I would look it up in the Kaplan course book (such as how to care for a patient with Buck's traction). I took about a 10 minute break every hour while I was reviewing the rationales just so I could maintain my focus. At first this seems overwhelming, but as you go along, you'll see topics that keep coming up so you'll get more familiar with the material and will get more questions correct. You'll be able to plow through the rationales much more quickly. Initially, it was taking me 3 hours to do this, then after the first three days, it only took me 1.5-2 hours. So after a while, I still had plenty of time in my day to relax or hang out with friends at night.

- Before bed: Review flashcards of normal/lab values.

*Breakdown of Weeks 2-4 (I didn't do all the question trainers in the order that Kaplan told me to. I wanted to get through some Qbank questions to see if my question trainer scores would improve as I did more and more questions. I felt it was easier to track my progress this way):

- Day 1: Read through allnurses study guide

- Day 2: 150 Qbank questions

- Day 3: QT 1

- Day 4: 150 Qbank questions

- Day 5: QT2

- Day 6: 150 Qbank questions

- Day 7: 150 Qbank questions

- Day 8: Read through allnurses study guide

- Day 9: QT3

- Day 10: 150 Qbank questions

- Day 11: 150 Qbank questions

- Day 12: QT4

- Day 13: 150 Qbank questions

- Day 14: 150 Qbank questions

- Day 15: QT5

- Day 16: Read through allnurses study guide

- Day 17: QT6

- Day 18: QT 7

- Day 19: Alternate format quiz & Sample NCLEX test #3 (I thought #3 was important because it is all priority questions)

- Day 20: Read through allnurses study guide, my flashcards, and notebook

- Day 21 (day before exam? Nothing. I felt pretty burnt out at this point so I watched a movie and relaxed (or at least tried to) for the rest of the day.

My Kaplan scores:

Diagnostic - 49

Readiness - 56

QT1 - 56

QT2 - 64

QT3 - 56

QT4 - 63

QT5 - 65

QT6 - 71

QT7 - 68

Cumulative Qbank - 64 (On the first half of the Qbank questions, my average was pretty much at 60 or a little below 60. However, after finishing half of the Qbank questions and half of the question trainers, my scores really started improving.)

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Thank you so much for sharing! It is very inspiring for someone like me who read the kaplan book carefully. I figured just doing the questions will help me. The majority of my classmates pass the test without even reading/studying the content which is pretty amazing.

Thanks alot for sharing!! Some people come here and get help/tips and never come back after they pass to help others. Good luck to you!!

Specializes in Derm, Plas, OB-GYNE & Internal Medicine.

Thanks for coming back and sharing. I spent most of yesterday evening reviewing Kaplan and Lippencott content and watching Kaplan video that I was so exhausted I fell asleep hoping to come back and do questions. I woke up too late so I guess starting today, I will focus on doing questions first, reading rationale and then content to ensure that I get through my questions each day as I work.

So now, I have to do 100 questions instead of 50. There's no way that I could do 150 questions on weekdays that I work. I couldn't concentrate everyday for that long.

congrats again.

Thank you for detailing this out for us. I am torn between studying the ATI materials our college has as part of our tuition or paying the extra for Kaplan. I really like how Kaplan helps you understand what the question is asking to aid in ruling out incorrect answers. I will definitely bookmark this post for re-review in May.

Congratulations on passing and thank you for posting.

Specializes in peds-trach/vent.

congratulations on passing.:)

Thank you for sharing your study techniques with us! :thankya:


Congratulations and thank you so much for posting!!! :)

congrats and yes take Kaplan!!!!!....don't make a mistake like me , i had taken HURST...... kaplan really prepares you a lot more for NCLEX-RN.

congratulations! thank you for that. :redbeathe

Thanks everyone!! I completely forgot to wish everyone good luck! I know you'll all do great! It just takes a lot of time and organization. Good luck!!!