Tips on Passing The NCLEX & Why I Thought I failed

In nursing school, the NCLEX was like a dark cloud hovering over my head. The thought of failing would literally keep me up at night. I wasn’t a great test taker in school, and our in-school NCLEX prep was not helpful to say the least.  

I knew that if I wanted to pass the NCLEX, I was going to have to buckle down and stay focused. My school used the Hurst review to help prepare us for the NCLEX.

While I didn’t find the in-school review sessions helpful, the review book and online practice tests are what I used to prepare.

I graduated nursing school at the beginning of May 2016. I took the rest of that month off to celebrate and enjoy my newfound freedom from school. When June first rolled around, it was time to get focused.

I scheduled myself to take the NCLEX on July 18th, giving myself about 6 weeks to prepare. In school I worked as a CNA, I took some time off work to focus solely on preparing for the NCLEX. I know this may not be feasible for everyone, but my studying methods can be tweaked to fit into any lifestyle.

I broke my studying down into different sections: cardiovascular, respiratory, pharmacology, etc. Each week, I focused on only 2 sections. I used the Hurst review book as my only means of studying, as to not overwhelm myself. I studied for 4-6 hours a day, taking breaks when needed.

Everyone learns differently, so you must find the studying method that works best for you.

I learn best by making notes on what I’ve read to help me retain the material. I took lots of notes and I would read over my notes from the previous day before moving on to a new section. I followed this routine everyday for the month of June, taking time off on the weekends.

After a month of reviewing the material, I moved on to practice questions. Practice questions are ESPECIALLY important when preparing for the NCLEX. You get a sense of how the questions will be formatted and you are able to test your knowledge and identify areas of weakness.

I did only practice questions everyday for a week and a half (July 1st – July 13th). I took the last 5 days before my test to relax and get my mind ready for the big day.  

Lets review what you just read (or didn’t read 😊) into a more concise list

  • Give yourself ample time to prepare before testing
  • Make a studying schedule and stick to it
  • Break down your material into sections, as not to overwhelm yourself
  • Remember this phrase: “study long, study wrong!” Take frequent breaks when needed
  • Take notes, or do whatever helps you to retain your knowledge
  • Practice, practice, practice questions! (500-1000 practice questions)
  • Give yourself a break before your test day
  • Be confident and take your time! You have 6 hours!!

I’m telling you to be confident while taking the NCLEX, but I was not! The entire time I was fidgeting in my seat, sweaty, and hungry because I didn’t eat breakfast.

I kept doubting what I knew and re-read my questions 4-5 times before answering. I had in my mind that I was only going to have 75 questions; boy, was I wrong! I took a total of 5 hours and 45 minutes to complete 121 questions.

I was sure I failed because I didn’t get one math question!

I went home that night defeated and worried that I was going to lose the job I’d just started a few days prior. I didn’t try the trick to see your results early because I couldn’t take anymore negativity for that day.

To my surprise, they next morning when I logged in to see my results, I had PASSED! I had such a feeling of joy and relief that it is difficult to put into words.

Therefore, I want you to be confident while taking your test! Hindsight is 20/20, and I could have saved myself many panic attacks had I just been confident in myself from the beginning.

I hope this post helps you prepare for the NCLEX and eases your mind just a little.

Remember, failing does NOT make you a failure! If you don’t pass the first time, try and try again! You only lose when you give up!

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