Passed NCLEX-RN on my second attempt

Just wanted to share with you all my story on my NCLEX experience and give hope to repeat test takers out there reading this.

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Passed NCLEX-RN on my second attempt

I first graduated from my program in July 2016 as a straight B student. I wanted to take a break by going on vacation and looking for a part-time job. I found a part-time job working as an LVN and was able to go on a few trips before our ATT came in late September. I should've started studying while waiting for my ATT but I didn't want to look at another nursing book until I received my ATT. When I received it, I decided to make a schedule and start studying. I ended up buying UWorld, NCSBN, La Charity, Saunders and since our school used Kaplan, I ended up finishing the Kaplan question bank as well for studying. BIG MISTAKE! I ended up answering near 5,500+ questions with Kaplan averages from 50-60% and finishing UWorld with a 54% average. I did about 125-250 questions per day. I never really felt comfortable taking my test until December and I wanted badly to be an RN before Christmas.

1st Attempt: I scheduled my NCLEX for early in the morning since I like getting up early anyway. I ate breakfast and drove to the testing site. I arrived 30 minutes early and checked in and was able to test right away. I did a little prayer before my test started and began. The NCLEX for me the first time was so hard. I felt like I didn't know anything on that exam. I thought I was doing at least decent until it went past 75 questions, that's when I started freaking out. It just kept going and going. I kept declining the breaks and at question 150, I knew I needed to take one since I knew I was going to be there until the very end. I took a 5-minute break by going to the bathroom and also took a big gulp of water. I continued my test and told myself to make sure that after question 200, to answer the best way I possibly could because I read somewhere about the last 60 questions getting graded if you go up to 265 (not sure if it's true). My heart pounded and I also started getting a headache after 220 and I was already wishing the computer would end and fail me. The computer finally stopped at 265 with only 2 minutes remaining. I left semi knowing I failed but hoping there was still a miracle that I might have passed.

Aftermath: Didn't do the PVT, just waited and prayed. Two days later, I found out I officially failed. Candidate report says I was near passing in every category. I was so devastated that I wasn't an RN by Christmas. Wanted to end the year with the best accomplishment ever and I sadly didn't do it.

Decided to take a break for the holidays. After 1 month after failing, I finally decided to set another studying schedule again, I really made sure I looked back on what I could've done differently. For me, it came down to my resources. I felt like I used too many the first time around. I went through all these questions and nothing really stuck. I realized then that I was more focused on the quantity of questions I did per day than the quality of really learning the answers to the questions. I was skimming through the rationales for each of the NCLEX q-banks and was not really understanding the content. So, I decided to stick with only two sources this time. UWorld because I felt that it was similar if not harder than the questions I got the first time and Saunders just for content on stuff I wanted to know more info on (which was rare) especially since UWorld already had the best-detailed info and rationales. I also decided to quit my full-time job and focus on just studying and passing.

Started really studying mid-January and I purchased UWorld for the second time but used it differently. I would get up around 8 in the morning, eat breakfast, pray to God that I would retain all the information I needed for my next NCLEX and then, started doing questions. I did ONLY 60-75 questions per day every morning including Saturdays (Sundays were rest days) which would take an hour and a half to complete. I would then take a break which I never did the first time. I would eat lunch and afterward, would go through all the rationales one by one. I would not hit the next button unless I really understood the content in front of me. Going through the rationales would take another 2-3 hours.

My ATT came early February and earliest test date available nearby was early March, so, scheduled my test for the first week of March. My average the second time was 66% with 300 questions remaining. A 12% increase from the last time. UWorld had 2 assessment exams available. Both exams had 75 questions and would score you on your chance of passing ranging from low, borderline, high and very high. They didn't have this feature the first time I did UWorld in November (not like I needed more questions to add on top of the 5,500+ I already did) but glad they did add this. They advise you to take it 2-3 weeks before your exam but I ended up taking the first assessment a week before and my NCLEX and got in the 80th percentile indicating that I was "very likely" to pass. I was relieved. Four days later, decided to take my second assessment exam and got a 64th percentile with still "very likely" to pass. This made me a little scared since my percentile dropped from 80 to 64. I didn't want to push my exam back though, I wanted to be an RN already. My question bank ended 3 days before my exam and even though I had 300 or so questions left, I didn't renew it. Overall, I did 1,600 questions this time around compared to the 5,500 I did last time. I took the next two days just going over labs, infection control, ABGs and most common side effects of meds by family class. The day before my exam went over material in the morning but put everything away by mid-afternoon. Watched a feel-good movie on TV playing which for me was Mrs. Doubtfire with Robin Williams. Didn't do another question in those last 3 days unlike before where I did questions until the night before.

2nd Attempt: I scheduled my test in the morning once again. There was a sense of calm that I had in the morning that I didn't have with me on my last test. I decided to bring that positive attitude with me during my exam. I packed water, iced coffee in a bottle along with a wrapped muffin in my purse. I ate a good breakfast, had some tea and prayed before I left the house. I arrived 30 minutes early, checked in, and prayed again before my test started. I made use of my dry-erase board and wrote, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." I also decided to hide the number of questions because last time I freaked out when it went past 75. I took a deep breath and started taking my test. My exam was mainly focused on peds, infection control diseases and patient/staff teaching. My screen turned blue and asked me for a break and I decided to keep going since I felt pretty good with the way I have been answering my questions. I also decided to finally take a peek and see where I was at and was surprised I was already at 80. I didn't care though. I just took a deep breath and told myself "I got this, I can do this." A few questions later, around question 86-90 (not sure since I hid the counter again), the screen turned blue and went straight to the NCLEX survey. I was in total shock. I mentally prepared myself to stay for 6 hours with 265 questions. I finished in 2 hours and felt that the questions were either easy, decent or easy to work through. I ended up getting more than 25+ SATA, 3 math questions, 5+ exhibit questions, a few meds and a few priority questions. No ECG and no put in order questions showed up once.

Aftermath: I didn't know what to feel. I felt like I might've failed because the questions I got were semi-easy/decent so I thought I probably got the lower level set of questions but I also thought if I wasn't doing well, the computer should've given me more questions! Instead of doing the PVT, I wanted to wait for the official results again and hopefully see my name on the Board of Nursing after 48 hours and plus, I didn't want to know yet if I did indeed fail. Wanted to use those extra 48 hours of not knowing to pray for a miracle. For those two days, I prayed, I barely slept and barely ate. I found out 2 days after my exam, I PASSED! I was so happy and it felt so surreal. I started crying, told my family and we were all teary eyed together. All the hard work and prayers have finally paid off!

What I Wish I Knew When I Started Studying:

1. Don't use more than 2 resources.

Use 1-2 resources fully utilizing it to its full extent. Using too many resources can be overwhelming.

2. Make sure to understand the rationale before moving on.

If you can't explain what you just learned to someone who doesn't know anything about nursing, then maybe you should re-read the rationale.

3. Quality over quantity.

I've read some posts that have mentioned, "Do as many questions you can before you take your test." For my experience, that didn't work well with me. I did so many questions but didn't understand fully each of the rationales. Understanding the rationales is the key thing to knowing why you answered something wrong or right and using that info to apply to similar questions on the NCLEX. Maybe they meant, "Do as many questions as you can and make sure you know all of the rationales (all 5,500+) before your test." but realistically, however many questions you decide to do, whether it's 1,000 or 5,500, just make sure you understand each and every rationale carefully.

4. Pray (if you pray).

I prayed to God and St. Joseph of Cupertino several times during my studying journey to get me through several things: my last test to help me retain the information I was studying, to help me get through the test, to stay calm during the test and if I didn't know the answer to a question, to help me find the answer somehow. I also prayed nonstop during the 48 hours of agony waiting for my official results. God is good and I really do believe in the power of prayer.

5. Last but not least, use UWorld

If you haven't tried yet. I can honestly say when I utilized UWorld the second time around and fully committed to understanding the rationales, the questions on UWorld were way harder than my second NCLEX exam. I felt that the NCLEX was a lot easier. Another plus as well is that the interface looks almost identical to the NCLEX which made my second time feel like just another normal practice exam I was taking at home.

Thanks everyone for taking the time to read this. I wanted to share my story on this forum because this forum has helped me get through my sadness after failing my NCLEX the first time. I felt better knowing I wasn't alone. This forum has also given me comfort in the 48 hours as I waited for my official results.

Thank you allnurses for keeping me sane and good luck to all the future RNs and LPNs/LVNs who are preparing for their NCLEX! Believe in yourself and stay positive! YOU got this!

Motivational quotes that I read while I was studying:

"Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn." -Harriet Beecher Stowe

The best view comes after the hardest climb." - author unknown

"I can accept failure but I can't accept not trying." - Michael Jordan

Good luck everyone! :up:

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Thanks so much ReecyRN32! I read from some of your posts that your exam is coming up. Good luck & prayers to you! Love that you prayed throughout your studying, that's what helped me get through before, during & after my exam. God is good! Good luck once again! You got this!

Thank you so much! & your prayers for me are much appreciated!!! I hope you are enjoying the fruits of your labor, b/c I can't wait to begin enjoying the fruits of my own, thru-faith & Gods Will!!! Prayer is great, & I know that it's all that I have & needs to win!!! We have work to do Nurse!!!:nurse:


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Thank you for your story!! I feel my situation is so similar, hoping to pass on my 2nd attempt as well! Good luck to you!


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Hi Apple_Gel, you got this! Just make sure to relax the day before, go in with a positive attitude & make sure to take a deep breath before you start. Sending you good luck & positive vibes!

Thank you so much for this post! Currently waiting for my ATT to retake the exam. I really like how you mentioned about the quality over quantity because I feel like that is what got to me. I would try to do 150 questions a day which is what my program or course review class told me but I wouldn't fully understand. Now I do between 50-75 qs a day but I take my time to understand the rationales. Hopefully I pass the second time. Thank you for sharing and congrats on passing!