NCLEX Story of Failure and Success
To summarize, I am a Canadian nursing graduate that failed my NCLEX twice and passed on my third attempt. I am sharing my story so people can learn from my mistakes and inspire those who have failed.
First Attempt (Early September 2017)
I graduated in June 2017 and began working a 9 am to 3 pm summer job. After work, I would go to the gym, then study which was a BIG mistake since I was exhausted. In retrospective, I did not take the NCLEX seriously since the majority of graduates from our program (90%) pass the first time. Also, I had several distractions and someone close to me passed away too.
The last two weeks of July, I started the Mark Klimek lectures and finished them in early August. I finally got the one month trial of UWorld afterwards and began to do the tests. My scores were in the 40s and 50s for tests out of 75 questions. I skimmed over the rationales and copied them into a Word document which ultimately became unsorted random knowledge. I did not review the content I struggled with nor did I reflect on my tests/notice patterns (ex. always getting a string of wrong questions at the same point). I was anxious before my exam, but tried to convince myself that I would pass. It was my birthday and I wanted to travel after the exam so pressure added up. I wrote 212 questions, answering very quickly and failed.
Second Attempt (October 26, 2017)
I was crushed after failing since most of my classmates passed. I was embarrassed to share this with them so I avoided them until finally confessing at the end of September. I got another one month trial of UWorld and studied Monday to Friday and some Sundays. My schedule was come to the library around 10:30 am/11 am to 3 pm (quiet area, no noise) and then gym. Friday nights I would chill with friends or go out. Then I would work on Saturday afternoons to evenings. I took the last few weeks off before the exam.
I felt prepared since my scores were in the 50s & 60s for UWorld and I memorized the Mark Klimek lectures; HOWEVER, the UWorld QBank REPEATS and I remembered some of the answers, thereby, my scores were falsely elevated. Furthermore, I was applying for jobs throughout my second attempt and I got an interview the week before my exam date. The references were cleared and the job was mine upon the completion of my NCLEX. I was very anxious/nervous. The night before my exam, I had no sleep and had a fight with my family over being late. I was not in the best mood to take the exam and I was re-reading questions twice. I wrote 91 questions in 2.5-3 hours and failed again.
Third Attempt (March 1, 2018)
I was depressed at this point and spoke with my faculty. I took the online Kaplan NCLEX prep course in mid-November to change things up. My family told me to move on from nursing after this attempt, but I did not want to give up.
I started doing questions end of November/early December, but took a break during holidays. I resumed in January and created a new game plan:
-Write a test out of 75 questions from 10 am to 3 pm, gym, review material/test from 6 pm to 9 pm Monday to Friday
-work on Saturdays
-study on Sundays from 11 am to 5 pm, play basketball afterwards
-no going out
-no job applications
I began to review my tests, noticing that I needed a break at the first 30 minutes and around the 45-50th questions. Furthermore, when I reviewed questions/material with classmates in person, over the phone or over facebook by sending screenshots of the questions. I wrote down the information in my notebook. This resulted in ACTIVE learning. I reviewed this notebook and Mark Klimek in the last month before my exam. My scores were usually in the 50s.
I also worked on being humble (ex. appreciative of my good health, etc), focused on myself (ignored what my classmates were doing/reduced social media) and controlling my anxiety via meditation (I used the Headspace app). My mentality was I did not care about passing/failing the NCLEX or being a nurse, but trying my best and being satisfied with that. I also accepted that If I failed again, I will figure out whether it's another profession or try nursing again. I did not make any future plans (ex. traveling), but focused on the present moment.
I changed the location of my test centre and did not share the date of exam with exception of a few individuals. It reduced the social pressure, especially from family. I finished the exam in 75 questions and what a relief.
Take Home Notes
-take the exam seriously
-make a study plan
-review your test for patterns (ex. strings of wrong questions)
-review rationales and look up the information (and write it down)
-focus only on NCLEX (this short term grind will payoff in the long run)
-self-care (ex. gym, take breaks, etc)
-build your test mentality (ex. deep breathing, meditation)
-positivity/focus on yourself
To those you failed, do NOT give up. You worked hard this far and this test is bureatic BS. This test does NOT determine if you are a good or bad nurse, just a good test-taker. We need more nurses like you and this is your dream so FIGHT FOR IT!! I wish everyone best of luck :)