Let’s Talk NCLEX
Valentine’s Day Morning 2017
Ah I remember my test day like it was yesterday. I was so nervous I couldn’t even eat my breakfast. I drove to the testing center and waited in the parking lot for what felt like forever [I mean it kind of was forever considering I got there so early the doors were still locked], I did some slow breathing exercises, listened to a little music, and prayed prayed prayed. Once inside I felt a calming relief because the moment I have been working so hard toward was finally here, and I actually felt “ready”. I signed in, they took my fingerprint, filled out some papers, and I waited for my name to be called. Each testing center is a little different, but mine had about 15 computers with a camera in each cubical and a glass window behind us where the proctor stood. I was the first to start the test, and onward I went.
What is the NCLEX?
The NCLEX is a national test that all nursing students must pass in order to receive a nursing license. It’s important to know that no NCLEX test is the same. The test is computerized and questions are generated based on how your answered the previous questions. You have up to six hours to complete the test and you can have anywhere from 75 to 265 questions. The test will shut off when it is 95% assured you are above or below the standard.
- FUN FACT: There’s a rumor told by many that if you answer a question wrong the test will generate an easier question to help you out. Let’s just say my first question was a select all that apply… and my second question was a really easy math question. Coincidence? JK.
There are so many companies to choose from when it comes to studying for the NCLEX, all different prices with different question styles. I was overwhelmed at first, but prior to graduation my school put us through a 3 day HESI review, which I truly feel helped to recap the basics I had already learned. However, the real studying kicked in post graduation. I chose to use UWorld.com per a close friends recommendation, and boy am I glad I did. The NCLEX-RN Qbank allowed me over 2000 questions styled EXACTLY like the real test, with explanations and customizable exams. Another perk is you can access your account via computer, tablet, or phone! Getting your car washed? Open the app and answer 15 questions. Waiting to be seated at a restaurant? Go ahead and answer 10 questions.
The biggest part of study prep is making a plan and setting goals! I personally chose to answer 100-150 questions a day for about 4.5 weeks prior to testing. I also made it a point to answer questions in the same category each day. For example: I would answer 100 questions all related to OB, and the next day 150 questions related to cardiology. I found this way beneficial because after awhile the questions would start to blend into one another and I was able to make connections between content. Another thing I promised myself is that I would read EVERY SINGLE explanation, whether I got the question right or wrong because there is meaningful information in each explanation. A week before my test I changed up my study style. I decided to use the feature that allows you to create tests based on questions you have previously answered wrong; this helped me revisit questions I struggled with from all categories.
Through all this, the biggest lesson I learned about test taking is to not second-guess yourself and to TRUST YOUR GUT. While taking the test if I didn’t know the answer I wouldn’t spend too long trying to break it down, I just went with my gut. The more you think about the question and try to take decipher it piece by piece, the more confusing the question becomes. Just remember, each person and their study styles are different, but I truly hope this can help guide you on you path to becoming a nurse!
- When you go in to test, leave your phone in the car.
- Take a drive to the testing center the day before, that way you know exactly where it is and you’re less stressed the day of.
- Bring water and a snack because you don’t know how long your test will run for.
- Bring your ID!
- Don’t study the day before the test. Take the day off and do something you enjoy to help you relax and prepare. You know the material by now and you are ready.
- Have confidence in yourself. Negative thoughts lead to negative outcomes.
- YOU GOT THIS!