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PLEASE stop stressing the nclex... just stop


I know a lot have found this exam harder than any other exam, and many have failed. It's a very stressful thing to think about prior to actually taking it which i think plays a huge role in why people fail. For me, I was miserable. I studied just a couple times a week after graduating but it was 3 weeks prior to the exam that I was studying 8 hours a day

I utilized kaplan and saunders and .org's for review. I felt like i was set on strategies for the questions themselves, but i realized that with a week left, I still felt like content was an issue. There's too much to know, and you really aren't going to know it all ((Maternity and especially pediatrics was my weakness).

When all is said and done, I took the exam, and realized that no matter how much you study, it's how you decide what's best for the patient that will pass you on this exam. That's all i can tell you. Unfortunately I will not share what content I was getting on the exam. But after 3 intensive (with 5 weeks total of studying) weeks of studying content and kaplan (more kaplan), I left the exam with a smile on my face (which quickly turned to a frown as i left the building because you just never know). 5 days before the exam i was irritable, i was crying (even when i was studying), and i was a nervous wreck. The day before-I was only nervous. My dad's place was closer to the testing center so i spent the night crashing on the sofa. He treated me to a massage the night before, which helped me sleep. Later that night, i was smiling and happy that soon this would be over with. The next day, as i was driving to the exam center and on my way into the building-again, a nervous wreck. But when i was brought in for the exam ( I was able to take it 3 hours early) and was finally at the point where I was looking at the tutorial, i started to tear a little. I had to bring it back together because i told myself i had no choice and i was already there and had to do my best. If i miss anything on the tutorial, it might hurt me. So starting with the tutorial, I immediately stopped tearing, put the sound-proof headphones on, and by the time the first question came, I was totally zoned in. Honestly, and please don't get mad, these questions were soooo not as hard as kaplan. O..m..g. I laughed(ok i smiled) at a few that i knew were high level thinking. Some of the SATA (getting these SATA back-to-back which meant i was doing well-80% i swear, like 80% were SATA--but even if you pass in 75, this DOES NOT mean you will have the same % of SATA!! SATA aren't the highest level thinking, but they are one of the higher level thinking type of questions you will get--again this is adaptive and is not the same for everyone). A little advice on SATA: these are the ones that make people nervous and i always got these wrong on my exams in NS. BUT, don't panic if you see an alternative choice that you don't know what to do with. Quickly-not too quickly (don't want anyone to panic lol), but calmly, use kaplan decision tree/other kaplan strategies first...then if that fails, and it will sometimes, use nursing judgement :D b/c if you have it, you will pass. I know that bit of advice is sooo broad and not very reassuring, but trust me, when you need to use it, you will use it. (Or maybe i just work better under pressure i don't know that's just me) and then if you still don't know it, either uncheck it or check it and try not to think and just click next. just do it. and please don'tt check it if you are unsure that it has anything to do with the topic of the question-in other words if you are unsure it's the right answer. It's best to leave it unchecked. Why check an answer off if you don't even know if it has anything to do with the topic? That's what i did, and still, the high level questions kept coming on..I don't remember getting more than 5 lower level questions and i can spot those from a mile away because of the training i had with kaplan (week long 5days 8hr/day sessions with kaplan instructor during last week or maybe two? weeks of school, QBANK and question trainers 1-5 in my last month and within the month after grad, and then QT 6 2 weeks prior to exam, QT 7 a week prior to exam, with many QBANKS in between-i finished 80% of them) . Anyway, that test shut off at 75, and i had a great feeling but still a feeling of uncertainty. I did PVT and it worked, I knew i passed. The feeling only lasted for the drive home and 2 hours after that. Then I started thinking about cleaning up my resume and cover letters and jobs...:/

ADVICE: stay cool, don't keep rescheduling your exam ( someone rescheduled their 7/31 exam, and mine was originally on 7/30. I changed it to 7/31.,lmao. i just had to. I was a wreck. I felt like my content was still poor, there wasn't enough that i knew). OH! btw my kaplan QT 6 was 59%, and 7 was 63%. Qbanks were on average like 55%. diagnostic (which was taken 5 weeks before exam) was like 61%. Aim for the 60's before taking exam. Even low 60's, just get to 60 , but if you don't , and your exam is in 2 days, do ...not...panic! my QBANKS were in the 50's 40's, highest was a 64 maybe. not too great...and i still passed feeling confident during and after (for the most part...i didn't want to be too confident). Start out strong, taking your time especially in those first 75 questions, because if you do, you have a better chance of getting them right , and therefore will be able to leave in an hour and half or so, as opposed to sitting through all 265. Whoo that was a relief.

Sorry if this post is repetitive or not helpful, but that's my advice and my thoughts on this test that everyone fears. Just get kaplan. or at least the study manual ( i did not own, but my friend says it is helping with strategies). There's also a QBANK app for iPhone or iPod touch that is free and they don't offer all 3000 (i forgot how many kaplan comes with-my school required us to buy the whole package, including the kaplan instructor who came to our school-every semester-$200 each semester-but that was online access plus the kaplan instructor, who also replied to my emails AFTER graduation very very promptly) but at least offer a lot of them and give you an idea of what the hardest of the hardest questions look like. Better to be over prepared.

Anyway, start early, don't take the exam too much later after graduating (if you can help it) and again: kaplan. But most importantly: stay calm. ohh and please please stay away from all nurses.com and the horror stories of people studying their butts off with kaplan or other resources who have still failed. I'm not denying their stories, but chances are that maybe they didn't study as much as they said they did. You don't know that. Just worry about you are your progress, and make adjustments by focusing on your weak areas for content, and reviewing questions and rationales (for those of you with kaplan..sorry i don't have better advice for non-kaplan users, but i believe this helped me a lot). Think: What was my thought process with the ones i got wrong and the ones i got right? Compare and contrast. If you have the time and patience, write down your rationales AS you are taking practice exams (or Qbanks/QT for you kaplan users). Sometimes it's about strategically answering questions, and not so much knowing content (although I found myself familiar with all content on my questions-well, not all, but a lot).

I need to stop typing, but for those who's exams are coming up soon, I'm sure you studied hard and prepared yourself well, so please don't worry and be anxious. It's not worth it. I put myself through more than i needed to, trust me.

by the way, according the many on all nurses, you should give your brain a 'rest' the day before the exam, if not a few days before. I did NOT follow this advice. But i did take it easier on the day before. For those who have busy lives and just couldn't make the time to study as much as they wanted to and have an exam to take in a week or

But the day before should not be too stressful, limit studying to 3 hours max. sleep in (no later than 10 or 11 latest) workout, massage maybe? brief studying that has been broken up ( 1 hour in between) and get to sleep early (even if exam is at 2pm...but esp if it's at 8am).

OH MY GOD... i feel better after reading this... i take my exam pretty soon and i am a nervous wreck and have contemplated changing my date numerous times because i feel like no matter how much i study and how many banks / trainers i do i am not prepared... i also get nervous because my client needs category scores are all over the place but my qtrainers are have been okay from what i understand qt5 61.3 / qt6 63 / gt7 60.... ugh still super nervous but have been trying to calm myself down and just do questions!

also kaplan said that as long as you get above a 55% on qt7 you should be fine for nclex... i hope this is true.... i got a 64 on one of the secure predictors and felt okay about it.... SATA is my worst nightmare but i have been doing nclex 3500 alternative format questions too since kaplan doesn't have that many SATA... my test anxiety is through the roof and had a panic attack today :nailbiting:

How soon is your exam? And at the bottom of the categories are "Analysis" and "application" (which is higher level thinking)-have you seen your scores there?

If the exam is soon, and you feel very nervous, either take it anyway, or reschedule for another month. For me, I was sooo nervous (stomach aches, occasional crying) because I felt like everytime i got a kaplan question wrong I had to learn something new from my mistakes, even with an exam coming up in 2 days...not only was content not sooo great, but now I had to learn more from kaplan? I was a wreck. But with job opportunities for new grads happening now, I didn't want to delay my test any further because of possibly losing opportunities to work, so i sucked it up and felt at least 50% confident, and just went for it (after i rescheduled for 1 day later, i considered rescheduling 2 weeks later--there's no point. If you personally feel the need to do it later, you might as well give yourself another month. but doing what i did - scheduling 1 day later, then considering 2 weeks later, which i didn't end up doing, was stupid and pointless).

Your scores are good, categories go up and down (same here)...the fear of going into nclex is the fear of not knowing! and if doing questions calms you down, i say why not, the more practice the better. but take it easy the day before the exam and definitely get more than you need sleep (7-8 hrs). Have oatmeal with blueberries (something wholesome) and eat a little piece, or bar, of DARK chocolate. It has been proven to boost memory a little. If you're a coffee person, have a small cup or large cup (if you get jittery, forget it-if it helps you concentrate and your not too sensitive, then go for the med-large cup) like a half hour before the exam or whenever, i guess it doesn't matter lol, and right before have some chocolate, dark variety. I actually brought my chocolate, but forgot to bring it into the testing center, so i guess it didn't make me pass, but i wanted to exhaust every option to ensure my success on this exam.

also kaplan said that as long as you get above a 55% on qt7 you should be fine for nclex... i hope this is true.... i got a 64 on one of the secure predictors and felt okay about it.... SATA is my worst nightmare but i have been doing nclex 3500 alternative format questions too since kaplan doesn't have that many SATA... my test anxiety is through the roof and had a panic attack today :nailbiting:

Those are good scores! Just stay away from this website, because you'll here kaplan users say they had like 65% on their QT's (6&7) and still failed...for all we know they did those 5 weeks before the exam and didn't bother to look at rationales until the day before the exam , lol. Everyone is different, and i'm not the brightest person in the world (but still smart, i'd like to say). SATA were always my nightmare, and i bought (and returned quickly after-it was $50 screw that) lippincott's SATA which were waaaay hard. If you have time to master those, and you really are concerned about SATA, I could suggest that one, but i don't know when your exam is. I didn't get much out of it and my SATA's were so much easier than i had expected. I still suggest practice with the hardest of hard questions, but also reviewing content you don't know.

I also suggest watching kaplan content review videos (i know they're boring, and honestly i didn't have time to watch them all-except for strategies and 60% of RX classes review). Under NCLEX review, there's a bunch of video's, you'll see them, and i found them very helpful- wish I could've utilized them earlier to lower my anxiety level (even though i passed without watching all those too). Again, my situation may be different, i don't want anyone to get false hope from me, but I know the feeling, and i went in worried as hell, but calmed myself down quickly and realized it wasn't so bad.

I hope it goes the same for you, and i'm sure it will. your scores are great

reading your post really helped me calm down! I have been stressing out by doing exactly what you said NOT to do! I have been reading the horror stories of others and freaking out :cry:. I take the NCLEX next week, and I am currently up late doing what?!.. STUDYING!! I feel like I will never be ready. I have been doing Kaplan Qbank, scores ranging from 58%(first started) to getting a 71% today. I am continuing to go over rationales and looking at all my right and wrong answers. I hope that I am as lucky as you! You're story really is an inspiration, you rock! and CONGRATS ON PASSING NCLEX!! :cat:

I am most likely not going to reschedule because to be honest it really isn't going to do me any good cause ill just feel the same way when that test date gets closer too. I just have to calm myself down and before you even posted this I was thinking about getting a massage the day before LOL and I need to remind myself to breathe! And I also have to admit I have been reading this website daily and have been getting more nervous with every thread being posted about failing numerous times...


Specializes in ICU.

Im just doing Saunders cd with 8000 questions. It is a true help. They have SATAs interspersed throughout with great rationales. Take mine in a few days. If you know the basics--labs, ABCs, maslows hierarchy-- that should get you through because safety is the testing content. Also main drug rxns and SE.

INN_777, BSN, RN

Specializes in Oncology, Medicine. Has 6 years experience.


Can I just say, thank you so much for posting this! My nclex is scheduled at the end of Jan and all I read about this test anywhere and all I hear from test prep companies is doom and gloom and anxiety! Your post was very therapeutic and gave some much needed positive perspective.

Thank you again from a now slightly more optimistic and less anxious new grad

LOTS of really good information here! Very helpful to many, no doubt.

Only have one little thing to add/comment on: SATA is really NOT a "higher level of question", it is ONLY an alternative format. SATA questions can be above-passing level or below-passing level; you cannot know by the number of SATA questions you receive ANYTHING one way or the other. It is purely luck of the draw.

SATA questions may seem easy or hard. ALSO not indicative of anything; one person's "hard" question might still be below-passing standard; another person decides a SATA question is "easy" but it's actually above-passing standard. No way to know while you are taking the test.

There is a pervasive myth out there that getting these types of questions, and particularly getting MANY of these questions, is an indication that a tester is doing well. While they may BE doing well, they could also be doing poorly, as the format is irrelevant.

Still, it's a tough format to deal with (I personally hate those kinds of questions!).

Good luck to everyone testing soon! :)

Not gonna lie. Nclex is not hard. Shut off at 75 and knew I passed. Shoot I knew I passed before I took the test.

Not gonna lie. Nclex is not hard. Shut off at 75 and knew I passed. Shoot I knew I passed before I took the test.

Well.....congrats! NCLEX is hard for those who struggle with the format of the test, mostly. And for those who have had less than a stellar preparation through their schools. It's a rare bird who believes they passed without any doubts whatsoever......but if that was you, you're lucky! Anxiety is crushing for many.

So glad I came across this post! I test Saturday and have been considering rescheduling it due to fear. But my nursing school preps well and I am an awesome test taker. But seeing so many people talking about failing multiple times really makes you think "the nclex must be super hard". Its nice to see people with a positive outlook about the test!