Hello fellow nurses/future nurses,
I have visited this site many times looking for inspiration and encouragement from others who have taken the NCLEX multiple times before passing. Now I can join those people and I have decided to post my story about how I faced the dreaded NCLEX exam.
A little bit of background about me. I attended a great nursing school. I enjoyed my experience there and I considered myself an average student. I wouldn't say I struggled a lot but it definitely took hard work for me to make good grades.
I won't go through every detail about every time I took the test. It would turn this post into a novel. LOL. However, the first time I took the NCLEX, I took it a couple of months after graduation. I felt good about my chances of passing. I did a couple of practice tests here and there, but that was pretty much it. After failing this time, I was devastated. I felt that I didn't deserve to be a nurse/didn't think I would be a good nurse. After failing, I developed a huge fear with this test to the point where I would not think about it. I pushed off taking the next test for a really long time. (HUGE MISTAKE, don't recommend doing this).
I failed the test a total of five times before finally passing the 6th time. It was definitely a journey. I struggled with depression and my family was worried about me, worried about my future. After failing the last time, I was very close to giving up but the thought of doing that was devastating to me. So much time, money, and stress have gone into trying to pass this test and I didn't want to disappoint my family. I finally told myself that I am going to try one more time and I'm going to give it all I have.
I want to also mention that I used every study method I could think of. Saunders, Hurst Review, UWorld, making study guides, flashcards. I looked through this forum for any advice and many people recommended Kaplan and PDA by LaCharity. I decided to sign up for the Kaplan in-class review because I felt that me sitting in front of the computer wasn't working for me. I think it's a different learning experience being in front of someone who has passed this test, giving me advice and tips. Kaplan combined with PDA was great. Both sources helped me tackle the higher level NCLEX questions.
In the end, the best advice I can give is to keep on doing questions and REMEDIATE those questions (I can't stress that enough). That is going to be the best way to learn the information. Don't focus on your scores so much at first but closer to your testing day, looking at your scores will give you an idea on how you are improving. I started off not looking at my scores not only because I was more focused on the rationale, but when I finished going through Kaplan's question bank and switched to practice books, I graded myself after each test. This also helped me see where I was weakest and where I needed to focus my studies. I also suggest taking a couple of full practice tests, and I mean taking a full 265 question test. This not only helped me see where I'm at, it conditioned me for the chance I did have all the questions on the actual test and I wouldn't be mentally drained.
Before my test, I made sure the get plenty of sleep, eat a good breakfast, and shower and get dressed nicely but comfortably. This helped my mood and become mentally prepared. The only thing I took with me was water/coffee, a couple of snacks, and some flashcards that just had lab values. That's the last thing I reviewed before my test.
My test ended up being around 150 questions. The first thing I did when starting my test was to hide which number I was on because I knew that would trip me up especially if I knew I was close to question #75. I had 2 EKGs, 2 math, 2 drag and drop, roughly 15-20 SATAs (I had about 5 SATAs in a row at one point ) a lot of priority and teaching questions, no hotspot, no audio.
After the test, I don't know if it was because I took the test so many times and failed but I had pretty good feeling I passed this time. It was the first time I ever left a testing center actually feeling happy and excited instead of feeling dread and anxiety. I felt like I knew how to answer a majority of the questions and if I didn't, I was about to think through them and make a good educated guesses. I decided not to do the PVT trick because I didn't want to risk it and I felt that waiting and doing the quick result with my family would be much more meaningful and memorable. It was the absolute best feeling in the world when I saw the word PASS Accomplishing this made me realize that I am meant to do this and be an RN!
I want to finish this post by saying that I am so grateful to my family and friends for being so supportive. It was a long journey and I have grown so much from it. And to those people who are struggling with the NCLEX, know that YOU WILL PASS! It will seem tough and stressful at times, but it is so worth it. Your sacrifices will be rewarded. Please leave a comment if you need advice or have any questions. Thank you to anyone who read this entire post lol.