When I was preparing for my boards, I loved coming to this website and reading everyone's NCLEX story, so, I thought I'd write mine. I was an LPN for 2.5 years before graduating with my BSN at the end of April 2014. I took two weeks off studying after graduating because my husband had recently accepted a new job in a different state, and so we had to move. I was then left unemployed and living in a brand new state where I knew not a single soul. I decided I was going to make it my JOB to study for my boards and kick its butt! Here's what I used to study and my review on each:
Virtual ATI (provided free from my school)
Okay, so I totally hated this program because I didn't feel like I was learning much. We took a Comprehensive Predictor during the last week of school and I scored a 90% chance of passing the NCLEX. I was then given an online tutor via ATI who set me up with a study schedule of 6 weeks based on my results. You study the content off their website through 'learning activities,' which are basically just power-points with information on each topic. This was helpful to me because it gave me an overview of a lot of content that I didn't feel comfortable with or had forgotten over time.
After I felt 'well versed' on the information in the module, I would email my tutor and she would send me a test code. If I would get below 60% on a topic, it would give me a 'focused review' on the topics I missed. Once I studied that module more, I would get another test code and try to get above 60%. Here's the problem with this program: They have you take the EXACT same test again after you have already seen the rationales, so you are basically just memorizing the rationales (which isn't helpful). There were 9 different modules: NCLEX strategies, Fundamentals, Pharmacology, Med-Surg, Maternal/Newborn, Nursing Care of Children, Mental Health, Leadership, and the final Comprehensive Predictor.
I went through the modules and tests rather quickly (usually 2-3 assessments/modules a week) because I was not working. After about 5 weeks, I took another final Comprehensive Predictor. My results: 76% chance of passing NCLEX-RN. I was like WHAT, how could my percentage go DOWN after all of this studying?! You must get 92% or above chance of passing the NCLEX in order to obtain the 'green light' to take your NCLEX. I jumped back into studying and two weeks later took another Comp Predictor and got 86%. I was feeling very discouraged and didn't understand how I could study for 8 hours a day and still not get the green light. Waited another two weeks and BAM 98% chance of passing.
Here is another problem with ATI: the Comp Predictor is the EXACT same each time you take it. Now, they don't give you the rationales or the answers for the comp predictor, but still it's a little ridiculous if you ask me. Bottom line, they need a bigger test bank.
Prioritization, Delegation, and Assignment by Linda LaCharity ($30)
I would give this book 5/5 stars. Not only are the questions similar to NCLEX, but the rationales give great content. I was scoring in the 60-80% range and my scores kept going up the further I got in the book. Unfortunately, on my NCLEX, I only had 4-5 (SUPER HARD) prioritization questions and ZERO delegation and assignment questions. I recommend this book 100%. It's only $30 on Amazon and will help you a great deal.
Kaplan NCLEX-RN 2014-2015 Strategies, Practice & Review ($34)
About 6 days out from my test, I bought this book. I read the entire book and answered the questions/rationales after each chapter. I can't say I really used any of the strategies that they provided in this book, but I think it was another great book to help you answer questions while also giving you content at the same time. The book has a 265 question practice test at the end but I didn't have time to take it before my test.
Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination (free from school)
I started reading this book and got overwhelmed with it within the first hour. I only utilized this book to go over content areas I felt week in. The book comes with an access code to their EVOLVE website where you can do practice tests. I used this website sporadically throughout my studies, but found that the questions were too easy. One really good thing about their test bank is that they have 342 questions that are all SATA.
This website shows you samples of EKG readings, symptoms the patient would experience, and medications given. I had one EKG reading on my test and WOULD NOT have been able to answer it without this website:
ACLS EKG | Learn & Master ACLS/PALS
When I would get a question wrong on one of my practice tests, I would always write down the information from the rational that I didn't know or understand. I filled up two notebooks and read through them 2-3 times a week.
Know Your Lab Values
Don't only memorize your lab values but also understand the importance of the lab value and what they actually mean.
Exercise and Nutrition
Before I began studying, I wrote out an exercise plan and stuck to it throughout the entire course of my studies. I would usually wake up every morning around 0700, have a healthy breakfast, surf the net for a bit, and start studying around 0830. Whenever I felt like I needed a break, I took one. Usually mid-afternoon (when my butt felt numb from sitting on it for so long) I would go downstairs to the gym at my apartment and lift weights from the program I designed. I worked out for an hour 5 days a week during my study break and would usually go for a long walk at the end of the day. I truly think this helped me to not only get out of my apartment, but to also do something for myself that I would feel good about. Now, I know that most people are working during their NCLEX prep and may not have time for exercise, but if you do, I highly recommend it. After all, exercise DOES boost your brainpower! I also stuck to a high protein, lots of fruits and veggies diet throughout the entire span of my studies.
Okay, one more thing I want to mention is in regards to the Pearson Vue Trick. I finished my exam in less than an hour and had 75 questions. When the screen went blank, I didn't know what to think. I ran out to my car, tried the PVT and got the 'on hold' popup. I FREAKED out and was on the website every 10 minutes (no joke) waiting for the 'on hold' popup to go away. It never did. As time went on, I kept doubting myself and thinking THERE IS NO WAY I PASSED. I was 99.9% sure that I had failed. The questions were so hard and there was not even one question that I knew for sure. I questioned my study habits, I questioned my schooling, I questioned EVERYTHING. I cried several times and researched the CRAP out of the 'on hold' notification.
Exactly 50 hours after I took my exam, I logged onto Pearson Vue and noticed the quick results were available. I PASSED! I CRIED, I JUMPED UP AND DOWN, and I gave my cats a big hug .
I hope this post helps someone! Let me know if you guys have any questions and I'd be more than happy to pay it forward. Thank you from the very bottom of my heart to everyone on this website who supported and believed in me.