The NCLEX was probably one of the hardest exams that I have ever taken in my life.  The questions were difficult, and it was easy to let anxiety get the best of you.  I walked out of the exam room feeling as if I failed, tears beginning to form in my eyes…but a day later I found out that I passed.  So here’s my advice:

KAPLAN

I took the Kaplan Online Anywhere course and I absolutely loved it!  I logged on for class from 8pm – 11pm, and was met by hundreds of other students in a chat room.  I was able to see my teacher via live video, along with slides of the content we were learning that day.  It was so much better than having to sit in a classroom.  I read the e-book that they provide (I actually bought the physical version from ebay for $15) listened to the online lectures (they were helpful, at times they were pretty boring, but it was good for content review), I did all of the question trainers, reviewed them and did customized qbank’s on my worst categories.  In all, I did approximately 1800 questions.  But in reality you should do about 2000-3000 to truly feel confident and prepared.

HOW TO STUDY FOR MEDICATIONS

For medications I only studied the classes of the medications.  I did not waste my time attempting to memorize random medications — aka don’t waste your time attempting to memorize random medications.  If you can identify the suffix, you can eliminate the wrong answer choices and have a better chance of getting the question right.  Also, during practice questions any medications I came across that I did not know I looked them up afterwards — pretty soon I had a list of meds that I was now well versed in.

PRE-NCLEX

The day before the NCLEX, I drove to my test site and walked in to make sure I knew where I was going.  This eliminated so much anxiety.  I hate going somewhere new and not knowing exactly where I’m going.  So if you have the time, take a quick trip to your test site to figure out directions, parking and where the testing suite is in the building.

DO NOT STUDY THE DAY BEFORE! My exam was in the afternoon, so I did study the morning before, but I tried to not do any questions.  Don’t fry your brain before the exam, resting will actually help you think more clearly on exam day, so if you can help it, enjoy yourself the day before and don’t crack open any review books.

DOOMSDAY

The people at the test center were so kind, they take your ID, scan your palm, take your picture and give you a locker for your belongings.  Save yourself the trouble and just leave your cell phone in your car or at home.  Afterwards, they give you a whiteboard (it’s more like a laminated piece of graph paper) a marker and earplugs if you need them.  Once you’re ready, they escort you into the exam room and you can begin!

I definitely think that Kaplan prepared me well for the NCLEX.  The exam looked very familiar to how Kaplan looks and the difficulty of the questions were similar. My advice is work on your SATA’s (select all that apply) and priority questions (who will the nurse see first).  Just remember that you’ve spent countless hours preparing for this day.  You know a majority of the content, and practicing the questions from Kaplan will help you learn how to think like how the NCLEX wants you to.  Would I say Kaplan was worth it? Yes.  If I was more self-motivated would I have used Kaplan?  Probably not.  However, Kaplan does give you all of the resources that you need to succeed.  You still need to make the effort and plan our your study schedule post-Kaplan.

Post NCLEX

I have no idea how this happened, but the day after my NCLEX my name was on the NY license verification website! I had an official RN license number so I did not need to pay for the Quick Results through Pearson.  I also tried the Pearson Vue Trick — Once the status of my exam said ‘delivery successful’ I attempted to register for the NCLEX again.  I received the “good pop up” and it did not allow me to register.  Rumor has it if they do allow you to register for the exam again and it goes to the credit card screen, there is a big chance that you failed. However, I am not saying that this method is 100% accurate.

The NCLEX is a difficult exam, but it’s not impossible.  Try to practice SATA questions and Priority questions while you are still in nursing school as it’ll help you get used to the questions that you’re going to see.  I highly recommend the LaCharity PDA book and the Lippincott Q&A book to get started!

Please leave feedback if you have any questions or comments!