What to Expect

Nurses New Nurse


While preparing for the NCLEX Exam I have read many of the postings in this forum. Like most students I was scared to death, mostly of the fear of failing and not having the faintest idea of what to expect.

I just took the NCLEX exam on Friday (March 5) and passed. I wanted to briefly describe my experience hopefully for the benefit of those of you still waiting and preparing to take boards.

After waiting for a few week I received my authorization to test. This was after my graduation in December. I tried scheduling an exam for the end of February without luck. The first date that was open was March 5.

I prepared a little every week. I would review the Kaplan book, practice taking CD questions, and have people quiz me during drives. My preparation was fairly extensive, but I feel that the CD questions helped the most. By far Kaplan had questions that were most similiar to the NCLEX questions. I also used the Mosby book and CD questions. I felt like the Mosby was a good basic review of nursing practice, but it lacked on the difficulty and the critical thinking level of Kaplan.

Finally, after preparing for two months. I was as nervous as ever and ready to take the test. My early morning appointment at the exam center was a rush of mixed feelings. I was scared, worried, excited, and simply glad to be getting this behind me. It was scary to think that all four and a half years of college preparation would come down to this one final exam. After showing two forms of ID, having my fingerprints taken, and my picture taken, I was given a set of instructions to read. These were about what you would expect, to be honest, I don't remember a whole lot of what I read. But it was nothing too surprising. After this I was escorted to a computer where you complete a short tutorial and begin the exam.

The exam content. Most of you are probably most concerned about what exactly is on the test. I for one certainly was! My test had many questions on priority matters, which patient to see first, who was the most critical, whick patient I would refer to come to the hospital, etc. The questions were very similiar to the Kaplan questions. I also had a few growth and development questions, what was age appropriate, what should a child at this age be doing. The more difficult of my questions revolved around different metabolic disorders, Signs and symptoms, biochemical effects of certain diseases, and nursing care directed at these. Ie; cushings syndrome, addison's diseases, hypothyroidism.

For the most part the test went really smooth. I can remember pausing on a couple of questions to really think things through and draw a mental picture. I had 75 questions and finished in about 40 minutes. I guess this can be frightening and I know that many of you with 75 questions felt like that was the end. I can relate, but I really felt confident in my answers.

After finishing the test, I was fingerprinted again, and was allowed to gather my things and leave. (You are not allowed to bring anything into the test center with you, no watch, wallet, keys, anything)

That was my experience. In the end I was certainly glad I studied and prepared for the test. I think that I over studied a little and perhaps memorized a bit too much, but it didn't hurt me any. My advice would be to remain confident and know that in the end it will all come back to you. Don't worry and try to remain calm. This is hard, but it really pays off. Finally, I would advise all struggling over a particular question to simply draw a picture. You are provided with a dry erase board and can write whatever you need. Draw a picture, trust me it helps. Write down what you know and questions on what you don't, these mind maps work and before you know it you will have elimintated all of the wrong answers.

Good luck to everyone and thank you to those who have posted before me. Your thoughts and concerns were greatly appreciated.




75 Posts

Thank you so much for your insight on the NCLEX. I just have a question. Did you take the Kaplan review course, or did you just pick up the book? I am debating on whether or not I am going to spend the money to take it or just study on my own. Your insight is much appreciated!



139 Posts

I took NCLEX the beginning of February and had pretty much the same kind of questions. I also took Kaplan and found it extremely helpful. They have the best type of questions to study from! Good luck to those of you who have to take NCLEX in the coming months! :)


6 Posts

I used an old Kaplan book from a friend and studied everything on my own. It worked for me, but if you are the type of person that finds it hard to motivate yourself to study I would suggest the Kaplan review course. I have had several friends take the course and they said it adequately prepared them.

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