MY NCLEX EXPERIENCE:

PRE-NCLEX

After studying ONLY test questions from the UWORLD QBANK without really reviewing rationales for one and a half months’ time I failed my exam the first time around. My NCLEX readiness scores were solid, was scoring in the high 50’s on the question bank and felt confident after self-assessing myself to my class mates- you know so and so barely passed pharm and medsurg 3 so I should pass the NCLEX as well. Besides all this, I had been studying 4 hours a day and doing 150 questions a day.

TEST DAY

I had already scheduled my exam within a week’s time after getting my Authorization To Test(ATT) at the Pearson Vue location in the city of Pasadena, California. I went to the testing center an hour earlier and tried to study in the lobby but they said this was a no-no and promptly kicked me out to come back when ready.

Once I re-entered the room, I was given a sheet full of instructions to read, then identification was presented, NCLEX date/time confirmed and was told to remove all electronic devices, shut them off and put into a sealed bag not to be opened until the end of the examination by a proctor. I was then fingerprinted with both hands, picture taken and sent to the left side of the room where my pockets were pulled out, sleeves were pulled up as well as my pant legs. I immediately noticed that even though it was triple digit weather outside, the testing room was extremely cold and I didn’t have a sweater!

My driver’s license and locker key was all I had on me at this point. I was then given a one sided yellow colored board to take notes on and a black marker to write with. The proctor took me to the computer I was to test on and signed me on. And here we go!

NCLEX CLOCK STARTS TICKING

Nervousness kicks starts kicking in but before actual exam begins, you’re given many simple questions to make sure you understand how to take this test once you click next, the exam officially begins. I would use the first 5 minutes of time to write lab values, vital signs for different age groups, priority ABC’s, etc. Also, during the exam be active in taking notes because you get to 265, you’re bound to get similar questions. BE SURE TO PRACTICE NOTE WRITING BEFORE YOU TEST!

The questions are confusing and abstract from the get go and I find myself guessing more than I wanted to early in the test. I do not take notes which I regret later on because valuable information is given in the question itself. I am nearly shivering by question 50 and rubbing my arms to keep warm and working towards 75 questions but that comes and goes. I decide to take an unscheduled break (when you get to around 100 questions, the system usually prompts you to take break). I raise my hand, the proctor walks me out, scans my hand out, gives me with a “break” necklace and lets me walk out to the bathroom.

I clear my mind and re-focus on the exam since I am concerned the test is continuing past 75 questions. More and more questions come, and I am regretting all the stuff I did not study. By the time I look up again 5 hours have passed and all 265 questions have been answered. The room is empty, cold and I sign out for the final time and make my way to the parking lot in darkness.

GAME OVER

The whole night I try to convince myself that I got more questions right than wrong and review all the test related material I can. I get the nerve the next morning to try the Pearson VueTrick and I get my CC charged, I’m bummed. It’s confirmed I failed three days later when all my classmates post their license on Facebook and I am not there in the BRN search.

Part of me is thinking nursing is not for me and to stop here. I lick my wounds and pick myself up to start studying this time focusing on rationales and material. I use the Kaplan Question Bank this time since I already paid for it and I was told I could extend if I fail the exam. I do not do UWORLD the second time around because I had already done all the questions and my subscription ended.

It is a long and demeaning wait for your next exam date. It is expensive, costly, and a big waste of time(http://www.rn.ca.gov/times.shtml). However, after 2-3 months, you will get your ATT again.

RETAKE

I felt much more prepared this time around, I was wearing a sweater, knew what to expect and focused on my weak points. I still had 230 questions, reading the questions carefully and studying my notes. I did not overreact once I passed the 75 question mark and I expected to take 265 this time so I took many more breaks. I did walk out thinking I failed because I did not get many SATA, maybe only received 20 or so of these type of questions. On the bright side, I finished with 230 questions so I knew I was close somehow. I even went home feeling defeated and started studying that same night.

Anxiety kicked in and pretty much all my classmates were getting hired and moving on with their lives but I was stuck with this burden until I somehow passed the exam. Not only the re-studying stinks but also my networks that I met through my clinical experience were going to forget about me. I took the exam on the Saturday, November 25th and got my results Tuesday, November 28th.

WHAM- there my name was on the BRN website. Time to start living.