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retake NCLEX RN pass rates so low?

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by PracticeMP PracticeMP (New Member) New Member

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Bobbkat specializes in NICU.

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My thoughts on why the re-take passing rate is so low is that those that have had trouble with the test once are more likely to have trouble with it again. The test doesn't get any easier, so unless someone really changes there habits to really understand both the material and the way questions are worded, they will most likely fail again. My guess is that there are a fair amount of people who continue to study the same things, the same way each time, which results in the same result.

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that makes sense bobkat... :-) thanks...that gives me a little comfort cause im not studying the same... :-)... the first time I only studied hard for about 3 weeks (saunders) and had no real plan. This time around Im going to study for 2 months (weekends off) kaplan (full course) study and think hard about the questions I am answering... taking breaks... (2 MONTHS!)... hopefully this is enough... hopefully it will knock some sense into me the second time around.

I have dealt with the fact of not passing... im just now starting to accept it.... Its degrading.. and it breaks my heart... but I absolutely do not feel stupid... I just feel disappointed that I didnt try hard the first time... I didnt care the first time... if I fail the second time... Im just going to be extremely mad at myself... cause the only way If I didnt pass the second time around is because I didnt pay attention during the test or I blew it off again... which I Pray pray pray I do not do... Im praying for a straight head and an attention span that can make me think so hard and so well with each question. cause im not stupid... its just a problem I have with my attention span I am worried about... Ill pass one day... even if its on test 4 or 5. I am trying so hard to stay positive... which is really hard to do

Edited by PracticeMP

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marcos9999 has 5 years experience as a MSN, RN.

3 Articles; 625 Posts; 14,856 Profile Views

Here's some advice: take your time

This is aimed at those who are struggling and have taken the test more than ounce but it could be useful for first time takers too. This post reflects my experience with the NCLEX and the changes I had to do in order to pass. The NCLEX is a passable test and perhaps, not even as hard as most people think. I like to point out some aspects I think are not well explained or easy to miss for some of us. We all hear stories about students who are smart and yet have failed, so this is an exploration into what could be possible issues some of us are missing. Not everyone thinks alike, so what works for some might not work for others.

The NCLEX has a few important components: knowledge and how you apply knowledge quickly are the two main ones. Another major component is how to take the test. I think that for those who are struggling is very important to re-think the test in a brand new way; also to realize that the test does not work as other traditional tests. There are a few points I like to go in detail and it is important to understand them well. It might set you free from the deceptions and traps of the NCLEX but ultimately it reflects what nursing practice will look like. If you are trying really hard and still not passing, it's time to do a whole evaluation and change the way you think about the test, so read on and have fun.

1) TIMING: as they say, timing is everything. This might be one of the most misunderstood components of the NCLEX. The bottom line is: you must walk in the test room and even if you are completely clueless DON'T TAKE MORE THAN ONE MINUTE FOR EACH QUESTION, I cannot stress this point enough times. The NCLEX is testing your knowledge but most of all is testing how well and how quick you can think through difficult situations you know little about. So if you study a lot and still not passing you MUST improve in this area. All the knowledge you have acquired is useless unless you can answer the questions fast and (hopefully) correctly. You must remember that the NCLEX will not punish you for getting wrong answers; you only need to be at the knowledge level they are looking for. I am not sure about this but I now believe there is an algorithm which measures the time you use for each question crediting or discrediting you. The NCLEX really likes when you go fast. And that makes sense for nursing where emergency situations come up and you know little about and only have a minute or so to make a decision. So when they say "don't over think", is more like you don't have the time to - "over think". Have you ever noticed how some questions keep coming back? Even though you might have answered them correctly, but because you took too long, they (the NCLEX computer program) is not sure that you really know it well or just guessed. So if the questions keep coming back two things can happen: you get too tired which is not good because your performance go down or, you run out of time which is another problem. They want you to look at the questions, read it carefully, make a decision select the best one, and move on. You must have the ability to answer the questions like you playing ping-pong game and be able to play a long game and not get mentally fatigued. So there is not much to figure out at the moment of the test; you either are there or not. I know it sound a little fuzzy and fluffy but you have nothing to lose at this point; do you? Another timing issue is how long you delay to re take the test. Don't. You are never ready for it; put that in your mind. If you take too long between the tests you get cold, so use your failure as a practicing match and go take it again while you still hot. So go to PearsonVue website and schedule that test right now and go face the beast! Smile at fear.

2) YOUR KNOWLEDGE: this is also one of the most misunderstood aspects of the NCLEX. Most people think they are being tested on their knowledge and the subjects you've learned in school. This is partly true but you must understand that knowledge here plays a different role. All you have to have is "NCLEX type knowledge" and that you can get by using the so many books available out there. After you have acquired this NCLEX knowledge, then it becomes all about how you use it, apply and retrieve it. The NCLEX is not looking at your knowledge level per se; they are looking among other things on HOW YOU PAY ATTENTION TO DETAIL, HOW YOU DECIDE ON THINGS YOU DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT, HOW YOU IMPROVISE, and HOW MUCH TIME YOU TAKE TO ANSWER. In the other hand if you knowledge base is weak, you'll be stuck at the lower level questions which will not pass you and will lead you away from going up to the passing questions (assessment & implementation). Here's an example of NCLEX type knowledge: when they ask about chest tube, they usually want to know a, b, or c (about chest tubes) and usually it does not stray too far from a certain number of options: know these options by heart. These are the building blocks NCLEX is made of and you must have a significant collection of those in order to pass. The more you have these building blocks in your mind the better because it will help you to answer fast and correctly without thinking too much or using too much energy.

3) STUDY TIME: don't drive yourself crazy. I would practice 60 questions per day in one hour. Buy a timer and keep the pace, don't ever take more than one hour (to answer 60 questions). If you are getting above 65% in one hour you looking good but try to get higher. One day per week go all the way to 265 (ouch!) because most likely this is what your test will be like! So in essence studying for the NCLEX means you are building up endurance with that kind of knowledge rather than becoming a nursing genius. Have fun with it, if you drive yourself to pain you will also learn pain so when you get to the test that's what you will remember.

4) THE TEST: it's important to know about this test and its components. One fact I think is interesting is that the NCLEX will test everyone differently. The NCLEX has two ways to make a decision about you: (1) you will pass or fail with an "X" number of questions, so if you are really good you can pass as little as 75 questions and if you are doing really badly you will fail with 75 questions. (2) but at a certain point the computer makes a decision, it can't figure you out, you have missed a bunch of questions but you've also hit some important ones, so it decides that you need to be tested with all the questions, so you are going all the way to 265 baby (ouch again). However you must remember, if you are not consistent and begin to do poorly because you are tired you can fail too and not go all the way, or go all the way and fail (dang!). So you must stay in the game and perform consistently all the way to the end. If you are struggling forget about the magical "oh a passed with 75 questions", be prepared to go all the way to 265 and most importantly be consistent throughout the entire range and that's why is so important to train yourself to endure long periods of time answering these type questions. The NCLEX will reward your consistency and you will be credited for that. Remember, the NCLEX is not about getting questions right or building up points like in regular tests, the NCLEX is testing how you perform under stressful situations and in certain ways your ability to improvise.

5) TAKING THE TEST: you must understand what is critical thinking. Some people are there already, but if you are not for whatever reason you should begin to pay close attention to "what is to critically think". You must focus on that question in a way you never did before, you must zero in that question only and not stray one bit from it. I developed this way of thinking in which I would imagine myself there, at the bed side with a real situation at hand and then think "what would I do here...for real?" What is safe to do? When you take the test you must be confident in your intuition. Another way to interpret when people say: "don't over-think" is that your mind goes into this overdrive mode where decisions are made quickly and without thinking but they are the correct ones. It's like playing a video game where you only have a split second to make decisions but as the rhythm speeds up your mind speeds up and you actually make better decisions than if you think it over. This is the kind of mind set you have to have when you take this test. In my opinion this is exactly what they are trying to test: your ability to quickly decide emergency situations. How many of those did you get right?

6) GUESSING: there is nothing wrong with guessing. You and everybody will guess about 10-20% of the test. The test is designed that way, otherwise you would know what to study for the test as you did in your nursing classes. So learn how to guess right, and in order to do it right you must be completely random and not go on a hunch. It is an irresistible impulse to guess following a hunch, that you know something about the answer which makes you feel safe. The problem with that is that you might fall in the trap set up the writers. So first eliminate as many as wrong answers you can than guess RANDOMLY. One safe way to do that is to always pick the first one bellow the last question you have eliminated, if you have not eliminated any of them pick up C or any other but randomly.

7) PLAY TETRIS: and here's why, Tetris is one of the first video games made for computers and in my opinion it simulates several of the brain functions required in for the NCLEX. It will help you with the brain stamina you need to endure all the 265 questions without lowering your performance. You have to make quick decisions in shorter and shorter amounts of time. It forces your brain to critically think faster and faster as the geometrical shapes fall down and you have to figure out where they fit. I was amazed to find out how much I improved as I started to play. If you don't believe this is helpful, just play for fun and it will your mind from the study.

8) PRAY FOR ST. JUDE THE PATRON OF THE IMPOSSIBLE CAUSES AND THE BEST LUCK TO YOU.

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32 Posts; 1,505 Profile Views

NCLEX should not be something that you study for 'quickly' or at the last minute. It is NOT an easy exam and it shouldn't be - simply because you will be dealing with people's lives. I did pass on my first try - 75 questions. I studied like crazy for 2 months! Used Kaplan. Thought I had failed too. I had a friend who took it twice - failed both times w/ 75 questions. After analyzing what he did wrong - we both came to the conclusion that he was distracted by other things: Partying, sleeping, etc. So, my advice to you is to take a mental break for a week or two. Refocus. Set a scedule and stick to it. Don't be over-confident. Believe in yourself. Be disciplined because after all - you will be embarking on a rewarding career that requires everything that I have recommended to you. You can and will conquer this NCLEX and when you do - be sure to share your success!:nurse:

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NCLEX should not be something that you study for 'quickly' or at the last minute. It is NOT an easy exam and it shouldn't be - simply because you will be dealing with people's lives. I did pass on my first try - 75 questions. I studied like crazy for 2 months! Used Kaplan. Thought I had failed too. I had a friend who took it twice - failed both times w/ 75 questions. After analyzing what he did wrong - we both came to the conclusion that he was distracted by other things: Partying, sleeping, etc. So, my advice to you is to take a mental break for a week or two. Refocus. Set a scedule and stick to it. Don't be over-confident. Believe in yourself. Be disciplined because after all - you will be embarking on a rewarding career that requires everything that I have recommended to you. You can and will conquer this NCLEX and when you do - be sure to share your success!:nurse:

Thanks :) this makes me feel better... I love this kind of advice :redbeathe I do have a schedule and I am doing Kaplan... I have actually remade my schedule twice already because It was not long enough (because I dont want to overwhelm myself and get too stressed by studying 12 hours a day) so my plan to take the NCLEX has gone from Sept 13 to Oct 1. discouraging?:crying2: yes... lots of time?:uhoh3: yes.... but im sure its for the best. Thank you

I think the only thing I cant seem to get out of my mind right now is the fact that most people of passed their NCLEX and im still spending my time and effort and summer and time with friends and risking vacations and setting back my plans to live because I didnt study like I should have the first time.... KARMA? perhaps fate? maybe

yes hard to get out of my head but I do believe "EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON"

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I took the test in June and found out 2 days later that I too failed. I started studying right off the bat and haven't stopped. I retake the test on Friday and am scared that I will have the same problem. I have done the Hurst Review and Kaplan on line review. I have answered over 2000 questions. I just don't know what else to do. I want to pass so bad! Any suggestions from anyone would be greatly appreciated.

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Marcos9999 has some very good advice on test-taking strategies. The content knowledge tested on NCLEX usually fairly basic. They may toss in some red herrings such as lab values or the name of a specific disease, but read the question carefully and you may find that some of the answers with tempting looking content (notes the importance of the lab value or a treatment of the diseasse) are NOT the correct answer to the specific question being asked. If the question is "What do you ASSESS?" make sure that the answer is an assessment and not an intervention - even if the intervention sounds appropriate for the situation!

I think it's also important to be aware as Marcos9999 points out, no one is truly expected to get 100% of the questions correct. Some of the questions, unlike simple math, do NOT have absolutely one and only one answer. So, as Marcos9999 says, don't spend too long on those questions where none of the answers seem quite right. After CAREFULLY re-reading the question and answers, cross out the choices that are definitely wrong, make a guess, and move on.

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BSNgraduate has 5 years experience and specializes in Critical Care.

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I think the reason why you failed was because as you stated in your post was that you goofed around and didn't take it seriously because other people were telling you how easy it would be. The best piece of advise I ever received was from a Professor of mine " Never listen to sidewalk advisers " basically not accepting everything as truth because someone says it. No person NCLEX experience will be the same because it is a computer adapted test. Your weak and strong areas are different from others but I digress. I actually have no idea why the pass rates drop so low for those taking it a second time --- I believe its at like 50% or something. Now, study hard and when you get questions wrong look at ALL THE RATIONALES why the answer is correct but also why it is incorrect. If you don't fully understand something look it up to gain clarification. All the best to you !

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BSNgraduate has 5 years experience and specializes in Critical Care.

33 Posts; 2,022 Profile Views

I am taking Nclex for the third time in September. I took Kaplan before I took Nclex the second time and I still didnt pass... I got all 265 questions the second time. I recieved my printout and I didnt have one section that was below passing. I had 2 areas of above passing and the rest were near passing... I just dont know where to begin to study now??

I agree with one of the other posters said. Start over and study like you never have taken the test before and don't think about your failed attempts. Also, when studying review all the questions even the ones you got right and read all the rationales understanding what makes the answer right and wrong. If you don't understand something look it up to gain clarification and lastly on test day TRUST you knowledge base [ don't second guess yourself ] & after you have selected an answer MOVE ON to the next question [prevents you from trying to rationalize if your selected answer is right or wrong]. Best of Luck to you !

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MY STORY: I recently graduated in May 2010. I slacked off because i was sooooo sick of studying but thought about all the wonderful comments people told me about how the nclex was easy and that i shouldn't worry too much about it.

well I studied here and there for June. then July came around and right after I partied for the 4th I got down to business!@ I studied full force for 2 weeks 10-12 hours a day!@ :eek: SAUNDERs (answered every single question on the CD - 4,000 something questions) (300 questions a night) (MY OPINION: I ran through those questions not really paying attention to how I am thinking about the question but mostly the content of the question) --> so all in all Saunders was content based for me.

THEN!@# I got a little freaked out so I borrowed Kaplan from my friend and did all there questions (CD and BOOK), read the book twice FOR 1 WEEK.

Day of the test I was more anxious and excited to get it over with than I was nervous. I knew the fact that the questions get harder when you answer them correctly... so every time i got a hard question I would turn off my nervous mode and say to myself "i got this" (maybe a little over confident):uhoh3:. I walked out of the test thinking "of course i passed!@" i had to of.

well the day I found FAIL on the pearsonvue website I broke down and cried the whole day...(and was sad for 2 more days).

I will be retaking the test sometime in September and have already signed up for Kaplan online....

QUESTION: why is the pass rate for re-takers so low?

QUESTION: any advice for a kaplan taker?:D

QUESTION: any advice for a retaker?

ANY ADVICE AT ALL WOULD BE GREAT... LET ME KNOW EVERY BLUNT OPINION!@

You are doing everything I did to study for this exam. Initially and after graduating in May, I studied for 2-6hrs off and on and while watching tv. As my test date got nearer, I studied from 7AM until about 10PM or 12AM. Saunders' questions give you straightforward information, very helpful to me. However, the questions are not worded in such a fashion as the real nclex exam. It's like here's a question and here's the answer. No tricks or distractions to deriving the answer. The real nclex exam has all the traps to prevent you from deriving the correct answer (if the concept being tested is not solidified in your mind). I didnt read the Kaplan textbook at all. I attended 6 different Kaplan courses with 6 different instructors. Actually as long as you have the Kaplan book, you can attend another instructor course. Just dont attend the first day b/c they take attendance. They all presented the same materials but their teaching techniques and experiences were quite different. Some were good and some were outwardly terrible. This was excellent for me to absorb. I saw how they fumbled and got stuck when selecting answers to how they were each able to deriving the correct answer. You learn not to make the same mistakes (human mistakes) as the bad ones and you learn to absorb the many good strategies from different instructors to answering the same EXACT question. Kaplan's questions from their Qbank to their question trainers were helpful for me both with some contents and mostly prioritization and assessment types of questions. Of course the tree strategy doesnt always work but that's ok too. You learn to see when they work and when they dont work -- all to your benefit. I knew that but it was helpful just like anything else you could absorb from anybody to help you gather your own process (as I like to call it putting all the pieces of your own puzzle together). Again, I pick up a review book and read from page 1 to the last cover bores me to death. I couldnt do this! I wanted to make this process fun instead of boring or monotonous. I looked up those contents that I wanted to see further clarification. Read maybe a page or two and that's it. I wouldnt be able to retain anything if I read the entire book. I needed to see a trend for myself. I'm talking about the style or format of these types of test questions. I would suggest reviewing ATI, Hogan's 265 questions, NCSBN website questions, Billings/Lippincott. These are the voices of the experts who designed the nclex exam. I found the layout or style of most of the practice questions were identical to my nclex exam from these vendors. On the real nclex exam, I remember the voice in my head saying OMG this question came out of Lippincott or this next question came out of Kaplan or this other one came out of NCSBN website and this one came out of ATI or this drug came out of Saunders. Get my gist? Learn from the experts!! We went to nursing school because we had to learn from the experts. We couldnt teach ourselves nursing on our own. Remember in school, some of our teachers were so terrible and mean to patients or to our fellow classmates while others were like mother Teresa? Well we had the choice of who we wanted to become. I remember saying I dont want to be like her or saying I love this teacher and respect her so much. I wish I could only be a fraction of who she is when I am as old as she is. They were in their 60's. It is the same thing here. Listen to the experts who wrote these CD questions. Of course they cant speak to you directly but they have conveyed their knowledge and expertise through the questions that they developed for us to practice. Like a child or a novice to this profession, they practically held our hands to walk us across a dangerous path/street. Do not be discouraged or lose faith in your ability. Do these questions from the many vendors and DO NOT just stick with one. Then come back in a month after you take the exam and let me know that you did or did not pass. I guarantee that you'll pass. Then you can take me out, seriously. I'm the dummest person there is out there when it comes to taking these types of standardized questions. I'm a slow test taker and certainly I make all the humanly mistakes possible when taking a test like this. I got my first degree in the chemistry (in the science) b/c I hated everything related to taking these types of standardized tests or writing an essay. In school when I had to turn in an essay, I had to proof read it for like 10 consecutive days. Hated it and tried to avoid it. I remember I wanted so badly to do well on the multiple choice test, but I could never achieve the mark I wanted. I tried and tried and never really succeeded. So majoring in a science area, you only have to deal with equations where you write it out on paper instead of taking a multiple choice exam. Well I didnt have the choice to avoid these types of multiple choice exams anymore when it comes to the nclex. So, I had to maximize my chance for passing. Had to bring the % passing probability in my favor. So, I developed this simple puzzle system for myself -- just listen to the different experts not just one expert. A simple theory but it probably worked for me. Will find out in a day or two. I think I may have passed b/c I received the good pop up from the PVT. Hope for the best. If not, I'll study again. I love learning. I love discovering new things.

Edited by surviveslu

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Even if the studies give a "low" percentage, that does not mean that YOU will not have a high percentage of a chance to pass the NCLEX the second time around!!! Just make sure you stick to a study plan. I failed the first time, and like you I thought maybe I was a little overly confident, and didn't study much? Who knows what the reason was, I wouldn't dwell on it.

Advice I have for you is definitely become familiar with SATA questions... I had 10-15 the first time around, AND the second time around. Make sure you really are paying attention to what the question is asking! I posted this on someone else post, but if something is asking you what will decrease the risk of infection, all of the answers might be correct for the question, but NOT ALL will be for the purpose of decreasing the risk for infection. Someone also suggested to me that I should take "test" prep questions up to 265, so I will be prepared if I had to answer all of the questions. The second time around I had the minimum and couldn't be more thrillled! So you can do it to!!!

Have faith. It does not make you any less of a nurse for how many times you take the exam. If you are like me, you will definitely be nervous going to the test center again, but a weight will definitely be lifted because you now know what to expect, ya know. So study, study, study, have faith and bomb that test!! GOODLUCK!:):)

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