By Millennial In Medicine: Gabriela R. @thenursegab
I am constantly asked questions about the NCLEX examination, so I decided to dedicate a blog post to hopefully answer most of them. This is every nursing student’s most stressful exam and the end goal to becoming a registered nurse. When you pass this exam, you’re eligible for a nursing license in your state.
I did not start studying for the NCLEX before graduation, I felt that it was too much on top of final exams and projects and did not want to stress myself out more than I already was. After graduation, I gave myself about a week and a half off to rest my brain post finals. Then, the NCLEX studying began.
I started using “UWorld” every day. The great thing about this study program is that after each question, it breaks down the rationale behind each answer, and then further explains why the correct answer is correct. It is important to study daily in order to get used to how the NCLEX questions are styled, and how to take computerized exams. I used this about 3-4 hours every day, and even wrote down notes in a notebook for topics I felt kept repeating themselves that I wasn’t answering correctly. Also, UWorld allows you to check off topics you want the practice exam to focus on and the number of questions per exam. I would do 75-100 questions per day, including every topic since the actual exam is random. Then, once a week I would do an exam on solely my weaker subjects.
Before graduation, I also signed up for a Kaplan review course. This was in June and consisted of 4-5 days in a classroom with a certified Kaplan instructor. During the class, the teacher gave us NCLEX test taking strategies for specific question types, which were very helpful. We also went over questions all day as a class, and learned how to answer each one. The course also came with online practice exams and rationales.
After the course was over, I switched between Kaplan and UWorld daily while studying. It is important to make sure you sit down and complete a practice exam of 75 questions and a practice exam of 265 questions, in order to prepare yourself for the least and most amount of questions you may receive on the actual exam.
I also had a separate notebook where I wrote down notes on just medications, and made index cards for ones I could not remember. Since this was one of my harder topics, I felt that separating this information from the rest made it easier and more organized when I wanted to review.
My exam was scheduled for the beginning of August, so I gave myself plenty of time after graduation to study for this exam. The day before the exam, do not do a million practice questions and practice exams. I advise to just briefly go over any notes you took, and some medications you want to review. But do not overdo it the day before the actual exam. Make sure you eat a good breakfast prior, incase you are sitting there longer than expected.
DO NOT freak out if your exam goes past 75 questions. Everyone thinks 75 questions is the goal, and this is how you know if you passed or not. This is NOT the case. You do not need only 75 to pass this exam. Some people hit 75 and the exam turns off, because they actually did so poorly that they failed. My exam went a little past 75 questions, and then a little past 100 questions, until it finally turned off. I admit I did freak out, and convinced myself I failed as well. Thankfully, two days later, I received the “quick results” that I had passed the NCLEX! I was so relieved, also because I had job offers waiting for my exam results in order to be officially hired. Do not listen to what other people tell you. There have been people who did all 265 questions and passed the exam.
If you happen to not pass the first time, do not be so hard on yourself. This is a very hard exam, and there is so much information. If you are taking again, I suggest to change your study routine, study habits, or even use a different study program. UWorld and Kaplan worked for me, but may not work for you. There are plenty of other options out there for NCLEX studying and review, so do not lose hope and keep on trying! You did not make it this far, and graduate with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Nursing to give up on yourself now. Do your best, study really hard, and you will pass the NCLEX! Nothing great comes easy, and becoming a registered nurse is worth the struggle! The sleepless nights, the tears, the anxiety, the stress, the hours and hours of studying, all will be worth it once you finally pass the exam. It will be the best feeling ever when you’re finally done and all your hard work has brought you to where you finally want to be, and you can start your job and new journey as a registered nurse.
“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”Colin Powell