I promised myself when I got to the other side of the NCLEX, I'd make a profile just to pass on any kind of help I possibly could to those coming up and about to go into the NCLEX. I took it yesterday, September 21st, and found out I passed and a licensed RN today!
I graduated a BSN program at the very end of July, got my ATT at the very beginning of September. I have spent the past three weeks in DEEP studying, 6 - 8 hours a day, reading and doing anywhere from 250 - 350 practice questions every day (I do NOT suggest going about studying this way at all - space it out better from the time you graduate to the time you take the test, and save yourself a lot of stress!) As far as the prep materials?
ATI: We used this throughout our entire BSN program, taking the tests at the end of each pertinent class, up to and including the critical thinking test and the NCLEX predictor test. I did well on all these tests, at least a 2 on each, but with a lot of 3's, and nailed the predictor test. I'm not entirely sure why a lot of people seem down on ATI, but I thought the questions on the NCLEX predictor test were a bear - and that's a good thing! I didn't use it after graduation however, but maybe once or twice for a few practice questions, and I know nothing of the ATI NCLEX review that is offered.
Hurst Review: We had this provided to us by our program during the NCLEX prep course we all had to take before graduation. I LOVE these ladies and gentlemen, and if there are any content areas you might still be shady about? They are so helpful for breaking it down and making it genuinely understandable. For the past two years, electrolytes, the endocrine system and cardiac were *fwoosh* over my head - not anymore! Having those videos to review is SO helpful! I also took all six Q tests at the end, though one I foolishly took without knowing all the content as well as I should have. I still wound up with that "84" they say they want you to have - and don't forget the "5th day" materials! At the same time, there were some gaps that I felt needed to be filled in elsewhere, and so...
Saunders Comprehensive Review book, 6th edition: Also provided by our school for the NCLEX preparation course, this book was a great resource for nursing fundamentals like positioning; use of canes and crutches; blood administration and IVs; the basics of EKG readings and a lot of the pharmacy questions that Hurst simply did not touch on as fully as I would have liked. I did not use this book for practice questions after graduation (though there certainly are quite a few!) simply because they seemed too easy (to me at least). And so on my own, I went out and purchased:
Kaplan NCLEX-RN Premier 2015 - 2016 (book with CD): I read it from cover to cover, and completed both practice tests provided. For me at least, it was an invaluable tool to understanding how to at least make an educated try at those questions where I was just sitting there thinking, "What in the... !?!?!?" I did not purchase the Kaplan Q-bank questions, nor the predictor tests, and I wasn't about to pay an additional amount of money on top of nursing school tuition for the live course.
NCLEX Mastery (app): This. Is. Fantastic... I wound up answering all 1600+ questions available, and could literally do so everywhere I went - in the grocery line, waiting for people to try on clothes while we're shopping, waiting to pick up my daughter - you name it! These questions were pretty challenging, and in the end I wound up with around a 64% "correct answer" rate total. I'd pay the $30.00 for this app all over again!
NCSBN Review (online): I bought the three week course. It was a lot of reading which, to be honest, I did not do much of simply because you cannot print anything out, and I did not want to be tethered to my laptop 24/7. The practice question bank however, contains about 1200 questions, which is pretty fantastic and the price was right for this course.
So by the time I took the NCLEX, I'd completed more than 4,000 practice questions - which, of course, did nothing to convince me I was in any way ready for this test! I don't think anyone anywhere ever feels ready for the NCLEX, but test day DOES come eventually. I did manage something like 8 hours of sleep the night before, but could not eat anything for a couple days without my stomach rebelling badly. But the day of the test, I MADE myself eat a Cliff bar at least, washed it down with a Monster - not that my brain seemed to notice. I think I was a little numb...
The entire test went by in a blur, and when it shut off at 75, I was absolutely convinced I had failed, and miserably. I didn't get the 30 or 40 SATA's everyone claims to have gotten, which had me convinced I was in the 'low level' questions and could not dig myself out. I later read that candidates taking the test simply cannot judge what are the hard questions or the easy ones, and that is apparently so very true!
And so I did some mutual shoulder crying with my nursing grad friend who took the NCLEX yesterday too, both of us convinced we'd failed, and horribly at that. Like most every other terrified candidate who knows about it, we did the check on Pearson Vue yesterday evening to see about that "good pop up," and we both got it! Fast forward to this morning and we are both licensed RNs, and thanking God every step of the way! I start my new job next Monday :)
So, tl;dr - my study suggestions: take an honest inventory of your weaknesses and, like it or not, force yourself to go over it again and again. Take what you can from each source that you have available (not a single one was 100% perfect), and avail yourself of every practice question you can lay your hands on! Do not do like I did, kinda take it easy for a few weeks after graduation and then dump on yourself three weeks before the NCLEX. Stretch it out a bit, six weeks or so if you can, and just keep on those study goals at a steady pace, particularly with the practice questions!
Best wishes and blessings to you all!