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How to Pass the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure EXamination-RN)

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 1

NOTE: In full disclosure, while we both graduated from the same Nursing School and Class, the following article was written by my fiance (soon-to-be-wife). After successfully passing and conquering the NCLEX-RN exam, this article is about her outlook on the exam, and the steps she took to pass it.I cannot take any credit for the thoughtful writing of this article, other than typing it out and publishing it to my Info Barrel account, however, we do both know that some aspiring nurses, somewhere, can benefit from the information that she has provided.

Graduation day is fastly approaching, dreams of working as a registered nurse are right around the corner, and passing school has finally been conquered! We made it! Graduation day happens and it is one of the most blissful days of your life. Now, it is time to think about where you want to owork and start working on your resume, but wait....what is this NCLEX that I have to take before I can officially become a nurse?

As formerly being in this position about a year ago, excitment and joy about graduating tend to veil the reality of the NCLEX looming around the corner. Myself, and I'm sure many other aspiring nurses, come to a fast halt and realize "Wait, I have to pass this test before I am truly a registered nurse". Well, I must admit, I had of the NCLEX from time to time before graduating, but it was pushed in my mind and thought of as something I would just deal with at a later time.

Well, graduation occurs, and being a person who does not like tests, I started to really panic. "How do I pass the NCLEX?". Unfortunately to say, I did not the pass the first time, and in this article not only do I hope to share with you how you the steps you can take to pass the NCLEX, but I will also tell you why I believe I didn't pass on my first try.

Things You Will Need

Kaplan Review Course for the NCLEX
NCLEX Review Books from Barnes and Noble or Borders or Amazon

Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination, 5th Edition
Amazon Price: $64.95 $54.94 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 18, 2013)

Step 1

In this step, it is important that the aspiring nurse's focus be in the right place. Approaching the test for the first time, I believe I failed because I focused more so on knowledge base, rather than on effective test taking strategies. This was a big downfall of mine. Trying to memorize every minute detail about the cardiovascular system, or memorizing every side effect and contraindications of medications was seriously putting my brain into information overload. You may really be familiar with this feeling.

The NCLEX is all about test taking strategies and learning the foundation of their questions. After failing the first time I was devastated. I asked myself where I went wrong and how I could fix my approach the second time around taking this exam. Well, I did pass the NCLEX, the second time, at 75 questions. and this is how I did it.
Lippincott's Q&A Review for NCLEX-RN® (Lippincott's Review for Nclex-Rn)
Amazon Price: $51.99 $18.11 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 18, 2013)

Step 2

Based on my own experience, after I failed the NCLEX my first time, I started researching different courses to try to find one that would give me the satisfaction that I would pass. In this step, I would highly recommend that you look into taking a course, like Kaplan's Review Course, which has a great proven track record of helping aspiring nurses pass the NCLEX. Fortunately, with Kaplan, after purchasing, they have a guarantee where you can get all your money back if you don't pass. Of course, this is subject to a few stipulations, so it would definitely be in your best interest to read about them on their website.

Step 3

In addition to taking this course, I also found a great website called "allnurses.com" that had numerous discussion forums specifically about the NCLEX. For those students that fail it was extremely comforting to talk to other people who were in the same situation. Of course, you may not need this support if you do manage to pass on your first try. Failing the NCLEX the first time is very discouraging, and using whatever support systems can during that time is very important.

You ultimate goal, however, should be to do whatever you can to ensure that you pass it on your first try. Some aspiring nurses can become very frustrated and discouraged if they fail the first time, especially when they know they put out some much hard work and effort to pass. If you do fail your first time, do everything you can to bounce back and succeed on your next try.

Step 4

After research and researching, I decided to try the complete Kaplan Review Course. During my time in nursing school, we actually had to take a course by Drexel University. Of course, people will have both positive and negative experiences with both of these courses. I found that Kaplan's course worked best for me, but this may not be the case for you. I would highly encourage you to use a website like allnurses.com to ask questions and seek answers about the experience of other nursing students with certain NCLEX review courses.

Step 5

If you do end up purchasing Kaplan's NCLEX review course, the lectures are all basically online, and there wouldn't be any classroom requirements necessary. The course included a 1,000 question Q-bank, which I must say, is awesome! There was also 7 question trainer tests, and a pre-course and post-course test. The Kaplan course can seem overwhelming at first, with the amount of information, therefore it is pertienent that you allow yourself enough time to complete it. I did the course of three weeks and I felt that even that timespan was a little rushed.

I would highly recommend that, in this step, you allocated at least 4-5 weeks to taking this course and letting the information gradually seep into your brain.

Step 6

In this step, if you do decide to take the Kaplan Review Course, you should pound your brain with Q-bank questions and question trainer tests. I did this for 3 weeks. I felt like these were extremely helpful and I though the nclex questions were similar. At the same time I did allow myself plenty of time to let my brain rest during the day and soak up the information. I found that 5-6 hours of focused studying, each day, was very beneficial and it gave me the peace of mind that I was dedicating enough time to studying. The best thing, but also the hardest, is to think positive about the test while you are studying.

Thinking positive helps you to keep motivated and it keeps you encouraged as the test day approached. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, give yourself the day off, and start the next day nice and fresh.

Step 7

While I was taking the Kaplan NCLEX Review Course, I made flash cards of all lab values, positioning for patients (such as a the trendelenburg position), and common medications. I would highly recommend that you do this, while taking the Kaplan Course.

Step 8

Everyone says to give your mind a rest the day before the test and the day of the test, but I couldn't help myself and was reviewing my flash cards sitting at the testing center, in my car, right before the test. Doing this helped to give me a peace of mind that I knew the material. Before I went into the test, I thought to myself how hard I had worked for this and how I knew I was going to pass. I walked with my head held high and went into the test knowing I could conquer it. After the test feelings of insecurity kept creeping in and waiting to see the results were absolutely unbearable. Find out the results is one of the best feelings in the world.

All in all, I found that doing a ton of practice questions was the most helpful. It helped to prepare more for the kind of questions that were on the NCLEX. My mistake, the first time, was not knowing how the questions were worded or ste up on the test. Try your hardest to keep yourself motivated and to think positive. If you passed nursing school, you can definitely pass the NCLEX!

Tips & Warnings

Also, if the Kaplan instructor would hint that the information was key to remember I would write it down on a flash card. These flash cards were very handy to bring with me if I was going out, or just felt like studying somewhere else to get away from the computer. All in all I felt like the Kaplan course was excellent and very thorough. I would highly recommend says.

The Nursing Experience: Trends, Challenges, and Transitions
Amazon Price: $39.95 $2.99 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 18, 2013)


Jun 5, 2010 4:46pm
Excellent article on preparing for and passing the NCLEX.
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