February 13, 2013

NCLEX Advice

I know some nursing students follow my blog & how much I valued advice from fellow nursing students & nurses while I was in school & preparing to take NCLEX. It really is the best. So I wanted to write out some of my experience with NCLEX and preparing for it. So I apologize if this doesn't relate to you at all and you find it boring!

 As you all probably know, I took the NCLEX on Wednesday February 6th, 2013 at 8:00am at the Pearson Professional Center here in Rochester. Basically, on NCLEX, you can get anywhere from 75 - 265 questions and are given 6 hours (including breaks) to take as many questions as they give you. They base how many questions to give you based on how you are doing. You keep getting harder questions until you get one wrong and then they go a little easier. If you get a lot of hard questions, it probably means you're doing quite well.

I ended up getting 75 questions before the screen went blue & I was done. It took me about an hour to take those questions. I got a lot of Select All That Apply questions, which is scary because those are so hard. But those are the hardest questions NCLEX has, so, basically, that means you're doing well.
 I can't go into much detail because you sign an NDA before taking the test that says you won't talk about any of the questions and the whole test is confidential.

I would say to know your medications! That's one of the biggest portions of the test & I got a lot of medication questions. The NCLEX review book does a good job of breaking up the medications by class and lists common side effects and nursing considerations. This helped somewhat, although, to be honest, I got a couple of drugs I had never heard of on the test. There were also a few ethical, a few developmental, and a few infectious disease. I only ended up getting 1 or 2 psych questions.

Advice for studying
- Take the Kaplan Review Class!!!! Luther built in the fee of this class into our tuition each semester, which was nice because we never really saw how much we actually paid for it. It's around $300 I think? My class was at the beginning of January from Wednesday through Saturday from 9:00am-4:00pm each day. We went through a ton of practice NCLEX questions and learned the Kaplan Decision Tree and how to approach questions, as well as general information about what to expect during NCLEX.

- With the Kaplan class, you also get access to the Kaplan website with thousands of practice tests and questions, which is ultimately the best way to study. You just need to get used to the type of questions NCLEX asks. All the people I graduated this past December agree that Kaplan really does help you.

- Also on that website are a series of lectures about the different topics of NCLEX reviewing content and medicatons. This information is also in the review book that Kaplan has. I listened to all the lectures (which, to be honest, takes quite a while....maybe 2 weeks if you're doing 4 hours a day), but it's really helpful.

- I studied for exactly a month. I started out around 4 hours a day and ended up, towards the end, studying 2-2.5 hours a day. Even if you only have 30 minutes to study in a day, make sure you take practice questions. I always tried to take 50 questions each day just to keep up with the habit.

- Make notecards as you get closer to NCLEX with information that you are continually having trouble remembering and quiz yourself. Also, KNOW YOUR LAB VALUES!! By memorizing common lab values (AST/ALT, Hgb/Hmt, Lithium levels, INR, PT/PTT, Dig levels, etc), I was able to get a bunch of practice questions right. This is a must!

- Kaplan has an iPhone app that has some practice questions. There's a free version and a version you can buy.

- Go into the test with some confidence to help calm your nerves. Being too anxious can kill you before this test. Stay calm!

- About 15 of the questions you get are actually just questions that NCLEX is trying out for use in future tests. You won't know which questions these are, but they don't count towards your score.

After you take the test
- There's a little Pearson trick to see if you passed. If you go on the Pearson Vue website and log in, you can see that it will say Delivery Successful behind your test date. You then click Register and fill out the information to try and re-register. Basically, if a pop-up comes up that says "You have recently scheduled this test. Please contact...", you passed. If it brings you to the credit card page, you may have not passed. I tried this 3 hours, 8 hours, and 13 hours later (I'm psychotic) and got the "good" pop-up everytime.

- Don't think about whether the question you're answering is a higher level or a comprehension level question during the test. Just focus on the questions and answering it.

- I'll be honest: the test is super, super hard. I felt like didn't know 90% of the questions I got. I made a lot of educated guesses.

- Be prepared: this test really messes with your head and your confidence in your ability as a nurse. At least for me it did. Especially afterward before you find out the results.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask! I know how nerve-wracking it can be. It's the culmination of all your hard work in school. Just remember that, if you got through nursing school, you really can conquer anything!

 Don't forget to go enter my giveaway!


  1. Thank you so much for the advice I will definatly use it. I put in my application for LPN school last week to try and get in for this fall's class. I really hope you pass and I will keep you in mind If I have any questions!! Have a wonderful day!!

    Erin :)

  2. Breanna, thanks for sharing your tips and experiences about NCLEX. I'm preparing for NCLEX and would like to get some sample questions you took during the actual exam. I'm doing a self study review, using also a mobile app and ebook which I got with a discount, here let me share discount code: VX68F. I see here that you'd like to recommend Kaplan, do you think it is better to enroll in a review center than self study? I'd like to get the best advice from someone who passed the test like you :-)

    1. Hopefully you see this; I tried e-mail replying, but you don't have your e-mail linked up with your account. Of course, answering as many NCLEX style questions as possible is one of the best ways to study for the test. Getting a book or e-book was definitely a good choice. Personally, I think it's worth the time and money to enroll in a review class (specifically Kaplan). They automatically give you access to their site, which has thousands of practice questions, videos reviewing concepts, explanations, etc. Besides answering questions and becoming familiar with NCLEX style questions, part of doing well on the test is knowing how to answer and how to approach the questions. Kaplan has certain guidelines for doing this. Plus, they have a guarantee that if you do everything they recommend doing before the test & you still don't pass, you can retake the class & still have access to the site for free until you do pass. It's a lot of fun too because you're surrounded by people who know exactly what you're going through & having support like that is also really important. On the other side, I do know a handful of people that studied on their own using different NCLEX prep materials and still ended up passing. GOOD LUCK!!

  3. Oh I .. just finish my nclex pn today. . I have criedmy eyes out.. still a little checking. . Computer shut off at 85.. and I had 22 select all that apply.. dont know how I did..
    Rafiatkzm@gmail.com. .