Jump to content

Passed NCLEX w/75 Questions first time!! With a history of MAJOR Test Anxiety


Hello! I would like to say I passed my NCLEX on 2/16/2015. I am now an RN. Bear with me, this is kinda long. I promised if I passed, I would try to help others in my same shoes.

Let me tell you I experienced TERRIBLE test taking anxiety with the EXIT HESI. I also have a kind of anxiety disorder. Test anxiety is VERY REAL. I knew I had to change before NCLEX or even when I start nursing. I usually do not, but I psyched myself out because me, although I was a B average student in nursing, HESI speciality exams and I were never friends. If something does not go the way I plan, I can freak out, unless I stop it before I do. But it was not that I could not pass HESI, I choose to fear HESI and just assume I am not good at it. I almost, but did not pass the first time with the required 900. I realized it was not the content I did not know. I never took the time to understand the questions and the way it was worded. I let my anxiety for the test get to me. I am smart and capable of passing. I was too busy reading study material that was NCLEX based but worded like nursing school (all wrong, one right). I was too busy thinking if I studied everything I would pass. Let me tell you HESI/NCLEX is all is right/wrong, which one is the most? U do not know half the mess they are asking, but knowing basic content sure helps. One of the advisers watching us walked over to me and said I looked like I was in pain?!!! ( I was- mentally, emotionally and physically:nailbiting:). I literally forgot to breathe. I remember staring at questions for 10 to 15 minutes during my first HESI exit (it actually logged me out!!!), watching single move made in the room, I started having GI problems, my head was pounding, I felt like I was going to cry and I could not even think straight and told myself I am going to fail. And guess what, I did.

I was devastated when I first failed HESI. I was in shock. How the heck did I study for hours, used mybestgrade.com and a billion study books and did not pass??!!! However I regrouped, reduced my study material to just Hurst Review videos (amazing!) and Elsevier. Because to me, forget all these other study books, use the people who write the darn questions. I told myself I would pass, stop looking at negative info on the internet, mediated,finally sought counseling for my anxiety instead of hiding it, prayed, stayed positive and watched the Secret. I reduced my study hours to just 2 to 4hrs and not 6hrs. (Find what works for you). I was able to test in the testing center and I remember being nervous but not scared like the first time. I remembered to breathe and take breaks. Guess what, I passed. I was thrilled!!! I bursted out crying in the testing center from joy. I NEVER made a 900 (maybe 700/800s) on HESI besides maternity and the prof babied us in for the HESI in maternity. I finally realized, it was not HESI stopping me from making 900, it was myself. I proved to myself I could ace the exam.

So why did I share this? Because I feel like sometimes background story can help before taking a story for face value. Failing HESI the first time and learning from my mistakes and passing the second time is the reason I was able to pass NCLEX today. I did exactly what did for HESI, for NCLEX. I used Hurst for content, Kaplan/NCSBN for critical thinking/strategy and questions. NCSBN is amazing!!!! I did not really use the content part because it reminded me of the HESI NCLEX COMPREHENSIVE book. A lot of outlines- that is not my learning style. I used the questions. I was not able to finish the last to set of post questions, but did the most I could. It was great for helping me to critically think. The medication questions reminded me of NCLEX. So when you sit for boards, you are not so stressed when you see just the generic name and u have no idea what to do. The questions on NCSBN actually seemed harder at times on here then NCLEX.

Kaplan has wonderful strategies!! I used the Kaplan premier book 2014-2015. Did not really read the chapters. I just read the strategies and used the practice questions in the back and online. Again, I find what I wanted to work on before studying for NCLEX. It was not content for me, but to strengthen my critical thinking skills. I did a couple of Qbank questions from Kaplan a friend let me use on her account. I am a 55% on Q6 and 72 on Q4 I believe. The questions were kinda like HESI/NCLEX combined to me.

Hurst is great for content!!!! The videos are amazing!!! Yes their southern accents can be extra at times, but because of that you will remember! It really breaks down major content from each specialty so you can understand. I did not touch the questions. Did not want to overload from different sources. Other than that, I used the Lippincott Alternative format and it helped at times, although it was hard. I usually never have a problem on test with SATA, but in practice I miss like one or two:x3:. SATA is honestly not as bad at it is in nursing school. If you want challenging SATA, use kaplan for that and it will help with feeling prepared for NCLEX SATA, because Kaplan's SATA seemed hella harder to me. Honestly name any book I had it. That's how much overload I went on the first HESI exit. I have PDA, Lippincott NCLEX Review, Saunders. I did not touch any of it for NCLEX. I had already used it and knew what I had to study. Do not get me wrong, they helped me with content, but the critical thinking skills comes with practice/not content overload.

But because I know I practiced critical thinking questions/read rationales, understood the "whys" and "hows", I was not scared of NCLEX when I sat for it. My adrenaline was pumping at first, but I took a deep breath and said I will pass this exam. Sure, some of the questions make you want to throw the mouse at the computer when studying and taking boards, but DO NOT panic. Remain calm, think about it, some things may not go your way when on the unit, do u freak out?????? NO!!! Remain as calm as possible. That was probably the calmest I ever been for an exam in nursing school and it was the freaking boards!!! If I can pass HESI EXIT with 900 and pass NCLEX 75Q with a history of test anxiety/disorder you can too!!!

So here is some advice.

1. Study what works - FOR YOU!! Only you have the answer for that. I and the everybody else can only suggest to you. Many people swear answering a whole bunch of questions works for them, and I did that because other people said too, but that does not work for me. People swear by mybestgrade.com for the exit exam, however, I did not pass the first time around with it. It simply did not work for me. I have to answer a small amount and really study the questions. I honestly never studied 265 questions in one setting. But I am open to talking about what worked for me! Be careful from studying from many different sources. It can get confusing and conflicting with info. I only used 4 main sources for NCLEX rather than the ten I was using for the first Exit exam. For the second Exit, I used only two.

2. Make Nclex your FRIEND! It is not your enemy. If you start fearing NCLEX than every negative feeling comes with that. Think about it, that is one of the most nicest (confusing) exams possible. You have 190 chances to pass if it goes after 75. It still believes in you, it just want some more proof. So do not stop believing in yourself, especially when the test has not!! The test will be what you make it. You take the test, do not let the test take you.

3. Prepare for 265 questions, but tell yourself, gear up and walk in that testing center like you own 75Q. Sure I sounded crazy, and sometimes thought I was talking noise, saying that to my friends and one even doubted me and thought I was being unrealistic. But she ate her words because I completed it in 75Q and I told myself I would.

4. DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT go into the testing center thinking you know everything that will be on the exam. That was my mistake the first HESI. You will not. Yes, we love regular nursing school test because we can purge everything we crammed the night before. NCLEX is unknown. It is human nature to be apprehensive of the unknown. But there is nothing wrong with that. Nursing is unpredictable and you can not predict your shift. If you practice questions that take you out of your comfort zone and get you to critically think (and know your content), you will not be freaked out by the crazy question on the screen on test day.:yes:

5. Be physically, emotionally and mental ready. Exercise, sleep, eat, rest, read, go to church, meditate and continue life. Yes, prepare for NCLEX, but DO NOT forget to take care of yourself. I mean do not go and party till dawn (party after), but it is okay to go out once in a while like out to eat and still know life is out there. It reminds, it is just a test, nothing to fear.

6. Work on what you are weak in. I strongly suggest to look at your HESI exit remediation if you can. It really helps to see maybe where you need to study if content is an issue. If critical thinking is the issue, work on that. If your mind trips on you, get your mind right before the exam. But know your weakness, often people who mess up on NCLEX who studied everything and their mama did not realize what they were actually weak in and blindly studied, hoping for the best and are shocked when they fail. Trust, I have been there (HESI exit). Know where you are weak in and go from there.

7. Fear is not REAL! Fear is a product of your thoughts you create. NCLEX is real, fear is not. It is a choice causing you to be scared of the unknown. You have nothing to fear, but fear itself. Honestly, I could not tell what was harder and easier. What may be hard for 50% of the testers may be easier for the other 50%, regardless of the level of questions. I honestly did not have that many SATA. Your test will be your test. Do not think about your friend who had 35 SATA and passed. I believe I had only around 10-15 SATA and a few other alternative questions. Just focus on the question on your screen. Do not worry about the past question, what is done is done. Do not self doubt. Self doubt stems from fear. More accuracy is achieved with confidence.

8. Think of a quote that helps you stay strong, write it down on the paper before you start the test, say it to yourself when you feel yourself tripping. But do not panic!

9. Tell yourself you can do it and never stop trying. Train for nclex as if you are running a race. Block out the negative energy, because you do not want it with you hanging over your head the day of the test. Stay positive as possible. You studied all this time in nursing school, you know this stuff!!!!! It is okay, if you do not pass the first time, life goes on, there is a reason for it. A quote from Aaliyah- "If at first you don't succeed, dust yourself off and try again".

Focus on what the question is really asking you? Sometimes, its not as complicated as it looks face value, its just worded that way to throw you off and put you in a bind.

10. Confidently Believe in yourself. How can anyone believe in you, if you do not believe in yourself first?emotion-1.gif

And if anybody is wondering about my disorder, I am actively working on it. It is a daily thing I have to live with. I combat it everyday, but let me tell you, I have been winning. My experience with HESI made me realize, I control my anxiety, I will not let it control me and I thank God for helping me shine the light on my strength everyday.

Hopefully this story inspires somebody to never give up and defeat all odds and the advice helps someone out there!!! Just want to see us all as Registered Nurses. And trust me, you will!!!

dianah, ADN

Specializes in Cath Lab/Radiology. Has 45 years experience.

Congratulations and thank you for sharing strategies!

Congratulations! Definitely felt more confident after reading your post. Taking it in 2 weeks!

Rechilda, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency, Delivery and OR Nurse. Has 4 years experience.

Wow! Congratulations! Really need this! I'll be taking my NCLEX this 26th, pray for me and wish me luck! God Bless on you're future plans! Hope for the Best! Takecare :nono::yes:

Thank you so much everybody!!!! I am so excited!! And I will keep everybody in my prayers. Prayers was one of the aspects in life that got me thru. I am glad to hear that my story/advice can help somebody out. That really means a lot to me:laugh:. If anybody has any questions, I am free to answer. Good luck to every one.

Hi, i am currently using kaplan to prepare for the NCLEX, and I've been doing good in the question banks so far (~60-70%) in all of my tests. however, after reading several posts, i decided to try NCSBN, however i am doing very terrible in NCSBN, so i am now getting very nervous. which one do you think was the most similar to the actual NCLEX questions?

Thank you

NCLEX questions were really random at times and sometimes the questions were worded in like one sentence (basic) and not some long drawn out patient scenario. However, read the question carefully first. To me NCSBN questions were longer in the scenario, which made it more complex. Also, there are some questions on NCSBN that are styled in NCLEX fashion because they asked you things you have never heard before. That is also great so that you do not panic on the questions you don't know the answer to on boards. The medication questions on NCSBN were really good practice because it prepared you for the actual boards. Kaplan to me reminded me of NCLEX/HESI exit the most in style of how the questions are worded. NCSBN is great for real critical thinking practice. It okay, sometimes I would score high, and sometimes low on the questions on NSCBN, however as time went on I did better (70%-90%) because it was helping me with critical thinking and how I approached the questions. Hope that helps!! Good luck:cat: