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Passed NCLEX after 19 yrs

MsVie MsVie (New) New

Hi all,

I want to say thank you to all who participate in the NCLEX discussions as it helped me a lot in preparing for my first attempt to take NCLEX.

Took my exam in Sydney, Australia on aug 27 at 9am. Finished at around 11.30am. Lots of SATA, I felt it was a bit diffiucult. But took my time with each question using learned strategies. Computer shut down at around 79-80 questions after about 2 hours 15 min. And I had been stressing about the result and checking for it... Until 2am aug 30 when I finally was able to purchase the quick result. And thank you Lord, it was a pass! (Although Florida BON stated that my 'license data' was 'complete' when I checked the day after the exam, I still was not sure because it didnt say 'pass'. Until I got the quick result from pearson vue).

I graduated in 1995 - 19 years ago. I migrated to Australia 12 years ago and has been working as an RN here.

I was very weak in all subject areas.

This is what I did...

got my ATT 3 months ago. Started serious studying then doing 2-3 hours after work (4 days a week). 3-6 hours everyday for the 3 days off work. Took 2 1/2 weeks leave from work just before my exam date - spent 6-8 hours a day.

During this time, no going out, less time in grocery shopping (did internet grocery with delivery). No attending office get together. No celebrating my birthday with friends (even if they wanted to - told them we could do it after my exam). I declined invites from other people. I told them I was studying for NCLEX. Cut down facebooking up to about 98%. And my friends, family, workmates, and boss have been most understanding and have been anticipating the result of the exam.

Hurst review for core content. About $400 if I remember correctly. Watched it over, and over, and over.... again. It was good for my confidence, to actually have them map out how things relate to one another. I did the whole course but did not read most of their pdf files that come with the course. I loved the videos though.

First part of NCSBN learning extension and its practice questions. I only purchased $50 worth so I run out of time before finishing the whole course.

PDA La Charity. Was so good with sample questions. They were a bit more challenging sample questions. Good for practice. And what can be delegated, it's good to read the whole book.

Latest kaplan book. Good practice questions.... But especially it taugt me HOW to answer each question. Which I think was a key in taking the exam. It also has lots of practice questions which were challenging.

simplenursing.com I paid for a lifetime membership months ago. Fun to watch and helps me to understand things in a more simple way. The only problem is the accuracy. Therefore I studied other materials first, I only watched simplenursing.com videos just to help me understand the layout of things which I already learned about from somewhere else. It still helped simplify things in my head.

i bought other books but didn't really spend much time with them. I was not very impressed with Lippincott, there is also the alternate-format question book which I found has non-challenging questions. And also bought drugs for nclex - but I found it was not easy to study - i read the words but hard for my brain to retain. I bought Saunders book (which I read about 5 chapters only), and Saunders questions which I did about a third, I found the questions easy and not very challenging to the critical thinking aspect.

try memorizing the values of important fluid and electrolytes and bloods, good for the confidence.

Also watched some of professor finck's lectures on anatomy and physiology on you tube. He is quite a good lecturer. Also purchased and listened to anatomy and physiology vango notes audio from itunes. Just helps with undertanding the basics. I initially thought that if I understood what and how 'normal' works, then it becomes easy to recognize the abnormal.

i read lots and lots of forum discussions and tips from others in taking the exam. And the failed attempts and lesson learned by others. Which also helped me plan on how to tackle my own nclex experience from the start.

And lastly during the 2 1/2 weeks studying, I used 'mind mapping' (just google it). It helped so much for my brain to actually enjoy studying, and 'seeing' concepts better.

I didnt do much of maternity, pediatrics, and drugs. Only did some of it but not really enough.

When I took te NCLEX I thought the questions where not the same as what I studied. And I felt bombarded with SATA.

But I think what helped me most is the combination of core content (using hurst, and all other materials I studied (+ audio-visual on youtube), and add the mind mapping- almost everything), tips from the forum, lots of hours spent studying, and kaplan's strategies on HOW TO answer questions. And following a way/formula on how to tackle each question.

and during the exam, i tried to apply what i have learned andr took my time with each question. With the goal of passing at 75 questions (i did 79-80 questions, in 2 hours).

And prayers...

Goodluck to all...

Congrats! But I am a little confused.....you said you migrated to Australia 12 years ago, and have been working there as a nurse all this time? Were you licensed elsewhere first? And if you've been a nurse for 12 years....I'd hope the NCLEX would be easy for you!

Where did you go to school?

Hi RNsRWe... Originally from philippines. Got my BSN and first licence there... Did a refresher course in australia to get a license. working is different from when one is studying, cause you don't cover every bit of everything anymore. Most of my time is spent with family and work. And I work in oncology adults... so not much maternity, pedia, or other stuff that you only see in speciality areas.

Edited by MsVie

Wow! Congratulations, I am planning to give on 1st of October and I am on hurst review, Saunders , and I am using kaplan strategy too. Hope that is gone help me. I am spending every day about 10 hours coz I am at home and preparing for Nclex. But I some getting nervousness since I heard question will be totally different from what we r doing in practice. Any more advice plz!!!!!!

Hi Wonderlan, yes I found the questions different from what I studied. But the principle behind 'answering' is the same.The practice questions help us with getting used to answering exam questions. I had many SATA questions. Just make sure that in addition to kaplan strategies... Read each question word for word, never missing any word. Then look and look again at what they are asking for in the question - is it a positive query or a negative query? Make note of strategic words in the questions, coz sometimes there is more than one correct answer but they want the priority.

For each and every question I used the elimination process - eliminate the wrong answers first. The remaining items, use either ABC, maslow's, or nursing process whatever is applicable. Then I read and reread the question and answer again before submitting the answer. Thats why it took me longer, 2 hours to finish 80 questions. Also with the SATA answer each as true or false. I set a rule to myself, to never guess - to answer what I know is correct (coz sometimes we can get pulled to another answer that we never heard of but think that it might be the right one).

I felt the pressure of the SATA, but I just thought to myself that it is a good thing, because the more difficult the question becomes that means I am doing alright.

But before I went in for the test, I set a goal for myself. I wanted to pass at 75. Therefore I took my time in the first 75 questions, making sure I read and reread and understood every question. Then after 75, i started going at a faster pace just in case I wasnt doing well. But thank God, the screen shut down at 80.


First of all, congratulations on passing the NCLEX. Which Kaplan book did you use (including edition)? I was not successful in my previous attempts and have been very discouraged. Your post has given me hope and inspiration to push forward and try again. After working as a medical assistant/nurse assistant for over 25 years I went back to school to fulfill my dream of becoming a RN. The NCLEX has been a big deterrent but I intend to conquer it when I face it again. I plan to take it slower on the first 75 questions next time. Thanks for that tip. Do you have any further advice for older test takers like me?

Thanks MsVie, your post has given a great hope to go for exam. Can you share how much score u used to get in practice test plz........

Hi dbrenda1510, i used the 'nclex-rn premier 2014-2015, with 2 practice tests, book + dvd + online + mobile.' That I bought from amazon. But I only really did use the book itself. the dvd that came with it was only a short video. I didnt actually try the online and mobile portion of it, I dont know if there is such electronic access. I think when I read stuff, they are like words I eyeball then forget about. Memorization is not the key, but understanding is. Thats why repetition of the videos from Hurst Review was good for me. This is what I find very helpful... to line up all the facts in a way my brain could actually see the picture of what is being explained.... I used 'mind mapping' a lot of it and used those notes to review. It's great. Just google on how to do it. I have one in my ipad. But because of the bulk of what to study, I did it manuslly and used printing paper and lots of coloring pen. My brain just loved it. Studying became fun for my brain. Also when you do the practice questions, read all the rationales.

Hi Wonderlan, with kaplan and pda la charity, and a few lippincott, I was mostly doing like 30-60% but then I'd go and read the answer and rationale. In the Hurst Review test I was scoring 81/125 which people said was an indication of a passing mark. In the beginning of my 2 1/2 weeks review I started using mind mapping (just google it), i started using my own mind-map I entitled 'answering questions' when answering the practice items. This was to get my brain used to the idea on HOW to answer each question, and what to consider before putting in the final answer. I also think Saunders give good content, but not every tiny bit of content - I ran out of time so I could not finish my saunders. Hurst videos give you sort of the general idea of things. So overall knowledge of good content (which i mind mapped, and reviewed what I mind mapped almost every other day for 2 1/2 weeks), in combination with HOW to answer, and the reading of the question word-for-word, review and rereview the answer before submitting it was the key for me. And my goal of ending at 75 question, thus spending ample time with each and every question for the first 75.


Specializes in OR Nurse. Has 2 years experience.

Hello kababayan congrats! :) Im going to take mine first week of oct. I didnt pay for anything just doing self review and still don't know anything although I studied more content still my scores are 52-65%. This will be my 2nd attempt. Anyway thanks for the tips.

Hi kathrene,RN. Salamat. If you are now good with content, then I think it would be excellent to pair that knowledge with kaplan's how to systematically answer each question. And read other's advise on these forums as well. They helped me a lot.

MsVie Congrats on passing,

I failed nclex first time on begining of August, now I am doing Hurst content Review, Kaplan strategy book and I also have the kaplan online course.. I have done PDA I also signed up for Brilliant nurses and did the strategy of answering questions I liked it a lot.. but my questions about mind mapping what do you google on it or how do you use it? I tried to go in but I was confused.

Thanks and best of luck in your career :)

First off congratulations! What an accomplishment! Did Kaplan's Decision Tree help you answer questions? I also have all the hurst videos and I thought they were very helpful! Which I got from a friend.

Dear Msvie !

congratulation for you r exam can u plz tell me what is mindmapping course and how much it cost u.

Hi hmahdoui, go on you tube and type... 'Mind mapping tony buzan'. He is the inventor of it, juat pick short videos which show you how to do it. No need to buy the software. I have one on my ipad. Maybe you can get a trial software for free just to see how its done. But I used ordinary white A4 printing paper (like one paper for each idea/topic) and lots of colored pens and pencils to do my own mind maps - which works well because of the magnitude of things to study. I also did not use pictures. Only writing words only.

Hi msg88. Thanks. I never did consider the 'kaplan tree'. When I studied the kaplan strategies individually from the book, I wrote them on one page (i did my own mind mapping page on "answering questions"). Then when i stumbled on other strategies from other books or other people who posted, I added them on to this same "answering questions" mind map. So in the end let's say I created my own 'tree' covering all kinds of questions in a way that I could comprehend.

Thanks mamoli, you can youtube it... Type.. iMind mapping tony buzan.. And just learn how they use it. It is simple to use. Just take a little time to learn how they do it, and when you are used to it, then everything becomes quick. Try and get a free software on imindmap on ipad or pc but no need to buy as it is better to do it manually for the nclex. When you mind map one idea, it takes the regular amount of time of studying, and the brain actually 'gets it', the brain understands what you are actually reading in a straightforward quick manner. It is an amazing strategy to learn. And the good thing comes when you go back to review the idea on your created mind map page, it takes only about 1-2 minutes to review the entire page. Reviewing is good for the long term retention of what was learned.

And also remember that we cannot learn and master every single thing in nursing. Days before my exam, I decided that if I can't master every subject, I will master those that I have already reviewed during my study days. I thought it was better to be very good in the areas that I already studied for, than to try to cover every single thing but not be good at anything especially when i was running out of time to study. So hurst review is one of those i tried to master, plus of course my own 'answering questions' mind map page. Plus those other mind map pages on subjects that i did from all the rationales of all the sample questions i came across.