I DID IT!
I feel like 10,000 lbs. have just been lifted off my shoulders. If you’re in nursing school or have recently graduated, then you know the struggle. Graduating is all fun and all, but in the back of your mind is this huge burden weighing you down…the NCLEX.
A test that can ask you anything you’ve learned in the past 2 years and determines your future as a nurse.
The stress is real.
I’m writing this post (while the experience is still fresh in my mind) for all of my fellow nursing grads who are stressing everyday and scared to death, because trust me I was too. Also writing this for myself. Once I’ve already been a nurse for 5+ years I look forward to re-visiting this post to see how far I’ve come! ♥︎
If you’re still in nursing school I recommend getting this book now. I wish I wouldn’t have waited till after I graduated to get it. It really explains all the important things you need to know about EVERYTHING in a way that is easy to understand.
If you just graduated and are getting ready to take the NCLEX, I’m going to try to answer all the questions you might have!
GETTING MY ATT:
- Otherwise known as “Authorized To Test” this is the little number that gives you access to scheduling your NCLEX.
- I graduated in early May and I received mine around mid June.
- I took the time in between to give myself a little break, because after 2 long years of studying and very limited break times. I deserved it!
WHAT I USED TO STUDY:
- UWorld: Anyone who’s graduated or taking the NCLEX will tell you U World is the way to go. It’s basically a huge question bank that simulates NCLEX style questions and gives you rationales and content along the way. It gets you into the mind set of answering questions and basically teaches you how to think like the NCLEX. You can highlight and make flashcards on the website, which is also super helpful. I like writing things down on paper, so I would always write down key points to help me remember.
- Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination: This is the book I recommended above for those of you still in nursing school! I used UWorld for the majority of my prep, but if I was really unclear about something I would go to this book for clarification. It also has a practice exam in the back! I found it particularly helpful in helping me perfect my test taking skills. I learned how to eliminate answer choices, look for comparable/alike options, prioritize, etc. *those strategies also would’ve been super helpful for nursing school tests, but whatever 🙄 We made it lol.*
SCHEDULING THE EXAM:
- Once I got my ATT I scheduled my exam right away…and then rescheduled 2 more times after.
- Originally I scheduled it for August 27th, but then I realized that was way too far and I couldn’t go another month with all of my anxiety.
- SO I rescheduled for August 6th (better)
- Then one day I was just completely over it. Over the studying, over the stressing, and I scheduled it for the next week. Thursday, July 30th.
- All of the dates I chose landed on a Thursday because I wanted to get my news on a Friday ✨
MY STUDY SCHEDULE:
- Once I got my ATT and scheduled my exam is when I got serious about studying.
- Initially, I did 50 questions a day every day. I would do 25 in the morning as soon as I woke up. It usually took me about 1.5 hours because I also studied the rationales at the same time. Then I would leave the computer and do something to distract myself like exercise, go for walk outside (anything but be on the computer!) Then I would complete my second set of 25 questions for the day.
- On UWorld you can create your own exams. You pick the topic, the subcategories, and the amount of questions. At the beginning of each week I would strategize. For example, if I wanted to finish all of the OB and Pediatric questions by the end of the week, I would add up the questions, divide them by the days of the week, and break it up into morning and afternoon sessions. That way I met my little goals without overwhelming myself.
WEEK OF THE EXAM:
- The week of the exam I took a Kaplan CAT exam. Which is a computer adaptive test that simulates exactly how the NCLEX is. The CAT can either stop at 75 questions or go all the way to 265 questions depending on how you’re doing and at the end it tells you if you’re ready for the NCLEX or need more practice. MINE WENT ALL THE WAY TO 265. I was dying and my eyeballs stopped working lol. BUT I did get a green symbol, which signified I was ready! * This is not part of Uworld, it’s part of Kaplan which I needed for my nursing program.*
- Later in the week I took the UWorld Self Assessment (the subscription I purchased came with 2) It was 100 questions, and at the end it told me I was highly likely to pass! This gave me a little more confidence.
- I went over both the CAT and the Self Assessment, taking notes on the questions I got wrong.
- The day before the exam I went over ALL the notes I had taken (literally just read them once), watched a few videos to refresh my memory on dosage calculations (Love you Sarah registered nurse RN, you the best girl!), and then prayed.
DAY OF THE EXAM:
- I was so nervous.
- I woke up, prayed, showered, ate.
- I went over this “NCLEX cheat sheet” that someone sent in my cohort group chat and it was super helpful as a quick little review. (here’s the link)
- Danny drove me to the testing center because I had way too much anxiety to go alone. I was nervous I would be late or get lost, and just wasn’t in the right mental state to drive myself lol. I even had a mini breakdown in the car. Whenever I have moments of distress like this it’s hard to calm myself down, but when I glanced at the clock it was 10:23 am. Ever since my dad passed, that has always been a little sign that reminds me of him. His birthday is October 23 (10.23) and I swear whenever I’m in a situation where I need guidance, I pray, and if I happen to look at the clock it’s always 10:23. I almost see is as a little wink from him, letting me know that everything is going to be okay. I guess he knew I needed him yesterday because not only did I catch it in the morning on my way to take the test, but also at night when I was anxiously laying in bed.
- If you’re taking your test during the pandemic, you will need to take it your own mask and wear it the entire time .
- Luckily the test has been temporarily shortened and you can get anywhere from 60-130 questions. Mine shut off at 60 questions (but don’t get nervous if it keeps going!)
- If you know you know…but if you don’t let me teach you!
- This is a classic nursing grad trick to know if you’ve passed before actually getting your results! *DISCLAIMER: it worked for me and 4 of my friends who took it (that also passed!) but it’s not a positive indication that you passed. So, try at your own risk lol. I have friends who didn’t try it because they didn’t want it to work and then find out they didn’t pass. In other words, they didn’t want false hope. But I’m impatient, and needed reassurance.
- What you do: Once you get home from your exam, get on your computer and go to the Pearson Vue website. Login and start the registration process for a new test. Go through the whole process, including putting your credit card info (*I put the wrong CVC on purpose.) Once you checkout a positive sign would be a notification that says “our records show that you have recently scheduled this exam”…nothing about your credit card info being incorrect, because it didn’t even attempt to charge you, because you passed.
- Again I have no idea if this is 100% all the time, but it worked for me.
GETTING MY RESULTS:
- I got my results the next morning at 8am
- Literally slept with my laptop next to me with the site already open. I rolled over at 8am, opened it and saw that I passed!
- My final piece of advice is to have faith! Have faith in yourself and your abilities.
- You’re never going to feel completely ready because you don’t know what the heck that test is going to ask! Lol.
- You’re not going to leave feeling confident, but that’s ok.
- If you got through 2 years of school, exams, and clinicals… you know more than you think you know.
- The test is designed to help you pass! It just wants to make sure you can practice safely.
- Start envisioning yourself passing (because of course you are) and thinking of how you’re going to celebrate. I bought a nice bottle of champagne which I will drink while online shopping.
and that was my WHOLE NCLEX experience! I know it was A LOT, but I hope I was able to answer some of your questions! If I missed anything, feel free to leave your questions in the comments below ♥︎