So like many others, I read these posts very often when I was preparing for the NCLEX-RN. They were a useful and comforting source as I studied every day and especially while I was waiting for results. Here is my NCLEX experience!
My background: I graduated from a 4-year traditional BSN program in early May 2015. I got As in all my classes except for a B+ in OB (and funny enough, I got no OB questions on the NCLEX even though I studied so much of it, it was never my favorite). I got my ATT May 14th and tested June 9th. I have to say, I believe taking the exam 4-6 weeks after graduating is the best bet. I had enough time to prepare while still having some time off, and when I went into the exam I still felt pretty fresh with my baseline knowledge coming out of nursing school.
How I prepared: My school automatically enrolled us in Kaplan throughout our years. Starting sophomore year, I paid about $200 per year so that we could use Kaplan in each of our courses, and a fraction of this yearly due went towards the NCLEX prep resources and a course that I took in early May (the week after graduation). Throughout nursing school, we'd take a Kaplan exam in that specific subject for each class, and it would count for 5% towards our grade. As annoying as it was, I believe doing this helped me concentrate in each of the subject areas and gave me a pretty strong background in answering questions. When it came time for the course, I got all the strategies and decision tree from Kaplan. At first I thought it was targeting my test taking skills more, but the review of questions was extremely helpful. Especially when it came to pharm and learning how to answer select all that apply. So I would highly recommend the Kaplan course! After the course, I was able to take a Readiness exam that showed me where my strong and weak areas were. I made a study schedule and STUCK TO IT. That is most important, I think. It will put you on track and ensure that you spend time on each of the areas you need. I told myself that I'd watch each of Kaplan's content review videos. It was tedious, but boy did it help. I followed along with the book and made sure that I started with my weaker areas first (any category that I scored below 65% in on the readiness exam). Once I was done with content review (took about a week), I focused on questions. I took the Question Trainers slowly, then got through the QBank in about 2 weeks. I also used the NCLEX Mastery App and practice quizzes from nurselabs.com to help. Every day before I went to bed, I'd also look at lab values that I had saved on my phone. When I took Kaplan's tests, I wrote rationales down in a Google Doc. Mostly those that I had trouble with, but also some that were harder to remember. In the few days before the test, I reviewed all these rationales. Things came back to me pretty quick. So I went into the NCLEX confident that I did all that I could.
NCLEX Day: I tested at 8 am. I woke up around 6:15 and gave myself enough time to get to the test. I remember being one of the first ones there and being seated well before 8 am. Boy was I nervous when I sat down. This was it. I clicked through the tutorial very fast because I was eager to start. I got my first SATA at question #2. Then they came in a row for about 5 questions. I thought...well, I must be doing pretty well? My nerves started to go away, because I felt like the exam's SATA were so much easier than Kaplan's. I was a bit nervous when I saw the exhibit questions, I had never heard of them before. But I made sure to really think about it. I got 2 of those, probably 30 SATA, 2 drag and drop, 1 EKG, 1 picture. I took my time on each question and tried not to look at the clock. No math, no OB, no peds, a lot of priority, surgical questions and medications. A LOT of medications. Before I knew it, I got to 75 and felt my hands shake. The last question tried to trick me, but I caught on to it and then the screen went blue.
I felt very confident after the test, not just because I got 75 questions. I felt like I took my time on everything and used my best judgment on the ones I wasn't sure about. I left after about 1 hour and 15 minutes. I didn't really think about the test all day until about 5 pm when I got home after errands and being with friends. Then...panic hit. I started wondering if I should've changed answers, if I picked the right one on that question. I started looking up information, searching through these forums, wondering if I passed. I tried the Pearson Trick later that day and saw that my results were on hold and I freaked out, wondering why. I put it out of my mind until 24 hours later, about 12 hours before Quick Results would come. Tried the pop up again with a gift card and I got the good one!! Then the next morning I found out I passed :)
My best advice: DO NOT PANIC. YOU CAN DO THIS. Be confident and when it's over, realize that it's over and you did the best you could!! Good luck to all the soon to be RNs!