This was a battle I fought for over 10 years with lots of starts and stops, but I got confirmation this morning that I officially passed the NCLEX-RN and I'm on cloud 9! My test shut off at 75 and I was a nervous wreck! No one could convince me that I passed. I did the PVT like 10 mins after my test, when it said "Delivery successful" and got the good pop-up. That did not help ease my anxiety at all. Needless to say, my worry was for nothing (thankfully) and I wanted to share what I did to pass.
I've did so much lurking on here to see how to approach studying for the NCLEX.
IMO you honestly need to know your personal strengths/weaknesses and how you learn best. Some people do great with just doing questions and reading the rationales, others need more content review.
I actually had very good grades throughout nursing school and finished in the top 5 of my class (as I was told by one of my professors). For me, I felt a good content review was my comfort zone. I studied for about 3 weeks before testing. I used the Saunders 5th ed NCLEX book and that was for me a HUGE help. There were only 3 questions I was absolutely sure of on the entire NCLEX and I remembered reading the topics in the Saunders book. I spent time reviewing every system. My reasoning was that I was not only studying to pass the NCLEX, but making sure I would be starting my nursing career with a good knowledge base.
The Priority and Delegation book was another big help. I did nearly all 18 chapters. It helped with solidifying how to delegate and helped with the who to see first questions.
I have an amazing friend who gave me access to their Kaplan and NCSBN. I wasn't a big fan of Kaplan. I only did Q-bank questions a few times--my scores were as low as 53% and up to 78%. The NCSBN has a fairly good basic content systems review. I felt that the question bank really challenged me and taught me how to better answer the higher level NCLEX questions. I barely ever got the recommended 75% on NCSBN; I averaged between 65-70% and felt frustrated often at my scores.
I wrote a study plan out and stuck to it. As has been said so many times, do lots of questions and read rationales even on those you get right. I also learned not to get so hung up on my scores on practice questions. The NCLEX, to me, was like nothing I can even describe. The questions were so far out there. I feel that having a firm grasp on the content, along with the practice I got with answering higher level questions and alternate format questions really helped me pass. To me it came down to knowing your stuff along with using strategy and good clinical judgement to get to the right answer.
BTW, I sat for the NCLEX being a nice, big 8 months pregnant lol. I mentally prepared for 265 questions; I studied 8+ hrs a day with the hope of doing only 75. My hard work payed off. I hope someone finds my experience useful, much the same as so many here did for me. All the best to everyone studying for and preparing to take the NCLEX!