I passed the NCLEX exam on August 12th and decided to share my experience about it! I promised myself that I will share what I did because I want everyone to succeed and because I know how it feels like to be waiting for that "PASS" to show up on the results page. The anxiety and all the build-up--all for one exam.
This might be a little extensive--so please bear with me! :)
To give a little background on myself (and to boost confidence on all of you), my HESI scores during nursing school were HORRIBLE. I struggled on HESI exam and my professor even told me that she was concerned I won't pass the exam. I wanted to prove her wrong and my mind was just focused on passing.
I was not really aiming for 75 questions. I was aiming for a pass--no matter how many questions the exam gives me. I programmed myself that "it might take a long time" and "all you need is a pass... so relax" and I went in there with a positive attitude (although I got about an hour of sleep the night before! lol anxious). And guess what I did not expect? My exam shut down by 75 questions. I had 18 SATAs, 1 exhibit, 4-5 put in order, lots of priority/initial/teaching/conference questions, and 1 EKG. I did not get any audio or hot spots.
To be honest (and I am by no means trying to offend anyone who struggled), I felt really good leaving the test center. I just felt I knew the answers. It wasn't until an hour after the exam that I started psyching myself out that I failed because I realized that if I found the exam "easy," then I must have been getting easy questions and therefore I failed the exam. I did the pearson vue trick and I got the good popped up even after several hours later. The next day I got the results on the BON that I passed and the day after the pass, I got my license number.
Here's what I did for studying/preparing: (I did not do any review class. I studied on my own).
I. I am a firm believer of content AND questions. I did not just do content and I did not just do questions. I think for some people it works one or the other, but I think for me it worked that I did a little bit of both. I read some and I did some questions. I just think that if I did just "technique," it won't work if I really do not know content. It also does not work if I just know content but cannot apply it critically. So you need both.
II. Before I started, I took an assessment test in Saunders just to see my strengths and weaknesses. I studied based off of that. I studied my weaknesses first and worked my list down to my strengths.
Saunders - Honestly, this book is good but it puts me to sleep! I just didn't have enough stamina to read everything in this book. I only used this (the CD) for SATA practice (which in the beginning, I did poorly on and then later on I was doing better) :)
NCLEX3500 - http://nursing.slcc.edu/nclexrn3500/mainMenu.do - I used this just for the alternate questions! Good practice.
La Charity Priority & Delegation Book - I think this book is a must! I did ALL 18 chapters and read all rationales 4 days before my exam date. My scores ranged mostly in 70-80%. I did get some 60s and 2-50s but I mostly got 70-80%. Focus on the Infection section!
Study Guide found in All nurses - there is a 35-page study guide available here in allnurses. This is not "OFFICIAL" but I thought it was great! I read this during my study days and skimmed it the day before my exam (I didn't really study the night before my exam because I did not want to be exhausted or fry my brain).
Nursing Audios - I did not have any official ones because I did not do any review classes but there are some audios in YouTube that I listened to until I fall asleep at night. I even played some of these audios whenever I'm driving or even when I'm out.
For content-specific studying, I used Med Sug Success Book. We were recommended to purchase this during nursing school but I did not use it. I used it during my NCLEX study when I trying to study on "focused areas. When I was answering this and I did not understand something, that was when I looked it up on my nursing books for content studying.
IV. Tips & Trends (in no particular order).
Study the developmental stages of Children. I did not study a lot of peds, but I figured I can answer a lot of questions by knowing the stages which worked for me on most my practice questions.
Know the stages of labor. It's the same as the developmental stages because I figured if I know the general stages, I can derive a lot of my answers off of that.
Equipment - I know we answer questions and then read the rationales and sometimes it includes an equipment or a name of a tube that we have never heard of and then just move on. Whenever I was answering my questions and I came across an equipment that I do not remember, not familiar, or just not have seen during my clinicals, I looked it up online just to see what they are talking about. When I wanted to go in depth on how it's used or it's functions, that's when my content studying kicks in. I studied central lines (proper way to use it) and general tubes and procedures. I encountered equipment-related questions and some of them you have to know how to use before you can answer the question (at least I thought so!) :)
Labs! - You do not have to know everything, there is just no way. But know the ones that are used ALL THE TIME.
Pre and post op nursing actions - do they have any special order to be carried out? how do you position them post-op? diet? I looked this up a lot. The same goes for emergency situations that usually arises - embolism, prolapsed cord, etc.
If you do not understand a topic, or struggled on it during nursing school, read the content or look at mnemonics.
Study infection control. For certain diseases, what do you wear/use and when is it not needed. MUST KNOW!
Patient first before equipment.
ABCs - Maslow!
Make sure you do something each day (even if you are tired), if you can do just 30 questions on one day, do it. If you can only read a section of a book, do it! Just make sure you do a little bit of something each day. Also, understand why something is being done. Even if you read all the rationales, if it only clicks when you read the rationales, that is not effective. Make sure you can reason out why you picked something before looking at the right answers. If you cannot reason it out and have no clue why you picked it, it means you need to read about that topic.
I can go on forever. But those are the main ones I did go by :) If you want to ask me anything, feel free!