I’ve waited to write about the NCLEX until after I took it and after I passed. I figured you might be more likely to listen to my advice at that point. I plan to do a few “NCLEX Review” posts, going over some high points, pointing out what I found most helpful in the prep process.
To accomplish any goal, you really need to take the time to examine yourself and your habits. For instance, I have never had a hard time studying, sitting in one place a long time or taking tests online. Some people, however, have a very difficult time figuring out how/what to study, can’t stay still for more than 10 minutes and start sweating when they think of a non-paper test. If this is you, it’s time to own it and start practicing ways to overcome your challenges.
Here are some starting points to consider:
I can’t sit still.
We had an instructor who would say, “Train your mind, and your behind!” The NCLEX can have over 200 questions and last up to 6 hours. If you have trouble sitting still/thinking for that long, it’s time to start doing 100 question practice tests with no breaks.
I like eating and listening to music while I study.
That’s great but stop it. NCLEX doesn’t allow you to take a mint into the testing center, let alone earbuds, snacks, water or anything else you may use to distract from the fact that you’re taking a test. Train your mind now! Do practice questions in an environment that mimics the testing site: no distractions, no noise, no food, no breaks until after 90 minutes, and absolutely NO LOOKING UP ANSWERS on a second browser window.
I keep making low grades on my practice tests. I’m going to fail!
First off, calm the eff down; you’re stressing me out. Secondly, remember that practice tests should be used as an assessment for what you know and what you don’t know. Read the rationales and make quick notes for things you don’t know, then review those items using books, Hurst review and other resources. Also, remember that 50% or more is passing so even if you’re making 60s, you’re doing as good as you need to be. The more questions you do, the better your grades will get.
Are Kaplan and Hurst useful?
Again, you must know yourself and where your weak spots are. Our S2 CCI class was structured like a Kaplan course and yes, it was helpful for me to understand how to answer questions. The gist of Kaplan is “know the test, not the material.” It’s important to understand how NCLEX wants you to answer questions.
Hurst is more content review and after looking at a classmate’s material for the course, I felt it was far too detailed for what I needed. I just spent 2 years in nursing school; presenting that exact same info over the course of a 1 week review class seemed like overkill. However, if you had a terrible nursing school program that taught you nothing, you might find Hurst quite useful.
Why should I listen to you?
Great question. I should give you some data to help support my claims. I graduated nursing school with a 3.6 GPA, which suggests I am studious but not a type-A cra-cra who doesn’t know how to chill out. I took the HESI 5 times, scores were as follows: 1,086, 898, 1,023, 908, 994 (recommended score is 900 and above). Because my CCI class required us to do 100-300 practice questions each week all semester, I did a total of 3,050 NCLEX practice questions before sitting for the exam. THAT is overkill, but I would say I didn’t feel like I had the swing of things until about 1,000 or more. My average grade combining all practice tests from start to finish hung around 70%.