Well, gang. I did it. I passed the NCLEX on my first try in 75 questions! I am now the proud owner of a legit registered nurse license here in my state. I’m not going to lie to any of you. I studied for approximately 1 month. That test was not easy by any means. I had no idea how I was doing the entire time I was taking it. I didn’t know if I was right or wrong. And when it shut down after 75 questions, I was 100% sure I bombed it.
Let me put it this way: this test must be written by a bunch of sadistic nurses who gather together in a room and cackle at the many ways they can make new nursing grads (who have just spent 2 – 4 years preparing for this very moment) squirm. The questions are hard…very hard. And not because what they’re actually asking you is hard (What would you do first? How would you properly teach this to a client?), but because you have no idea exactly what the answers are trying to say. You legit answer these questions off of hopes and dreams.
At one point in my exam, I was making this exact face after I clicked the “next” button for the next dose of inevitable doom and saw my answer choices:
So, how did I do it? How did I defeat the hot mess train that is the NCLEX? What did I do?
First of all, I’m ambitious, but I’m not so damn ambitious that I feel like throwing $400 around like it’s chump change. In other words, I did not do the Kaplan course. I had already been introduced to Kaplan through my previous degree and realized I spent way too much for someone to read to me and tell me I’m awesome. First, I can read. Second, duh, I’m awesome. I went instead for the $50 3 week NCSBN self-paced course. They are the same sadistic nurses who wrote the test, they probably know how to guide me to do their dark side. Their outlines of the material were BOMB and the questions they give you reminded me the most of NCLEX questions but on a softer scale. But, many times during the exam I felt I wouldn’t be able to study for any of these questions even if I had all the time in the world. They weren’t on content, they were on how good you could think through the questions using what you already know about nursing care.
I nabbed Lippincott’s Alternate Format Question book that was awesome for nailing SATA, math and exhibit questions. I also got my hands on the LaCharity Assignment, Prioritization and Delegation book that had some very helpful prioritization and delegation practice questions. The 2016 NCLEX Plan makes it pretty damn obvious that 20% of the exam is going to be on Management of Care. So, the day before the exam I spent a good bit of time just honing in on my prioritization, assignment and delegation skills. Was happy I did. Those questions were everywhere. Then I hit my old favorite, the interwebz, for some encouraging discussion board posts, uplifting YouTube videos and especially watched anyone who was taking the test for the second time. Having that insider info definitely helped me to prepare to go into that test like Rocky Balboa. Finally, I prayed — a lot. I had everybody praying. I even had praying mantis insects praying.
So, how did the day go?Well, I woke up feeling oddly excited about finally meeting the day that I would become an RN! I listened to Rihanna and Janet Jackson and danced naked in my bathroom while my husband was at work and my child was safely off to school. I showered, got dressed, and drove to the testing center. I walked in with nothing but my ID and my keys. I took a number, I read some rules and then I realized I forgot my snacks. So, I asked if I can go get my snacks. She said yes. I got my snacks. I put my stuff in a locker and I sat back down until my number was called. And then, like some Peanuts movie I have yet to see, they called my number in a slow waump-waump voice-style that I was convinced I was the only one hearing.
I sat down at that computer and my heart started beating out of my chest. Ugh. Where did these nerves come from??? I was ready for this!!! At about question 73, I told myself if this doesn’t turn off at 75, we’re OK with that. That means we’re still in the game. And, then, like some sort of beacon of hope -the test shut down after question 75. I was excited at first, and then I reflected back on the fact that I had NO idea what had just happened and I was terrified.
I then trolled the living daylights out of the internet for some trick to find out as soon as possible if I had passed. There’s one with a credit card involving $200.00. I contemplated it.
Luckily, my board of nursing doesn’t make you wait forever and a day. By the next morning I was the proud owner of a fantastic shiny new registered nurse license number and all hope was restored to the land. If you have any questions at all, feel free to reach out in the comments section and I will be happy to answer them for you. Best of luck to anyone going after that NCLEX in the future!! You’ve got this!!!