True life: I Passed the NCLEX

I am one of those students who has to work hard for every good grade they have received – rarely does anything just “come to me.”  I have been envious of those students who have it easy for as long as I can remember.

However, I am the type of person that likes to set and accomplish goals. If there is not a goal for me to strive for, it’s hard for my motivation to kick in. So I set some goals:

  • Goal 1: Graduate nursing school;
  • Goal 2: Pass the NCLEX;
  • Goal 3: Find a job.

Goal 1: Graduate nursing school.

Words cannot express what it feels like to graduate from nursing school!

I always knew I wanted to be a nurse.

The sense of accomplishment I felt when I received that nursing pin faded out the memory of sleepless nights studying for an exam, doing an all-nighter because I had a NOC shift for my preceptorship, or those silly online quizzes I was supposed to be working on all semester suddenly popped up when they were due the next day.

Graduating from anything is fantastic, but graduating with your BSN feels like you went to “super college.”

You didn’t come out of school with a major, you came out of school with a career. It’s an amazing feeling being surrounded by your family and friends and most importantly, the people who “suffered” through it with you.

Goal 2: Pass the NCLEX.

Before my last semester of nursing school started, I decided to dish out the cash ($350) for an extra NCLEX review. It was a week long comprehensive review called “Hurst NCLEX Review.”

A woman lectured in a fun, interactive way that allowed us to go through all the body systems, but in a way that we could remember, like rhyming words and repetitive phrases. A good thing about Hurst, is you can attend as many reviews as you want for one price.

Fast-forward to three weeks before my scheduled test. While I went to school on the east coast, I went home to the west coast to prepare for and take the NCLEX.

There were no live reviews near me, so I paid $50 to gain access to online videos of the same thing I took five months prior.

I went to the library every day and got a study room so no distractions were possible and listened and retook notes on all the lectures again.

I also purchased the NCLEX 4000 CD, which supplied thousands of questions.

That’s all I did – lecture and questions, over and over. After I finished the lectures I tried to review and memorize things such as lab values, math equations, and conversion factors. Hurst offers six practice tests—once you use them, they are gone.

With seven days left before my test, I took one test each day except the day before my test.

The practice tests really helped because it really built up my “test endurance.” I improved a little the first couple times and then plateaued. I was considering rescheduling my test because I was so scared I wasn’t scoring high enough, but I went ahead and took the test.

“Believe in yourself! Don’t let the test decide when you are done, decide for yourself.”

I did not feel very confident when I walked in to take the test. I kept telling myself one question at a time. I put my ear plugs in, took a deep breath and pressed “begin.”

Another point Hurst makes is the more high-level questions (multiple multiples, fill in the blank, diagrams, etc.) you receive, the better you are doing.

That was a problem for me because I started to psych myself out if I got a normal multiple choice. I took my time. I got A LOT of prioritizing questions. And then it shut off at 85 questions. I didn’t know what to do next!

Again, fast-forward 3 days. Remember how I said words cannot express what it feels like to graduate? Multiply that feeling by 500 gazillion and that’s what it’s like to see the word “passed” on your state board of nursing website.

I think it is impossible to not have anxiety about taking the NCLEX.

My best pieces of advice are:

  • Have 2-3 weeks of intense studying. Write down a schedule and stick to it!
  • For me the comprehensive review was AMAZING. Although I had just finished school it was nice to go over everything again.
  • I also recommend practicing a lot of questions and I also suggest doing questions from different places: some from a book, some from a CD, and some from a review course. The more variety, the better.
  • Believe in yourself! Don’t let the test decide when you are done, decide for yourself.


Check back soon to read the journey of how Brittany conquered Goal 3.

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