Hello to all of you studying your souls out to pass the NCLEX,
I feel the need to return to AllNurses and say thank you for all the encouraging posts that helped me prepare for the exam and encouraged me during the stress-inducing 48 hours after I tested and was waiting for my results. I'd also like to give my two cents' worth and share how I passed the NCLEX on the first try (75 questions). Good news: whether you're taking it for the first time, or the second, or third, you can pass. Bad news: there's no secret formula. Just hard, smart work.
Here's how it went down:
After graduating from a BSN program on May 6, I took the weekend off and began studying on the following Monday. For the last 2 semesters of nursing school, my program had us using the Kaplan study program. It cost $125 (with discount) and included a Qbank, practice tests, and many other resources. Over the school year, my classmates and I followed a weekly study schedule that included watching "review of content" videos, taking topic-related and diagnostic tests that built up to a 4-day review course with a Kaplan instructor on the week of graduation. So when I began my studying after I graduated, I took the advice of the instructor and made a schedule for myself based on how many weeks I had to study before my exam. I scheduled it for June 7, so I had to study 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. I ended up doing more like 6 hours a day, 7 days a week because of my perfectionistic tendencies.
I used Kaplan because my nursing school claimed it was the most successful program, but have heard good things about UWorld and Saunders. My method was basically this: take a 100-question practice test based on a topic and remediate EVERY question (and by remediate I mean read the rationale and study anything I don't know). And do it again and again until the Qbank is used up. I also identified my weaknesses and honed in on them. For instance, I was very bad at pharmacology so I made flashcards, used the Kaplan book, watched tons of videos, downloaded podcasts, and made ridiculous mnemonics. Did I learn everything there is to know about pharmacology? Of course not. But I learned categories, general side effects, and most important - how to think through a pharmacology question.
In the days leading up to the test, I was a nervous mess. I felt like I barely scratched the surface of everything I needed to study. I drove to the testing center on the wet, rainy morning of my exam and felt like everything went out of my head as soon as I walked in the center. And guess what? It kinda does. Now this is the most important thing, listen to me: facts can be remembered and forgotten, but the critical-thinking process, the very thing the NCLEX tests, will stay in your subconscious. The best thing I can advise you to do as you study is to learn how to think critically and learn how to think through NCLEX questions. Maybe some people pass the NCLEX if all they do is flashcards, but I haven't heard of one.
Anyway, during the test I felt unfocused and stressed out and was despondent when the test cut off at 75 questions. I was almost certain I had failed, and wondered how I could be such a stupid person. I felt nauseated for 48 hours and tried to distract myself until I checked my results and saw that I passed! So as I begin a career in nursing, I wish you the very best and hope that you all pass as well! Best wishes,
A Registered Nobody